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Audit of the Canadian Embassy, Stockholm

(February 2002)

Executive Summary

An audit of the General Relations, International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Stockholm during the period March 19 to 23, 2001. The previous audit of the Mission took place in February 1996.

Management of the Mission

Generally, staff are hard working, dedicated and professional employees, working together to meet all Program objectives. The HOM arrived in 1999 and initially had frequent and lengthy absences from the Mission as a result of his concurrent responsibilities with five International Committees with whom he represents Canada's interests. However, the number of concurrent responsibilities have diminished and his absences are becoming less frequent. Based on the audit conducted, it was determined that Mission Programs are well managed.

Management of the Mission - Detailed Report 

General Relations Program

The General Relations Program is well managed. It carries a heavy workload and pressure is constant especially at the time of the Swedish EU Presidency.

General Relations Program - Detailed Report 

International Business Development (IBD) Program

The Commercial Section is functioning well and delivering services using the New Approach. Both trade and investment activities are covered by a capable team that works in a very collegial and professional environment. The IBD Program is central to Mission activities and is well managed.

International Business Development (IBD) Program - Detailed Report

Consular Program

The Program is well managed. Effective Consular services are provided to clients on a timely basis.

Consular Program - Detailed Report

Administration Program

The Program is generally well managed. The Program supports the financial operations for the Missions in three Baltic states. The Section is becoming more service oriented and should continue focussing on building better relationships with its clients.

There is a need for the MCO to concentrate on resolving long standing Locally-Engaged Staff (LES) issues. The MCO should develop work plans that better outline to his staff and to the HOM planned activities. The Mission has instituted both bank and post office transfers to minimize the use of cheques.

Administration - Detailed Report

Recommendation Status

This report contains a total of 35 recommendations, of which 32 relate to the Mission and 3 relate to Headquarters. Given the responses received from the Mission 29 recommendations have been implemented, 2 recommendations are in process and 1 recommendation has not been implemented. The Mission indicated it is not in agreement with recommendation 5.4.16. Headquarters responses indicate that the 3 recommendations related to it have been implemented.

Mission Resources Fact Sheet

Human Resources (FTEs)

ProgramCBSLESTotal
Hom Office24.56.5
General Relations12.513.5
IBD16.57.5
Consular0.522.5
Administration0.56.57
Total52227

1 This reflects temporary expansion of LES staff during the 6 month Swedish EU presidency. Actual staff complement is 1.5 LES, although internal changes now planned will increase LES program staff to 2, while lowering IBD LES to 6.

Physical Resources

AssetsOwnedLeased
Chancery 1
OR1 
SQS12
Vehicles3 

Financial Information

LES Salaries$1,090,966
Operational + Capital1,407,731
CB Overtime7,000
Total$2,505,697

Management of the Mission

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The HOM arrived at the Mission in 1999 with a very heavy and demanding workload because of his concurrent responsibilities with the Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference, UN Terrorism Committee, Group of International Advisers to the ICRC, the ICJ Use of Force Case, and the International Criminal Court (ICC). These are Government priorities he had been assigned prior to assuming his role as HOM. These responsibilities initially required frequent and long absences from the Mission. However, over time, some of the responsibilities have diminished and his absences from the Mission are becoming less frequent. Two responsibilities have ended (Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference and UN Terrorism Committee) while the ICRC requires minimal time, two meetings a year for two and a half days each. The ICJ Use of Force Case has been dormant since July 2000 and will remain so until April 2002. The ICC is by far the most time-consuming and is of indefinite duration.

1.1.2 The HOM provided the Audit Team with a compendium of his travel away from the Mission. The number of days he was away from the Mission since September 1999 is as follows:

  • September 1, 1999 to December 31, 1999 - 41 days
  • January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2000 - 113 days
  • January 1, 2001 to March 31, 2001 - 12 days

1.1.3 Because of the HOM's absence, considerable reliance is placed on the IBD Program Manager and General Relations Program Manager who both serve as Chargé d'affaires on a rotational basis. These two Program Heads are designated as Chargé for periods of three months as required. Being away from the Mission for 113 days in 2000 obviously has had an impact on all parties. There is also the immediate time before and after each trip that pre-occupies the HOM's time. To compensate for these absences, the HOM provided each Program Manager with a copy of his Accountability Document and each Program Manager, in consultation with the HOM, prepared a Performance Agreement outlining clear objectives to be achieved in their respective programs.

