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Audit of the Canadian High Commission Colombo

PDF Version (161 Kb) *

(October 2007)

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

An audit of the General Relations (GR), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Colombo from March 5 to 8, 2007. The Mission was last audited in March 1997. The High Commission in Colombo is a medium sized mission with 11 Canada-based staff (CBS) and 53 Locally-engaged staff (LES). A key role of the Mission is the provision of support to the large Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) programs in Sri Lanka.

The local environment is difficult, characterized by the aftermath of the 2005 tsunami, ***. In addition to personal security, a growing concern for Mission management is the deteriorating condition of the Crown-owned Chancery. This will continue to be the focus for the foreseeable future as efforts to establish a long-term property solution have only just begun.

The Mission is currently experiencing resource pressures that are affecting program delivery. However, through the upcoming arrival of a Military Security Guard (MSG) and empowering and enriching the job packages of LES, management should be able to alleviate most of the current workload pressures. An area of concern that cannot be resolved by the Mission involves the lack of local administrative support for the General Relations Program, which unnecessarily diverts CBS attention away from the pursuit of the strategic objectives. The pending vacancy in the Trade Commissioner Assistant position, and its possible redeployment, could further exacerbate the situation by leaving GR, International Business Development and the Head of Mission (HOM) without local administrative support.

Given the busy nature of the GR Program, the HOM works closely with the Political Officer, who also serves as the IBD Program Manager (.25 full-time equivalent (FTE)). Key priorities include monitoring and reporting on the breakdown of the peace process between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam, ***. The Program’s resource base has fluctuated over the past two years and, at present, the GR Program has no administrative support and does not possess the local knowledge to effectively reach out into the Sri Lankan community. With only .75 of an FTE at its disposal, the GR Section is not adequately resourced to deliver against the objectives set out in the Country Strategy. At both the Mission and Geographic Bureau level, there is a need to further align strategic objectives with the resources available.

The IBD Program is comprised of a Trade Commissioner (TC) and a Trade Commissioner Assistant (TCA), with the Political officer serving as the Program Manager. There is a need for the Political Officer to exercise ***, through weekly meetings, ongoing monitoring of progress against the IBD Business Plan, and ensuring appropriate focus on priority sectors and division of tasks between the TC and the TCA. In order to justify the current resources, the Section needs to ensure that more emphasis is placed on results, not just activities, by more narrowly defining IBD priorities and setting appropriate goals. While in the short term there is a need for more CBS involvement in the Trade Program, over the long-term the resources dedicated to IBD will need to be rationalized. Given the relatively low Canadian business interest and the impediments to doing business in Sri Lanka, the level of resources allocated to IBD and its delivery framework should be reviewed and the potential for a regional, sector-based approach should be explored.

The Consular Program has been busy over the last few years with such crisis situations as the tsunami and the Jaffna internal displacement. A major challenge for the Program is the continual need to recruit wardens for its network, as there is significant movement of Canadians to and from Sri Lanka. The Program’s area of accreditation also includes the Maldives. Processes that need to be strengthened include ensuring that two CBS witness passport inventory receipts and counts, and that there is a regularly reconciled inventory of seals. In line with best practices observed at other single Management and Consular Officer (MCO) missions, the role of the HOM Assistant should be reviewed to determine if it can provide CBS backup for consular activities. This structure effectively alleviates workload pressures for the MCO and facilitates short-term absences.

Despite a heavy workload in the Administration Program, staff indicated that the working environment *** and a number of *** changes have been implemented since the arrival of the new MCO, supported by an *** HOM. The Program is functioning *** given the challenging environment, though improvements and/or modifications to certain procedures will be beneficial in the Finance, Property, and Information Technology sections. The absence of a current LES Handbook and benefits package is a prime concern for staff and management. Recommendations to improve communications, procedures, and documentation of Human Resource Section actions have been made to address previous instances of a lack of transparency and consistency in staffing, which has also affected LES morale.

A total of 62 audit recommendations are raised in the report; 58 are addressed to the Mission and four 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 62 recommendations, management has stated that 48 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 12 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Scope, Objectives, Mission Resources

Audit Scope and Objectives

The scope of the Audit included a review of Mission management and the General Relations (GR), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration programs.

The audit objectives were to:

  • Assess management controls and systems, procedures and activities that make up the programs;
  • Determine the extent of compliance with legislation, regulations and operating policies;
  • Assess the reliability and adequacy of information available for decision-making and accountability purposes;
  • Ensure resources are judiciously used and that the Department is receiving value-for-money; and,
  • Make recommendations, where warranted, to improve the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of programs.

The focus and extent of on-site work was based on an assessment of materiality and related risk. This was done through communication with Headquarters (HQ) bureaux, including briefings by line management and the functional bureaux, review of relevant HQ and mission documentation, past audit findings, and an analysis of recurring trends and systemic issues.

During the Audit, audit issues and lines of enquiry were 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 was therefore based on issues and information identified and gathered at all levels, HQ, Mission management and Mission operations.

Mission Resources Fact Sheet

Physical Resources
AssetsCrown LeasedCrown Owned
Chancery1
Official Residence1
Staff Quarters10*1
Vehicles7
* increased to 11 with arrival of an MSG in Summer 2007

 

Financial Information 2006/07
Operating Budget (N001)$794,345
Capital Budget (N005)$150,920
CBS Overtime Budget (N011)$6,800
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$428,399
Total$1,380,464

Organization Chart

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The High Commission in Colombo is a medium sized mission with 11 Canada-based staff (CBS) and 53 Locally-engaged staff (LES). A large portion of the Mission’s role is to provide support to the large Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) programs in Sri Lanka. The local environment is difficult, characterized by the aftermath of the 2005 tsunami, ***. As a result, *** has been negatively affected, creating an additional challenge to carrying out Mission operations.

1.1.2 In addition ***, a growing concern for Mission management are the issues related to the deteriorating condition of the Crown-owned Chancery. This will continue to be the focus for the foreseeable future as efforts to establish a long-term solution have only just begun in the Physical Resources Bureau (SRD). In order to expedite this process and provide a suitable work environment for staff, continued attention will be needed by the Mission and the Asia South and Pacific Bureau (RAD).

1.1.3 At the time of the Audit, the Mission was experiencing resource pressures that were affecting program delivery. Some of these pressures should be alleviated by the arrival of a Military Security Guard (MSG), broadening the role of support staff and increasing the independence of LES. The planned arrival of a MSG *** should free up a significant amount of the Management and Consular Officer’s (MCO) time that was previously spent on activities related to the ***. In addition to the new security position, the Mission must also look for ways to better utilize its existing resource base. For example, the Head of Mission’s (HOM) Assistant could be trained to provide backup CBS consular support for the MCO, noted as a best practice in other single MCO missions. These measures should free sufficient time for the MCO to provide increased coaching, ultimately facilitating increased delegation to LES.

1.1.4 A resource issue not under the control of the Mission is the lack of administrative support for the General Relations (GR) Program, further explained in section 2.2.1 of this Report. This negatively impacts the Program by not allowing adequate attention to the pursuit of strategic objectives, as outlined in the current Country Strategy. An absence of administrative support in the form of an LES also makes it difficult to provide the local knowledge necessary for effective outreach in the Sri Lankan community. Mission Management expressed an interest in augmenting the role of the Trade Commissioner Assistant (TCA) to allow for the provision of support to GR. However, following the Audit, a vacancy was created by the departure of the Trade Commissioner Assistant. As a matter of procedure, the position will now be considered for redeployment by HQ. Should a redeployment occur, the Mission would be without LES administrative support for HOM, GR and International Business Development (IBD) activities. This would prove particularly problematic when organizing events and outreach activities. To achieve value for money when posting CBS abroad, it is essential that they be provided with adequate support. The ideal solution would be a shared assistant, however, the independent nature of GR and Trade resource deployment processes at HQ may not readily facilitate such resource combinations.

