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Audit of the Canadian Consulate, Minneapolis

(April 2001)

Executive Summary

An audit of the Political, Economic Reporting and Public Affairs Program (PERPA), the International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Minneapolis during the period September 19 to 22, 2000. A follow-up audit of the Minneapolis Mission took place in September, 1993.

Mission Management

Program effectiveness is being affected by low employee morale and insufficient management direction and support.

Mission Management - Detailed Report

Political, Economic Reporting and Public Affairs Program (PERPA)

The PERPA Program is managed directly by the HOM and has experienced and knowledgeable staff. Work plans are in place with identifiable objectives and activities. Recent resource shortages have greatly reduced the outputs of the Program and highlight the need for a dedicated Program Manager.

Political, Economic Reporting and Public Affairs Program - Detailed Report

International Business Development Program (IBD)

The Trade Section has a full and active program in place and very experienced and capable staff, however, two very key aspects of the New Approach are not being adhered to. Tracking in the WIN system is not being done due to technical reasons, as well as a lack of training and insufficient management support and direction in this area. While a strategy has been developed for the Investment Program, results have not matched expectations due to other priorities and management issues.

International Business Development Program - Detailed Report

Consular Program

The Consular Program at the Mission is working well as a result of a reorganization of duties which assigned a full time FTE to the Consular Program Assistant position. The Program is very well managed under the direction of the Consul and Trade Commissioner. A work plan containing clear goals and objectives along with detailed procedures and instructions documented in a mission Consular manual, have helped to focus the Program.

The work load in Minneapolis and nature of the Consular Service Standards support a full-time position in Minneapolis. This report recommends funding receptionist services separately and maintaining a dedicated full-time Consular Program Assistant.

Consular Program - Detailed Report

Administration Program

Administration is a well-managed Program led by an experienced Mission Administrative Officer. Maximum use is made of the Program's four employees and technology is being used to its fullest. Clients are very pleased with the quality of service. A review of the four disciplines of Administration, including Human Resources Management, Property Management, Finance and Informatics identified minor issues which the MAO agreed needed addressing.

Administration Program - Detailed Report

Mission Resource Fact Sheet

 Personnel (FTEs)CBSLESTotal
HOM112
International Business Development268
PERPA 33
Consular 11
Common Services 44
Total31518

Physical Resources

AssetsPrivate LeaseCrown LeasedCrown Owned
Chancery 1 
OR  1
SQs1 1
Vehicles 2 

Financial Information 2000/01

LES Salaries (CV 017)$1,230,000
Operational (CV 014)$1,045,300
CB Overtime (CV 015)0
Capital (CV 050)$25,000
Total$2,300,300

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 There is little evidence that Mission programs are receiving the management direction, support and interaction required. The expected management mechanisms such as work plans, Committee of Mission Management (CMM), Section meetings and staff meetings are in place but are not working effectively. Information is shared and issues are discussed, but there is little substance in terms of strategy, on-going direction, assessment of program performance and follow-up.

1.1.2 Program and employee effectiveness is being eroded due to insufficient management direction and support. Program expectations are not being clearly communicated. On-going direction and intervention regarding program activities is inconsistent to the extent that support from and integration with management is not being sought. This in turn further reduces management's ability to interact and intervene in program operations. As a result program delivery by the Mission is not being optimized.

1.2 Appraisals

1.2.1 Regular yearly appraisal reports have not been completed for every employee. Of 15 employees, seven have recently dated appraisals that cover periods of three to five years at a time. *** Six new employees who were hired this year, are not yet due for appraisals. Employees should receive annual appraisals with meaningful feedback on their performance. This is particularly important given the large number of new employees, who should be given direction and feedback to achieve best results.

Recommendation for Mission

1.2.2 Annual appraisals should be completed for each LES employee, prior to awarding yearly increments. Appraisers and employees should refer to the goals and objectives set at the beginning of the review period.

