Objective 2: Legislative Process System

Accomplishing Objective #2

The second objective of the Grant was to improve the legislative process capacity of GOI law-making institutions, individually and collectively, in a way that is both sustainable and accords with international best practices and state standards.

Key performance indicators in the Grant for accomplishing Objective #2 included providing Project analyses and guidance on the following:

  • Describing the current legislative process in narrative and chart format;
  • Assessing the gaps between the process in practice and in law;
  • Designing recommendations to improve the law-making process both within each institution and across the legislative stream; and
  • Designing a system to manage the legislative process (e.g., an interoperable and sustainable legislative process system).

Key Deliverables Accomplishing Objective #2
The Project accomplished this Objective through the following key deliverables previously provided to USDOS:

  • LPS PowerPoint Presentation to Secretaries General (Exhibit 34)
  • State Shura Council Document Digitalization and Modernization Project Proposal (Exhibit 35)
  • PowerPoint Presentation to e-Iraq Conference(in Arabic) (Exhibit 36)
  • Legislative Process System Presentation: Goals and Recommendations (Exhibit 37)
  • Document Identification Schema (reflecting the LPS requirements of the GOI and a summary of legislative process systems in other countries) (Exhibit 38)
  • Establishment of groups within key GOI entities including the COR, COMSEC, and the PC to sustain the Project’s LPS work beyond the end of the CLA Grant
  • State Shura Council Digitization and Modernization Projects (modified) (Exhibit 39)

Key Activities Accomplishing Objective #2
Converting the current GOI legislative process systems (“LPS”) from multiple, incompatible, manual, paper-based systems in different GOI institutions into a single, interoperable, electronic system to be shared among GOI law-making institutions requires: creation of an Iraqi LPS organization and negotiation of LPS protocols among GOI institutions; an agreement among GOI institutions for funding the conversion, implementation, and operation of a single, feasible, interoperable legislative process system; and the technical design of such a system.  The Project’s LPS Team undertook the following activities concerning these managerial, funding, and design issues.

LPS Analysis
In March 2009, the Project’s LPS Team reviewed CLA’s earlier analysis of the Iraqi legislative process and CLA’s documentation of Iraqi legislative workflow. The Project provided CLA with a summary of the Project’s analysis of CLA’s LPS documents.

In March 2009, the Project’s LPS team met with members of the USAID-funded AECOM team which was: doing staff and budget review capacity-building at the COR; supporting the COR’s committee operations, legislative process, government oversight, outreach to constituents, and donor coordination; and doing some IT work in the COR building.  The LPS team did not want to duplicate what AECOM was doing and wanted to learn from AECOM’s mistakes.

In March 2009, the Project’s LPS team conducted extensive interviews of the LPS-responsible persons in the Prime Minister’s Office, the Presidency Council (“PC”), the Ministry of State for Parliamentary Affairs (“MOPA”), the Council of Ministers Secretariat (“COMSEC”), the COR, and the State Shura Council. These are the principal GOI entities which initiate, review, and enact legislation.  In addition to understanding how legislation actually flows from one entity to another and within each entity, the Project’s LPS Team assessed each GOI entity’s LPS objectives and the challenges and constraints faced by each institution in adopting an interoperable and sustainable LPS system.

The Project’s LPS Team’s initial findings included:

  1. Each GOI entity was eager to improve its LPS capabilities.
  2. Each GOI entity had capable technicians with little or no management experience and no strategy background.
  3. Each GOI entity lacked electronic and/or formal forms of communication.  Paper-based forms of documentation and communication are the norm. Personal email accounts supported by Yahoo is the de-facto email of most Iraqi government agencies.
  4. There was no LPS collaboration across organizations and entities.
  5. The COR’s in-house legislative process system may not be compatible with the objectives of other GOI entities in an interoperable system.
  6. There was a widespread concern for maintaining the secrecy of draft legislation, even keeping it secret from an entity’s own IT technicians who would have to support an electronic LPS system.

