Iraq, home to decades of conflict, international sanctions, foreign invasion and intellectual exodus has recently been dubbed the ‘biggest show on earth’. Some suggest with security patchily improving and the oil and gas sector opening up, that Iraq is set to become the region’s new centre for investment and development.

Is this true? Or is Iraq just too difficult? Have decades of weak government and war weakened it beyond repair?

Larry Cooley, President of Management Systems International (part of the Coffey Group), will present a seminar at the Dubai School of Government entitled 'Back to the Future: Rebuilding and Reforming Public Management in Iraq', investigating just these issues on Wednesday 17 June.

“The Coffey Group now has more than 200 people working in Iraq, funded by the US and British governments, helping to improve the performance of the government of Iraq,” said Cooley.

‘Sure, the challenges have been great, from rewiring entire ministries to training more than 40,000 Iraqi public servants, but the ‘Tatweer’ (‘development’ in Arabic) project, a four-year, US$300 million project - and one of the world’s largest government reform projects - is gaining traction.

“We operate in 11 ministries in Iraq (including the prime minister and president’s office), capacity building the public management skills of more than 1.5 million public servants. We’re now seeing an amazing transformation and transferral of responsibility, from donor-managed projects, to government of Iraq-managed initiatives. This heralds a completely new era of possibility and promise for Iraq,” stated Cooley.

Cooley currently oversees Tatweer and is an internationally-known specialist in the fields of policy reform, strategic management and government performance. He has served as an advisor to Cabinet and sub-Cabinet officials in the United States and 12 other countries and leads Coffey's work around the world in improving the effectiveness and accountability of government.

He directed for 11 years the Implementing Policy Change programme that assisted 40 governments around the world to improve policy change management.

Note: Larry Cooley is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and for 15 years served as Chairperson of the Development Management Network of the American Society of Public Administration. He holds an MA in Economics from Columbia University, an MPA in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and a M Phil in Management from the Cranfield School of Management.

Coffey International is one of the top 300 companies on the Australian Stock Exchange with a range of specialist companies working in social infrastructure and physical infrastructure around the world. Coffey International Development is the development management arm, and currently manages 160 international development projects and programmes in 70 countries, with a combined value of US$1billion.