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Audit of the Canadian Embassy, Santo Domingo

(May 2001)

Executive Summary

An audit of the Political. Economic Reporting and Public Affairs (PERPA) Program, the International Business Development (IBD) Program, the Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Santo Domingo during the period of November 20 to November 24, 2000.

Mission Management

The Head of Mission (HOM) has been very active in positioning the Mission to carry out its Programs. This has included recruiting and staffing various positions, establishing a Trade Development Program and a new Consulate Office in Puerto Plata and proactively representing Canada in the political and business communities. The addition of a second Canada Based Staff (CBS) in the new Management Consular Officer (MCO) position is relieving the HOM of consular duties and is providing oversight and management to the Administration Program. The position was initially intended to become more involved in Trade Development but this has so far proven difficult considering the overall workload of the MCO.

With 14 staff providing a full range of programs, including Immigration (3000 visa applications) and Development Programs ($500,000), the Mission is becoming more than a micro-mission. Consideration needs to be given to supporting the Mission in this direction or scaling back resources and Programs to a level reflective of a micro-mission. In order to justify resource needs and better manage Program activities, workplans need to be developed for each Program.

Other issues being raised include establishing an LES Committee as a forum for LES to discuss issues and communicate them to management, enhancing training and development through documenting training plans and questioning the need for the Hub and Spoke arrangement with Caracas given that Santo Domingo now has its own Ambassador and MCO and essentially operates independently of Caracas.

Mission Management - Detailed Report

Political, Economic Reporting and Public Affairs (PERPA) Program

The HOM has established an active PERPA Program and has been effective in representing Canada's interests and raising the Mission's profile in the Dominican Republic. To support the HOM in PERPA activities and to provide developmental experience, the MCO has been involved occasionally in the PERPA Program.

Political, Economic Reporting and Public Affairs Program - Detailed Report

International Business Development (IBD) Program

With two new resources in place, a Commercial Assistant (Asst-04) and an Intern, and the hiring of a new incumbent in the existing Commercial Officer (CO) position, the Mission has laid the foundation for the establishment of an IBD Program to maximize opportunities for Canada's export market and increase the investment portfolio. The Mission recognizes the need to develop and document workplans as a means to identify appropriate initiatives and activities, provide direction to staff and evaluate results. Also required is a strategy in terms of training and support from HQs to ensure that the New Approach is fully integrated in Mission operations.

IBD - Detailed Report

Consular Program

The Consular Program has a heavy and consistent workload due to 5,000 to 7,000 resident Canadians and 180,000 visitors annually. The Program has benefitted from the recent creation and staffing of an MCO position and the establishment of an office and Consular Assistant in Puerto Plata.

Issues concerning the Honorary Consul have in part been resolved by the new office and staffing arrangements in Puerto Plata. However, a recommendation is being made to reimburse the Honorary Consul regarding past expenditures which were under dispute.

Consular Program - Detailed Report

Administration

The Administration Program until recently under the direction of the HOM, is now under the MCO and is operating effectively. The MCO position is new to the Mission as is the incumbent to the foreign service. The MCO has had to adapt to the new position and is now becoming more comfortable in his role and responsibilities. His presence brings added control by allowing for a proper segregation of duties to be exercised over procurement activities and their payment. He has also been actively engaged in resolving long standing issues dealing with our Caracas Mission in inputting financial data into the Department's new financial integrated system and with our Port-au-Prince Mission in the processing of Immigration revenues.

Management of the Human Resources function has been actively and effectively handled by the HOM. A large number of staffing actions in the past year have taken place and the Mission now has a very competent and capable LES staff. Morale at the Mission is good. The Chancery and Staff Quarters (SQs) are of high quality and well maintained. Financial operations, with the exception of the handling of Immigration revenues which requires change, are well managed. The Mission is limited by having only five MM97 workstations available for the eleven office staff. An upgraded version of MM97 has been promised for sometime now.

Administration - Detailed Report

Mission Resources Fact Sheet

Personnel (FTEs)

 CBSLESTOTAL
HOM/Central Support Services145
International Business Development  2*2
Consular 22
Administration123
Immigration 11
Official Development Assistance  1*1
Total21214

* One LES is an Intern on contract and the CFLI Coordinator is also on contract.