1.1.4 High level visiting missions have been frequent in recent years and are positively received. Significant resources are required for important periods and this has a considerable affect on program delivery. Annual VIP visits (e.g., the Deputy Minister Country Champion for Investment), the Prime Minister's visit, the Canada-EU Summit and the annual Canadian Swedish Business Association Conference, all occurring during June 2001, will stretch Mission resources beyond previous levels.

1.1.5 The Mission's responsibilities also incorporate the support for Canada-EU agenda for the Swedish EU Presidency from January 1 to June 1, 2001 that will culminate with the late June Summit attended by our Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister and Trade Minister. This will impact significantly on all programs as the Mission prepares for the Summit (i.e., policy, operations/logistics, and media coordination responsibilities).

1.2 Committee of Mission Management (CMM)

1.2.1 Program Managers rely on the CMM where the Management Team discusses program activities. Over the past 15 months, there have been 10 CMM meetings. It is important to have CMM meetings more frequently. Program Managers need to discuss objectives and work plans regularly to assess progress and share information.

Recommendation for the Mission

1.2.2 The CMM should meet more frequently.

Mission Response

1.2.2 As of September 1, 2001 the CMM meets bi-weekly.

Staff Work Plans

1.2.3 The IBD Program Manager and Political Economic Counsellor have developed work plans with each of their staff that outline objectives. These are discussed at regular meetings. The First Secretary Administration Consul meets regularly with his staff. However, clear objectives and work plans have not been outlined for his staff.

Recommendation for the Mission

1.2.4 The First Secretary Administration Consul should develop clear objectives and work plans for his staff.

Mission Response

1.2.4 Each year the MCO has obtained work plans from each member of his staff. The MCO will ensure that these plans are fully discussed with each employee and that clear objectives are set and reviewed at mid and year-end.

Employee Couple

1.2.5 The IBD and General Relations Program Managers are an employee couple and act as Chargé on a rotational basis. Because of the frequent absences of the HOM, the additional pressures of managing the Mission and their programs are felt by both. Finding time to spend annual leave together is a challenge.

Recommendation for HPF

1.2.6 Employee couples are better suited for larger missions with more backup resources.

HPF Response

1.2.6 HPF has discussed the situation with the HOM. The proposed replacements for the IBD and General Relations Program Managers in the summer of 2002 are not for an employee couple. That said, it should be underlined that the pressures on the assignment process regarding employee couples all run in the opposite direction. We are under great pressure to facilitate careers by finding postings for both members of employee couples. Further, the number of such employee couples has risen dramatically in recent years, to a point where your recommendation that such assignments should be restricted to "larger missions with more backup resources" would mean that our ability to assign employee couples would fall far short of what would be required. In the vast majority of cases, one of the employees would have to agree to go on Leave Without Pay. In our experience, employee couple assignments have generally worked well, even in smaller missions; the situation in Stockholm was unique and aggravated by the frequent absences of the HOM. We would not expect such difficulties to arise very frequently in other instances of employee couples assigned together.

Social Secretary Position

1.2.7 Responsibilities have been added to and deleted from the Social Secretary position since 1991. This has led to a widely variable role over the years and under utilization with the current configuration. With an additional temporary position for the duration of the EU Presidency (January to June 2001), the daily media scan has been re-designated. The Canada-Based Secretary is responsible for all arrangements regarding the HOM's international travel and the Social Secretary handles the HOM's social schedule and spends approximately 10% of her time on consular back-up duties. While the incumbent has questioned the classification level, the position and its duties should be examined to determine if a contribution could be made to other programs, such as the insufficiently resourced General Relations Section.