During the second quarter from April 1 through June 30, 2009, the Project’s LPS Team reviewed and compared existing paper-based legislative document management systems in use in other countries, reviewed and compared those systems in other countries that have migrated from paper-based to automated systems, and reported the findings to CLA in an LPS Systems Survey. The LPS Team also identified protocols that must be adopted by the GOI law-making institutions in order to create an automated LPS system, and the LPS Team provided its own protocol recommendations.

LPS Management Activities
In April 2009, the Project’s LPS Team leader, Muayyad Al-Chalabi, drafted the initial assessment of the LPS challenges facing the COR, the PC, MOPA, COMSEC, and the State Shura Council.  He worked closely with the CLA LPS Team and together they conducted interviews of the LPS-responsible persons in all of the key GOI institutions which have responsibilities for initiating, reviewing, and enacting legislation. He evaluated the current constraints on having a single, sustainable LPS system that is interoperable among all these institutions. He proposed that LPS representatives from these institutions meet and work together to negotiate LPS system protocols, management controls, and funding commitments, which are prerequisites for designing and pricing an interoperable LPS system among the institutions.

On April 25, 2009, Mr. Al-Chalabi met with Dr. Othman, Deputy Director of the Legal Directorate of COMSEC, to discuss his views of the requirements for a legislative process system for Iraq.  Dr. Othman said that there are management challenges to be overcome first, before addressing system design, procurement, or implementation. He recommended the following:

  1. Seek the commitment and agreement among the Secretaries General (SGs) of the three main GOI law-making entities (COMSEC, the PC, and the COR) to go forward with an interoperable LPS system.  The agreement should be based on clearly demonstrated LPS benefits to all institutions.  He said these discussions should focus on high-level LPS issues with the three SGs, before hammering out the details later with staff members designated by them to work on LPS management issues.
  2. Establish an Iraqi organization dedicated to LPS. He suggested that the optimal place for such an organization is within the COR, with interfaces with the other GOI law-making institutions.
  3. Establish protocols for naming and handling the workflow of draft legislation between the various institutions. Dr. Othman did not think that a numbering protocol for documents would be adopted in Iraq anytime soon. He said that Iraq (as do most countries in the region) uses year- and sequential number-designations to identify laws when they become effective upon publication in the Official Gazette, and draft names are used prior to publication.
  4. He said it is premature to discuss pricing, cost of development, or funding, prior to getting an organizational management agreement, protocols, and a detailed system design.

Document Identification System Report
In May 2009, Mr. Al-Chalabi prepared the Document Identification System Report.  This report defines a naming and formatting standard for draft legislation within the GOI legislative process. The lack of a consistent, universal document identification system has led to disorder in tracking, reviewing, and approving drafts of legislation. The report recommends a universal document identification system to be used by all the GOI law-making institutions to ensure consistency, authenticity, and accountability of documents generated, reviewed, revised, debated, and enacted by these institutions. The report recommends having in-depth discussions with the State Shura Council and COR members to review the benefits of such a system and to discuss ways to implement the system prior to automating the GOI legislative process.  A copy of this report is attached as Exhibit __.

LPS Organization and Funding Activities
In June 2009, Mr. Al-Chalabi worked closely with the CLA LPS Team and together they conducted follow-up interviews of key LPS individuals in a number of the GOI law-making institutions.  He then evaluated the current constraints on creating an LPS organization and funding a single, sustainable LPS system. Because a successful technical solution for LPS is dependent on the coordinated activities of all the institutions which will use such a system, the Project LPS Team proposed the creation of an LPS organization based on a shared-services model composed of a centralized LPS group (probably in the COR) with interfaces with at least the PC, COMSEC, and the State Shura Council.  This Iraqi LPS organization would be entrusted with centralized responsibilities for document tracking and movement among these lawmaking institutions. Another key issue to be resolved is how these institutions are going to fund the LPS technical solution. A funding agreement must deal with both the source of funding (within or outside the GOI) and the amount of funds needed to cover upfront costs and to support ongoing operation of the chosen LPS system.  Mr. Al-Chalabi memorialized these organizational design discussions in a PowerPoint presentation provided to CLA which is attached as Exhibit __.

