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Audit of the Canadian Embassy, Prague and the Office of the Canadian Embassy, Bratislava

PDF Version (89 Kb) *

(April 2007)

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

An audit of the General Relations (GR), the International Business Development (IBD), the Consular and the Administration Programs was conducted in Prague and Bratislava from February 1 to 7, 2006. These Programs were last audited in October 1999.

The GR Program is managed by a Canada-based (CB) Political and Economic Officer who is supported by three Locally-engaged Staff (LES). The Program covers political and economic reporting, public affairs, and includes an excellent academic relations and cultural and media relations program. ***. Communications are good and staff meetings are held weekly. Responsibilities within the Program should be reviewed as should the organization chart, which does not reflect the current distribution of work. It is recommended that the translator/interpreter position, currently attached to the Head of Mission (HOM), be transferred to the GR Section as this employee does many tasks associated with the GR Section. The Program Manager would, however, ensure that the HOM's interpretative needs take priority.

The Czech Republic has one of the best infrastructures in Europe, with qualified workers and a solid high-tech base. The country's accession to the European Union (EU) should allow for an increase in Canadian exports. In fact, while it is still too soon to draw conclusions, our exports to the Czech Republic during the first nine months of 2005 increased by 32.2%. The IBD Section is composed of one CBS (Canada-based Staff) Trade Commissioner and four LES, and resource levels are currently more than adequate for the workload. Upon the *** of one of the LES officers, the Mission should assess the Section's workload, based on our trade interests in the Czech Republic, and determine whether any adjustments are required to the staffing levels. Job descriptions should be reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date. While there are good informal communications within the Section, it is recommended that weekly meetings with the LES be implemented.

The Consular Program has been through a number of changes recently with the cut of the Deputy Management-Consular Officer (DMCO) position, the transfer of responsibility for the Consular program in Slovakia to Vienna, and the upcoming change to the Mission Passport Print Solution (MPPS), scheduled for the week following the audit fieldwork. Recommendations are made in this report to increase control over the passport entitlement function, and improve inventory controls.

The Administration Program has similarly been adjusting to the cut of the DMCO position, the loss of which has been somewhat compensated by the transfer of responsibility for Bratislava to Vienna. Alternative organizational structures have been considered by the Mission, including the creation of an Office Manager position, however the Audit Team recommends that a more traditional structure be maintained. Good informal communication exists within the Section but more formal communication through regular staff meetings is necessary. Key recommendations include updating the LES Handbook, rolling out the Performance Management Program (PMP), and creating a Contract Review Board (CRB).

The Office of the Canadian Embassy in Bratislava is managed by one CBS (FS-02) and four LES. The Mission covers the GR, IBD, Consular and Administration programs. The Head of Office reports to the Head of Mission (HOM) in Prague, who is accredited to Slovakia. Responsibility for the Consular and Administration programs was transferred from Prague to Vienna in October 2005. It is recommended that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) be drafted to ensure that the responsibilities of each Mission are clearly defined in terms of program delivery, support functions, and reporting relationships. With Bratislava only 60 kilometres from Vienna, the transfer of responsibility should facilitate management of the Administration and Consular programs in Slovakia.

A total of 42 audit recommendations are raised in the report; 40 are addressed to the Missions and two 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 42 recommendations, management has stated that 26 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 16 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), the 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, and 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

Prague

Physical Resources

AssetsCrown LeasedCrown Owned
Chancery1-
Official Residence1-
Staff Quarters5-
Vehicles-5

Financial Information 2005/06

Table 2: Mission Resources Fact Sheet Financial Information
Financial Information 2005/06
Total$2,511,727
Operating Budget (N001)$1,349,468
Capital Budget (N005)53,570
CBS Budget (N011)446,970
LES Salaries Budget (N012)661,719

Bratislava

Physical Resources

AssetsCrown LeasedCrown Owned
Chancery1-
Staff Quarters1-
Vehicles-1

Financial Information

Table 4: Mission Resources Financial Information
Financial Information 2005/06
Total$2,511,727
Operating Budget (N001)$548,567
Capital Budget (N005)17,099
CBS Budget (N011)91,300
LES Salaries Budget (N012)127,745

Organization Chart

Organization Chart

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Embassy in Prague is a small mission with six CBS and 29 LES. One CBS and four LES work at the Office of the Canadian Embassy in Bratislava. The Mission is properly resourced for its current mandate, which is focussed on strengthening bilateral relations, given the Czech Republic's and Slovakia's recent accession to the European Union. Both Canada in general and the work of the Mission are well perceived, a strength upon which to build and foster bilateral relations. An irritant to this relationship is the ongoing visa requirement for Czech and Slovak citizens travelling to Canada, an issue which must be carefully handled by the Mission.