Recommendation for the Mission

1.2.8 The job description should be updated to reflect actual duties and new duties added to fully utilize the position.

Mission Response

1.2.8 The job description is currently under review in consultation with the incumbent and, once completed, the Mission Classification Committee will meet to assess whether a revision to the classification level is required. The recommendations of the Classification Committee will be provided to the employee.

General Relations Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The Counsellor (FS-02) is responsible for overall management of the General Relations Program. Her responsibilities incorporate the support for the Canada-EU agenda for the Swedish EU Presidency that concludes with the Summit in late June, attended by the Canadian Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Trade Minister. She is supported by a Public Affairs/Information Officer (LE-08) and a General Relations Officer (LE-09), a term position that expires June 30, 2001. The term position is providing support during the period of the Swedish EU Presidency.

2.1.2 The General Relations Program is well managed. Because of the HOM's concurrent responsibilities, he has placed considerable reliance on the Counsellor as Chargé and as an adjunct in carrying out some HOM responsibilities in the Political and Cultural/Public Affairs Program. The workload is heavy and the pressure is constant, particularly with the Swedish EU Presidency at this time and the coming Summit this June.

International Business Development (IBD) Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The IBD Program in Stockholm is headed by the Commercial Counsellor who arrived at the Mission in 1998 and occupies the sole Canada-Based trade position. The IBD program has four Commercial Officers (CO), two Commercial Assistants (CA) and a Senior Secretary who is shared with the Political Program. Six of the seven LES were hired recently (within the last two years), with the exception of one CO who has been at the Mission for 10 years. The Commercial Counsellor has renamed the positions of the Commercial Officers and Assistants to reflect their broader role of investment as well as trade work. Staff refer to them as Business Development Officers and Assistants (BDO/BDA), although this change is not indicated formally on the Mission organizational chart.

3.1.2 The Commercial Section has responsibility for all of Sweden. However, the IBD work for southern Sweden is shared with Copenhagen. Although the rationale for sharing was not clear originally and there were some initial reservations, there is agreement that the relationship is working satisfactorily. The Nordic and Baltic countries operate independently of the Swedish IBD Program. Each office services similar sectors and all officers work collaboratively.

3.1.3 Canadian and Swedish business activities are increasing. Similarities in business culture, demographic and environmental factors contribute to business exchanges. Swedish foreign direct investment in Canada has been increasing significantly over the past decade and Canadian investment in Sweden has grown at the fastest rate in Europe. Strategic Business Development Plans are in place reflecting the priority sectors and are aimed at raising the profile of SMEs visiting Sweden.

3.2 Management of the IBD Program

3.2.1 The IBD Program is under solid leadership and management and is functioning well. It is recognized that IBD is the main program driving the Mission. The Commercial Counsellor is acting in an EX-01 position and has an Executive Group Performance Agreement.

3.2.2 Because of the HOM's concurrent responsibilities, he has placed considerable reliance on the Commercial Counsellor as Chargé and as an adjunct when conducting some HOM responsibilities such as the corporate liaison program, investment promotion and strategic alliances. The Counsellor has embraced these opportunities with recognized success and his high performance level is acknowledged in his Performance Agreement. His augmentation of the Canadian Swedish Business Association (CSBA) in both Sweden and Canada is also cited as further evidence of his achievements. In addition, he has an Investment Promotion Strategy Plan with a Corporate Liaison Program targeting at least two visits per month which is being achieved. That said, the shared responsibilities of Chargé do diminish his time to manage the IBD Program. Consequently, he has redistributed some of his operational responsibilities to his staff.

3.2.3 As Program Manager, the Commercial Counsellor has good managerial controls in place. Morale and satisfaction are high among staff of the section. He has adopted a mentor role with certain staff members and, during the annual performance appraisals, mutually agreed objectives are set and then evaluated. All appraisals are up-to-date. Semi-annual reviews are a goal the Manager is striving for.

