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Project Case Study

Providing assistance to the Iraqi government to improve their institutional capacity

Building better government to deliver public services and improving accountability

Government in Iraq has been heavily centralised since the 1970s and it was weakened by years of international sanctions under the regime of Saddam Hussein, where it became a brutal dictatorship.

This autonomy weakened state institutions and caused a steady deterioration in the level of provision for Iraqi people, with essential services being available only to those who were the very closest to the regime: for example, in 2003 only approximately half the population had access to clean drinking water and diarrhoea was the leading cause of death for children under 5.

Project info

Technical Support to Iraq II & III



  • Department for International Development (DFID)
  • Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency

In 2004, following Saddam Hussein’s fall in 2003, funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, we were asked to help establish the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Council of Ministers Secretariat (CoMSec), the Iraqi Cabinet Office, in Iraq. Since then we have provided continuous technical assistance to these central government organisations as part of a range of donor projects, with the overall aim of establishing a strong and sustainable government able to deliver effective services to support the Iraqi people.

We worked initially to establish the Prime Minister’s Office before shifting our focus to devising the structures needed to build a functional Cabinet Office, then developing the basic capabilities of CoMSec staff at all levels. As the skills and experience of our counterparts grew, we worked with them to develop more complex capabilities. With this foundation firmly in place, under phases II & III of the project, which began in 2010, we addressed the need to develop, implement, and monitor more effective public policy, which until then had been done without research or analysis, and was not even in the public domain.

While enhancing these abilities, we have supported CoMSec in delivering their priorities. This has meant helping them develop an effective way of transitioning between one government and the next, developing and publically announcing a Strategic Government Programme which was the first of its kind in Iraq, and establishing a policy liaison network across government to improve policy coordination. In addition, we are providing technical assistance to a newly established communications and media unit, and are helping CoMSec to build a crisis management function, whilst providing on-going leadership training and mentoring to key senior CoMSec staff.
The project is on-going, and we are proud to play such an important part in the continuing task of supporting the Iraqi government in becoming more independent, sustainable and effective, as it works to rebuild the country after the Saddam Hussein era.

“The small team of Adam Smith International advisers has achieved visible results and have made CoMSec an institution that we are very proud of.”
Dr Al-Alaaq, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers Secretariat, October 2011

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