An audit of the General Relations, International Business Development, Consular, and Administration Programs in Lisbon was conducted during the period June 14 to 17, 2004. The last audit of the Mission was conducted in November 1995 and the scope of the audit was limited to the Administration and the Consular Programs.
This Mission is well managed with capable Canada-Based Staff (CBS) and a complement of long-serving and dedicated Locally Engaged Staff (LES). There is good communication and coordination on the part of the management team with all programs well managed and operating effectively. Communication between management and staff, however, could be strengthened particularly as it relates to compensation decisions affecting LES.
The General Relations (GR) Program provides good support to the Head of Mission (HOM) on bilateral issues and is responsive to tasking from Headquarters (HQ). The program, which is highly reactive, could benefit from a formalized work plan which focuses on expected results and time-frames for deliverables. There are also advantages to be gained through better integrating the public affairs function with other Mission programs.
The International Business Development (IBD) Program is well managed. An experienced Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) provides good direction and support to his staff. The program is challenged by a low level of interest by clients and is pre-occupied with outreach activities outside its territory and in market access and trouble shooting activities. Current staffing levels may not be justified. There needs to be a more dynamic program of outreach activities with appropriate follow-up measures The STC can enhance staff performance through increased monitoring of individual activities and outputs.
The Consular Program operates well with experienced staff and effective support from two Honorary Consuls. The program needs to be more proactive in encouraging Canadians to register in its Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) system and by establishing a warden system. Better control over passport issuance is required by having the Management/Consular Officer (MCO) more actively engaged in the process.
The Administration Program is well managed and clients are satisfied with the level of service provided. The Committee on Mission Management (CMM) is regularly involved in administrative matters. While there is good teamwork in the program with well defined responsibilities and appropriate management oversight, staff would welcome more formalized meetings and access to the MCO. Several minor observations are being raised to improve operations and increase efficiency.
A total of 21 audit recommendations are raised in the report, all addressed to the Mission. Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decision made, as well as future action. Of the 21 recommendations, management has stated that 14 have been implemented. For each of the remaining 7 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.
The scope of the audit included a review of Mission Management and the General Relations (GR), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs. An appendix to this report lists, by program, the specific areas that were examined during the audit.
The audit objectives were to:
|Assets||Crown Leased||Crown Owned|
|Operating Budget (N001)||$1,329,076|
|CBS Salaries (N011)||374,897|
|CB Overtime (N011)||21,000|
|LES Salaries (N012)||1,183,321|
1.1.1 The Mission in Lisbon has five Canada-based staff (CBS) and 22 locally engaged staff (LES). There are no other government department (OGD) representatives at the Mission. The Mission is well managed by the HOM who is supported by three capable program managers. The HOM interfaces with all programs as is appropriate and has a positive reputation among staff. There is a sense of team work and coordination between programs and there is a good committee structure in place. The Committee on Mission Management (CMM) meets regularly and is involved in and kept advised of administrative matters. Appraisals are complete and up-to-date.
1.1.2 More effort is required to enhance communications within the Mission. Staff cited a need for more general staff meetings to keep informed of latest developments and to provide a forum for information sharing between programs and for staff to pose questions to management. Circulation of CMM minutes would also contribute to better awareness and a sense of inclusion by staff. In the recent past, the LES Committee has been used to announce management decisions, such as the latest decision to freeze salaries. This practice is not viewed positively by staff and resulted in the LES Committee resigning . Staff would rather receive such information from their program manager or the HOM.
1.1.3 The Mission should ensure regular staff meetings are held and that management decisions are communicated directly to staff.
1.1.4 CMM minutes should be distributed to all staff.
1.1.3 Regular staff meeting are being held and management decisions are communicated directly to staff.
1.1.4 CMM minutes should not be distributed to all staff in order to maintain confidentiality and to permit frank and open discussions among Mission management about sensitive issues, including ongoing processes such as reallocation and redeployment. A lot of ideas and information being discussed at the CMM are not automatically transformed into decisions. Having the minutes available to all staff would undermine the necessary candour that is essential to make the CMM work and would create harmful uncertainty about options that might never materialize. The CMM would not be able to carry on its work freely and its members would feel constrained from contributing in an open-minded way. Decisions taken by the CMM are communicated to Mission staff as appropriate in the interest of ensuring that they receive timely and accurate information on issues directly affecting them. We have noted the interest expressed by LES in improving communication within the Mission and we are working to enhance their awareness and sense of inclusion by increasing transparency in Mission operations in a manner compatible with sound management practices. We believe that this recommendation should be withdrawn.