3.2.4 The regular staff meetings held every two weeks are regarded positively as a communication mechanism. Both the frequency and duration of these meetings are considered appropriate. A one-day annual retreat away from the office is held. The Commercial Counsellor has an open-door policy for his program staff as well as for all staff at the Mission, which is welcomed and used.

Personnel

3.2.5 Six of the seven Commercial Section staff have been hired under the present Commercial Counsellor and have been selected for their sector expertise, capabilities and initiative. Each officer manages her/his own portfolio which allows the Commercial Counsellor to focus on investment. All four Commercial Officers are at the LE-09 level, while the two Commercial Assistants are at the LE-05 level and, therefore, movement may be limited.

3.2.6 Each officer is responsible for his/her own portfolio with specific priority and secondary sectors. Two officers have recently assumed additional sectors from the Commercial Counsellor to allow him to devote more time to other responsibilities. Each BDA handles the general inquiries for two BDOs. One BDA serves as an information officer, handling and circulating the incoming written general requests; he is also the WIN Champion.

3.2.7 IBD information sources in English are limited and, therefore, Swedish language abilities are advantageous. All of the LES trade staff are Swedish speaking, three of whom are Swedish Nationals. The Mission Social Secretary/Consular Assistant has customarily performed a morning synopsis of the Swedish media for all programs, however, this function has been assumed by the temporary position of the General Relations Officer who will discontinue this service as well as his employment on June 30, 2001 at the completion of his responsibilities for the Swedish-EU Presidency. In light of this, the application of translation software packages should be explored. Although imperfect, these methods are improving and may be sufficient for a daily initial topical scan.

Recommendation for the Mission

3.2.8 The Mission should, in consultation with TCE, consider the application of translation software packages.

Mission Response

3.2.8 The Mission has consulted with TCE to explore options for acquiring software translation packages. Unfortunately, a Swedish translation software tool is not available through SXCI, and funds are not available in the Mission budget to procure an online translation package, even if it were available and deemed to be a priority.

3.3 Providing Operational Support to Canadian Businesses

Resources

3.3.1 The hospitality allocation for the Commercial Section has remained stable for several years. In addition to his own hospitality events, the Counsellor contributes to large events at the Mission. For the IBD Program as a whole, he often co-hosts and shares costs with companies. In addition, staff of the Commercial Section are reimbursed for their networking expenditures, although the amounts claimed to date are relatively small. The travel budget has been sufficient, but an increase in out calls by the Commercial Section will necessitate increases in travel and hospitality funds.

3.3.2 As the New Approach becomes more entrenched within the Section, officers will make more out calls (i.e. border-in and border-out) and will require more travel and hospitality funds. Tools to enable officers to work away from the office more often could be utilized to advantage. For example, cellular phones are the business standard in a country leading the world in wireless communication and would facilitate work outside the office, as would remote Internet access. This problem is not specific to Stockholm, but appears to be one common to most missions.

Recommendations for the Mission

3.3.3 The Commercial Section should track the costs associated with the implementation of the New Approach and periodically report to HQ (functional and geographic bureaux) any shortfalls in its travel and hospitality budget and the effect on further implementation of the New Approach.

3.3.4 The provision of tools such as cellular phones and remote access to Internet should be considered to foster greater mobility of staff.

Mission Responses

3.3.3 The Commercial Section has begun to track more closely the associated costs of implementing the New Approach and will report its findings to REN/REB at the end of the current fiscal year. If additional travel and/or hospitality funds are needed, the Mission will submit a request to RAM accordingly.

3.3.4 All Business Development Officers have been offered cellular phones, to be used for work-related purposes. As Stockholm has been selected as a pilot Mission for the implementation of Signet Remote Access, the CMM will contemplate whether any members of the LES should be considered for remote access in the FY 2002-2003, budgets permitting.

Client and Contact Lists Management

3.3.5 The Mission WIN, Outlook and ACCESS are used to maintain local contact lists. Efforts have been made to centralize the contact lists for the entire Mission and to remove inactive names. However, this task has not been completed.