1.1.5 The Mission has a well-established committee structure in place. The Committee on Mission Management (CMM) meets weekly and is a forum for information sharing, discussions and decision making. The CMM could be more effectively leveraged by focussing on Mission-wide issues and areas of inter-program cooperation, leaving discussion of program specific items to smaller forums. As a best practice, CMM minutes should be distributed to all staff to ensure that all remain up-to-date on management decisions, priorities and events. A Contract Review Board (CRB) is in place as well as Classification, Housing, Website, Occupational Health and Safety, and Social Committees. The Mission has also identified Official Language, Training and Environment Coordinators.

1.1.6 The LES Committee meets with both the MCO and the HOM upon request. As a best practice, management should schedule regular meetings with the Committee to ensure that both sides remain current on issues and concerns. The Audit Team met with the Committee, and as with many other missions, one of the primary concerns was the out-of-date LES Handbook and the need for a benefits review. Other topics of discussion included:

  • The length of time it is taking to enrol LES in the contributory Employees Provident/Trust Fund (over four years);
  • Staff interest in salaries being paid in Canadian dollars or the equivalent amount in the local currency;
  • Revising the Mission’s after hours transportation policy so that it is applicable earlier in the evening; and,
  • The lack of transparency in past staffing actions and a lack of consistency of information provided by past management teams regarding this issue.

1.1.7 The Mission’s last approved LES Handbook was published in 1997 and, due to resource pressures within the Locally-engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD), the required benefits review has not taken place. As with other posts, the lack of a current and relevant LES Handbook and benefits package is a prime concern for staff and management, drawing focus away from the pursuit of strategic objectives. Following the Audit, HLD indicated that it was developing a new strategy to address the issues of outstanding benefit reviews and out-of-date handbooks.

1.1.8 The Senior Harassment and Internal Disclosure Advisor from the Values and Ethics Division (ZVE) accompanied the Audit Team and made presentations to staff concerning values and ethics. Workplace harassment and recourse mechanisms were topics of particular interest to the LES. During the presentations, Mission management was encouraged to be vigilant in fostering open communication with all staff, including LES, in order to ensure that any ethical dilemmas or potential harassment situations are reported at the outset before issues escalate. As a best practice, the Mission should incorporate a value and ethics session each fall as part of their rotation process, so all staff (new and old) can be updated on policies and procedures.

Recommendations to the Mission

1.1.9 Mission management should broaden the roles of support staff and increase the independence of LES. Measures undertaken should include:

  • Involving the forthcoming MSG in all aspects of security related activities;
  • Redefining the role of the CBS HOM Assistant to include consular back-up activities; and,
  • Providing increased training and coaching to facilitate greater delegation to LES.

1.1.10 The Mission, in consultation with the Asia South and Pacific Division (RAD) and Asia and Oceania Commercial Relations Division (WOA), should pursue the provision of administrative support to the GR Program by augmenting the role of the TCA or through the creation of a GR Assistant/Social Secretary.

1.1.11 The CMM should increase its focus on Mission-wide issues and areas of inter-program cooperation, leaving program specific discussion to smaller forums. CMM minutes should also be distributed to all staff, as appropriate.

1.1.12 The HOM and MCO should establish a schedule of regular meetings with the LES Committee, preferably on a quarterly basis.

1.1.13 Management should formally reinforce the importance of values and ethics on an annual basis. This could be accomplished by providing overviews and a forum for discussion via town-hall meetings scheduled in the early Fall, coinciding with the arrival of new CBS, to ensure all CBS and LES have similar understandings of management expectations regarding values and ethics in the workplace.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.1.9 The MSG arrived at Mission *** and has been included in all aspects of security related activities. Mission management will redefine the role of the CBS HOM Assistant to include consular back-up activities for implementation in summer 2008. In the interim, the LES Administration Assistant will assume the consular back-up function and will take part in consular training in Ottawa at the end of September 2007. The MCO is providing training and coaching to various staff in the management and consular section to facilitate greater delegation to LES. This is an on-going process which has already seen an improvement over the past few months in the manner by which staff fulfil their responsibilities with a decrease in the number of occasions the MCO is approached for authority to proceed on routine tasks.

1.1.10 The Branch Review associated with the Country Strategy exercise of the Mission's request for incremental resource to shore up the GR Section was turned down. In response, the Mission moved to a hybrid solution involving the re-classification the LES TCA from 5 to 6 to handle public diplomacy, communications and planning issues that are relevant to Government of Canada (GoC) priorities in Sri Lanka to reflect an increased level of responsibilities for reactive sectors and a greater level of autonomy in handling the delivery of services to TCS clients. The request has been approved by the Mission Classification Committee and has been submitted to HQ for ratification. The Mission has received agreement in principle from WOA and is awaiting final confirmation from Global Operations and Chief Trade Commissioner (WMM).

The Mission will continue to press for the creation of a GR Assistant/Social Secretary position through the next country strategy cycle. The lack of GR administrative support remains a major obstacle to the effective delivery of results in line with our strategic objectives.

1.1.11 Implemented: The Mission has since moved to a new Management Structure involving alternating CMM and Operations Meetings. CMM meetings are now exclusively focussed on mission-wide management issues, whereas Operations (involving all CBS) focuses on ongoing political developments and programme architecture of interest to the Mission as a whole. CMM Minutes are being made to all staff as appropriate.

1.1.12 Implemented: The HOM and MCO have established a schedule of quarterly meetings with the LES Committee commencing on October 1, 2007.

1.1.13 The HOM has reinforced the importance of values and ethics to all CBS at Operations Committee following arrival of new CBS and will do the same with all LES at forthcoming quarterly meeting in early October 2007. The HOM has impressed on all managers the need to lead by example, stressing the importance of taking steps to avoid as well perceived as well as actual conflict of interest situations.

Recommendation to HLD

1.1.14 Once the HLD Benefits Review and Handbook Strategy has been developed, the process and timeline should be communicated to all missions so that management and the LES community are aware of the actions underway. HLD’s approach should also include the provision for periodic updates to be provided to missions, so as to keep management and staff informed on the strategy’s implementation.

HLD Action and Timeframe

1.1.14 As part of the Global Strategy, for the next two years, HLD will, with the participation of selected consulting firms, review all mission handbooks and develop a revised format. It will also ensure a process is put in place to maintain the handbook’s content current. To this end, a first communication to Missions was initiated on June 13, 2007 to request information on recent changes to Local law as well as statistical information on the LES population. This information will be used as part of the handbooks review.

In 2007-2008, a consulting firm will be tasked with the review of benefits and the production of handbooks for 67 selected countries. The project will be divided in two phases based on the geographic breakdown as per set criteria. Colombo's handbook is dated February 1997. Part I was updated April 2004 which leave Part II outstanding. The work is planned to take place in the second phase of the project. The second phase of review is planned to be completed by the end of 2009.

Once a contract is awarded, Missions will be noticed in advance as to when to expect the work to start. In addition to this first notice, HLD will periodically inform Missions on the progress of the handbook review project using the HLD Communiqué which is published every three months.

Meanwhile, a new user-friendly strategy to ensure that mission handbooks updates occur and newly developed handbooks are kept current is being devised.

General Relations Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The General Relations (GR) Program is delivered by a PM-05, in an FS-02 position, ***. Efforts were made to reclassify this position to an FS-03, although at the time of the Audit no final determination had been made. The HOM works closely with the Political Officer who, as funding permits, is also supported on a part-time basis by an emergency employee. The Political Officer also serves as the International Business Development (IBD) Program Manager (.25 FTE) and is responsible for overseeing the work of the Locally-engaged Trade Commissioner (TC) and Trade Commissioner Assistant (TCA). At present, however, the majority of the Officer’s time is dedicated to monitoring and reporting on the breakdown of the peace process between the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), ***. The Section has a Post Initiative Fund (PIF) of $5,200, a hospitality budget of $4,000 and is also accredited to the Maldives.