Distribution of CMM minutes is a common occurrence at missions and considered a good practice. These minutes need not be comprehensive and would not include discussion or decisions that are personal or otherwise sensitive in nature. The intent is to inform all staff of the on-going management and operational issues being discussed and decisions made. This enhances transparency, allows staff to incorporate management's thinking into their operations and instils a sense of inclusion and trust.
2.1.1 The General Relations Program is managed by an experienced officer ***. He is supported by a public affairs officer (LE-09) and an assistant (LE-06). The program supports the HOM in bilateral relations, delivering demarches and responding to tasking from Headquarters (HQ). Public relations, cultural activities, Canadian studies and media relations are handled by the Public Affairs Officer and the Assistant.
2.1.2 The program's activities are based on the goals, objectives and priorities set out in the HOM's Performance Agreement. These are augmented and adjusted through on-going discussion with and direction from the HOM and periodic tasking from HQ. The program does not incorporate these activities into a formal plan. Day-to-day operations are highly reactive. A more strategic and formal approach could be beneficial in linking HQ and HOM priorities to program goals and objectives and then incorporating these into a work plan which identifies related operational activities, assigned responsibilities, time lines, resource requirements and expected outputs. A work plan can also be an effective management and communication mechanism between the HOM and program manager and program staff.
2.1.3 There is also a need for greater communication and integration of the public affairs function with IBD activities. This can be facilitated through consultation during the planning process and periodic meetings between the programs during the year.
2.1.4 The GR Program should document a strategic approach supported by detailed work plans and report against these to Mission management and HQ.
2.1.5 The planning process and inter-program meetings should be used to integrate public affairs and IBD activities.
2.1.4 The arrival of the new counsellor (Political) in September 2004 provides an opportunity for the development of the strategic approach recommended. Actions such as the revision and updating of job descriptions for the LES in the GR section will be undertaken and completed during the current FY. Regular GR section meetings have been re-instituted (September 2004) as a tool for developing a more results-oriented approach to management of public affairs, cultural relations and academic affairs programming. Work plans will be developed during the coming quarter (Oct-Dec) for use in evaluating actions under way and planned for the current and new FY.
2.1.5 Action has already been undertaken to implement this recommendation and a joint PA/IBD activity is planned for October/November.
3.1.1 The IBD Program is managed by an experienced senior trade commissioner (STC) who is supported by three LE-09 officers and two LE-06 assistants. The program is well managed. The STC is respected by his staff, exhibiting effective leadership through providing a balanced approach of oversight, direction and support.
3.1.2 The program has well documented plans in place centred around the Client Service Fund (CSF) with well established sector responsibilities and duties divided evenly between officers and assistants. Staff are knowledgeable with a good understanding of the goals, objectives and challenges facing the program. The New Approach is being followed with the InfoCentre concept in place. CSF funds are fully utilized, effectively leveraging program initiatives and activities. These funds, however, have been reduced from $45,000 to $30,000.
3.1.3 The major challenge facing the program is the low level of economic interest evidenced by the number of enquiries, visitors and missions and investment activity. Much of the focus is on outcall and outreach activity in Canada and third countries to stimulate interest in the local market. Given the circumstances, these activities are valid; however, the resources devoted to them are not sustainable. Much of the program's value added is currently provided through trouble shooting and market access issues. The program's resources are high compared to existing pressures. The workload of one Business Development Officer (BDO) could be consolidated among the remaining staff.
3.1.4 The program would benefit from a more proactive program of outcalls, developing an aggressive outcall strategy and validating these efforts by measuring outputs and results through more follow-up.
3.1.5 To ensure that staff efforts are maximized, the STC needs to formally monitor individual performance and output on a regular basis. By periodically taking stock of officers activities and results (e.g. WIN entries, outcalls completed, reports produced, etc.) the STC can hold officers responsible for their level of activity and outputs produced and measure individual performance.
3.1.6 Classification level of the commercial assistants should be reviewed by comparing with HQ competency profiles and, if required, adjusted (preferably on turnover of incumbent). Job level and competency of the two positions differ; one, with more program responsibility, including the Info Centre, compared to the other, which has primarily administrative support duties.
3.1.7 Develop an outcall strategy and program with follow-up action on results achieved.
3.1.8 The STC should develop performance standards to hold officers accountable for activities and outputs.
3.1.9 The classification level of the commercial assistant positions should be reviewed.
3.1.7 The STC has implemented a series of individual meetings with commercial officers which included a review of the outcall strategy and set quantitative and qualitative standards for outcalls.
3.1.8 In large part, the requirement for performance standards is being addressed in the regular individual meetings described in 3.1.7 above. In addition, the STC intends to use the annual appraisal process more rigorously in suggesting areas of improvement and providing constructive criticism of the COs work.