1.1.2 Under the leadership of the HOM, the Mission maintains a positive work environment. Morale is good, and solid working relationships exist between CBS and LES. While there are generally good communications between management and staff, improvement is always possible. LES indicated a desire for more direct contact with the HOM, as well as more insight on the management of the Mission in general. To help in this regard it is recommended that the HOM hold regular town hall gatherings and meet with the LES Committee regularly (see recommendation 5.2.13). Committee on Mission Management (CMM) minutes should also be distributed to all staff, as appropriate.

1.1.3 The Mission has created a number of Committees such as the CMM, LES Committee, and Occupational Health and Safety Committee (OHSC). The CMM functions well as a management tool, but could be used more effectively in setting administrative policies. To ensure that the CMM is properly engaged in the administration of the Mission, the Management-Consular Officer (MCO) *** in bringing relevant issues to the CMM for discussion and decision. The Mission Housing Committee needs to be more active in assessing not only housing allocations but ongoing problems at staff quarters (SQs). The Housing Committee met for the first time shortly following the departure of the Audit Team. A Contract Review Board (CRB), should be established under relevant Terms of Reference (TORs) (see the Finance Section of this report).

1.1.4 The responsibility for administration of the Office in Bratislava and Consular Program in Slovakia was transferred from Prague to Vienna in the fall of 2005. While still a work in progress, the relationship between Bratislava and Vienna is solidifying and the decision to transfer responsibility for these functions from Prague to a larger Mission, less than one hour away by car, appears sound. Day-to-day responsibility for all programs in Bratislava rests with the Chargé d'affaires, but the working relationship between Bratislava, Prague and Vienna needs to be fine-tuned with respect to the administration of the Office in Bratislava and the delivery of the Consular Program in Slovakia. To this end, a Memorandum of Understanding should be drafted detailing reporting relationships and the responsibilities of each Mission in delivering programs and support functions.

Recommendation for the Mission

1.1.5 The Mission, in consultation with Vienna and Bratislava, should develop an MOU delineating the reporting relationships and responsibilities of each Mission in delivering programs and support functions.

Mission Action and Timeframe

1.1.5 Prague, Vienna and Bratislava, with the assistance of various sections in Ottawa, are currently undertaking a review of the distribution of the responsibilities between the three missions and are evaluating the effectiveness of the transfer of the Administrative and Consular Programs to Vienna. Following the conclusions reached, an MOU will be developed. Expected completion date: June 2007

General Relations Program (GR)

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 Canada's relations with the Czech Republic, a country of 10.3 million inhabitants, dates back to 1920, when the first consular officer of what was then Czechoslovakia was dispatched to Canada. Since the separation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, bonds with Canada have intensified and expanded. There are more than 80,000 Canadians of Czech origin currently living in Canada. Both countries are members of the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Czech Republic and Slovakia joined the European Union (EU) May 1, 2004.

2.1.2 The General Relations Program in Prague is led by a CBS (FS-03) whose team consists of one LE-09 Officer, one LE-08 Officer and one LE-05 Assistant.

2.2 Management of the Program

2.2.1 The Program is adequately resourced to deliver an active agenda of political and economic reporting as well as public affairs events. It has excellent Academic Relations and Cultural and Media Relations programs. The Section publishes Mosaika, a weekly magazine in Czech, as well as a bi-monthly newsletter in Slovak. A recent survey conducted by the Embassy demonstrates a high level of interest in these publications. Readership of Mosaika is estimated to be approximately one thousand in the Czech Republic alone and is growing steadily.

2.2.2 There is *** teamwork among employees in the Program ***. The Program Manager coordinates weekly meetings to take stock of work accomplished, to review reports, to plan upcoming events and to ensure that all members of the Program are informed of decisions made by the CMM. The Mission's spokesperson, a representative of the Public Affairs Section, sits on the CMM and is also a member of the LES Committee. She is thus able to keep the LES abreast of decisions made and topics discussed at CMM meetings. The Program held a retreat in 2005, and another is planned for 2006.

2.2.3 The Program Manager will be undertaking a review of all job descriptions in the Section in order to improve the Section's performance. This will include a review of classification levels and an update to the Section's organizational chart to more accurately reflect reporting relationships and distribution of work.

2.2.4 As part of this initiative, the Mission should consider transferring the LE-05 translator/interpreter position, currently reporting to the HOM, to the GR Section. In actual fact, the translator/interpreter already undertakes many tasks on behalf of the GR Section, therefore the change in reporting relationship would be nominal in nature. Priority would continue to be given to the HOM's interpretive needs, but the Section would enjoy greater flexibility in tasking the translator/interpreter.