2.1.2 The Mission’s strategic objectives related to GR activities, which were updated following the breakdown of the peace process, are to:

  • Contribute to overall efforts to prevent the further escalation of hostilities and the slide into a failed state;
  • Support and contribute to the development of conflict resolution and crisis management mechanisms; and,
  • Advocate compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law both bilaterally and through international fora.

2.2 Resources and Strategic Planning

2.2.1 The Section’s operations have been affected over the last two years by resource fluctuations. Following the tsunami in December 2005, a temporary duty officer was assigned to Colombo to support reconstruction efforts. In reality, however, the officer was integrated into the general operations of the Mission. As a result, the end of this temporary duty position had a larger than intended impact on the Mission. Operations were also affected by the relocation of the CIDA office, as the GR Program had received part-time administrative support from the CIDA Program Assistant under an informal arrangement. As a result, the GR Program now has no administrative support and does not possess the local knowledge to effectively reach out into the Sri Lankan community.

2.2.2 With only .75 of an FTE at its disposal, the GR Section is not adequately resourced to deliver against the objectives set out in the Country Strategy. As a result, the primary focus of operations has been on liaising with like-minded missions and advocating and reporting ***. It remains unclear, however, how Canada can play a more effective role in other areas, particularly the prevention of the escalation of hostilities. At the Mission and Program level, there is a need to undertake an annual planning exercise to further define the Mission’s strategic objectives in-line with the resources at their disposal. This plan should incorporate a more strategic focus to the use of PIF funding and explore avenues to better leverage the significant CIDA Program for public affairs activities. Similarly, at the geographic bureau level, there may be a need to revisit the Country Strategy to ensure that the objectives are achievable given the Mission’s resource base.

Recommendations to the Mission

2.2.3 The Mission should develop a GR plan to operationalize its strategic objectives and establish expectations and priorities based on the resources available.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.2.3 The new GR Program Manager has reexamined the objectives set out in the Country Strategy and identified priorities that are both achievable and produce the most significant impact in line with our Government's core values. From this, the new GR Program Manager will develop a GR workplan to operationalize its strategic objectives in line with available resources by 31st October, 2007.

Recommendation to RAD

2.2.4 The Asia South and Pacific Bureau (RAD) should, in consultation with the Mission, revisit the Country Strategy to ensure that objectives identified and expectations of HQ are reflective of the Mission’s resources.

RAD Action and Timeframe

2.2.4 RAD bureau accepts the suggestion and looks forward to the next annual Country Strategy process to continue further alignment between objectives and resources. In the interim, the resourcing of our mission in Colombo is being assessed, along with all other missions, as part of the Strategic Review, with outcomes expected mid-September 2007.

International Business Development Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The Mission’s International Business Development (IBD) function is delivered by a LE-09 Trade Commissioner (TC) and a LE-05 Trade Commissioner Assistant (TCA). The CB Political Officer also serves as the IBD Program Manager (PM) (.25 FTE). The HOM is involved in the Program, providing input into planning exercises, attending events and engaging with trade delegations. The Program’s budget includes a Client Service Fund (CSF) of $5,000, $3,000 for hospitality and $11,200 for travel.

3.1.2 Trade statistics show a steady level of imports to Canada from Sri Lanka at approximately $104M over the last three years and include clothing, textiles, rubber, tea, machinery and ceramic products. Over the same period, Canadian exports to Sri Lanka have risen substantially from $44M in 2004 to $236M in 2006. The majority of those exports, however, are attributable to one long-term agreement between a multinational company and the Canadian Wheat Board for approximately $200M worth of wheat on an annual basis. Other exports to Sri Lanka include asbestos, legumes, machinery and plastics.

3.2 Management of the Program

3.2.1 Recent developments, such as the breakdown of the peace process and the lack of administrative support for the GR Program, have limited the Political Officer’s involvement in the IBD Program. Notwithstanding, there is a need for the Political Officer to exercise a *** role on a more regular basis. Weekly meetings should be held with the two LES in the IBD Section to ensure that activities support the strategic objectives and priorities set out in the Country Strategy and IBD Business Plan.

3.3 Planning and Operations

3.3.1 The IBD Business Plan is developed by the TC based on strategic direction provided the Political Officer and consultations with the HOM. The IBD strategy has not been translated into work plans for the TC and the TCA and WIN Exports has not be used on a consistent basis. Roles and responsibilities within the Section represent a more traditional approach not in keeping with the evolving role of the TCA. In addition, *** has resulted in the TC dedicating time to non-priority sector inquiries. The need to update job descriptions is a valuable opportunity for management to address the assignment of roles and responsibilities within the Section and ensure that priority sectors are handled by the TC and non-priority by the TCA. These roles and responsibilities may also require modification pending the outcome of recommendation 1.1.9.

3.3.2 The Section currently focuses on activities rather than results and outcomes. In order to justify the current resources, the Section needs to ensure that more emphasis is placed on results, not just activities. This can be achieved by more narrowly defining IBD priorities, increasing the involvement of the PM in day-to-day operations, and by adding business lead follow-up as a key activity.

3.3.3 While in the short term there is a need for more CBS involvement in the Trade Program, over the long-term there is a need to rationalize the resources dedicated to IBD. Sri Lanka is ranked in the final tier of the Canadian Commercial Interests List and, with the exception of commodities, is a difficult environment in which to do business. These factors can lead one to question the level of resources allocated to IBD in Sri Lanka. In order to provide better strategic direction and priority setting, a regional, sector based model, similar to that employed in Africa, should be considered for Sri Lanka and India.

Recommendations to the Mission

3.3.4 The IBD Section should more narrowly define its priority sectors and develop work plans for IBD staff to ensure proactive work undertaken is aligned with key strategic priorities.

3.3.5 The IBD Section should conduct regular follow-up on business leads with clients to facilitate the measurement of results.

3.3.6 The PM should conduct weekly meetings with IBD staff to review activities, establish priorities, monitor the use of WIN Exports and track results.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.3.4 The IBD Section has reexamined its priority sectors and has redefined them more narrowly as Agri-Food (seeds, pulses and genetics) and Power (electric). The TC will now be entirely responsible for any enquiries in these two priority sectors. The new IBD Program Manager will work with the TC and the newly hired TCA to develop work plans that flow from the IBD Strategy by 31st October, 2007.

3.3.5 The TC is already following-up regularly on serious leads with Canadian clients and local contacts. More efforts will go into documenting this follow-up into the Win online tracking system.

3.3.6 The IBD Program Manager has been conducting weekly meetings to review activities and establish priorities with the IBD staff for the last few months. There has already been a marked improvement in the use of Win Exports to track services delivered to our Canadian clients. The new TCA will be trained internally in the use of Win Exports and the system will be used as a management tool to review performance and delivery on the objectives set out for LES trade staff.

Recommendation to Asia and Oceania Commercial Relations Division (WOA)

3.3.7 WOA should assess the requirement and delivery framework for IBD services in Sri Lanka and give consideration to a regional, sector-based model.

WOA Action and Timeframe

3.3.7 WOA will review the management of the IBD Program in Sri Lanka, the level of resources devoted to the Program and the delivery framework. Following consultations and a review of options we anticipate being in a position to make corrective recommendations by December 2007.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is managed by the MCO (AS-06), a *** Consular Officer. Day-to-day cases are handled by the Consular Assistant (LE-06), with the Administration Assistant (LE-04) providing back-up during her absences. The Administration Assistant has been identified by the Mission for HQ training and the MCO has been providing one-on-one coaching until an opening is available. Currently, a CIC officer provides coverage for notarial services and acts as the CBS contact when the MCO is away. As noted in paragraphs 1.1.3, it may be possible to expand the role of the HOM Assistant to provide a CBS backup during the absence of the MCO or to relieve workload pressures. This has been noted as a best practice in other single MCO missions.

