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Audit of The Canadian Embassy Riyadh

PDF Version (175 Kb) *

(June 2007)

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

An audit of the General Relations (GR), the International Business Development (IBD), the Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Riyadh from March 4th to 8th, 2006. These Programs were last audited in May 1999.

Overall, the Mission is *** managed by a *** group of Program Managers, supported by a *** team of Canada-based and Locally-engaged staff. The various programs throughout the Mission are functioning well, with few internal issues or problems impeding performance. ***, mainly attributable to inadequate communications within the Mission. Improved communications via more frequent staff meetings, distributing Committee on Mission Management (CMM) and Operations meeting minutes, and encouraging a more representative Locally-engaged Staff (LES) Committee would help to alleviate this problem.

Bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia have focussed on exploring the scope for cooperation and coordination ***. Within this framework, the GR Program has set appropriate objectives, but needs to be more disciplined in creating a concrete action plan to achieve them, including specific activities, resources necessary, hospitality required, etc. Officers need to get out of the Mission more often, both within Riyadh and the region, in order to further develop contacts and forward Canadian interests in this strategically important country.

Saudi Arabia is the Gulf's largest economy and is enjoying an economic boom. Canada has an active and well resourced IBD program on the ground, with very talented and energetic staff. A number of market entry challenges exist which may be compounded by the fact that Canadian businesses may have inaccurate perceptions of the market. As a result, Canada may not be realizing its potential in the region, suggesting that the territory needs more attention from Headquarters (HQ) and partners. The Program covers a large geographic territory which contains a number of commercially important cities. Riyadh is the political centre of Saudi Arabia while Jeddah, on the west coast, and the main industrial cities on the east coast, are the principal commercial centres. Officers need to increase their frequency of travel to Jeddah, Dhahran, Al Jubayl and Dammam to help build contacts and gather valuable market intelligence to support Canadian companies.

Though not a priority for DFAIT, the Education sector is growing considerably and represents a significant opportunity. Saudi Arabia is the region’s largest potential source of students for Canada and the Program's efforts need to be *** supported by the Regional Education Officer (REO) in Abu Dhabi. In addition, more attention needs to be devoted to investment attraction, given the significant financial resources in the country. Saudi Arabia is also going through a period of deregulation, and therefore trade policy reporting and analysis could increase.

The Consular Program is providing timely service to clients, operations are properly managed, and assets are safeguarded. The passport issuance process is closely monitored, however, the Management/Consular Officer (MCO) should always verify original documents rather than simply photocopies. The Program is assisted by Honorary Consuls in Jeddah, Sanaa, Manama and Muscat (for which the Mission is searching for a new candidate). The Mission has submitted a business case for a 1/2 LES position to meet increasing client demand and is planning to update its warden network to better serve Canadians in the region.

The Administration Program has good controls and systems in place and is regarded by staff at the Mission as client-service oriented. There is a need to develop a formalized mentoring plan for the Deputy MCO to ensure exposure to all aspects of the position and to adequately prepare the individual for future postings as an MCO. The Chancery mid-life refit project, starting in September 2006, includes office and guardhouse expansion plans. The Mission will need to manage swing space during this intensive project to accommodate staff and operational needs. The Mission has developed a work-order system based on Outlook and it is one of the systems being reviewed by a Headquarters (HQ) working group for potential use by other missions.

A total of 55 audit recommendations are raised in the report; 49 are addressed to the Mission and six are addressed to HQ. Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the 55 recommendations, management has stated that 50 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining five 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 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 Head of Mission (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 - Riyadh

Physical Resources
AssetsCrown LeasedCrown Owned
Official Residence-1
Staff Quarters-15

Financial Information 2005/06

Table 2: Mission Resources Fact Sheet Financial Information
Financial Information 2005/06
Operating Budget (N001)$1,090,391
Capital Budget (N005)$191,996
CBS Budget (N011)$752,629
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$1,549,280

Organization Chart

Image Depicting the Organization Chart of Mission - Riyadh

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The embassy in Riyadh is a medium-sized mission with 14 Canada-Based staff (CBS) and 35 Locally-engaged staff (LES). In addition to Saudi Arabia, the Mission is responsible for covering Oman, Bahrain, and Yemen. The HOM takes a collaborative approach with Program Managers (PM) to ensure effective management of the Mission. Managers are well supported and have been performing *** in their respective programs.

1.1.2 Saudi Arabia presents a unique operating environment for all programs within the Mission. In particular, staff involved in the IBD and GR programs should be encouraged to *** engage outside parties and travel *** frequently within Saudi Arabia and the other countries of accreditation. Since traditional approaches to interacting with stakeholders outside the Mission may not work in this region, different tactics may be necessary. The number of outcalls, outreach, and hospitality events should be increased, where possible, and approached from the perspective of meeting the Mission’s strategic objectives.