3.1.9 This matter has already been raised with HQ. One of the two assistants recently changed jobs within the Mission when her position became vacant. The Mission proposed that it be reclassified to a level LES 5 (from LES 6). This was not possible because of the constraints on staff restructuring imposed by headquarters. The Mission will examine classification levels after ITCan finishes its reallocation process.
4.1.1 The Consular Program is well managed by the MCO who is leaving this summer. The section is comprised of three locally engaged consular officers assisted by the receptionist as needed. Staff work effectively as a team in assuring timely service to clients throughout Portugal, with the Honorary Consulates (HonCons) in Faro and Punto Delgado offering excellent value for money.
4.1.2 The Mission maintains good communications with the Honorary Consulates in Faro and Punta Delgado that provide notarial services and manage a high volume of consular cases each year. Excellent relations exist between the consular officers and the HonCon assistants who have been trained by Mission staff both on-site and in Lisbon. The HonCon agreements and appraisals are updated annually.
4.1.3 The Mission needs to be more active in encouraging Canadians to register in the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) system. There are currently 522 registrants, a fraction of the estimated 20,000 Canadian citizens in Portugal. There is also no warden system in place. Given that the normal mode of contact with registrants is by telephone, it is recommended that a warden network be developed, as calling every registrant in the event of an emergency would prove impractical for Mission staff to undertake.
4.1.4 The Mission needs to encourage Canadians to register in ROCA; for example, by placing an annual advertisement in newspapers.
4.1.5 The Mission should establish a warden network to assist in communicating with the Canadian community.
4.1.4 A message will be prepared and published in local newspapers regarding ROCA in the coming weeks. The Mission will also continue reminders to walk-in clients to register in ROCA. Consular staff currently attach ROCA forms with new passports issued and sent to clients.
4.1.5 The MCO will start the process to put in place a new warden system. Expected completion date Dec. 2005
4.1.6 The Mission Passport/Label Inventory was found to be in order. Final approval for passport issuance is given by one of the locally engaged consular officers. Given the sensitivity of this program, the audit team has concerns with this arrangement. The team believes there should be a final check of passports by the MCO prior to issuance to clients.
4.1.7 The MCO should approve all passports prior to issuance.
5.1.1 The Administration Program is managed by an MCO who has been at the Mission for almost three years and who will be leaving this summer. The MCO has garnered the respect of his staff and colleagues and is considered open minded, fair, and diligent. The MCO has the support of the HOM and the CMM is regularly involved in and kept apprised of administrative matters. The MCO encourages a sense of teamwork in administration and high quality work from his staff while empowering them to handle their daily responsibilities. The section is well resourced, both in terms of staffing and funding. Staff are experienced and the reporting structure sees most employees reporting directly to the office manager, who is the Mission accountant. The reporting structure allows the MCO to dedicate more of his time to managing the program.
5.1.2 Although good communication exists in the section, staff indicated a desire for more formalized meetings and access to the MCO. This is particularly important as most employees report to the office manager. Meetings are currently organized on an as needed basis, usually bringing together teams of employees to tackle specific challenges. These team meetings have proven useful and should continue; however, regular staff meetings for administrative staff should be instituted to share information and reinforce priorities as a group.
5.1.3 Establish regular section meetings for the Administration Program.
5.1.4 The Mission has been doing a satisfactory job of completing performance appraisals, with only a few appraisals outstanding at the time of the audit. Most job descriptions were updated in 1999 and still reflect duties being performed. More focus could be placed on performance measurement through the development of individual accountability agreements for LES officers and objectives setting and workplans for other staff. Staff indicated a desire for more verbal feedback on performance as part of the appraisal review process, and those reporting to the office manager would like the MCO to be more involved in the review process.
5.1.5 Accountability agreements and objectives should be developed as part of the appraisal process.
5.1.5 Upon her arrival at the post, the MCO met individually with employees to discuss their job descriptions and duties. The new appraisal system, PMP (Performance Management Program), which focuses on accountability and objectives will be implemented in April 2005 and will address this concern.
5.2.1 The MCO and the Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD) have made progress in updating the benefits package over the last year, with the addition of a medical plan and the anticipated launching of pension and life insurance plans by the end of 2004.
5.2.2 The LES did not receive a pay increase under salary revision this fiscal year, resulting in confusion and disappointment. The LES did not feel properly informed of all the factors involved in taking this decision. The announcement was made by management via the LES Committee, which resulted in staff hearing they would not be granted an increase from colleagues. The former LES Committee resigned following the announcement, and staff would like further explanation for this decision, including interpretation of the HAY data used. While a new LES Committee has been named, terms of reference have yet to be developed for the Committee.