4.1.2 The past few years have been busy for the Program as it has faced a number of crisis situations, such as the tsunami and internal displacement in the Jaffna Peninsula. Annually, the Mission provides 240 passport services and handles 30 citizenship applications and 250 notarial requests. The Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) system indicates there are 380 Canadians registered in its accreditation area (out of an estimated 3000 Canadian citizens in the country). The Mission finds itself continually in recruitment mode to find suitable wardens for its 19 districts in Sri Lanka (currently nine are vacant due to recent departures from the Country). The Mission is also responsible for the Maldives with one warden as the main point of contact for consular needs. The Mission maintains regular contact with these individuals and held a warden conference in January 2006.

4.1.3 Contingency planning is a priority for the Mission and documentation, such as Contingency Plans and the Duty Officer Manual, is up-to-date. As with other missions, staff noted that some Canadian clients are not able to communicate in either official language. The Audit Team suggested translating some of the key documents into Sinhalese and Tamil to reduce follow-up required for applications. Official receipts are provided to clients upon payment and to consular staff when funds are transferred to the Finance Section. However, as noted in paragraph 5.4.9, receipts were not being used when funds were transferred internally within the Consular Team.

4.1.4 The MCO completes the monthly inventory reconciliation and it is approved quarterly by the HOM. The monthly reconciliations and the receipt of stock, however, are not completed in the presence of a second CBS. Two CBS should always be present when these activities are performed. To further improve the security of consular assets, such as seals, the Mission should maintain an inventory and conduct regular reconciliations.

4.1.5 The Program is adhering to the consular service standards and client survey forms are made available, however, feedback to date has been limited. The Mission should examine ways to increase the number of responses, such as including feedback forms with application packages. Staff indicated that the Migration Integrity Officer (MIO) has provided useful guidance on topics of mutual interest. As the MIO will be departing in Summer 2007, the Mission should organize an information exchange session so that corporate knowledge is retained.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.1.6 The Program should examine the feasibility of translating some of its key documents into the local languages.

4.1.7 Two CBS should participate in the monthly reconciliation of the passport inventory and the receipt of passport inventory. Both individuals should sign the form.

4.1.8 The Mission should complete an inventory of seals and regularly conduct a reconciliation.

4.1.9 The Mission should promote the completion of client survey forms in order to obtain more feedback on the quality of services provided.

4.1.10 The Program should organize a training session with the MIO so relevant information can be shared with Program staff.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.1.6 The Mission will translate some of the key documents used in support of passport and citizenship applications so that those persons who cannot use the English or French forms are able to refer to an instruction in the local language, planned for November 1, 2007.

4.1.7 The MCO and the CBS HOM Assistant are now reconciling the passport inventory on a monthly basis commencing with the July, 2007 report.

4.18 The MCO conducted a reconciliation of all official seals in July 2007 and will update the inventory on a quarterly basis from August 2007 onwards.

4.1.9 Effective August 1, 2007, the Consular Assistant will include a client survey form with every passport and citizenship application and will ensure a supply is made available in the consular waiting room.

4.1.10 The new MIO *** and the MCO will coordinate a training session with consular staff to be held following the return of the Administrative Assistant from consular training scheduled for Ottawa in October 2007.

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Administration Program is managed by the MCO ***. Priorities to date have included dealing with security crises and critical consular events, the Mission budget deficit, as well as Chancery and SQ maintenance. Despite the heavy workload, staff have indicated that the working environment and morale within the Program ***. In addition, a number of positive changes have been implemented Mission-wide since the arrival of the new MCO, including the adjustment of the travel limit provided through Foreign Service Directive (FSD) 50 and weekly meetings with the Finance Section. Overall, Mission staff feel they are being well supported by the Administration Program.

5.1.2 The major challenge facing the MCO is the current Program workload, which has necessitated a large amount of overtime and is not sustainable over the long-term. Workload issues are compounded by several factors: administrative staff require a high level of involvement from the MCO in carrying out their day-to-day duties; the deteriorating security situation demands an increasing amount of the MCO's time to respond to crises; and, the temporary post-tsunami DMCO position that ended in the Summer of 2006 has left the MCO as the sole CBS in the Program.

5.1.3 The pending arrival of a full-time MSG *** should help balance workload issues and remove much of the day-to-day security pressures from the MCO. This will free up time for the MCO to increase coaching and confidence building of LES within the Program with the goal of enabling staff to fully carry out their duties with less routine involvement by the MCO. As noted in section 1.1.3, the Mission should also explore the use of other staff as back-up in key areas. The role of the LES Office Manager could also be expanded to include more managerial duties, with the LES Administrative Assistant taking on some of her less managerial tasks. Should the LES Office Manager's role be expanded, a clear communication of her new responsibilities will need to be made to all staff.

5.1.4 The absence of a DMCO position at the Mission makes it difficult for the MCO to be out of the office for periods longer than a few days, as there is no one at the Mission who is designated or trained as a back-up. Given the amount of overtime and high workload of the MCO in the past year, a plan must be put into place to allow for periodic absences and support the long-term sustainability of a single MCO structure at this Mission. If a temporary duty assignment from HQ is not available to replace him during absences, the Mission could work with the Mission Resource Management Division (RSR) to create short-term temporary assignments for MCOs in regional missions that have multiple MCO staff, such as Bangkok or New Delhi.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.5 The Mission should ensure that the CBS HOM Assistant, or another CBS, is trained and able to act as back-up for the MCO during absences.

5.1.6 The duties of the LES Office Manager should be clearly communicated to all staff so that LES are aware of the required level of involvement in their tasks.

5.1.7 The Mission should work with RSR to identify possible options for replacing the MCO during longer absences, such as requesting temporary duty assignments from MCOs in large, regional missions.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.5 The MCO is working with the CBS HOM Assistant to cover some of his administrative and consular responsibilities during periods of absence by the MCO. The MCO has arranged with Passport Canada (PPTC) and Consular Operations Bureau (CND) for the consular section in Hong Kong to provide back up passport approver status during periods of the MCO’s absence.

5.1.6 The job descriptions of both the Office Manager and the Administrative Assistant have been revised in April 2007 and in July 2007 these were posted on the shared i-drive with a message sent to all staff bringing their attention to the availability of the work descriptions.

5.1.7 In May 2007 RSR agreed to cover the cost of placing an MCO in Colombo on a temporary basis while the incumbent was on an extended period of annual leave and a broadcast message was posted advertising the opportunity. We will explore the possibility of having another mission from within the region to provide coverage for future absences.

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 Human Resources management at the Mission is the responsibility of the MCO, assisted by an LE-07 Office Manager and an LE-04 Administration Assistant. The Mission also contracts a Community Co-ordinator and has a mini-clinic staffed by a Nurse.

5.2.2 The MCO has been appointed as the Training Co-ordinator and, while training is being undertaken both locally and at HQ, there is a need for a Mission-wide annual training plan. This plan should include Information Technology training needs as well as prioritize requirements and co-ordinate efforts across programs. Staff received annual appraisals up to March 2006 and the Mission has since rolled out the Performance Management Program (PMP). Staff and supervisors need to ensure that the training portion of the PMP is completed so requirements can be incorporated into the above mentioned plan.

5.2.3 A file review of past staffing actions found some files to be incomplete and lacking documentation. Furthermore, a lack of transparency regarding some past competitions was raised as a concern by staff. The Mission, with the assistance of HLD where applicable, should review these files to facilitate a final discussion with the LES Committee to put these past cases to rest. The Mission should ensure that any future staffing actions are conducted as transparently as possible, particularly given the sensitivities of the LES community. It should be noted that recent files showed a marked improvement in completeness and organization and efforts should be made to ensure this continues.