Mission Response

1.2.2 The CMM has reviewed the issue of annual appraisals and it was agreed that a new system will be put in place to regularize the process at the beginning of 2001. The MAO will periodically circulate a list of all appraisals and their due dates to HOM and Program Managers.

1.3 Training

1.3.1 The MAO is the Mission Training Coordinator. Training has been intense over the past months, with courses in Ottawa for the Systems Administrator, Consular Assistant, PERPA Manager, IMS training at Mission for LES, CITRIX training, etc. While the training is effective and welcomed, some staff did indicate some "overload" occurring, with saturation from too much training within a short concentrated period.

Political, Economic Reporting and Public Affairs Program (PERPA)

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The PERPA Section in Minneapolis is managed directly by the HOM, who is supported by two Officers (LE -9) and an Assistant/Researcher (LE-5). One of the Officers is currently on leave and will be replaced for the next four months by a contract resource. The Assistant has been in the position for only four months.

2.1.2 The Section's activities are planned and documented under the following headings and associated priorities: promotion of Canadian cultural products; trade and economic policy (Agriculture, Helms Burton); international security (Devil's Lake/Garrison Diversion, Arctic National wildlife Reserve, Section 110); public diplomacy (Academic Relations, Cultural affairs, National Unity, Education Marketing); and, strategic representation (High Level Visits, Council of State Governments, Territory Relations, Regional Associations, Elections).

2.1.3 A year-end report was produced by the PERPA Section summarizing activities completed and highlighting related results.

2.2 Resources

2.2.1 The Section's resources are inadequate given the wide range of Program objectives and activities. There is no full-time Program Manager position which would normally be the focus for providing direction, coordination and continuity to the PERPA Program and for providing a link to HQ. This situation is further affected by one Officer's absence on leave and a new incumbent in the Assistant position. In cooperation with the PERPA Program the Trade Program has been actively involved in advocacy on selected bilateral trade policy issues in the context of their normal business and investment activities. This is a reflection of both the Mission's co-ordinated approach to issues that involve both Programs and the PERPA resource situation.

2.2.2 To alleviate this situation in the short term, a PERPA Officer is being hired on a four month contract. Consideration, however, needs to be given to creating and filling a Program Manager position in line with the model for most other Missions. This could be done through providing incremental resources or by realigning resources within the Mission. There is a current imbalance in the distribution of resources between the PERPA and Trade Sections. The Trade Section has two CBS, four Business Development Officers and two Assistants compared to PERPA' s two Officers and one Assistant. URD needs to consider, for the PERPA Program, the level of activity and results expected to determine resources required and their organization.

Recommendation for URD

2.2.3 Consideration should be given to establishing a Program Manager for the PERPA Program.

URD Response

2.2.3 HQ will work with post to redefine the positions of the officers in the PERPA section and establish a PERPA Program Manager by the beginning of new FY (2001-2002).

International Business Development Program (IBD)

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The Trade Section at the Mission is dedicated to the development of commercial relations between Canada and the states of Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. The Section is headed by a Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) and supported by a Canada based Trade Commissioner, four locally-engaged Business Development Officers and two Business Development Assistants.

3.2 Management

3.2.1 The Program has developed a Business Development Work Plan which contains:

  • Objectives, tactics and anticipated results;
  • An Investment Strategy;
  • A listing of New Exporters to Border States (NEBS) Missions; and,
  • Staff responsibilities by sector.

3.2.2 For each Officer a detailed plan is prepared by priority sector outlining objectives and measurable anticipated results. Included in these plans are specific activities required to realize objectives such as NEBS and companies targeted for corporate outcalls.

3.2.3 The Section plan and individual plans are thorough and comprehensive. They are based primarily on sectorial analysis and include a listing and schedule of related activities, events, meetings, etc. Officers work on their own with little interaction, coordination or back-up between each other. Section meetings occur every six to eight weeks and are used to update and share information. Issues discussed relate to rescheduling, delays and other factors affecting operations. Staff have access to and receive support from the STC on an on-going basis. Section meetings focus on day-to-day operations rather than reviewing work plans and modifying strategies.