2.2.5 Annual objectives should be established for each member of the Section as part of the new Performance Management Program (PMP), including measurable goals against which employees will be evaluated.

Recommendations for the Mission

2.2.6 Job descriptions for all GR employees should be updated and the Program's organizational charts should be reviewed to better reflect distribution of work and reporting relationships.

2.2.7 The translator/interpreter position should be transferred to the GR Program.

2.2.8 Specific and measurable objectives should be set by the Program Manager for each employee through the PMP. The PMP should be reviewed regularly by both employees and the Program Manager.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.2.6 Implemented. Jobs descriptions have been updated and signed by all three employees on June 27, 2006. Organizational chart has been reviewed as of June 2006.

2.2.7 Implemented. The position has been transferred to the GR Section during the spring 2006. A new job description has been prepared to reflect the additional duties of the employee and it has been signed by the employee and the HOM on August 30, 2006. The position has been reclassified to LE-07 effective April 1, 2006.

2.2.8 Implemented. New, updated objectives being put in place by new Program Manager in close cooperation with each employee during winter 2006-07.

2.3 Program Delivery

2.3.1 The new Country Strategy, prepared by the HOM in cooperation with Program Managers, is a valuable tool that will help to ensure that Mission operations are effective and Program objectives are met. Political reporting is done regularly and is of good quality, covering key issues of interest to Headquarters. Economic reporting, however, is irregular. Reporting requirements have not been established by Headquarters and are not clear to the Program. The Program would benefit from a reporting agreement with the European Union and West Europe Bureau (RRD), detailing and clarifying reporting expectations for the coming year.

2.3.2 There have been very few departmental visits to the Czech Republic, despite our close historical ties and the Czech Republic's presently stable economy. The General Relations and IBD programs would benefit significantly from such visits. Furthermore, our involvement in local Francophonie activities presents us with an ideal opportunity to promote Canada's multicultural and bilingual image.

2.3.3 The Public Affairs Program is very dynamic and projects a positive image of Canada. Both the Cultural Program and the Academic Relations Program are forward thinking and organize more than two hundred highly successful activities every year, going far beyond the standard hockey competitions and Terry Fox runs. The Post Initiative Fund (PIF) budget for fiscal year 2005-2006 was an adequate $23,000. The Audit Team supports the current reference level of this budget and feels that the money is being very well spent by the Section. Before the Czech Republic's accession to the EU, our Embassy received funding through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI). This funding, intended to support activities related to promotion of good governance and democracy, will not be provided to EU member countries.

2.3.4 Due in large part to mutual interest between Czechs and Canadians, the Academic Relations Program has made significant inroads. There are two Centres for Canadian Studies in the Czech Republic, with sixteen Canadian-content courses being given at the Brno Centre alone. Aside from these two centres, four other universities offer Canadian Studies programs. There are two Canadian Studies programs and one Centre for Canadian Studies in Slovakia (whose Academic Relations program continues to be supported by the Embassy in Prague).

Recommendation for Central, East and South Europe Bureau (RED)

2.3.5 In consultation with the Mission, establish a reporting agreement.

RED Action and Timeframe

2.3.5 A reporting agreement between the Mission and HQ has been established.

International Business Development Program (IBD)

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 Our economic and trade relations with the Czech Republic have risen slowly over the past decade and remain modest at approximately $270 million in annual bilateral trade. Prospects for increased trade with Slovakia are good, however the Czech market presents great opportunities for Canadian investors with its solid base of qualified workers and high-tech industry. Canadian companies such as Bombardier, Bell Helicopter, Magna International, Smart Technologies, Apotex and GeoCan Oil have operations in the Czech Republic. It is estimated that about one hundred Canadian companies have an interest in the Czech market and that some four hundred Czech companies import Canadian goods.

3.2 Management of the Program

3.2.1 The IBD Program is led by a CBS Program Manager (FS-03) who is supported by four LES (three officer positions and one assistant). The Program Manager (PM) plays a leadership role and is ***. Despite a recent decrease in Program funding of ten percent, the CBS position should remain in the Section as commercial relations between the Czech Republic and Canada are slowly gaining momentum. This will ensure, for the time being, that advantage can be taken of any new openings in a market that is liable to offer new opportunities given the Czech Republic's accession to the EU.

3.2.2 Informal communication among Program staff is good, but the Audit Team recommends that formal weekly all-staff meetings be implemented for planning purposes as well as to discuss management issues and decisions made at the CMM.