5.2.4 Job descriptions, while signed, require updating and the Office Manager should develop a work-plan to tackle this project. Other steps that should be taken to improve human resource files include:

  • Ensuring that the HOM, not the MCO, signs Letters of Offer;
  • Contacting HLD to obtain the appropriate wording to incorporate values and ethics requirements in Letters of Offer;
  • Providing letters to internal candidates regarding the results of staffing competitions which include the right to grieve;
  • Providing letters to employees regarding classification requests that include the right to grieve; and,
  • Having staff sign for receipt of the LES handbook and values and ethics documentation.

5.2.5 The Mission’s Occupational Health and Safety Committee, while active, should be meeting nine times per year as per the policy outlined in the Canadian Labour Code - Part II. The contract Nurse has been acting as Committee chair but rather should play an advisory role and another employee should undertake the role of chair. As outlined elsewhere, there are many deficiencies with the Chancery building, some with health and safety implications. The Mission is working to mitigate these issues until a permanent solution is found. Given that most of the deficiencies are well known, the Committee has been focussing on other issues such as setting up first aid training and examining ergonomic requests. Health information updates provided by the Nurse have been ***, given the prevalence of disease such as dengue fever and chikungunya.

5.2.6 The Mission submitted the hardship survey to the Foreign Service Directives, Policy and Administration Division (HEF) and is awaiting its determination as well as the review of the FSD56 airfare limit. Other HR projects identified by the Mission for fiscal year 2007-08 include updating the Mission Report and conducting a cost of living survey.

5.2.7 To improve the functioning of the Official Residence (OR), a spousal contract was established for the training of OR staff and the development of systems and processes. The Mission has also submitted a business case to the South Asia Division (RAS) to regularize the OR contract gardener to a full-time position and is awaiting a response. The Mission plans to undertake a non-office salary survey in fiscal year 2007-08 as a result of the difficulties experienced attracting a qualified candidate to fill the butler position.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.8 A formal Mission-wide annual training plan should be developed.

5.2.9 A plan for the review and update of all staff job descriptions should be developed to ensure concurrence between the actual duties being carried out and the position descriptions.

5.2.10 Staffing actions and files should be properly organized to show all steps used in the hiring/appointment process.

5.2.11 Letters of offer to new employees should be signed by the HOM rather than the MCO.

5.2.12 The Mission should contact HLD to obtain the appropriate wording to incorporate values and ethics requirements in Letters of Offer.

5.2.13 For both competitions and classification actions, the Mission should provide internal candidates with written notification of the results that includes the right to grieve.

5.2.14 Staff should sign for receipt of the LES handbook and Value and Ethics documentation.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.8 On September 26, 2007, the MCO met with program managers to discuss and develop a Mission-wide annual training plan.

5.2.9 The MCO has revised the job descriptions for the Office Manager and Administrative Assistant and has arranged for the Office Manager to post all local staff job descriptions in a read-only format on the shared i-drive in order that managers can access each to review and draft changes as necessary. The MCO will work with all program managers to ensure the job descriptions are revised in a timely manner with a view to completing the exercise within the next two years.

5.2.10 The Office Manager has implemented a system whereby all staffing actions and files are properly organized to show the various steps in the hiring and appointment process.

5.2.11 Since April 2007, Letters of Offer are now signed by the HOM.

5.2.12 The Mission has been in contact with HLD to obtain appropriate wording on values and ethics requirements and this has been incorporated into our Letters of Offer.

5.2.13 The Mission has been in contact with HLD to obtain appropriate wording on an employee's right to grieve and this has been incorporated into letters to internal candidates providing notification of the results.

5.2.14 In March 2007, the Mission ordered sufficient copies of the Values and Ethics Code for locally-engaged staff as well as Conduct Abroad Code for Canada-based staff and these have been distributed to each employee and a record of receipt kept on file.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The Physical Resources Section is managed by the MCO, supported by a Property Officer (LE-07), a Property Assistant (LE-05) and seven LES non-office staff (gardeners, cleaners, handymen). The major impediment facing the Section, and the Mission as a whole, is the Chancery. Both the MCO and HOM expressed their concern and preoccupation with the condition of the building and its impact on the health, safety, and working conditions of staff. Given the difficulties of managing this issue, as well as the challenges presented by the local environment and housing market, the Section is functioning well. Staff are ***, with good systems and documentation in place for most aspects of the function, though some areas require improvement.

5.3.2 The MCO provides *** direction to the staff in the Section and has been heavily involved in many aspects of property management, particularly related to the Chancery and Staff Quarters (SQ). To improve the capacity of the Section, a priority should be to explore various training opportunities (in Ottawa, online, etc.) for the Property Assistant, who has yet to take a property course since her arrival at the Mission ***. If possible, attendance at the next property course for LES in Ottawa should be arranged.

Chancery

5.3.3 The Chancery is located in a building built in 1898, locally referred to as “Oliver Castle”. The exterior, apart from the CIC addition attached to one side, is impressive, but is not reflective of the inside of the building. The interior contains possible health and safety problems and other deficiencies which have resulted in poor overall working conditions for staff. Possible health and safety issues were deemed the most critical that need to be addressed. As a result of humidity (a constant in Colombo) and a high water table, several instances of mould and bubbling paint are evident on the walls of public areas and offices. The resulting musty odour is particularly bad on the first floor, especially in the Trade Commissioner’s office, to the point that spending any time in the room is not desirable. The Mission confirmed that it had plans to move the individual in that office upstairs immediately following the Audit. A Health and Safety inspection should be undertaken immediately to determine the extent of the problems and ensure that employees are not placed in a situation of undue risk. Advice from SRD regarding air conditioning and de-humidifiers which could ease the problems should be followed as well.

5.3.4 Further to the humidity related concerns, the general condition of much of the Chancery needs improvement and is not conducive to efficient Mission operations. As noted in the Mission Property Management Plan (MPMP), a number of issues such as worn carpet and window replacements need to be addressed. In addition, layout and privacy concerns as a result of poor construction of the CIC booths has led staff to ***. This creates space constraints *** which need to be resolved quickly.

5.3.5 Representatives of SRD have visited within the last year, resulting in several smaller projects to address some of the issues at the Chancery. One project initiated by this visit was the construction of a security guard hut in the front of the property, which was still in progress at the time of the Audit. Other projects planned in the Property Maintenance and Operations Section (SRSF) workplan were aimed at addressing certain Chancery problems, but do so in a piece meal fashion, as has been the case for the last decade without focussing on a long-term solution. The planned visit by the Regional Property Program Section (SRSK), the Professional and Technical Services Section (SRBC), and the Project Implementation Section (SRPA) to examine the future of the Chancery and options in the local market is important, and should provide the first step to a resolution of the long-standing Chancery problems.

5.3.6 One option which will be examined is the complete renovation of the current Chancery. There was some uncertainty as to the extent of work that could be done, particularly on the exterior shell of the building, as a result of the building’s possible heritage status. To ensure the visiting property team has the information it needs to fully examine future options for the Chancery, the Mission should consult its lawyer to determine the extent of changes permitted to the building structure. The property team should also consult with the Australian and British High Commissions, who have recently built new chanceries, for lessons learned and advice on the local environment.

5.3.7 A recreational facility is also located on the Chancery grounds, to the rear of the main building and includes a club, fitness centre, pool and tennis court. Given the limited recreational opportunities in Colombo, these features are appreciated by staff and should be included in any future iterations of the Chancery. However, use of the facility has been limited recently as a result of a tall apartment building under construction directly beside the pool and club. CBS staff have valid privacy *** concerns ***. SRD is aware of the issue and is examining various screen and fence options.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.8 The Mission should immediately relocate the Trade Commissioner’s office. His current office should be left vacant until such time that the odour and mould problems are sufficiently addressed.