1.1.3 The Mission has drafted official hospitality guidelines which are being circulated for approval. An examination of hospitality files for officers throughout the Mission revealed that the description and evaluation of activities were not always sufficient. Hospitality diaries should include more detail of the purpose of events and their overall evaluation in addition to receipts for all expenditures incurred.

1.1.4 Overall morale among staff at the Mission ***, reflective of *** cultural restrictions faced by all staff. *** were generally attributed to inadequate communication within the Mission, ***. *** they were unaware of major events in the Mission, and had a limited understanding of what others did or the linkages between programs. ***, the HOM should meet with all staff on a regular basis. In addition, minutes of the CMM and Operations meetings should be distributed, as appropriate, to disseminate key information and keep staff up-to-date on issues facing the Mission.

1.1.5 A lack of communication on certain issues is reflected, for example, in the problems with overtime which occurred, with several instances of staff claiming overtime that had not been pre-approved by Program Managers. The Mission should re-emphasize for all staff the policy that all overtime must be pre-approved, except for emergencies and other predetermined circumstances.

1.1.6 The departure *** of the Property Manager *** will create a significant vacuum in the Property portfolio, and the Mission has requested that he be replaced by a CBS property manager from the Department of National Defence (DND). The Audit Team supports this request, although the Mission has been advised that it will not be approved. The Mission’s request is valid, based on the complexity of the building infrastructure, the Chancery construction project that involves a major mid-life retrofit and addition of Immigration office space, and the necessity to manage temporary accommodation facilities so that full services can be delivered before and during the construction period. In this respect, even temporary duty assistance during critical periods would be merited.

Recommendations to the Mission

1.1.7 Each officer with a hospitality allocation should ensure that descriptions, objectives, and evaluations of hospitality events contain sufficient detail. Hospitality diaries should clearly state the purpose of the event, its link to a program’s strategic objectives, and should include a thorough evaluation.

1.1.8 The Mission should institute quarterly town-hall meetings with the HOM.

1.1.9 The Mission should distribute Operations and CMM minutes, as appropriate, to all staff.

1.1.10 Mission management should re-emphasize the overtime pre-authorization requirement.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.1.7 All officers have been advised of the necessity to provide sufficient detail on hospitality diaries.

1.1.8 HOM meets with all staff on a regular basis.

1.1.9 Ops committee and CMM notes are circulated to all staff with the LES version edited as required.

1.1.10 A message was sent to all staff (CBS and LES) indicating all overtime must be authorised in advance. This message was sent on January 3, 2006 - prior to the audit team visit. On receipt of overtime claims, managers verify the overtime was authorised in advance wherever possible. This policy has been reiterated in January 2007.

General Relations (GR) Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 Within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the region, and the world, Saudi Arabia is a strategically important political and economic player. Given the security situation in the region, security has been of primary importance, with the government working hard to demonstrate its commitment to eradicating terrorist activities. Though the emphasis has been on counter-terrorism and economic related matters, social reform is also part of the government’s agenda, and is gradually occurring. The Program has incorporated these themes in its strategic priorities for the Mission, which include exploring the scope for cooperation and coordination on regional peace and security issues, ***. As Saudi Arabia seeks to expand its links beyond current allies such as the United States, Canada will have increased opportunities to further develop bilateral relations with the government.

2.2 Management of the Program

2.2.1 The Program is led by an EX-01 Program Manager, whose team includes two CBS Political Officers (FS-02), and two LES Assistants (LE-05 and LE-06). Though the CBS officers ***, and the PM ***, all have adapted relatively well to their roles at the Mission. There is *** collaboration and communication within the team. In addition, the team *** works with other Programs within the Mission as required, especially with the IBD Program on issues such as education and the Canada-Saudi Forum. Overall, it is a *** Section, but needs to improve how it translates its strategic objectives into concrete actions and workplans for staff.

2.3 Strategic Planning

2.3.1 The Program has contributed to the Mission’s Country Strategy, with all members of the team included in the strategic planning process. The Program has also worked with HQ in the development of its Country Strategy, but feels it has not received enough support or direction on the priorities and objectives for the region. An example of a perceived lack of support from HQ is the planned ‘Canada-Saudi Forum’, which has been stalled on many occasions, awaiting input and approval from Ottawa. Although the Mission understood the constraints faced by HQ, the delay was frustrating for the staff, who believed the forum could be extremely beneficial to Saudi Arabia - Canada bilateral relations.

