The Washington Post

Iraqi gardeners encounter U.S. bureaucracy

We can only imagine what Sarhang Muhammed, Aws Wisam Mohsin, Mohammed Azeem and the other 11 Iraqi gardening company reps might have been thinking last month as they discussed bidding on a contract for maintaining about an acre of gardens at the U.S. consulate in Irbil, Iraq.

The questions they had for consulate officials were straightforward, judging from the minutes of the meeting. The answers, well, a bit bureaucratic.

Q: “Are there any issues if the contractor hires gardeners from outside Iraq?”

A: “If an offeror plans to recruit Third Country nationals (TCN), such offeror is required to submit their recruitment plan and housing plans along with their proposal. Please see page 29 of the solicitation document for details on the recruitment of Third Country Nationals.

Q: “Are we going to plant grasses in the gardens where there are none?”

A: “See 1.4.5 under turf repair and re-establishment, it requires planting of grasses on where there are damaged or no grasses.”

Q: is the contractor going to plant Iraqi flowers/grasses or American flowers/grasses?

A. “That contractor shall plant American flowers.”  (Johnson’s florists take note! Native American flowers would include sunflowers, goldenrod, black-eyed susans and astas. Unclear how they’ll do in Irbil.)

Q: “Our company is registered in Baghdad; do we need another registration in the Kurdistan region?” (The answer seems obvious, since you are in Kurdistan, only sort-of part of Iraq.)

A: “As stated in number (5) under section 3 of the solicitation document, offerors are to obtain all licenses required by local laws including licenses from the Kurdistan Regional Government for your company to work in the region.” (See? Told you.)

And don’t forget to submit your annual “Grounds Maintenance Plan,” keep the height of the grass “between 4 and 6 centimeters” or 1.57 and 2.36 inches and recycle everything.

Lot easier when you just hire a couple guys off a truck.






Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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