5.3.9 The Mission should work with its local lawyer to determine definitively what actions can be taken with respect to the Chancery property, in advance of the SRD visit.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.8 In May 2007, the Locally-engaged Trade Commissioner and Commercial Assistant were relocated to the second floor adjacent to the secure zone. The office will remain vacant until an employee of an Environmental Health and Safety firm is scheduled to visit in September 2007. This has been arranged through a contract managed by SRPA.

5.3.9 In April 2007, the Mission lawyer confirmed that the Chancery is not designated a heritage property by the Archaeological and Urban development authorities. The SRD team met with officials of the Municipal Council and confirmed the actions that can be taken in respect to renovation or removal of the current structure.

Recommendation to the Labour Relations and Occupational Health and Safety Division (HSS)

5.3.10 A health and safety inspection should be undertaken to document the problems with the Chancery and provide input to SRD for any future projects to address these issues.

HSS Action and Timeframe

5.3.10 A meeting was held between SRD and HSS where it was agreed that a registered industrial hygienist should be hired by SRD to conduct an indoor air quality investigation, more specifically an investigation regarding mould. Industrial hygienists have access to sampling equipment and laboratory testing services, and are accredited (legal liability issue) to conduct these types of services. HSS provided assistance to SRD in locating a qualified industrial hygienist in a nearby country, i.e., Kuala Lumpur.

SRD Action and Timeframe

5.3.10 In May 2007, the Project team for the replacement of the Chancery met with city planning and heritage staff and received confirmation that there is no heritage status on the Oliver Castle. We are therefore in a position to remove and replace the building. To address possible or potential health and life safety issues, we have contracted *** for a full environmental air quality testing and follow-up laboratory testing to see if there is anything toxic and harmful. The testing is to take place September 20-21, 2007 and following lab work, we should have a report on and health and life safety issues by mid November 2007. HSS has been advised of the above action being taken.

Staff Quarters

5.3.11 The Mission indicated that an influx of foreigners working for international organizations has had an upward effect on the cost of suitable Staff Quarters (SQs) as well as the availability of such properties in secure locations. Increased costs have not yet been reflected in the Mission’s reference levels, which will create operational budget constraints in the years to come. Working with the Housing Committee, the Property Officer, and local real estate agents, the Mission should assemble market research and create a business case to demonstrate to HQ the extent of inflation in the housing market and other areas, in an effort to correct any reference level imbalances.

5.3.12 The Housing Committee is very active, meeting bi-weekly to discuss SQ options in addition to frequent visits to potential acquisitions. The MCO stated that up to 30 properties must be examined before one acceptable SQ is found. Given the high number of properties viewed and the time this takes away from Committee members’ primary functions, ways to streamline the process should be examined. One option to consider is the Property Officer vetting properties according to the Committee’s specifications, so that the number of properties viewed directly by the Committee is more reasonable. There were no official terms of reference for the Committee, though guidelines from HQ and advice from the HOM and MCO were on file and clearly understood by members. Files reviewed indicated that due process was followed in the selection and allocation of SQs.

5.3.13 Based on a cross-section of SQs visited, properties were in good condition, well maintained, and of appropriate size and quality. The decision to keep certain larger SQs will need to be monitored as CBS family configurations and market conditions change in order to avoid any instances of over-housing. Property files were well maintained overall, though some distribution accounts were missing the required HOM signature. Within the past year, the HOM and MCO have visited all SQs. Annual inspections of this nature are extremely beneficial, and can be an important step in annual planning and maintenance. Accordingly, the Property Officer should accompany the MCO on future visits and use the SQ inspection checklist as a guide to ensure consistency.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.14 The Mission should create a business case to the Mission Resource Management Division (RSR) detailing its increased rental costs and the impact on its reference level funding.

5.3.15 Annual SQ inspections by the MCO and Property Officer using the SQ inspection checklist provided by SRD in Chapter 15 of the Property Management Manual should be implemented.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.14 The MCO will prepare a business case to RSR detailing increased rental costs and the impact on reference level funding. This will be completed prior to the third quarter of the 2007 fiscal year.

5.3.15 The MCO and Property Officer will conduct an inspection of all staff quarters in October 2007 as outlined in the checklist contained in Chapter 15 of the PMM.

Official Residence (OR)

5.3.16 The OR underwent a scheduled extensive refurbishment in 2005, with excellent results. The OR functions well as a representational property and is used as such by the HOM for numerous events and business lunches.

Vehicles

5.3.17 Documentation related to vehicle maintenance and use is adequate, but requires further tightening in certain areas. The vehicle logs sampled included all required information except automatic tracking of gas consumption, which can assist the supervisor in the determination of vehicle operating efficiency and immediately alert him to any problems. Access and control of the gas coupons also needs improvement to more effectively manage Mission assets. Dispatch of drivers on runs and allocation of overtime is managed by the Receptionist, though this function would benefit from *** to ensure a fair and balanced distribution of tasks between drivers.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.18 Access to gas coupon books should be limited and books locked when not in use. A sign out sheet should be used to better track and control usage of booklets.

5.3.19 Vehicle gas consumption should be monitored on a monthly basis and any discrepancies investigated.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.18 Access to gas coupon books is restricted *** when not in use. A sign out sheet will be created in September 2007 in order to better track usage of the booklets.

5.3.19 The MCO reviews gas consumption patterns from the vehicle report form on a monthly basis. The reports have been modified to reflect an automatic tracking of gas consumption for each official vehicle.

Contracting

5.3.20 A Contract Review Board (CRB) is in place at the Mission, composed of the MCO and the CIC and CIDA Program Managers. There is no threshold limit for contracts that must go through the CRB, though staff are encouraged to send contracts to the committee. The CRB functions mostly on a virtual basis, with emails exchanged to review and approve contracts. Documentation related to the CRB’s decisions was either not available or not in a central location which would facilitate a review. To improve the CRB’s oversight and control functions, it should develop a Terms of Reference, using the Departmental template, and meet face-to-face to discuss larger contracts.

Recommendation to the Mission

5.3.21 A Terms of Reference document should be created for the CRB.

5.3.22 The CRB should set a reasonable threshold, to be determined by local conditions, and communicate to staff that all contracts above this dollar value must go through the CRB. All contacts involving spouses should also be approved by the CRB.

5.3.23 The CRB should meet face-to-face to discuss larger contracts and a sample of smaller contracts. Records of decision and rationale for selecting contracts should be documented and stored in a central location.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.21 The MCO who also chairs the CRB, will prepare a Terms of Reference document for distribution to the new members of the Board following their arrival at the Mission. The document will be created for distribution in October 2007.

5.3.22 In May 2007, the CRB established a reasonable dollar value threshold for all contracts to be reviewed and will continue to review and approve all proposed contracts involving Canada-based spouses and dependants.

5.2.23 The CRB has met face to face to discuss larger contracts such as for construction projects and will make a schedule to meet from time-to-time to discuss smaller contracts. Records of decisions and rationale for selecting contractors exists in electronic format and copies of relevant correspondence will be printed to be placed on the contracting file kept by the MCO. This will be completed by the end of September 2007.

5.3.24 Other procedural recommendations to further improve control and management of the Section include:

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.25 Though inventories are up-to-date and monitored, shipments of materials are only verified by an LES. Two individuals, including one CBS, should be present to verify that all shipments and materials ordered have been received.

5.3.26 Management should reiterate to staff that tasking requests for cleaning staff should be directed through their supervisor, the Property Assistant.

5.3.27 A clear delineation of responsibilities between the staff gardener and the contracted gardener should be developed and communicated to both individuals to avoid duplication of work.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.25 Commencing with a large shipment of furnishings and official materiels delivered in August 2007, the CBS HOM Assistant accompanied the Property/Materiel Assistant to the agents warehouse to observe the opening of the sea container in order to verify all items ordered have been received. This will be the future practice.