Physical Resources

AssetsPrivate LeaseCrown LeasedCrown Owned
Chancery + Consulate 2 
SQs 2 
Vehicles  1

Financial Information 2000/2001

Operations(N001)$344,000
Canada-based Overtime(N011-0104)4,500
LES Salaries(N012)198,387
Capital(N005)17,800
Total$564,687

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 There is a positive and cohesive atmosphere throughout the Mission which reflects good morale, competent staff and effective management. The HOM has been very proactive in representing Canada for all Programs. Staff are appreciative of management's approach and involvement in Program areas.

1.1.2 The Mission has been evolving since the appointment of a resident Ambassador in 1999. Major changes that have occurred include establishing a MCO position, replacing the Trade Officer, hiring an intern for the Trade Program, and opening a new Consulate with a full time Consular Assistant in Puerto Plata. These changes are recent and, therefore, their full impact will only become evident over time.

1.2 Micro-mission

1.2.1 The Mission's status as a micro-mission needs to be assessed in light of the changes noted above, the demand for services form the Mission's Clients and the potential that the HOM considers possible. The Mission has 14 staff excluding the Honorary Consul in Puerto Plata. The Mission is now covering the full range of Canadian programs. In order to be truly effective, the present level of resources would need to be increased both in terms of personnel, informatics capability and communication tools. The Mission is at the point where it needs to be decided whether to add more resources to make the existing situation work (ie. full Mission status) or to cut back to a level that conforms to a micro-mission that does not represent a full range of services and Programs. HQs and the Mission need to establish and agree to the level of service required given resource availability.

Recommendation for LGD

1.2.3 Resources need to be adjusted according to determination of the Mission as a micro or full service Mission.

LGD Response

1.2.3 The Bureau has commenced investigations with SXD on the projected cost to provide SDMGO with a SIGNET 2000 platform. The Bureau is also examining proposals to increase personnel resources in SDMGO either via redeployment from other missions or through purchase of incremental positions. The Bureau will ensure that future approved work plans for SDMGO will be commensurate with their assigned level of resources. The Bureau recognizes the fact that the Mission has evolved from being a single program mission (i.e. consular) in 1990 into becoming de facto a full service (albeit small) in 2000/2001.

1.3 Hub and Spoke Arrangement

1.3.1 There is currently a Hub and Spoke Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Caracas Mission (the Hub) and Santo Domingo (the Spoke) covering all programs, including Administration. The relevance of such a document today is unclear given that Santo Domingo now has its own Ambassador and MCO and operates relatively independently of Caracas with the exception of inputting financial data into IMS and seeking its advice on LES classifications. This latter advice could be obtained from HRL. There are other missions within the region that have relations with Santo Domingo without any MOU. For example, Mexico's EL services Santo Domingo's VSAT satellite, Miami's RCMP Officer conducts Enhanced Reliability Checks (ERCs) for Santo Domingo's LES and Port-au-Prince approves visas processed through Santo Domingo. For the majority of issues at the Mission, Santo Domingo operates like most other missions and deals directly with the respective HQ responsibility centre.

Recommendation for the Mission

1.3.2 Confer with LGD to review the relevance and need to have a Hub and Spoke arrangement with Caracas.

Mission Response

1.3.2 The Mission will review this situation with LGD by the end of March 2001. The Mission believes that the Hub and Spoke agreement with Caracas is no longer relevant. The Mission will recommend that LGD send a memorandum to neighbouring missions (CRCAS, PRNCE, PSPAN, MIAMI, MXICO) outlining their program responsibilities vis-à-vis the Dominican Republic. The cross accreditations should be reflected in the PCF of the individuals involved. The Mission will also recommend that the responsibility for funding the replacement of CBSs during their absences fall under UAM and/or SDMGO. Under this new arrangement, some of the resources previously allocated to Caracas under the Hub and Spoke agreement should be transferred back to UAM and/or SDMGO.

1.4 Work plans

1.4.1 The HOM has a formal Accountability Agreement which describes the environment in which the Mission operates and outlines the Mission's strategic priorities, on-going issues, activities and related objectives. While operations are managed through weekly meetings between the HOM and staff for each Program, development of a more structured approach based on the Accountability document would improve operational planning and direction and allow better monitoring and tracking of progress. This would involve translating the priorities and objectives in the HOM's Accountability Agreement into Program workplans that would include specific objectives, responsibilities, operational activities and anticipated results. This type of structure would identify resource utilization given the activities undertaken and would therefore, allow more precise determination of resource requirements for any given level of results desired.