3.2.3 The Program is adequately resourced. Its operating budget is $40,500. Although the Program follows a Trade Action Plan (which reflects HQ and Mission priorities), the Audit Team found there to be a high concentration of activities related to sectors such as residential construction, agri-food, certain consumer goods, transportation, high-tech and the environment. The majority of LES in the Program noted that other strong Canadian sectors were not receiving as much attention and promotion, to their detriment. It is recommended that the IBD Program, in cooperation with the GR Program, conduct outreach activities that promote Canada's image as a dynamic and highly industrialized partner on the cutting edge of technology.

3.2.4 The PM should review all LES job descriptions to ensure a fair division of responsibilities between employees.

Recommendation for the Mission

3.2.5 The Program Manager should hold weekly information and coordination meetings with staff members.

3.2.6 The Program should reassess its priority sectors to ensure that potential business opportunities in some of Canada's other strong sectors are not missed. It should work in cooperation with the GR Program to promote these sectors in the Czech Republic.

3.2.7 The PM should review all job descriptions to ensure that they are up-to-date and that work is equitably distributed.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.2.5 Implemented. Since the visit of the Audit Team, the Program Manager holds weekly information and coordination meetings with staff members, except when the Trade team's schedule does not permit.

3.2.6 Implemented. The Program reassesses its priority sectors every year at the time of the IBD (International Business Development) Business Plan, when it defines its strategy and action plan for the next fiscal year. The priority sectors were reassessed recently for our 2007/08 Business Plan. Note that it is mandatory for all IBD Programs to keep a limited number of priority sectors in order not to dilute actions and results. We keep a good collaboration with the GR Program which promotes our activities on a regular basis (including in Mozaika), and participates in them when pertinent (for example when the press is involved).

3.2.7 Pending. The review of all trade job descriptions is pending. One ***. Work had been momentarily redistributed to other LES and to the PM. Job descriptions could not be reviewed during that period. Our next step is to discuss staffing issues with HQ, and afterwards, we will implement the agreed upon staffing process. Job descriptions will be reviewed in this context. Expected completion date: August 2007

3.3 The "Springboard to Eastern Europe"

3.3.1 The "Springboard to Eastern Europe" initiative, implemented at our Mission in Vienna in 2005, was designed to encourage Canadian companies to establish operations in Austria as a gateway to establishing further operations in Central and Eastern Europe. Canadian companies were encouraged to partner with Austrian companies that were experienced in navigating Europe's emerging markets. In June 2005 the Mission in Prague collaborated with Canadian missions in Vienna, Bratislava, Warsaw and Budapest in a first attempt under the "springboard" initiative to attract Canadian companies. During this outreach exercise, which enjoyed limited success, local sensitivities with regards to Vienna's ultimate objective came into play as missions in Central Europe perceived the initiative differently than did Vienna. Further ventures under the "springboard" initiative must be supported by improved communications between missions in the region and with Headquarters. This may perhaps provide a way to attract Canadian business to the Czech Republic as such ventures do not, at the moment, appear easy to set up solely for the Czech market.

3.4 The Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic

3.4.1 The Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic was established in 1997. Its current president, a governor of MacLachlan College in Toronto, has presided over a significant expansion of the Chamber's activities. Its Board of Directors meets regularly to discuss new opportunities for Canadian businesses in the Czech Republic, and the Chamber currently has approximately two hundred members. It issues a good quality illustrated publication three times per year. IBD Program staff at the Embassy are in regular contact with the Chamber's directors regarding emerging opportunities for Canadian companies and investors.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is delivered by an LE-08 Consular Officer (CO), assisted by the Administrative Assistant on a part-time basis. Additional backup is provided by the Receptionist. The Consular Program, provides timely and effective services to Canadians in both official languages, and maintains good relationships with local authorities. The Management-Consular Officer (MCO) is only required to get involved in important or high-profile cases. Responsibility for Consular services in Bratislava was recently transferred to Vienna, but a formal agreement has not yet been drafted to define roles, responsibilities and authorities, which is of particular importance given that the HOM in Prague retains accreditation to the Slovak Republic (see recommendation 1.1.5).

4.1.2 Passport services are delivered by the CO, with back-up provided by the Administrative Assistant and Receptionist. Following the elimination of the DMCO position in the summer of 2005, day-to-day responsibility for oversight of the passport program was assigned to the CBS HOM Assistant. However, ***. A CBS should exercise the entitlement function based on a review of original documentation and sign the passport worksheet (PPT-038). Inventory controls need to be strengthened as monthly reconciliations of the passport inventory were not being completed. Quarterly reconciliations were completed by two CBS and signed off by the HOM. Working stocks should be reduced from the current one- to two- month supply and ultimately eliminated once the Mission Passport Print Solution (MPPS) is fully implemented.