In October 2009, Mr. Al-Chalabi made a PowerPoint presentation to the Secretaries General of the COR, COMSEC, and the PC.  The Secretaries General reaffirmed their support for the need for an automated legislative process system.  Each organization named at least two LPS representatives (“GOI LPS Representatives”) to form the nucleus of an LPS group representing the GOI and COMSEC named four LPS Representatives.  A copy of this PowerPoint presentation is attached as Exhibit __.
During November 2009, the LPS Team solicited input from each of the GOI LPS Representatives concerning LPS requirements for each entity, and current activities and methods used by each entity in tracking legislation.  The LPS Team facilitated working relationships among the various GOI LPS Representatives, presented options for going forward with an automated LPS system for the GOI, and suggested adding State Shura Council personnel as GOI LPS Representatives.

On December 20, 2009, the LPS Team hosted a meeting for GOI LPS Representatives from the COR, PC, COMSEC, and MOPA.   The GOI LPS Representatives agreed to: review LPS documentation from all entities; produce a joint LPS report for their respective Secretaries General, and create a technical subgroup and a legal/managerial subgroup.

LPS Technical Design Activities
The Project’s LPS Team initiated the design process that will build on on-going collaboration protocols within each Iraqi lawmaking institution and will focus on interoperability. The design will be based on a phased approach that spans several years, which will reduce upfront costs and allow these institutions a gradual conversion from their current paper-based systems to a single, fully automated system.

On December 20 and 21, 2009, the LPS Team made a presentation at the e-Iraq Conference held at the COR and answered a number of questions from various Iraqi entities, including the Iraqi Ministry of Technology and Science. The presentation in Arabic dealt with LPS objectives, technical options, and a roadmap for moving forward with an automated LPS system.

State Shura Council Document Digitalization Activities
The Project studied ways to assist the State Shura Council in copying and digitalizing Iraqi laws dating back to the early 1920s that are in a fragile state as paper documents. They currently are stored in an environment that can neither secure nor preserve the documents.  The Shura Council has been scanning these documents in an extremely slow process which does not digitalize them.  Judge Ghazi of the Shura Council asked for the Project’s assistance in these activities.  Mr. Al-Chalabi contacted Ramy Habeeb of Kotob Arabia, an Egyptian organization based in Cairo which has good Arabic optical character recognition equipment in addition to state-of-the-art scanning equipment.  Mr. Al-Chalabi also worked with the CLA LPS Team to devise an equipment list that might receive funding from other USG sources such as CERP funds.  A copy of this proposal is attached as Exhibit __.

In October 2009, the LPS Team refined its State Shura Council document digitalization and modernization project proposal. A copy of this proposal is attached as Exhibit __.

Legislative Drafting and Training
At the insistence of the initial CLA Grant Officer Representative, the Project engaged a specific consultant to provide assistance in legislative drafting and training.  Because legislative drafting and training were not included in Objective #2 in the Grant, the Project requested the CLA Grant Officer Representative to revise in writing the Grant’s Statement of Work concerning her oral addition of the requirement of legislative drafting and training, but she did not do so.

This consultant arrived in Baghdad on May 22, 2009, to begin this work. While in Baghdad,the consultant had meetings with Iraqi officials in the COR, including: Haider Muthanna, the Director-General for Parliamentary Affairs; Dr. Mayadh A. Hachami, Director General of Research; the Director of Committee Affairs; and their respective legal advisors.  These officials described previous trainings in legislative drafting provided by other organizations, which had been overly broad or did not apply well to Iraq. The legal advisors discussed a desired training course, in very broad terms, including: (1) reviewing draft laws and proposals; (2) information about COR committee oversight of the executive branch; (3) information about COR financial and budget responsibilities; (4) bases for providing legal advice; (5) legal texts and explanations for legislation; (6) how to improve committee administrative functions; and (7) other administrative topics.