2.3.2 As part of the strategic planning exercise undertaken by the Program, a draft reporting contract was developed, detailing types and frequencies of reports for each of the Mission’s accredited countries. The Program sent this draft to HQ, but at the time of the Audit, had not received comments on or approval of its contents. The Geographic branch acknowledged receipt of the draft, but stated that due to workload issues it had not yet officially approved the reporting contract.

Recommendation for the Bilateral Relations Branch (RGM)

2.3.3 The Geographic Bureau should finalize the draft Riyadh reporting contract.

RGM Action and Timeframe

2.3.3 A reporting contract with Riyadh was finalized and implemented in April 2006.

2.4 Operations

2.4.1 The Program has taken a largely reactive approach to planning its activities. It has been achieving some good results, but needs to have a more systematic approach in determining how to implement the Country Strategy. Staff have not been getting out of the Mission as much as they would like, and need to increase time spent away from their desks. A well-defined workplan would translate the high level strategic objectives of the Mission into concrete action plans for the Program and officers. The plans should focus specifically on how officers will interact with key individuals outside the Mission. This is especially important given the challenging operating environment in Saudi Arabia, where engagement of local officials and organizations requires time and planning. The Program has been using the Performance Management Program (PMP) well, but this may not provide enough detail in terms of specific activities, resources necessary, hospitality required, etc.

Recommendation for the Mission

2.4.2 The Program should develop workplans that clearly demonstrate how it will achieve results for its strategic objectives.

Mission Action and Timeframe

2.4.2 A GR Program retreat in early April 2006 produced two agreed documents. The first was a set of six team objectives, accessible on PMP Online. The second was a two-page section workplan for 2006-2007, a copy of which was provided to each team member. Along with the objectives and reporting agreement (finalized shortly thereafter with RMG), this workplan included outreach, travel and hospitality goals, as well as ideas to improve the tools at the section’s disposal (e.g. shared contacts system, library). The review took place the week of January 6 and on 13 January a summary of that review and look-ahead to fourth quarter was sent to all GR members and HOM.

2.4.3 Due to local customs and cultural barriers, undertaking hospitality events in Saudi Arabia is extremely challenging. Most of the limited hospitality undertaken has been within the diplomatic community, in order to expand and maintain contact networks and share information among officers from like-minded countries. This has been especially useful in obtaining information regarding the Mission’s accredited regions, such as Yemen, where Canada does not have a mission. While recognizing the challenges associated with hospitality in this environment, it appears that the Program could be doing more to use the funds available in achieving its strategic objectives. In 2005, the Program had nine hospitality events, and at the time of the audit (weeks from fiscal year-end), had used only 33% of its hospitality budget for the fiscal year. A more creative and strategic approach is needed to adapt to the local environment.

2.4.4 Since Public Diplomacy initiatives encounter the same challenges as hospitality events, the Mission’s approach has been to focus on relationship-building and profile raising, rather than traditional cultural activities. Specifically, the Mission has identified two key areas where it feels it can have the most impact: cooperation on regional peace and security issues, and promoting study in Canada. Again, within these areas of focus, the GR Program and the rest of the Mission need to be creative in their approach and increase the level of activity.

Recommendation for the Mission

2.4.5 Based on Program objectives, the Program should examine ways to increase hospitality events in order to optimize the use of hospitality and public diplomacy funds.

Mission Action and Timeframe

2.4.5 Use of hospitality budget was discussed as part of section workplan. During the first three quarters of 2006-2007, 70% of the hospitality budget was disbursed on thirteen hospitality events hosted by GR officers. Of particular note was the continuation of the “Diplomatic Club” events featuring Saudi dinner speakers on topics of current interest, which have proved so popular that participating members of the diplomatic community now contribute to the cost, maximising hospitality funds and allowing expansion of the speaker series.

The 'public' aspect of public diplomacy is exceedingly difficult to arrange in Saudi Arabia, a closed and cautious country in which cultural events are regarded with suspicion by a large segment of the population and in which public gatherings are discouraged by the authorities. Planning for public diplomacy is an integral part of both the Mission’s country strategy and the section’s workplan. In November 2006, a successful program centred on a roundtable discussion between Canadian and Saudi academics addressed both cooperation on regional issues and promotion of study in Canada (key areas mentioned in 2.4.4). This was the first-ever such event organized by the Mission and paved the way for future engagement in these areas.

2.4.6 ***. This arrangement has been working well within the GR Program and the mandate *** is generally followed. ***, the Officer has a *** understanding of the requirements, and a *** reporting relationship with HQ. The Officer spends approximately 10-15% of her time on the management of the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) in Yemen. Given the contacts developed from her *** work in that region, managing the CFLI fits well with this position, and has not negatively impacted her primary roles or responsibilities.

