This chapter addresses the government’s efficiency at the Provincial level to provide services to citizens and lead the development process in the Province, within a participatory and transparent methodology subject to follow-up and control. The local government includes the Province, Provincial Council, local councils and directorates, and various government departments, which all share the same geographical scope of jurisdiction; namely, the Sulaymaniyah Province.
For the government to be able to provide services and carry out its role in the effective management of development in the Province, the current situation of a number of aspects has been assessed, as following:
The Province and Citizens
The society is still dealing with the government and elected local councils on a tribal logic and view the Province and Provincial Council as an open place at any time for requests and complaints. This places great pressure on the Province and Council in terms of the daily number of visitors and affects the institutional functioning of administrative processes as a result of the need for immediate response in most cases to the pressing demands of citizens although not scheduled in advance. The open-door policy adopted by the provinces reflects high transparency and the spirit of local government administration, but the administration of input interaction between the government and citizens needs to be developed and improved to ensure the continuity of institutional work and operations.
Coordination across Government Agencies and Institutionalization of Knowledge
The efficiency and transparency of coordination across various government agencies is one of the most important enablers of highly efficient government services and reinforced rule-of-law. However, this aspect requires a lot of effort and development during the coming period through coordination between:
(1) the Province and Regional Government (2) the Province, technical departments, and Provincial Council, and (3) the concerned technical departments in the Sulaymaniyah Province and Garmian Administration. In fact, sometimes there is an overlap of powers due to the lack of clarity regarding the responsible administrative authority. Also, there is a general weakness in the coordination process intended to unify the general trend necessary for the administration of the Province. Moreover, the sharing of information and clarity of vision and coordination within the single directorate reflects weakness too, as the quality of information and knowledge that the Province can obtain from a certain directorate still depends largely on the person contacted in that directorate and the extent to which he/ she is aware of the required data, instead of being available in the directorate as a whole if within its scope of jurisdiction.
Organizational Structures and Operation Management
In the field of institutional management, the reality of the situation indicates the need for development and improvement with respect to the institutionalization of public work at the Provincial level, as the provinces merely rely on the law and decisions and instructions issued by the Regional Governmental to determine their tasks and expand or limit such tasks. However, although the law is the main pillar to clarify responsibilities and tasks, it is not enough alone to fulfill strategic administration, unless supported by organizational structures, internal bylaws, operation schemes, job descriptions, and functional guides for different sections.
In spite of the fact that some efforts were exerted in the Kurdistan Region and provinces by the Ministry of Planning in 2012 to determine the optimal organizational structure for the provinces in order to be unified in all of the Region, these efforts were not completed and there is still evident weakness in the organizational structures in terms of harmony with the standards of strategic management and good governance. Many directorates and departments in the Province still have tasks that do not match with their title and there are no operation schemes for circles to show workflow, processes, and procedures. In addition, no operation studies or functional guides are available till date to regulate the work carried out by staff.
Human cadres between Disguised Unemployment and Lack of Competencies
The public human cadre in the Province is characterized by imbalanced distribution and competencies. While some directorates or sections still suffer from the shortage of staff, others suffer from overstaffing. Furthermore, there is imbalanced distribution of competencies and inappropriate matching between available competencies and job requirements in various administrative units. The nepotism and party affiliation plays a major role in the formation of departments instead of being dependent on institutional effectiveness and matching competency with job requirements. This situation in the public sector is not only limited to the Sulaymaniyah, but is rather a general phenomenon in both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region as a natural result of the response of the public sector to the needs of citizens for jobs at some point following the downfall of the previous regime. This situation needs a long period of time, extending to tens of years, to be addressed and corrected based on a clear methodology and specific indicators.
Professionalism, Work Ethics, and Control
Beside the reality of disparity and imbalanced distribution of competencies and staff, there is also a disparity in the professionalism level of public servants based on the quality of previous experience and the extent to which performance standards are linked in an integrated manner with job promotion, as well as the absence of a system for incentives and penalties. Professionalism at work requires a new cultural system in the community, based on respect for time and working hours, and needs years and sequential stages of institutional development.
The realization of e-government principles needs decades and has basic requirements that the Province can begin to work on during the next phase. It requires designing development databases at the Provincial level to supply the Regional Government with prompt and efficient value measurement of approved development indicators to have data that can be relied upon. In addition, there is a need for the institutionalization of administration and then preparation of operation schemes carried out by the Government, starting from the idea or decision and ending with service delivery to citizens. Moreover, citizens or service recipients constitute an important element in achieving e-government, and the availability of electronic culture and easy mechanisms for electronic communication for the purposes of communication between the government and citizens is one of the most important requirements that could lead to the success or failure of e-government. In addition to the above, the preparation of the infrastructure of e-government, such as Internet networks, services, electronic protection, and laws governing electronic exchange, is also one of the basic requirements to start the development of government services and communication mechanisms and convert them to electronic. The next phase covered by this Strategy will focus on the basics needed to implement the early stages of e-government.
In short, the current situation points out a large number of priority strategic issues in the next phase to raise the efficiency of the local government. The lack of institutionalization in government units, overload of public sector employees, imbalanced distribution in terms of numbers and competencies among different departments are part of the most important strategic issues which need a long time to recover through carefully thought out stages that include the development of administrative systems of the Province, capacity-building of staff, assessment of available competencies, and gap measurement.
On the other hand, the most important changes that can have a positive impact on the reduction of employment overload and restore balance to government departments include the provision of alternative and attractive job opportunities for citizens through legislative amendments, which can raise job security in the private sector, promotion and development of foreign investments based on human capital, support of entrepreneurship and income-generating projects for the citizens of the Province through long-term and sustainable programs and support that enhance the survival and development of enterprises, in addition to the development of pension and social security laws to ease the burden on the public sector and other related interventions which must be in line with the media effort to change the prevailing culture towards the private sector as secure choice.