4.1.3 Handling of cash and/or consular/passport revenue could be improved.

Recommendations for the Mission

4.1.4 CBS exercising the entitlement function should approve passports by reviewing the original application and citizenship documents and signing the passport worksheet (PPT-038).

4.1.5 Passport inventory should be physically counted on a monthly basis by two staff, including one CBS. The MCO and HOM should complete the count quarterly.

4.1.6 Segregation of duties should ensure that only one individual handles the receipt of cash from consular/passport clients.

4.1.7 The register of cost recoveries should accompany each transfer of consular/passport revenue to the Accounting Section.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.1.4 Implemented, effective February 2006.

4.1.5 Implemented, effective February 2007.

4.1.6 Implemented. The Consular Officer handles the receipt of cash from consular/passport clients unless she is being replaced by the Consular Assistant who then handles all operations, including receipt of cash.

4.1.7 Manual reports accompany each transfer of consular/passport revenue to the Accounting Section, effective March 2007. The Mission investigated the possibility of re-programming the cash register in order to issue weekly statement but, according to the technician, this was not possible to do without affecting other functions of the machine.

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Administration Program is managed by the MCO (AS-05) who is assisted by a team of LES. The MCO is ***, which limits communication as the Section does not have regular staff meetings. The MCO spends most of her time on Administration, with the day-to-day supervision of the Consular function delegated to the HOM Administrative Assistant. She has paid very strong attention to Finance (given past problems at the Mission) ***. Currently, there is a need for increased focus on other functions such as Human Resources Management and Physical Resources.

5.1.2 The Section needs to develop and implement more administrative policies and structures to effectively deal with routine enquiries. This would allow more time for managing issues and projects of increased complexity, such as the sourcing of a new Official Residence (OR).

5.1.3 The elimination of the DMCO position in 2005 and the transfer of the responsibility for Bratislava's administration and consular programs to Vienna have had a compensating impact, and the Section is properly resourced. Following the elimination of the DMCO position the Mission examined alternative organizational structures, settling on a plan to restructure the Administration Section by converting the Senior Accountant position to an Office Manager, responsible for Human Resources and procurement. The restructuring would have created conflicts of interest by placing procurement and accounting under the same line of authority, and making an LES responsible for high-level HR functions such as benefits reviews. It is recommended that the current traditional organizational structure be maintained. One Administrative Assistant position remains vacant and the Mission should examine transferring the responsibilities of this position to the Property Assistant and drivers prior to staffing. The continuing need for this position should be reviewed in the future.

5.1.4 The Mission has not yet rolled out the Performance Management Program (PMP) and over the last year only one LES has had their performance formally reviewed. Objectives need to be established for all staff within the PMP program, and staff should be empowered to fulfill their more complex duties, *** in the aforementioned OR search. There is also a requirement for Administration to have a well developed work plan that focusses on expected results, resources and a time frame for delivery.

5.1.5 The CMM could be used more effectively to discuss administrative matters and set policy. To ensure that the CMM is properly engaged in the administration of the Mission, the MCO *** in bringing relevant issues to the CMM. Decisions should be documented and communicated to all staff, as appropriate.

Recommendation for the Mission

5.1.6 A workplan for the Administration Section should be developed focussing on expected results, resources and a time frame for delivery.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.1.6 Implemented, effective August 2006. A workplan has been developed for the Administration Section and regular staff meetings are held during which issues are outlined and priorities, procedures and time frame for delivery set.

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 This function is managed by the MCO with the assistance of an LE-05 Administrative Assistant. A number of core HR functions need to be strengthened, which will require the attention of all managers. While the MCO is responsible for coordinating and administering HR at the Mission, each manager is ultimately responsible for the personnel management in their section. Accordingly, HR issues should be regularly discussed at CMM meetings and the MCO should work closely with other Mission Managers and the HOM to ensure core HR functions are completed.

5.2.2 One particular area in need of attention is performance review and development. Only one performance review has been completed in the last year, and the PMP has not yet been rolled out at the Mission. A review of position descriptions indicated that while all had been signed by the employees, a number have not been reviewed since the mid-1990s. To ensure that employees are properly compensated and that performance can be accurately reviewed, it is important that position descriptions be reviewed regularly. As a best practice, it is recommended that the employee and manager review and sign the position description when setting their annual objectives in PMP. If skills and knowledge are appropriately assessed, this will aid the development of a comprehensive training plan, which has not yet been developed by the Mission.

5.2.3 The major item of concern to LES is the lack of an up-to-date LES Handbook. The last comprehensive benefits review was in 1995, and the Handbook has not been reviewed since that time. The updating of this Handbook needs to be a priority for the Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD), which should direct the Mission to undertake a comprehensive benefits review as soon as possible.