5.3.26 All staff have been reminded that requests for cleaning are to be directed through the Property/Materiel Assistant.

5.3.27 The Locally-engaged Chancery Gardener is no longer providing services at the Official Residence as the contracted gardener is providing services there on a full time basis. RSR has confirmed that the contract gardener will be regularized and a position was created in August 2007. The job descriptions for both gardeners will reflect the actual work required at both locations and the Property and Materiel Manager will ensure that when one covers the other that there will be no duplication of work.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The MCO manages the Finance function in the Mission with the assistance of an *** LE-07 Accountant and a *** LE-05 Accounts Clerk. The Accountant has a *** knowledge of the financial operations at the Mission and Departmental policies. Both LES have taken the two week IMS for Accountants course at HQ.

Program Management

5.4.2 The MCO is not making use of BI or accessing IMS on his own, but instead has instituted formal weekly meetings between himself and the Accountant to review the budget, discuss financial planning and complete the monthly reporting requirements for HQ (e.g. FINSTAT, bank reconciliations, etc). During these meetings, the MCO requests additional reports as necessary. These meetings have promoted strong collaboration and communication between the MCO and the Accounts Section.

5.4.3 The Mission is up-to-date on completing and forwarding its FINSTAT reports and Bank Reconciliations to HQ. The HOM is involved in the Bank Reconciliation review process and signs off as required. A review of Bank Reconciliations for December 2006 and January 2007 showed that all required documentation was on file, except the line item report for GL10600. Prior to the Audit Team's arrival, the MCO was not reviewing the Asset and Liability report on a monthly basis nor monitoring the use of SA documents, but these have now been added to the agenda for weekly meetings.

5.4.4 The Mission has established a clear reimbursement policy on cellular and office phone usage for staff and CBS spouses. While the policy is being adhered to, the monitoring and recovery process is time consuming for the Accounts Clerk. It involves reviewing 43 monthly bills and conducting cost recovery monitoring and routine follow-up, which takes time away from more pressing accounting duties. The MCO should review this practice in an effort to streamline the recovery process (e.g. limiting International Direct Dialling access on Chancery phones) and should consider transferring this duty to other administrative staff.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.4.5 The MCO should review SA document reports at minimum on a monthly basis, along with the Asset and Liability Report, to ensure that these entries are valid. GL 10600 Line Item Reports should be included in the monthly bank reconciliation package.

5.4.6 The MCO should review the cost recovery practice for cell phone and office calls with the goal of streamlining the process and/or transferring the follow-up duties to non-accounting staff.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.5 The MCO is reviewing SA document reports and Asset and Liability reports on a monthly basis. The GL10600 Line Item reports are included in the monthly bank reconciliation package.

5.4.6 The MCO reviewed the cost recovery practice for cell and office phone calls in April and has transferred responsibility to the Administrative Assistant who reconciles all calls made against reports and invoices provided by Sri Lanka Telecom. Recovery action is then coordinated with the Mission Accountant.

Bank Account and Cash Management

5.4.7 While the Accountant is the primary day-to-day contact with the bank, the MCO has established a relationship with the bank manager and substantive issues are raised directly with him. Bank statements arriving at the Mission should be forwarded to the MCO in unopened envelopes so that he is the first to review these documents. Excess blank cheques not required for immediate payment runs should be secured ***.

5.4.8 A reconciliation of the general Petty Cash (PC) held by the Receptionist showed no discrepancies and reimbursements were well documented with completed EXT-2027 PC Voucher forms for each payment. The Request for Advance Replenishment form, EXT-2030, was completed and had appropriate Section 33 and 34 signatures. Prior to replenishment, the Accountant conducts a reconciliation of the remaining balance in the PC advance. To further ensure adequate control, the MCO should conduct quarterly verifications as well as spot checks throughout the year. During the Receptionist's absence, the PC should not be managed by the Accounts Clerk as this does not provide sufficient segregation of duties. An alternate back-up should be selected and trained.

5.4.9 The Consular Petty Cash was also verified and all amounts accounted for. During absences of the Consular Assistant, the Consular Petty Cash should be verified and a written transfer documented prior to handing this responsibility over to the Administrative Assistant.

5.4.10 A reconciliation of the Emergency Cash Parcel (ECP) was performed and all funds were accounted for, though issues with regards to this advance were brought to the Audit Team's attention. The current stock of USD bills are, for the most part, in small denominations and their age has made them too fragile to allow for machine counting which means that conducting routine verifications is a time consuming task. Furthermore, certain institutions may not accept these bills due to their worn appearance and age (some dating to 1978). The MCO should investigate local restrictions on their use. The CMM, with input from the Consular Emergency Services Division (CNE), should discuss the contingency fund requirements for the Mission and reduce the amount of the ECP if warranted. The MCO should also work with the Financial Management Services Division (SMFF) to update its current stock of USD bills.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.4.11 Bank statements should be addressed, and sent directly, to the MCO in sealed envelopes.

5.4.12 *** should secure excess blank cheques ***.

5.4.13 The MCO should perform quarterly petty cash verifications, along with counts on a random basis.

5.4.14 During the Receptionist's absence, petty cash duties should not be covered by the Accounts Clerk nor any staff with involvement in the financial operations of the Mission.

5.4.15 Temporary transfer of Petty Cash duties from one staff to another should be documented with appropriate signatures and confirmation of a cash reconciliation.

5.4.16 Contingency fund requirements should be reviewed, with input from CNE, to reduce the amount of the ECP if warranted. The MCO should work with SMFF to update its current stock of USD bills.

5.4.17 The Mission should prepare a banking survey for SMFF's attention.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.11 The Standard Chartered Bank has been delivering sealed bank statements directly to the attention of the MCO since April 2007.

5.4.12 *** has removed all excess blank cheques from the *** and has secured them ***.

5.4.13 In August 2007 the MCO commenced random counts of the petty cash parcels and will perform a quarterly verifications starting on September 1, 2007.

5.4.14 Effective in May 2007, during periods of the Receptionist's absence the petty cash account has been managed by the Administrative Assistant.

5.4.15 Effective in August 2007, temporary transfer of Petty Cash duties from one staff member to another are being documented with appropriate signatures and verification of cash balances.

5.4.16 In August 2007, the MCO communicated with CNE for advice on an appropriate amount to retain in the ECP. In consultation with CNE the amount of the ECP will be reduced by half. The MCO has received instructions from SMFF in order to transfer the older USD currency held in the ECP and at the same time reduce the total amount as recommended by CNE.

5.4.17 The Mission will complete a banking survey and submit it to SMFF in September 2007 when the general call letter is sent to all missions.

Revenues

5.4.18 Annual CIC revenue is approximately $1.5 million and is received at the Mission in bank drafts only. The financial aspect of this Program is adequately controlled with daily reconciliations and transfers ***. Monthly POS+ and IMS reconciliations are undertaken by both the MCO and the CIC Cost Recovery Officer, and any discrepancies are investigated prior to signing-off on the Bank Reconciliation. Consular Revenue is reconciled and transferred ***.

Expenditures

5.4.19 Official receipts are issued for all reimbursements by staff, as well as for all payments from clients. The receipt of cash revenue and the use of official receipts are appropriately controlled, with excess receipt books secured by the MCO. A banking representative visits the Mission *** and this allows for ***.

5.4.20 The Materiel Manager uses a local bank acquisition card (VISA) for local purchases which is not part of the departmental official acquisition card program. Controls are in place and the MCO monitors the card's use on a monthly basis when reviewing the statement, however, the Mission should investigate switching to the departmental acquisition card program and implementing the standardized controls inherent in this system.