2.4.7 To manage the CFLI, the *** Officer works with a contracted CFLI Coordinator on site in Yemen, acting as his defacto supervisor. The two have a *** working relationship, and overall the program is *** managed. The Coordinator seeks out potential projects by meeting with local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and presents viable projects to the Mission for evaluation. The projects are reviewed by the *** Officer, with final approval granted by the HOM, who takes an *** role in the process. Evaluation and monitoring are generally performed by the onsite Coordinator, and also by the *** Officer who visits Yemen periodically. The project files contained all necessary documents, with a consistent format and *** reporting that demonstrated results achieved.

International Business Development (IBD) Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The resident Commercial Program is responsible for international business development in Saudi Arabia as well as Yemen, Oman and Bahrain. The Program’s primary focus is Saudi Arabia. The Program is delivered by a team of one CBS Senior Trade Commissioner, one CBS Trade Commissioner, three LES Trade Commissioners and three LES Assistants. The group is comprised of *** individuals who perform *** and contribute *** to Canada’s commercial development goals.

3.1.2 Saudi Arabia is the Gulf’s largest economy with 25% of the world’s oil reserves and 12% of global oil production. Because of recent high oil prices, Saudi Arabia is enjoying a massive economic boom. The government is using these surpluses to pay down its debt and grow its non-oil private sector, and is devoting a quarter of recent budgets to the development of the education sector. Though the government is taking steps to diversify its economy, progress will be slow given the conservative nature of the country. Over the next decade, planned investments in infrastructure, health, education and other areas of interest to Canadian business are estimated to total over $700 billion. In addition, Saudi business is keen to diversify its international links, and views Canada as a natural alternative partner in North America. The country also has an affluent population and significant pockets of wealth that need to be considered in terms of investment attraction and partners for Canadian firms.

3.1.3 Traditionally, HQ has been focussed on the significant political issues facing the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia. However, given the strength of the IBD team (both LES and CBS), market potential and possibilities for Canadian investment and business development, this is a Program that deserves more attention from HQ.

3.1.4 Given the size of the territory, the Program is reasonably well resourced. For fiscal year 2005/2006 the Program had a budget of $41,000 for travel, $25,000 for hospitality, and $26,400 for the Client Service Fund (CSF). The Program estimates they spend 85% of their human resources on export promotion, 3% on investment, 1% on science and technology, and 11% on policy and market access issues.

3.2 Management of the Program

3.2.1 The IBD program is active and led by a Commercial Program Manager (CPM) who is *** supported by the Head of Mission. The CPM is highly regarded by the team who appreciate his management style and find him easily approachable.

3.2.2 Saudi Arabia is a challenging market ***. The Program is a strong proponent of the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) six core services and is client- oriented. Staff must be proactive in working with partners and clients in Canada in order to educate them on opportunities in Saudi Arabia, and advocating with local contacts Canadian capabilities and advantages. To increase their effectiveness, officers need to develop a more detailed road map of how they will deliver their annual plans, including outcall and hospitality strategies.

3.2.3 ***. The CPM should communicate to the Program that he is available during non-core hours to help with urgent issues, thus reducing pressure on team members working to tight deadlines.

3.2.4 The impact of the loss of a second CBS Trade Commissioner (FS-02) position in 2004 has been well managed. However, the Junior CBS Trade Commissioner is working long hours on a number of projects. The Program Manager should consider reviewing the allocation of responsibilities to ensure all officers have a healthy work-life balance and that the burdens of overtime and frequent travel are not always resting with the same individuals.

Recommendations for the Mission

3.2.5 The Program Manager should ensure that he is making himself available on a regular basis to coach staff.

3.2.6 The Program Manager should review the distribution of work and travel to ensure that all Officers are enjoying a healthy work-life balance.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.2.5 Program Manager is available to staff for coaching. He has, ***, maintained an open door policy, and has reminded staff that he is available for urgent matters by either cell or home phone even during off hours. When on vacation leave, he provides email and phone contacts to all staff, and has responded to emailed questions a number of times while away. The Program Manager has furthermore encouraged staff to drop in or to schedule time with him through Outlook if they have questions or concerns about any aspects of their work. Several staff members have availed themselves of regular coaching sessions over the past two years. With the arrival of a new Junior CBS ***, the Program Manager is providing coaching. If it proves necessary, a more formal approach of weekly sessions will be implemented. In addition, relating to comments in 3.4.5, the Program Manager will devote additional time in 2007 to coaching all staff on effective use of hospitality.

