Project Case Study
Establishing the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Office in Iraq
Advising on extensive reforms to the centre of government
Government in Iraq has been heavily centralised since the 1970s. Under the regime of Saddam Hussein, damaged by years of sanctions, while government offices were ostensibly functional, power and decision-making rested at the top.
This centralisation weakened state institutions and presided over a steady deterioration in the level of services provided to Iraqi people, with essential services being available only to those closest to the regime.
In 2004, following the fall of Saddam in 2003, the Department for International Development contracted us to establish the new institutions of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Council of Ministers Secretariat (CoMSec) and the Iraqi Cabinet Office.
The Support to the Centre of Government programme ran for four years, laying the foundations for a further 6 years of work at the centre of government.
Working in challenging and often dangerous conditions, we initially had to devise the structures necessary to build functional offices before we could develop the basic capabilities of Prime Minister’s Office and CoMSec employees at all levels.
As the skills and experience of our counterparts grew, we worked with them to develop more complex capabilities. This work has been instrumental in making sure that the whole of the Iraqi government can deliver effective services to over 25m Iraqis, continuing the process of reversing over 40 years of decline.
"[This project] was DFID's work through Adam Smith International, who were providing consultancy to the Iraqis [...] it could have been a delicate matter, but actually was handled quietly and successfully and - by the time I left - the Cabinet Secretary had got to the point of being able to [...] draw some lessons from this period of government in terms of the structure to present to the new Prime Minister, when elected. That's a fairly sophisticated operation, and was really, I think, an example of success.” Christopher Prentice, British Ambassador to Iraq 2007-2009, identifying specific achievements at the Iraq Inquiry