Recommendation for the Mission

1.4.2 Program workplans be prepared based on the HOM's Accountability Agreement.

Mission Response

1.4.2 Instructions from Headquarters for year 2000-2001 indicated that the HOM accountability agreement would constitute the Mission workplan. Such an agreement is in place and it has guided the Mission throughout the current FY. A workplan was derived from it in December 2000. As for FY 2001-2002, instructions from Headquarters are to the effect that HOM accountability agreements are no longer required. The Mission believes that the fundamental issue identified in this report - namely the need to decide whether to add more resources (personnel, informatics capability, communication tools) to make the existing situation work - needs to be addressed on a priority basis before a new workplan is prepared.

1.5 LES Committee

1.5.1 The Mission now has ten LES which is significant enough to warrant establishing an LES Committee. While there were no major issues identified by the LES, providing a forum for the LES to meet as a group to discuss common issues and present concerns to management, will facilitate problem resolution. This responsibility normally falls to the MCO.

Recommendation for the Mission

1.5.2 An LES Committee should be established.

Mission Response

1.5.2 An LES Committee will be established by the end of March 2001.

1.6 Training Plan

1.6.1 A formal training plan has not been established for the LES. Training needs, however, are being addressed but on an ad hoc basis. The Office Manager received IMS training in HQ last May, the new CO will be in Ottawa in February 2001 for exposure to the Canadian Trade Commissioner's New Approach and there are plans to place the new Consular Assistant in Puerto Plata on a Consular course as soon as one becomes available. The Consular Assistant has already received COSMOS training through distance learning. The Mission has expressed a need for LES to receive informatics training.

1.6.2 The Mission needs to take an inventory of employee skill sets to establish employee needs to effectively carry out their responsibilities. A plan could then be developed, costed out and sent to CFSL for review.

Recommendation for the Mission

1.6.3 Develop a training plan for all Mission staff to be submitted to CFSL for approval.

Mission Response

1.6.3 The Mission is supportive of training and despite its small staff and heavy workloads, it has given priority to releasing staff for training. The Mission agrees that training plans need to be documented. The Mission will be piloting in March 2001 the new electronic platform developed by CFSI to prepare training plans.

Political, Economic Reporting and Public Affairs (PERPA) Program

2.1.1 The PERPA Program is the responsibility of the HOM with occasional support provided by the MCO. *** Another initiative is building a network through contacts with key political and economic decision makers with a view to promoting Canadian interests and values. Public diplomacy activities include delivering speeches and arranging local TV and press opportunities.

2.1.2 Through these Program activities, awareness of Canada and Mission Programs is being raised. The HOM has been effective in representational events and maximizing promotion of Canada by concentrating on priority issues and opportunities. Reporting to HQ on political developments, multilateral issues, trade policy, and the investment and export situation has been thorough.

International Business Development Program (IBD)

3.1.1. The IBD Program's strategic priority is to increase Canada's investments in and Canada's market share of exports to the Dominican Republic, the largest import market in the Carribean and Central America region. The Program is managed by the HOM who is assisted by a CO, an Intern and a Trade Assistant. All three are new employees. In effect, the Program is being refocused as a result of the new resource mix.

3.1.2 While general direction in terms of strategies and objectives are identified in the HOM's Accountability Agreement, the Program would benefit from developing workplans that identify precisely the initiatives and activities most likely to produce results. These would include market analysis for various sectors, preparing strategies for identifying and informing Canadian exporters, etc. A very important element of this type of analysis is substantiating the direct benefits derived by the resources employed and any potential benefits of additional resources.

Recommendation for the Mission

3.1.3 Develop a strategy and related workplan for the Trade Program that will provide direction, identify resource requirements and allow evaluation of results.

Mission Response

3.1.3 The Mission recognizes the need to prepare a workplan for the Trade Program. As a first step, a business case was recently prepared and submitted to Headquarters for the provision of a minimum of additional resources to this post so as to enable it to provide the six core services to its numerous clients. This needs to be addressed on a priority basis. Once the Mission knows whether it has the resources needed to support the program, it will be in a better position to prepare a workplan for 2001-2002 which the Mission could complete by the end of April 2001.