5.2.3 Terms of reference need to be developed for the LES Committee.
5.2.3 Implemented. The establishment of the LES Committee is fairly new at the Mission and the Committee has only been active in the past year. Upon her arrival at the post, the new MCO was briefed by the HOM about the background of the LES Committee. The MCO then proceeded to provide the LES Committee with information on forming a committee as well as the purpose, roles and responsibilities of the members. The MCO has also offered to meet unofficially with committee members to address any questions and to provide guidance on the establishing of the Committee. The current LES Committee is an interim committee with new nominations expected shortly.
5.2.4 There has only been one staffing competition during the past five years, this being the recent competition for the vacant consular officer (LE-09) position. This competition was reviewed by the Audit Team and found to be conducted in a fair manner and properly documented.
5.2.5 Classification levels have not been reviewed at the Mission for many years. For some positions, there is evidence that the levels are too high. It is suggested that job descriptions and classification levels be reviewed prior to any future staffing competitions and, where justified, positions be submitted to the Classification Committee.
5.2.6 Review job descriptions and classification for positions prior to staffing.
5.2.6 It is not anticipated that staffing will occur within the next two years; however, the Mission will commit to reviewing job descriptions and classifications when this does occur.
5.3.1 A good level of service is provided by the Property Manager who has been in her present position since 1998. Staff quarters (SQs) are Crown-leased with landlords assuming most responsibility for maintenance. The Mission has developed a preventive maintenance workplan for items outside of the landlord's responsibility. The chancery is in a modern commercial building located in downtown Lisbon. It is spacious and offers excellent working conditions. The Official Residence (OR) is a Crown-owned house also located in downtown Lisbon, near ORs of other diplomatic missions. It offers functional facilities for official representation and has very comfortable living space. Recent improvements have been made to this property to improve its functionality and living space.
5.3.2 The section would benefit from streamlining the work order process. The property manager currently takes requests from clients both verbally and in writing and then personally fills out the work order form. It is recommended that clients fill in a work order form and then forward the form electronically to the property manager for action and follow-up.
5.3.3 An electronic work order form should be developed and used for all property and materiel requests.
5.3.3 Effective immediately, requests for maintenance/material services must be submitted in writing/e-mail. Given the size of the Mission and the limited number of SQs, this system meets the needs of the Mission.
5.4.1 Finance is delivered by an experienced accountant who has been with the Mission for sixteen years, reporting to the MCO who serves as Mission Financial Officer (MFO). An administrative assistant assists the accountant when necessary and acts as a back-up during absences. The finance function is well managed with good controls in place. The accountant also serves as office manager, supervising three staff directly. This structure works well as it allows the MCO to focus on management issues while the office manager handles most daily operations and serves as a back-up during absences of the MCO.
5.4.2 The Mission manages an operating budget of $1,329,076 and a total budget of $2,962,539. Managers indicated that Mission reference levels are appropriate for operations of the Mission. An increase in rent for one SQ was anticipated and planned for and can be absorbed in the Mission budget. The two petty cashes (administration and consular) were reconciled at the time of audit.
5.4.3 Management reports are provided to the CMM on a monthly basis for hospitality and travel. Client Service Fund (CSF) and Post Initiative Fund (PIF) consumption reports are provided to managers on demand.
5.4.4 Two months of accounts were reviewed with only minor observations made to management. Overall, accounts were found to be well documented and maintained. It was noted that Section 33 is being approved prior to Section 34 approval being given and that the accountant, rather than the MFO, releases the payment run in IMS.
5.4.5 Section 34 should be approved before Section 33 FAA approval is given.
5.4.6 The MCO should release the payment run in IMS.
5.4.6 The MCO will address this issue with SMFF by the end of October 2004.
5.4.7 The Mission pays most vendors by hand-written cheque, as local cheques are incompatible with IMS printing requirements. As cheques stale date as quickly as eight days in some instances, the Mission often issues cheques and then deposits them into a vendors bank account the same day by way of a letter to the bank. A copy of the letter is then sent to the vendor by registered mail. This process is very labour intensive and offers opportunities for errors to occur. It is recommended that the possibility of using Electronic Funds Transfers (EFTs), as explored with Financial Management Services (SMFF) in 2002, be revisited.
5.4.8 The Mission, with SMFF, should re-explore the possibility of using EFTs.
5.4.8 The Mission had previously been in discussions with SMFF on this issue and had provided them with the requested information regarding possibilities and limitations to EFTs in Portugal. Due to the Portuguese banking system, some of the procedures required by HQ for EFTs did not meet with the Portuguese banking process; however, no final response from SMFF was received. The Mission will contact SMFF to re-explore this possibility by the end of December 2004.