Recommendation for HLD

5.2.4 HLD should instruct the Mission to undertake a comprehensive benefits review, and prioritize the development of a new handbook for LES in Prague.

HLD Action and Timeframe

5.2.4 HLD recognizes that the Prague handbook is in need of updating. A strategy has been developed that should allow HLD to revise all handbooks throughout the world within the next two years, including that of Prague.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.2.5 Official residence (OR) staff have never received a formal message regarding the outcome of the 2005 salary revision exercise. OR staff salaries should be reviewed and results communicated in writing.

5.2.6 The PMP should be rolled out immediately. Objectives should be set for all staff within PMP.

5.2.7 Position descriptions should be reviewed (and signed by managers and employees) when objectives are established within PMP.

5.2.8 A Mission-wide comprehensive training plan should be developed based on assessments of skills and knowledge in performance reviews.

5.2.9 Salary increments for LES should not be actioned by the Accounting Section until a statement of satisfactory performance is received from the responsible manager.

5.2.10 Staffing files should include Letters of Offer and all board member scoring sheets.

5.2.11 An electronic system to track emergency and term employment should be implemented.

5.2.12 The LES Committee is currently comprised of three program-level officers from Trade, Administration, and Consular. It is recommended that LES staff consider including non-program level LES in the Committee membership.

5.2.13 A formalized meeting structure should be developed for the LES Committee (e.g. bi-monthly with MCO, bi-annually with HOM). Minutes should be kept and distributed to all staff.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.5 The results of the 2006 survey were communicated in writing to all staff, including the OR staff. The same procedure will apply for the 2007 salary revision.

5.2.6 PMP was rolled out in summer 2006 and objectives were set. System will be maintained.

5.2.7 Position descriptions were signed by managers and employees during the PMP process. Some will have to be reviewed within this year's PMP exercise. Expected completion date: August 2007

5.2.8 A training plan will be developed based on 2007 PMP exercise. Expected completion date: August 2007.

5.2.9 Implemented. System was put into place to ensure that no salary increment is actioned without a statement of satisfactory performance from the responsible manager.

5.2.10 Implemented. Mission held a competition process in 2007 and all documentation was kept on file.

5.2.11 Implemented, effective January 2007.

5.2.12 A meeting with all LES is scheduled for April 2007 and the employees will be consulted regarding the composition of the LES Committee. Expected completion date: May 2007.

5.2.13 A formalized meeting structure was proposed to the LES Committee in fall 2006 but was rejected by the Committee who did not see a need for it. This will be discussed at next meeting and minutes will be kept and distributed to all staff. Expected completion date: June 2007

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The Physical Resources program is managed by the MCO with the day-to-day operations being carried out by the LE-06 Property Assistant (PA). The PA has been with the Mission for a year and a half and oversees the work of the handyman and two part-time cleaners. The Housing Committee has recently been resurrected and was to hold their first meeting after the departure of the Audit Team. Objectives have not been set for the PA and she has not received training on PRIME. With the expected turnover of CBS and the limited availability of suitable housing on the local market, the Mission must ensure that the PA is *** to actively monitor the market and visit properties as they become available.

5.3.2 The Mission currently maintains a portfolio of four Staff Quarters (SQs), housing five CBS, including one employee couple. CBS are satisfied with their SQs, with the exception of one *** originating from the adjoining duplex. The landlord was engaged in discussions and attempts were made to correct the situation with minimal success. At the time of the audit, the Housing Committee had not met and no course of action established.

5.3.3 The Mission enjoys the benefits of a newly renovated and spacious leased Chancery (2002), with excellent facilities that serve the Mission well. In recent years, the staffing complement at the Mission has decreased, resulting in excess office space. The vacant space should not be of immediate concern, but should factor into the decision to renew the lease in 2010. Under the terms of the lease, the landlord is responsible for maintenance of major systems on the site. Despite the landlord's responsibilities, the Mission has engaged in contracts for maintenance of major items, including HVAC and elevator services. Mission attempts to raise the issue with the landlord have not yet been successful. The Mission should communicate formally with the lessor and seek reimbursement for funds already expended. If the Mission is unable to secure the cooperation of the lessor, maintenance costs should be withheld from future lease payments, as per the lease agreement.