3.1.4 The New Approach including WIN tracking, responding to enquiries and other initiatives needs to be more rigorously applied by the Program. The new staff, while aware and supportive of the New Approach, have not had sufficient training and exposure to the methodology, systems and HQ support functions and contacts. Another concern is that being a micro-mission, the technology is not available at the same level as at other Missions. The Mission is well aware of these deficiencies and is striving to obtain training and to up-grade technology. It would be in the best interests of the Mission to itemize and priorize the training, support and technology required as part of the workplan referred to previously, in consultation with UAM and the Trade Commissioner Services.

Recommendation for the Mission

3.1.5 Develop, in consultation with HQ, a strategy to ensure that the New Approach is fully integrated in Mission operations.

Mission Response

3.1.5 The Mission is supportive of the New Approach. However, it has had no access to WIN and no training. With the upgrade of the MM97 platform, the Mission will identify its training and other technology needs and submit these to headquarters by the end of March 2001.

Consular Program

4.1 Management of the Program

4.1.1 The Consular Program is the responsibility of the MCO who supervises a full-time Consular Officer (LE-08) and a Consular Agent (LE-05) located in Puerto Plata. The HOM's Assistant issues passports and provides back-up to the Consular Officer. The Honorary Consul in Puerto Plata reports to the HOM but for operational purposes reports through the MCO. The Mission has recently opened a new office in Puerto Plata with a full-time Consular Agent. This was in response to increasing workload and to relieve the Honorary Consul of having to provide space and administrative services.

4.1.2 The Mission provides timely and effective Consular services. Staff are experienced and knowledgeable. Appropriate systems and procedures are in place and the COSMOS is being used effectively.

4.2 Service to Canadians

4.2.1 The Consular Program is responsible for the provision of services to Canadian citizens as well as passport and citizenship services for the Dominican Republic. There are 5,000 to 7,000 Canadian residents in the Dominican Republic, however, many do not register. Efforts are made to update the ROCA and encourage registration. As well, the MCO is revising the Contingency plan. The Consular workload is heavy with 180,000 visitors annually. This is expected to increase due to a rise in the number of flights from Canada this winter. There are frequent difficult cases such as deaths, car accidents, stranded tourists and drug offenses.

4.3 Passport Services

4.3.1 Passport and citizenship services are effectively delivered by the Consular Program. The HOM Assistant issues passports one day per week. The Mission issues between 10 and 20 passports a month. The reconciliation of the passports was conducted and all assets were accounted for and records were in order.

4.4 Honorary Consul

4.4.1 The Mission has had the same Honorary Consul in Puerto Plata for 12 years. During this period, the Honorary Consul has been providing Consular services by using part of his business premises and arranging for administrative help, as required. Costs incurred are reimbursed by the Mission. The workload and, therefore, expenses have risen with the ever increasing number of Canadian tourists visiting the region.

4.4.2 *** In recognition of this and to address increased workload and provide back-up, the Mission with HQ's agreement, decided to establish a Consulate in new premises and to hire a full time Consular Agent. The Consulate is in a good central location in Puerta Plata and is easily accessed. The Consular Agent reports directly to the Consul in Santo Domingo, has received training from the Mission and has established appropriate procedures for the operation in Puerto Plata.

4.4.3 An outstanding issue regarding previous expenses being claimed by the Honorary Consul needs to be resolved. At issue were both unsubstantiated expenses and the percentage of the Honorary Consul's premises devoted to Consular activities. In the past these expenses had been acknowledged and paid by the Mission. The current HOM was withholding payment until appropriate documentation was presented by the Honorary Consul. The HOM asked the Audit Team to review the disputed expenses with the hope of resolving this situation.

4.4.4 The documentation in question was provided to the Mission by the Honorary Consul and it was determined that the percentage utilization of the Honorary Consul's premises was subject to interpretation. Given the past precedent of paying the percentage claimed, the fact that the premises are no longer being used for Consular business and that the percentage can be argued either way, it is suggested that these past expenses be paid as claimed. Any additional expenses should be reviewed by the Mission and UAM to determine their validity.

Recommendation for the Mission

4.4.5. Reimburse the Honorary Consul for past expenditures based on the documentation submitted and the previous percentage calculation.

4.4.6 Refer all other claims to UAM for review.

Mission Response

4.4.5 As instructed, the Mission has reimbursed the Honorary Consul for past expenditures.

4.4.6 In March 2001, the Honorary Consul presented DFAIT with another supplementary claim. It was reviewed jointly by the Mission, UAM and JPD. UAM has agreed to reimburse certain items with a view of obtaining closure on this matter.

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Date Modified:
2009-02-05