In Armenia, efforts at democratic governance and reform are hindered by the potent force of a dominant executive branch and persistent informal ties among economic, social, and political elites who tend to skew public policy dialogue. To balance this, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding the Support to the Armenian National Assembly Program (SANAP). The program is working with the Armenian National Assembly (NA), or parliament, to introduce a number of committee-based reforms to strengthen the government’s institutional capacity and effectiveness. Reinforcing a more integral role for the Assembly and its stakeholders in the broader political and policy-making process should provide a crucial balance to the executive branch and to entrenched vested interests. SANAP should lead to greater engagement of citizens and representation of their interests at the national level.

The SANAP team is one of the strongest implementation teams I have ever had in 20 years at the mission. They impress me to no end. They are very enthusiastic and motivated about putting ideas into practice.

Bella Markarian, Contracting Officer’s Representative, USAID

Through SANAP, Tetra Tech is working to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Armenian National Assembly in four main areas:

  • Increase representation of citizens’ interests by selected committees
  • Improve oversight of the executive branch by selected committees
  • Improve analytical capacity of selected committees
  • Clarify rules and procedures governing selected committees and increase institutional capacity

We are working with five standing committees, helping to build their capacity by increasing the skills and knowledge of Members of Parliament (MPs); improving practices, procedures, and committee rules; improving research and legislative analysis; and expanding citizen outreach. SANAP also works with individual MPs on constituency matters, individual MP staff, and women MPs. The program plans to begin working with the Chief of Staff on institutional and organizational change issues.

We use approaches that incentivize MPs, staff, and committees to foster and expand an institutional culture of growing assertiveness and accountability. These stakeholders are being equipped to become more committed to the institution’s committee-based reforms and motivated to ensure that the reforms become a central feature of the Assembly.

These principles form the development framework of SANAP activities:

  • Parliament-led: Works within parliament’s structures and procedures
  • Armenia first: Seeks local analytical experts
  • Collaborative: Works in partnership with MPs and staff, playing a consultative role
  • Stakeholder ownership: Encourages ownership from MPs and their staff to expand civil society participation
  • Demand-driven, results-focused capacity development: Assists parliament (with a focus on committees) to meet its legislative and administrative responsibilities
  • Sustainable: Takes the view that all assistance should lead to the goal of a vibrant, self-sustaining legislative institution where committees are the nexus between citizens and elected officials