5.3.4 The OR is a heritage building situated on two acres of land containing gardens, a tennis court and a "barn" which is utilized as ***. The property exceeds the requirements of the Mission and has been identified for replacement this summer to coincide with the downgrading of the Mission and the arrival of a new HOM. Markets for suitable housing in Prague are tight and good properties sell quickly. In this environment, the PA should be engaged as the lead in identifying a short list of properties for consideration by the Mission and the Physical Resources Bureau (SRD). It is important that SRD and the Mission provide clear directions and guidelines to the PA so that ***.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.3.5 Distribution accounts should be signed by tenants within two weeks of occupancy.

5.3.6 A property workplan should be developed for key tasks such as annual SQ inspections and a yearly survey of suppliers.

5.3.7 Maintenance costs for the chancery should be recovered from the landlord or withheld from future rent payments.

5.3.8 The Property Assistant should take the lead on the search for a new OR and SQs, based upon clear direction from HQ and the Mission.

5.3.9 *** request should be resolved as soon as possible.

5.3.10 The rationale for the over-housing situation (PRID 4720077) should be documented and put on file.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.5 Implemented, effective July 2006.

5.3.6 Implemented, effective January 2007.

5.3.7 Mission has already approached the landlord on that matter, unsuccessfully. Mission is now in the process of identifying and compiling the maintenance costs that should be recovered from the landlord and will pursue discussions with landlord. Expected completion date: August 2007.

5.3.8 Implemented, effective August 2006.

5.3.9 ***. Mission will not renew the lease on the property as of summer 2007.

5.3.10 MCO will meet with Property Manager and Housing Committee in order to gather documentation related to PRID 4720077. The rationale for the over-housing situation will be documented and put on file. Expected completion date: April 2007.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The MCO has focussed much of her effort on controlling the financial function at the Mission, ***. She communicates with the accounting staff numerous times each day, *** and monitoring transactions closely. The HOM maintains appropriate oversight, exercising his responsibilities ***. Key financial controls are in place and the Section offers a high level of service to clients.

5.4.2 The Section is staffed by two accountants who ***. It would be of benefit to the Mission to systematically expose the Junior Accountant to some of the more complex aspects of accounting work such as budgeting and bank reconciliations. This would be of value during absences of the Senior Accountant.

5.4.3 To add more rigour to the procurement function it is recommended that procurement guidelines be developed and approved by the CMM. Similarly, more oversight is needed in the contracting area. The CMM should name a Contract Review Board (CRB), and approve Terms of Reference (TOR) for the CRB.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.4.4 A CRB should be named (likely the CMM), and TOR developed identifying minimum thresholds above which contracts must be reviewed by the CRB.

5.4.5 Procurement guidelines should be developed and presented to the CMM for approval.

5.4.6 Petty cash cannot be held by individuals who input payments or receive cash. As such, one petty cash held in the Accounting Section should be eliminated. The other petty cash (also held in the Accounting Section) should be decreased to ensure it is less than $2,000, and moved from the Accounting Section.

5.4.7 Receipts issued to Consular Section staff on turnover of funds should be in the name of the individual Consular Section staff member.

5.4.8 The Mission does not yet have access to the Materiel Management (MM) Module and Automated Contracting System (ACS). Contracts should be entered in ACS and the Property Manager should also receive MM Module training and be granted IMS access.

5.4.9 The Junior Accountant should be systematically exposed to some of the functions of the Senior Accountant (such as bank reconciliations and budgeting).

5.4.10 The Junior Accountant position description should be updated (last reviewed 1998).

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.4 The CMM has been designated as the CRB. TOR will be prepared in accordance with departmental guidelines. Expected completion date: May 2007.

5.4.5 Procurement guidelines will be developed and presented to the CMM for approval. Expected completion date: May 2007.

5.4.6 Implemented. The petty cash remaining was decreased and will be transferred to the Administrative Assistant ***. Expected completion date: April 2007.

5.4.7 Implemented, effective April 2006.

5.4.8 In process. Training was received and access to IMS granted. Expected completion date: April 2007.

5.4.9 On-going, since August 2006. The MCO and the accountant are systematically including the Junior Accountant in discussions and decisions related to finances and budgeting. The Junior Accountant has also been asked to prepare the bank reconciliation and to replace the Senior Accountant while on leave. The financial responsibilities of Bratislava will be transferred from Vienna to Prague as of April 1, 2007. The intention is to have the Junior Accountant responsible of this file, under the supervision of the Senior Accountant.

5.4.10 Will be done within the PMP process. Expected completion date: August 2007.

5.5 Information Technology (IT)

5.5.1 A review of the Information Technology (IT) function was not undertaken, as the Audit Team focussed their efforts on an Audit of Business Resumption Planning (BRP). The findings of the Audit of BRP will be released in a separate report. During the course of reviewing BRP, certain recommendations relating to IT practices and controls were identified for action and are detailed below.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.5.2 The laptop inventory should be updated to accurately reflect the number of laptops actually on hand.

