An audit of the General Relations (GR), International Business Development (IBD), Consular, and Administration Programs in Mexico was conducted in Mexico City during the period March 3 to 14, 2003. The Trade Consulates in Guadalajara and Monterrey were audited during the period March 10 to 12, 2003. Three of the seven Honorary Consuls in Mexico were visited during the period March 10 to 13, 2003 (Acapulco, Oaxaca and Puerto Vallarta). Mexico was last audited in June 1998.
The Mission is undergoing a workload crisis caused by the increasing importance of Mexico as a country of bilateral and multilateral priority, and by a large and continuing number of high level visits. Resources by no means have kept pace with the workload. Although excellent results have been achieved to date, Mexico is handling this workload at a pace that is unsustainable. The effects of the resultant pressure on staff in terms of stress and burnout are evident. A twofold solution is required. First, the Mission's immediate resource needs must be addressed. Instances are cited where this is already taking place. Second, Mission management with help from Headquarters must alter its approach to dealing with the workload, and take immediate steps to improve staff morale and alienation. A number of interpersonal actions for management to implement are set out, including the adoption of established departmental approaches (e.g. e3)(1) that are aimed at reducing the problems caused by workload vs. resource imbalances.
Mexico's increasing size and importance also creates a need for a Deputy Head of Mission position for the Embassy, and Consul General status for Monterrey. The former would spread the managerial load of the Head of Mission (HOM), and the latter would improve coverage of Northern Mexico and reduce some of the Embassy's workload.
Chancery overcrowding is being addressed by a combination of internal office space rationalization and by having the Canada Education Centre (CEC) vacate the office space they occupy on the ground floor. The CEC will move out when their MOU with the Department expires in March 2005.
The establishment of a proposed visits unit as a common service within the Administration Program should reduce the administrative and logistical burden of visits on Mission programs.
Mexico is a key bilateral relationship, as set out in the Department's Strategic Priorities. Workload has escalated dramatically since the election of the new Mexican government in 2000, and the program has established an enviable record of excellence and effectiveness. Nevertheless, the Program is experiencing the same unsustainable workload pressures as the rest of the Mission. In partial recognition of this, an additional FS 01 Officer will be assigned to the Political Section in the Summer of 2003. Communications and strategic planning need to be strengthened through periodic staff retreats and planning sessions, and more area travel and outreach are needed to enhance exposure to all areas of the country. The Congressional and Public Affairs Section represents too large a span of control for one manager, given the growing importance of each unit. Congressional relations should be transferred to the Economics Section for the short term, leaving the re-titled Public Affairs Section to be headed by a specialist in that field. Recommendations are raised on resource issues. Library services need to be upgraded and refocused so that the Mission's programs are better served.
Mexico is the Department's most sensitive consular program, given the large numbers of Canadian tourists and residents and the ten points of consular service delivery in the country. In general, the Program is running well, and Mission management and Headquarters are closely monitoring issues of client service quality. Given the importance of the Honorary Consuls to the program delivery network, serious attention should be focussed on their remuneration, so that it is commensurate with effort expended.
Growth in DFAIT and Other Government Department (OGD) programs in the Embassy and Consulates, and the number of provincial and other chancery co-locators need to be accompanied by an appropriate growth in administrative staff. The current imbalance is being addressed by the arrival during the Summer of 2003 of a fourth CBS Deputy Management/Consular Officer (MCO), and a request to regularize a locally-engaged staff (LES) Property Assistant contract position. Recommendations are raised for additional resources for fiscal year (FY) 2003-2004.
A series of recommendations are raised to put in place the elements described in Management of the Mission that are required to raise staff morale and rebuild confidence and trust. They address conditions affecting the entire mission.
The Department needs to find an IMS solution to the problem of shadow accounting systems. Although the Mission considers it a best practice to maintain a large number of manually-updated spread sheets to track financial expenditures, the Department should provide system-generated, user-friendly reports for management that would eliminate the need for missions to invent their own reports. This same situation has been observed during other mission audits. Mexico's financial systems are running well, and recommendations are raised to fine-tune procedures, and to provide an incremental Assistant Accountant position.
A telecommunications annual work plan should be developed so that an equitable balance can be established between the Mission's needs, its responsibilities in Mexico to maintain the MITNET hub for nine offices, and the needs of the eight missions that have to be served by regional travel. A third telecommunications specialist may be required. Accountability Agreements should be established between the Mission, HQ and the SAs and ELs that clearly set out priorities, objectives and expected results.
A total of 67 audit recommendations are raised in the report; 64 are addressed to the Mission and three are addressed to Headquarters (HQ). Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the 67 recommendations, management has stated that 46 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 21 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.
|Program||FY 2003-2004||Medium Term||Long Term|
|Management||CBS||1 Deputy HOM|
|General Relations||CBS||1 Political Officer FS-01||Position created April 1, 2003||1 Economic Officer FS-01|
|1 Congressional Officer FS-02|
|LES||1 Congressional Officer||Convert from term position||1 General Relations Assistant|
|1 Congressional Assistant||Convert from term position||1 Cultural Assistant|
|1 Cultural Officer||Regularize contractor|
|1 Media Assistant|
|IBD||LES||1 Agriculture Canada Assistant - Mexico||1 IBD Assistant - Mexico|
|1 IBD Assistant - Monterrey||1 IBD Officer - Monterrey|
|1 IBD Assistant - Guadalajara||1 IBD Officer - Guadalajara|
|1 IBD Officer - Mexico|
|Consular||LES||1 Consular Assistant||Position created April 1, 2003|
|Administration||CBS||1 DMCO AS-05||Position created April 1, 2003||1 Technician (EL)|
|LES||1 Property Assistant||Regularize contractor||1 Personnel Officer||LES for OGD Program support as required|
|1 Assistant Accountant||1 Visits Assistant|
|1 Administration Assistant||1 Translator (Regularize contractor)|
|OGDs||CBS||1 Agriculture Food Specialist||Arriving Summer of 2003||New and/or increased presence|
|IBD - Mexico City||5||12||17|
|EDC - Mexico City||1||1.5||2.5|
|- Honorary Consul Staff *||0||4||4|
|Province of Alberta||1||1||2|
Honorary Consuls are located in Acapulco, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Tijuana, Oaxaca and San Jose del Cabo. LES are located one each in Acapulco and Cancun, and two in Puerto Vallarta.
|Chancery - Mexico City||1||0|
|SQs - Mexico City||1||24|
There are currently two employee couples at the Mission.
|EDC - Monterrey||0||1.5||1.5|
|Administration and Consular||0||1||1|
|Administration and Consular||0||1||1|
1. e3 = equilibrium, effectiveness and excellence. This is a departmental approach to striking a balance between clear priorities and the resources available to achieve them. It is a formal process that seeks to find new ways of doing things and new ways for staff to organize for the identification and delivery on priorities. It is also an informal process, a way of thinking about activities, objectives and clients.