On June 14, 2009, the consultant met with Dr. Sabah Jumaa Al-Bawi in the Section of Legislative Drafting and Legal Consultations of the Research Directorate at the COR. Dr. Sabah said there is no one with expertise in or authority to do legislative drafting for members or committees of the COR.   He said he instituted a program in the COR by which the Research Directorate provides seminars on important draft laws submitted by the GOI.  These seminars bring together relevant GOI policymakers (GOI ministers, COR committee members, outside experts, and others) to educate COR decision-makers in a single, comprehensive meeting.

On June 17, 2009, the consultant met with Mostafa N. Al-Mosoy, Researcher and Political Analyst and Head of the COR’s Research Department, and with Laith H. Ali, Legal Advisor and Head of the COR’s Budget Research Department. Mr. Mostafa said that his staff already received a training course on the “American” or “Canadian” style of legislative analysis. Mr. Laith wanted very detailed budget analysis training, which the consultant Hamilton was not qualified to give.

On June 17, 2009, the consultant met with Ali Omar Fatah, Senior Legal Advisor to the COR Committee on Human Rights, and with Mohammad Qassim Yaqoub, Legal Advisor to the COR Committee on Religious Endowments and Religious Affairs. They said that previous legislative drafting trainings provided by UNDP had a poor outcome.

After Project residents requested and the CLA Grant Representative directed that the consultant do no additional work on the Project, the consultant left Baghdad on June 18, 2009.

Planning for a February 2010 Legislative Drafting Workshop for the State Shura Council
In December 2010, Project members attended a number of planning meetings with Judge Ghazi and his advisors at the State Shura Council and with representatives of the U.S. Embassy Baghdad, about a legislative drafting symposium for the State Shura Council to be held on February 10, 2010. The symposium was conducted by Iraqi authorities using their own experts, without involvement of Project personnel; the U.S. Embassy acted as a facilitator and provided logistical support for the symposium which was funded through the Project’s Grant.

Wrap-up of LPS Activities in Baghdad
In close coordination with CLA, the Project determined that the primary LPS goals for January and February 2010 were to (1) ensure orderly transfer to the GOI of knowledge acquired by the Project and CLA regarding Iraq’s legislative process systems, and (2) to document Objective #2 achievements since LPS activities began in the second quarter of 2009.

A series of meetings and working sessions were held to facilitate efficient knowledge transfer to the relevant Iraqi institutions. A group was created within each Iraqi institution to sustain LPS efforts beyond the term of the CLA Grant. Specifically, during January and February 2010, a number of meetings were held with:

  • COR members from the major political blocs, relevant COR committees (including the Members Committee, the Economic Committee, and other Committees), the COR Speaker and his key advisors, the COR Information Technology (IT) Department, and the Diwan (the main administrative body within the COR);
  • members of the Council of Ministers, including the Directors General and their legal advisor, and managers, with the focus of these meetings on the various Legal Directories, the Secretary General of COMSEC, the IT Department, and MOPA; and
  • members of the PC, including its IT Department and its legal advisors.

The Project also organized a number of joint coordination and planning meetings that brought together representatives of the COR, COMSEC, and the PC.
The Project also provided critical support to facilitate a Legislative Drafting Symposium on February 10, 2010, which was conducted by the State Shura Council under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice. The Symposium provided a venue for the State Shura Council to connect for the first time since 2003 directly with the multiple legislative-related entities it serves. Considered by CLA to be a cross-cutting activity with Objective #4 (Anti-Corruption), the Symposium offered a significant opportunity to facilitate the opening of sustained communications regarding important legislative drafting issues among relevant GOI institutions.