5.5.3 One copy of back-up tapes should be ***.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.2 Implemented, effective October 2006.

5.5.3 A safe will be provided to ***. Expected completion date: April 2007

The Office of the Canadian Embassy in Bratislava

6.1 Overview

6.1.1 The Office of the Canadian Embassy in Bratislava is managed by a CBS Chargé d'affaires (FS-02) who reports to the HOM in Prague and is supported by four LES. The Mission has General Relations, International Business Development, Administration and Consular Programs. The HOM in Prague is accredited to Slovakia, and there is very good collaboration between the two missions. The Mission in Bratislava, which is housed in excellent office accommodations, is well managed and adequately resourced to meet its objectives. ***.

6.2 General Relations

6.2.1 The General Relations Program for Slovakia is headed by the GR Program Manager in Prague. The Chargé d'affaires and one LES in Bratislava manage day-to-day operations of the program in Slovakia. The Program covers political reporting and public affairs. The two missions work closely together with activity proposals presented by Bratislava and approved by Prague, where the budget is managed. A bi-weekly publication of Mosaika (see section 2.2.1) is prepared in Slovak, which serves as an excellent public diplomacy tool for the Mission.

6.3 International Business Development

6.3.1 The Slovak economy is on a high growth path, experiencing one of the best economic growths in Europe. Slovakia is set to become the number one manufacturer of cars per capita in the world in 2006. Canada's trade priorities in Slovakia include automotive, agriculture, information and communications technologies, environment and construction. All sectors are managed by one LES Commercial Officer in Bratislava who, with support from the Chargé d'affaires, works in close collaboration with the IBD Program in Prague. While the Mission has been successful in attracting individual Canadian companies to visit the local market, one of its main challenges is attracting Canadian trade missions to Slovakia.

6.4 Consular and Administration

6.4.1 Responsibility for the Consular and Administration programs was transferred from Prague to Vienna in October 2005. The missions in Vienna and Bratislava remain in a transition phase. Vienna is faced with capacity issues while Bratislava is adjusting to this new reporting relationship. With Bratislava only 60 km from Vienna, this transfer of responsibility should facilitate the management of the administration and consular programs in Slovakia. It is recommended that Prague, in consultation with Vienna and Bratislava, develop an MOU that clearly states responsibilities of each mission in delivering programs and support functions, as well as reporting relationships (see recommendation 1.1.5) as they relate to the Office in Bratislava).

6.4.2 The Consular Program's day-to-day operations are handled by the LES Consular Assistant, who is also the Receptionist. The workload is generated mainly by passport and citizenship applications. In 2005, 100 passports were issued for Bratislava. Sixty Canadians have registered with the Office and are currently residing in Slovakia. The After Hours Duty Officer Manual and the Consular Contingency Plan were recently updated.

6.4.3 The Finance function at the Mission is managed by the LES Administrative Assistant. It is recommended that this employee receive training in Finance and be provided with IMS read-only access to enable her to search budget reports and verify the status of payments. While there are good controls over the payment process, the Mission should ensure that Section 33 authorization is given by Vienna prior to payments being issued in Bratislava, which is currently not the case.

6.4.4 The Mission is considering transferring its banking function to the institute that does the banking for the Mission in Vienna, which would facilitate operations between the two missions. Bratislava should explore the possibility of instituting electronic fund transfers as these are generally accepted in Slovakia and would reduce processing times currently experienced with manual fund transfers. Bank reconciliations are now prepared by Vienna and signed off by the HOM in Prague. At the time of the audit, there was one active bank signing authority which should no longer be valid. The Mission should update Bratislava's bank signing authorities.

6.4.5 The office space and Staff Quarter are both Crown-leased. They are functional and well maintained. Bratislava's property functions are undertaken by Vienna.

6.4.6 Information technology support is provided by Vienna. Back-up procedures are conducted weekly in Bratislava and tapes are ***. The Mission should ensure that back-up tapes are kept ***.

Recommendations for the Mission

6.4.7 Section 33 should be approved by Vienna prior to payments being issued in Bratislava.

6.4.8 The possibility of instituting electronic fund transfers should be explored.

6.4.9 Bratislava's bank signing authorities should be up-dated.

6.4.10 Back-up tapes should be ***.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

6.4.7 Implemented, effective September 2006.

6.4.8 Under examination with the bank. Delay was owing to possibility of changing our account to a different bank, which finally is not possible.

6.4.9 Implemented, effective September 2006.

6.4.10 Implemented, effective June 2006.

Office of the Inspector General


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Date Modified:
2012-10-23