3.2.4 Monitoring and reviewing progress is based on anticipated results identified in the Section work plan and individual work plans. The anticipated results, however, are primarily a quantification of identified activities such as the number of new business opportunities or number of investment leads. Determination of the success of these activities is left to each Officer and is done informally through personal contact and indirect information gathered during the normal course of doing business.

3.2.5 There is no formal or uniform procedure for assessing outcomes for the Section as a whole. Without the means to gather performance information, it is difficult to analyse objectively and assess the effectiveness of the activities and efforts of the Section. This, in turn, limits the ability of the Section to modify strategies and adjust plans or to justify resource allocation.

Recommendations for Mission

3.2.6 A methodology and related procedures should be developed to capture on a regular basis the information required to assess effectiveness of Trade activities.

3.2.7 Trade Section meetings should be held periodically to modify strategies and adjust plans with input and approval by the HOM.

Mission Response

3.2.6 While most reporting of trade activities has been completed very shortly after the events were held, some backlog occurred for officers experiencing very heavy project and travel schedules. It is agreed that greater regularity in reporting via TAMS and WIN tracking will be instituted immediately.

3.2.7 Trade Section meetings with the HOM have been scheduled once a month for the past year, and will continue to be held. The mission agrees that some of these meetings can and should include discussions on strategies and adjustment to plans, but that need not be the focus for every monthly meeting. It has been agreed that quarterly strategic program reviews will be scheduled.

3.3 Investment

3.3.1 An investment strategy was developed by the Mission for the 2000/2001 fiscal year, outlining objectives and rationale along with an analysis by priority sectors and states, describing business activity and identifying major companies. The strategy also lists targeted firms, identifies the vehicles or methods to be used to implement the investment program, and calculates the resources required. In terms of anticipated results, the investment program is not seen as separate from other business development activities.

3.3.2 Each officer is responsible for investment activities in their areas. As with other trade activities, progress, outputs and results are not formally monitored or measured. Furthermore, the roles and responsibilities of the HOM, STC and Officers are not always clear. Investment activities are not effectively coordinated and therefore, are not receiving the level of attention required nor having the results expected.

Recommendation for Mission

3.3.3 Roles and responsibilities regarding the Investment Program should be clarified and efforts more closely coordinated and monitored to ensure that activities are carried out and results achieved.

Mission Response

3.3.3 The question of roles and responsibilities of HOM, STC and BDOs in investment promotion is one which, we suspect, is not unique to this mission. However, steps have been taken in the several months preceding the receipt of this report to develop a joint program of senior level corporate calls with the HOM accompanied by the STC and/or BDOs and PERPA if required. Working level calls on targeted companies will continue to be scheduled by the BDOs, as detailed in their sectoral work plans.

3.4 New Approach

3.4.1 The Trade Section at the Mission is not fully complying with the Trade Commissioner Services' (TCS) New Approach. While the basic principles of providing core and additional services are understood, their application is left to the discretion of individual officers. WIN tracking which is an integral part of the New Approach is not being done. Past technical difficulties and a lack of training have been cited as the obstacles to tracking. Without WIN tracking, the long term benefits of documenting company information and the related services rendered are lost to the Mission and the Department. Also follow-up and systematic assessment of results becomes more problematic.

3.4.2 The Mission is planning on implementing an Information Center. The objective is to action low level enquiries and provide a common electronic information source on the "I" drive. The Info Center concept is a recommended best practice by the Post Support Unit in HQ and has been successfully implemented in other Missions (Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires). However, this concept is dependent on the consistent use of WIN for tracking, compiling data, monitoring adherence to standards and analysing results.

3.4.3 Client survey results have been very positive for the Mission. However, due to the lack of WIN tracking these results must be qualified, since the Section manually provided data for survey purposes. There is no assurance that all client interactions were included, particularly those that may not have been considered productive.

3.4.4 It is the opinion of the Audit Team that the deficiencies noted with the New Approach are due to a lack of management commitment and support, in addition to technical and training issues listed above. These issues need to be resolved through consultation and support from TCS and URD in providing training, addressing technical problems and in articulating appropriate accountabilities.