Recommendation for the Mission

3.3.6 The Mission should integrate its local contact lists for the entire Mission.

Mission Response

3.3.6 Once the pending decision by HQ is made regarding the chosen platform to replace WIN Exports Online and Mission WIN as our business client databases, the Mission will be in a better position to implement a cost effective plan to integrate our local contacts across all programmes into one central database.

3.4 New Approach

3.4.1 The Commercial Officers are committed to the New Approach for service delivery. As noted, the IBD Program staff have assumed their position recently and consequently were not exposed to the world-wide New Approach training. Interest in the next wave of training is explicitly expressed and would be beneficial to reinforce delivery standards.

3.4.2 It is recognized that the number of new clients coming to Sweden has been declining, particularly among SMEs. The Mission is addressing the situation by increasing out calls, participating in major trade shows, NEXOS missions and Nordic journalist tours, for example.

3.4.3 Each year, the officers have increased their use of the Post Support Unit mainly for advice on problematic cases such as suspected global inquiries and guidance replying to some requests. The Unit is seen as a good resource.

3.4.4 Stockholm participated in both Client Surveys and received positive ratings from business and partner-clients both years. All staff are familiar with the results of the latest Client Survey and met with the Program Manager to review the outcome. Commercial Officers have been encouraged to increase the number of calls to local companies throughout the territory and to increase participation in major European trade shows and events. Indications are that additional direction, guidelines and training from TCS could be beneficial in Stockholm, the same situation as occurs at other missions.

3.4.5 WIN Online is used by all the trade staff to track service delivery. WIN Online is operable, albeit slower than would be optimal. Training for the new Mission WIN Champion is desired. Other resources and tools, such as IBOC, Dow Jones Interactive and CITRIX are used by staff. For the latter two applications, access, speed and stability are not ideal and cause frustration contributing to disuse. The observation was made that Dow Jones Interactive and CITRIX are not easy to use and some type of training would be advantageous.

3.4.6 Three staff participated in shadow-training on the CITRIX application and rated this technique positively. Because training on TAMS was completed just prior to the audit visit, and the system was introduced on April 1, 2001, it was not possible to comment on whether the system functions properly and generates pertinent information for decision-making at the Mission.

Recommendation for TCS

3.4.7 Additional New Approach training should be provided to Mission staff. Other training requests should be considered.

TCS Response

3.4.7 Supplementary training on the New Approach is being planned for this fall/winter. TCS will undertake reinforcement workshops at selected posts by the end of the fiscal year. This recommendation will be taken into consideration when determining the priority list of posts. Also, two, and possibly three, Stockholm trade staff will take the one-week training session for new LES that will be held in Ottawa this Fall. Soon there will be two additional electronic resources to support professional development objectives at the post: a New Approach introductory course will be available on the CFSI Virtual Campus in the fall 2001 and the reconfigured HORIZONS intranet site will be released in December 2001.

Mission Comment

3.4.7 Three LES Commercial staff participated in the training/outreach sessions in Canada, in October and November 2001, and the Mission will submit an application to TCS/TCM for the remaining eligible LES member to participate in the session planned for March 2002.

3.4.8 The Business Mission Agreement has not been used often in handling visit requests from partner-clients. Discussions with the Post Support Unit would be helpful in increasing its application to control the impact of visits on program delivery. The Business Mission Agreement is intended to help control the organization of business visits and would articulate the responsibilities and obligations of both parties. Its application could be particularly useful when requests are made on short notice and it is difficult to adjust other commitments. The Post Support Unit provides clarification of the Business Mission Agreement and TCS offers tangible support if visitors offer resistance.

Recommendation for the Mission

3.4.9 The Commercial Section should contact PSU for clarification about the use of the Business Mission Agreement.

Mission Response

3.4.9 The Commercial Program Manager has sought clarification from PSU and TCS representatives regarding the appropriate use of the Business Mission Agreement, and will make use of this tool for the next applicable Business Mission to Sweden.

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Date Modified:
2008-11-27