An internal audit of the International Business Development (IBD), General Relations, Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Beirut during the period October 30 to November 3, 2000. A previous “Advise and Assist” visit was conducted in 1996 as part of a general audit of Damascus.
The Mission was re-opened in 1995 with a plan to remain a Category III Micro-Mission. The reality has been one of rapid growth with a current complement of nine Canada-Based Staff (CBS) and eighteen Locally-Engaged Staff (LES). It is expected that the status of this Mission will become Category II in the near future, and the Audit Team fully supports this change.
The Mission now has a dynamic management team in place and has an impressive complement of CB and LE Staff. This is a very active Mission with a growing workload, a challenging Visitor Program and a Consular Program experiencing huge volume increases.
The General Relations Program (GR) must devote some time to formulating work plans. The support of the HOM will be important in this regard. The status and role of the Consular Assistant and Translator/Social Secretary position needs to be clarified, as the position description is no longer representative of the current activities of the incumbent who is 100 percent devoted to the GR Program. The GR Program could achieve much more with its limited resources if it had systemic support from its Geographic and Functional units at HQ.
Lebanon is a varied environment with respect to IBD, and, although limited in scope, there is greater potential than has been realized to date. The limited IBD resources at this Mission will have to be utilized very efficiently to make tangible progress. There is a need to formalize objectives for IBD staff, as well as a need for additional training for both the Commercial Officer and the Commercial Assistant.
The Consular Program is extremely active, with Beirut the third most active Mission in the world for passport services. The recent addition of a CB Consular Program will assist with this very heavy workload. Consular cases can be protracted due to complicated local bureaucracy, meaning contacts with local authorities are very important. Another full time Assistant position is required. A review of the Consular Emergency Contingency Plan is underway, with the primary goal being to put in place more wardens.
Despite a very heavy workload on the Consular side, effective administrative services are provided to all staff. The implementation of published service standards would strengthen the relationship with clients.
The Mission's properties are managed effectively. The Mission has accommodated new staff, both CBS and LES, in offices that are now near capacity, and has leased new staff quarters that take advantage of a changing market. The Mission has experienced expansion in the Immigration Program. Consideration is being given to moving the Chancery to a better location near the centre of the city.
This report contains 30 recommendations, 28 directed at the Mission and 2 at Headquarters units. Twenty-six recommendations have been implemented and 4 are still in progress.
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* As a Category III Mission, the HOM is allocated an SQ, not an OR. Also, one SQ is occupied by an employee-couple.