Recommendation for Mission

3.4.5 The Trade Section should incorporate WIN tracking and an Info Center into its operations.

Mission Response

3.4.5 The Trade Section received 3 days of training on the use/application of Mission WIN and WIN Online by the Regional WIN Manager from Atlanta in mid December 2000. Steps are now underway to convert the contact information currently held in other programs to support the use and relevance of information in WIN to all members of the program.

We are proceeding with the expansion of information and use of our Info Centre, which will be immensely facilitated by HQ's approval for full-time receptionist and consular positions.

Recommendation for TCS

3.4.6 TCS should provide the training and technical assistance required to ensure the Mission is fully capable of adhering to the New Approach.

TCS Response

3.4.6 TCS, in collaboration with CFSD, provides New Approach Training in Ottawa, as well as at selected trade-related events across Canada and abroad. In addition, Minneapolis has been placed on the list of missions where on-site New Approach training would be beneficial. The resources necessary to provide such on-site training will be requested in the 2001-2002 Fiscal Year. Further, TCS is in the process of developing a virtual campus course on the New Approach, and Minneapolis trade officers will be invited to take this course once it is launched.

Recommendation for URD

3.4.7 URD should incorporate into its business plans and accountability documents, the requirement for the Mission to fully commit to and demonstrate compliance with the New Approach.

URD Response

3.4.7 Agreed. The US Bureau (URT) will ensure the preparation of comprehensive work plans for FY 2001/02, and future years which will be guided by the parameters and dictates of the New Approach. The work plans will be based on client demand, input and priorities, albeit within the business environment in which the post in Minneapolis operates. The work plans will include trade, investment, strategic alliances, advocacy issues, and other related activities, and will be closely coordinated amongst all programs at the post, as well as with DFAIT/Hdq. and our Team Canada partners.

Consular Program

4.1 Management of the Function

4.1.1 The Mission provides timely and effective Consular services. The Consular Program was recently reorganized, and the management of the Program delegated to the Consul and Trade Commissioner. After the recent retirement of the Consular Assistant/Receptionist, a new full-time LES Consular Program Assistant was hired, and given delegated signing authority. The responsibilities for Reception were moved from this position and given to a contract employee.

4.1.2 The Consular Program is working very well as a result of the reorganization and new employee. The Consul and Trade Commissioner has taken an active role managing the delivery of the Program, and guiding the new Assistant. There is a work plan that defines the objectives and goals for the coming months. Together with this work plan, a Consular Operating Manual has been developed containing relevant information such as emergency contact lists, service standards, etc. The Consular Assistant is making good use of the COSMOS tools, including PMP to issue passports when needed. Dated prisoner cases have been closed, and the Mission is in contact with the 72 remaining cases. Regular prison visits are planned and proceeding. COMIP records of statistics are now being kept up-to-date, and indicate a rising work load.

4.1.3 The Consular Program is now operating well, with an effective employee. The work load and nature of the Consular service standards support a full-time position for the Consular Program Assistant. There is sufficient work for one person, with some back-up duties provided by the Administration Program. A full-time receptionist would ensure that the Consular Assistant is dedicated entirely to Consular activities. The Receptionist contract position is already supporting the Trade program, and if this position is regularized it could provide more IBD support by being provided with access to SIGNET.

Recommendation for UAM

4.1.4 Funds should be made available to provide for a full-time Receptionist.

UAM Response

4.1.4 Funding has been identified and provided to create a full-time Receptionist position for MNPLS.

4.1.5 The Accountant provides basic Consular services as back up. While the Accountant welcomes this addition to her job package, Consular services would benefit from the Accountant attending a Consular Training Course.

Recommendation for Mission

4.1.6 Consideration should be given to sending the Accountant on the next available Consular Training Course.

Mission Response

4.1.6 Agreed that this will be undertaken in the new FY.

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Date Modified:
2008-10-31