In September 2011, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched GSP/Taqadum. GSP/Taqadum is designed to enable provincial and local governments to respond more effectively to community needs. The Project has two components:
Component I: Institutional Strengthening. Institutionalize provincial and local governments’ core authorities and responsibilities.
Component II: Executive Oversight. Provincial and local elected officials hold executive ministries accountable for improved services.
Under each component, GSP/Taqadum promotes provincial and local government institutional development to build constructive provincial council and governor office capacity and oversight mechanisms. Activities are Iraqi-led, supporting government and civil society efforts to strengthen the responsiveness of provincial and local governments to community needs.
As of July 1, 2014, GSP/Taqadum shifted its objective to focus on the administrative decentralization of three out of eight ministries slated for decentralization – Health, Education, and Municipalities and Public Works – and working with five targeted provinces (Baghdad, Babil, Najaf, Diwaniyah, and Wasit). With its new mandate to prepare for the scheduled August 2015 devolution of powers from Iraq’s central ministries to provincial governments, Governorates were primed to accept the authority and embrace the responsibility of improving public services for citizens. GSP/Taqadum management and leading technical team members moved early on to prepare themselves for the task ahead, identifying staff resources and adjusting their respective departmental plans as needed. Two additional provinces – Diyala and Kirkuk – were added to GSP/Taqadum’s work plan as of October 2014. As of June 1, 2015, the rest of the 15 remaining provinces were added to GSP/Taqadum’s work plan.
In June 27, 2016, words arrived from USAID confirming the project’s long anticipated extension. Both overjoyed and relieved to see this true commitment of USAID to stay the course and add to the hard earned successes the project team had won over its first five years, staff welcomed this opportunity to continue building on the foundational decentralization work done to date. It must be noted here, that out of the 113 GSP/Taqadum staff (at the time news came of the extension), 108 are Iraqi locals who live in the communities they work within. Among the five non-locals, the COP and DCOP are both Iraqi born with dual citizenships who have been working in Iraq for well over a decade. This makeup is a point of pride for all in the project, which by its very substance, represents that hard to access and yet constantly sought after “street” awareness and commentary. Indeed, GSP/Taqadum staff represents every layer of life across the country.