5.4.21 To the extent possible, hospitality expenses should be paid directly by staff and not through Petty Cash and Mission cheques. Where the Mission pays directly, the claimant is still required to complete appropriate Hospitality Diaries. Hospitality unit rates introduced in January 2007 include alcohol costs and this has led to difficulties in reporting, as the new rate structure does not account for bulk purchasing or the alcohol stock which existed prior to the new rate system. The Mission should review its unit rate policy and either remove alcohol from unit costs for all staff or establish a two-unit rate structure which allows those with bulk purchases to exclude alcohol expenses from the meal rate.

5.4.22 A sample of LES payroll documents were reviewed for the period of January 16-31, 2007 and showed appropriate documentation. All LES are paid by Hard Copy transfer. A sample of non-salary payments was also reviewed from the Mission's accounts for December 2006. Section 33, Section 34, cheques and Hard Copy Transfer requests were all signed by appropriate officers with signing authority. Photocopies of cheques should be made once they have been signed to further enhance tracking and controls, given that the bank does not return encashed cheques to the Mission for its records.

5.4.23 Vendor change and creation in IMS is performed by the Property Assistant based on a written request from the Accounts Section. The MCO monitors vendor changes on a monthly basis as part of the Bank Reconciliation process. The Materiel Management (MM) module is being used to track all contracts and POs with a value over $5000 as per departmental policy. Both Locally-engaged (LE) accounts staff have requested additional training from HQ on use of the MM module, as the on-line course provided basic instruction but did provide guidance on trouble-shooting or error-correction.

5.4.24 The current process for receiving approvals and signatures for Section 34, Section 33, cheques and Hard Copy Transfer requests involves the Accounts Clerk hand delivering financial folders to Program Managers (PMs) two to three times per week. The file remains with the PMs while they review and sign the financial documents. This allows PMs to ask questions and receive immediate responses to any concerns that they may have regarding specific documents. The Mission believes this reduces the risk of documents being signed without proper review and understanding. The MCO should ensure that Section 34, confirming the receipt of goods or services, is signed by the appropriate PM prior to signature of Section 33. The use of a Section 34 stamp on incoming invoices may facilitate this process and allow PMs to sign Section 34 directly upon receipt of goods on the invoice/bill itself.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.4.25 The Mission should investigate switching from their local bank credit card to the departmental acquisition card program and implementing the standardized controls inherent in this system.

5.4.26 Where possible, hospitality expenses should be paid directly by staff and not through Petty Cash. In all instances, Hospitality Diaries must be completed.

5.4.27 The Mission should review its unit rate policy and either remove alcohol from unit costs for all staff or establish a two-unit rate structure which allows those with bulk purchases to exclude alcohol expenses from the meal rate.

5.4.28 Photocopies of cheques should be made once they have been signed.

5.4.29 The MCO should request additional MM Module training from HQ (via phone or on-line) for the Accountant and Accounts Clerk.

5.4.30 Section 34 should be signed by a delegated officer, confirming receipt of goods or services, prior to Section 33, authorizing payment.

5.4.31 While signing authorities are up-to-date, the EXT-2033 Specimen Signature Card should be approved/signed and dated by the HOM, not the MCO.

5.4.32 The Mission should work with SMFF to clear outstanding amounts in the Imprest Account which were carried over during the transition from Finex to IMS.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.25 The Mission has inquired with SMFF on the process of acquiring a departmental acquisition card to replace the local bank credit card currently in use and has discontinued use of the local credit card in August 2007.

5.4.26 Staff have been instructed not to use Petty Cash to pay hospitality expenses and that all expenses are to be paid directly and reconciled on a Hospitality Diary.

5.4.27 The Mission has reviewed hospitality rates and in April 2007 removed alcohol from the unit rate policy.

5.4.28 Since May 2007, the Accountants have made photocopies of cheques only after they have been signed.

5.4.29 The MCO has requested additional Materiel Management (MM) Module training from the Centre for Corporate Services Learning (CFSS) and was advised in August that SPP has been working with CFSI to provide training to all employees involved in the contracting process at missions. Remote training will be offered by the Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI) from October to January, 2008 at which time we will register our two accountants.

5.4.30 The Mission has made stamps which are now applied to all invoices confirming that goods have been received, or services rendered. Section 34 can then be signed by a delegated officer prior to Section 33 which authorizes payment and is normally signed by the MCO.

5.4.31 The Mission will ensure EXT-2033 Specimen Signature card is approved and signed by the HOM in September 2007 following arrival of new program managers.

5.4.32 In June 2007, the Mission communicated with SMFF to clear the outstanding amount in the Imprest Account which is attributed to funds from 106 CIC unclaimed stale ROLF (right of landing fee) refund bank drafts being rolled over when FINEX was replaced by IMS in 1999. On September 26, 2007, SMFF confirmed they are being reviewed and will be cleared by HQ.

5.5 Information Technology (IT)

5.5.1 Information Technology at the Mission is managed by a Locally-engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP) (LE-07), with general oversight provided by the MCO. Regional support is provided by a Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) in New Delhi. The support from the Regional FSITP *** has been helpful in addressing issues not under the purview of an LEITP. Discussions with staff indicated that ***, despite the high workload of the LEITP. Given the size of the Mission, with 62 active SIGNET accounts and 70 workstations, the Client Relations Division (SXEC) stated that HQ would be examining whether another resource is necessary in the Section.

5.5.2 The Migration Integrity Officer’s Assistant in the CIC Section is the designated back-up for the LEITP during his absences. To date, the MIO Assistant has not received any formal training, though the LEITP has provided some on-the-job training to this individual. With the busy nature of the Section, a fully trained replacement is important in order to sustain service levels and resolve basic IT problems when the LEITP is not available. Training for the MIO Assistant should be arranged, either through HQ or with the Regional FSITP in New Delhi.

5.5.3 Due to space constraints in the Mission, IT assets are stored in various locations throughout the Chancery rather than a single storage room. Many of these assets are obsolete, taking up valuable storage space and creating extra work for the LEITP to manage and control. Using HQ procedures and advice, the LEITP and the MCO should examine various disposal options, including donations to local charities and auctions. Once excess inventory has been disposed of, a central location for IT assets within the Chancery should be allocated to the LEITP. Control of assets frequently loaned to staff has been difficult to manage without an official sign-out process. A formal procedure for signing out IT assets should be developed and clearly communicated to staff.

5.5.4 Improving access control and physical security of IT equipment should be a priority for the Section. The system back-up tapes are currently stored ***. This location appropriately keeps the tapes off-site, but has been plagued by high humidity and resulted in some tape damage. The tapes should be moved to a *** less humid area. Within the Chancery, *** which is housed in a separate room in that office should be improved. ***. Accordingly, the Mission should ensure that CBS oversight is provided when LES and maintenance individuals are servicing CAIPS.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.5.5 The MIO’s Assistant should be provided training as the LEITP back-up.

5.5.6 In conjunction with HQ, the Mission should initiate a disposal of excess and obsolete IT equipment.

5.5.7 A formal sign-out process for IT equipment loans to staff should be implemented.

5.5.8 The back-up tapes should be moved to a *** less humid area.

5.5.9 ***.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.5 The Mission has arranged IT training for the LEITP back-up through the Regional FSITP in Delhi to occur in October 2007. The Mission will cover the cost of airfare and hotels and the Regional Manager will develop an appropriate training seminar for the back-up so that she will be more effective in times of absences of the LEITP.

5.5.6 The Mission will organize an exercise prior to end of calendar year to dispose of obsolete IT equipment.

5.5.7 The LEITP has developed a sign-out system for IT equipment loaned to staff.

5.5.8 The back-up tapes have been relocated to *** where humidity levels are reduced from the levels found in the main Chancery.

5.5.9 ***.


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Date Modified:
2012-11-01