BAGHDAD - Council of Representatives budget and procurement staffers from the Ministry of Interior, Kurdish Ministry of Interior, and Kurdistan Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs gathered together for the first time at the MoI compound here Aug. 3.

This meeting was hosted by Iraq Training and Advisory Mission - MoI advisors and the MoI to allow the ministries to network with each other and to observe ways the U.S. model for congressional budget and oversight can help the CoR manage their responsibilities.

The eight staffers compared notes and shared experiences with Maj. Gen. Ala'a Hussein Ali MoI deputy director for Planning and Tracking.

Ala'a stressed the importance of the training for Iraqis. "We must understand that Iraq has been removed from the world for 30 years," he said. "It is very necessary that we receive this training."

CoR economic committee staffer Mrs. Zainab Hashem Yousef agreed. "Getting information from outside Iraq, developing our own knowledge and applying it here is exactly what we need," Zainab said.

Max Kidalov, of the Naval Postgraduate Institute, provided an overview on the U.S. system and fielded questions. Among the topics covered were federal spending and procurement, congressional oversight, the Freedom of Information Act, and whistleblower (protection) laws.

Teaching Iraqis international procurement law will have far-reaching effects, Kidalov said. "Proficiency in international law will give Iraqis confidence in their decision making and will help make the rest of the world confident in a fair and transparent business climate in Iraq," he added.