US efforts to build the effectiveness and professionalism of Iraq's government ministries have been worked through the State Department and USAID, but the lack of an overarching strategy to the program has confused its goals and minimized its impact, according to a new GAO assessment "Serious Challenges Confront U.S. Efforts to Build the Capacity of Iraqi Ministries."
Iraq's government ministries employ an estimated 2.2 million people. The Bush Administration received $140 million for capacity-building programs for FY 2007, and requested another $255 million for FY 2008. US-sponsored capacity-building efforts are designed to develop the skills to plan programs, execute budgets, and effectively deliver services.
GAO found four main obstacles preventing the development of more effective Iraqi government operations:
* Many civil servants lack the proper skills or training for the job function they are supposed to provide
* Militia infiltration of ministries makes non-partisan staffing of positions difficult
* Widespread corruption robs ministries of needed resources, some of which are used to fund the insurgency
* High levels of violence keep people away from their ministry jobs, hinders US assistance, and causes experienced professionals to flee the country
GAO writes that US agencies have been executing separate capacity-building programs, but are just beginning to discuss the development of an overall strategy, which GAO recommends include:
* Clear purpose, scope, and methodology
* Delineation of US goals and responsibilities and coordination with the UN
* Goals and objectives linked to Iraqi priorities
* Performance measures and milestones
* Costs, resources needed, and assessment of program risks