5.4.9 Bank reconciliations are updated with no outstanding adjustments carried forward from month to month. Monthly bank reconciliations are sent to HQ the first week of the month. The Accountant's practice of performing a daily reconciliation against the online bank statement aids him in effectively controlling account activity. The banking agreement was not on file at the Mission and should be requested from the bank prior to the turnover of the MFO this summer.
5.4.10 A copy of the banking agreement should be requested.
5.4.10 The Mission has been with the same bank since 1968; however, no written agreement between the two parties exists - only a verbal one. The MCO will contact the bank to establish a written agreement by the end of December 2004.
5.4.11 Consular revenues are deposited weekly on the same day as they are received by the accountant, with the accountant providing the consular officer with an official receipt. The Consular Section completes EXT-119 - Record of Fees Received - and issues official receipts for all services.
5.4.12 Hospitality diaries for the HOM and a number of officers were audited. The Mission has an official hospitality policy and officers maintain hospitality diaries for each function and submit quarterly hospitality and expense reports. A review of hospitality files revealed no major observations; however, more attention to details are needed in describing the evaluation of events, and ensuring approvals are signed in the proper signature blocks.
5.4.13 Ensure that the evaluation portion of the hospitality diary is completed and that forms are approved correctly.
5.5.1 The MCO is responsible for the overall management of Information technology, with an experienced Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP) undertaking the day-to-day responsibilities of the function. The LEITP was away on SIGNET 3 training at the time of the audit but systems are functioning within the Mission and staff indicate they receive good service from the incumbent.
5.5.2 With the upcoming SIGNET 3 implementation, it is recommended that the LEITP develop a training plan for Mission users. A post implementation user survey would assist him in identifying training needs.
5.5.3 Develop an IT training plan for Mission staff.
5.5.4 While the Mission has OCTEL, all calls go directly to the receptionist during working hours. A large number of calls are immigration or visa inquiries which are not handled at the Mission. Installing an OCTEL script to assist with routine inquiries should be explored.
The following tables indicate the areas of each Program that were reviewed to determine compliance to policies and procedures and to assess efficiency and effectiveness. For each Program listed, reference can be made to the specific audit guides on the Office of the Inspector General (SIX) Intranet site containing the detailed audit criteria and audit procedures applied during the audit.
The focus and extent of on-site work is based on an assessment of materiality and related risk. This is done through communication with HQ bureaux, including briefings by line management and the functional bureaux responsible for each of the areas listed below, review of relevant HQ and mission documentation and past audit findings and an analysis of recurring trends and systemic issues.
During the audit, audit issues and lines of enquiry are further refined from information gathered through interviews with the HOM and Program Managers, a meeting with the LES Committee, individual interviews with staff, and results of other documentation reviewed.
The level of audit work for a given area is therefore based on issues and information identified and gathered at all levels, HQ, mission management, and mission operations. Accordingly, not all areas receive equal attention. More work and time are devoted to material and high risk issues, particularly those of interest to management. Occasionally, due to time limitations or other factors, it is not possible to provide audit coverage for all areas. Areas not covered are noted in the Scope and Objectives Section of the report.
|Strategic and Operational Plans||Hub and Spoke Relations|
|Program Integration and Coordination||Other Government Departments|
|Committee Structure||Performance Measurement|
General Relations Program (Political/Public and Cultural)
|Management of the Program||Media Relations|
|Program Planning||Cultural Affairs|
|Political Reporting||Performance Measurement|
International Business Development Program
|Management of the Program||Investment|
|Program Planning||Science and Technology|
|New Approach Framework||Trade Policy and Market Access|
|Trade Development||Performance Measurement|
|Management of the Program||Citizenship Services|
|Service to Canadian Citizens||Honorary Consuls|
|Passport Processing||Admission to Canada|
Administration Program Management
|Management of the Program||Services Standards|
|Policies, Systems and Procedures||Performance Measurement|
|Management of the HR Function||Classification|
|Staffing||Pay and Benefits|
|Staff Relations||Training and Development|
|Official Languages||Health and Safety|
|Community Program Activities||Import of Goods|
|Mission Property Management Plan||Official Vehicles|
|Official Residence||Materiel Management|
|Staff Quarters||Recreational Property|
|Expenditure Authority and Payment||Cash Accounts|
|Receipt and Deposit of Money||Advances|
|Transfers (COs, IOs and SOs)||Petty Cash|
|Cost Recovery||Currency Conversion|
|Equipment Configuration||Contingency and Back-up|