3.2.6 Job packages and travel were reviewed and all staff enjoy a healthy work-life balance. In addition, a comprehensive review of all job packages began ***, coinciding with the arrival of a new Junior CBS. Any changes will incorporate new IBD priorities from the Gulf Strategy, and will be implemented by 31 March 2007. All five Trade Commissioners share the travel in the section, with travel by the assistants being in exceptional cases only. Review of travel for 2005-2006 indicates that the Program Manager did more travel than any other officer (27% of total). Travel by other officers ranges from 13 to 22%, though measured by total time away from post, the range is much smaller (25 days for the Junior CBS to 35 days for the Program Manager, and other officers range of 28-33 days). 2006-2007 year-to-date travel shows roughly the same trend. Referenced job package review and travel planning will be used to balance the work and travel load between officers, while recognizing that travel demands may differ year to year between officers due to the sectors they cover, and the opportunities presented by Canadian visitors and regional activities.

3.3 Strategic Planning

3.3.1 The Program has a *** approach to planning with all staff participating. This annual exercise has produced a comprehensive IBD Plan for the territory. Officers clearly understand the priorities of the Program and what needs to be done.

3.3.2 The territory that the Program is responsible for is vast. Not only is Saudi Arabia a large country with a number of commercially important cities, but the Program must also cover developments in three neighbouring countries; Yemen, Oman and Bahrain. Each of these markets presents different challenges and opportunities for Canadian firms. Officers should visit all territories more frequently in order to help assess market potential and to develop and maintain networks of local contacts. In addition, these markets have varying degrees of importance and the Program needs to allocate resources accordingly. The Program particularly needs to increase the frequency of domestic travel to Saudi Arabia’s principal commercial cities of Jeddah, Dahran, Al Jubail and Dammam. Much of the responsibility for travel rests with a small group of Officers. The CPM needs to ensure that travel demands are shared more evenly across the Program, where possible, and that his own participation increases.

3.3.3 According to the CPM, the Program spends less than 3% of its time on investment-related activity despite the fact that the territory includes a number of large investment funds and other significant asset pools. Investment is a core component of the international business development continuum and needs to be included in the Program’s IBD plan.

3.3.4 Saudi Arabia is also beginning to deregulate a number of key national industrial sectors. The Program will have to increase attention devoted to trade policy and market access issues and the opportunities that these will create for Canadian companies.

3.3.5 The Education sector is very active and is showing strong results. Though the sector is not a priority for the Department, in this market the sector represents a very significant opportunity both on the economic and bilateral relationship side. Saudi Arabia is the region’s largest potential source of students for Canada and the Program’s efforts need to be *** supported by the Regional Education Officer (REO) in Abu Dhabi. Female REOs have difficulty obtaining visas and travelling to Saudi Arabia on a regular basis. The rationale for locating the Regional Education Officer in Abu Dhabi is not clear given the relative difference in size and potential of the two markets (United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia). This needs to be re-examined.

3.3.6 Responsibility for the Education sector is currently split between the Junior CBS Trade Commissioner and an LES Trade Commissioner Assistant. The Assistant is undertaking a significant amount of independent *** work in this area. She is performing a level of work beyond what is usually observed at the LE-05 level. The Program may wish to consider fully transferring responsibility for the Education sector to the Assistant and reviewing the classification of the position to ensure that the job package is accurate and the Program’s needs are being fully met. This would allow the CBS Trade Commissioner to devote more resources to upcoming Program priorities, such as investment and deregulation.

Recommendations for the Mission

3.3.7 The Program should increase the frequency of its visits to the principal commercial cities in its territory to ensure market potential is being assessed and networks of local contacts are developed and maintained. Travel demands should be distributed evenly so specific individuals are not overwhelmed.

3.3.8 A territory-wide investment strategy should be incorporated into the IBD Plan.

3.3.9 The Program should consider implementing weekly education seminars to better manage the high volume of inquiries that are currently being managed on an ad hoc basis.

3.3.10 The Program should develop a business case to showcase the education potential of this market. The Program should also work with the Immigration Program to track increases in student visas to Canada.

3.3.11 The job package of the LES Trade Commissioner Assistant should be reviewed to ensure that it is up-to-date. If the Program decides to make the position fully responsible for the Education sector, a classification review should be undertaken.

3.3.12 In consultation with the World Markets Branch - Middle East and North Africa (WOLM), the Mission should examine whether the Regional Education Officer position, which is currently located in Abu Dhabi, should be transferred to Saudi Arabia.

3.3.13 The Program should consider reviewing the job package of the Junior CBS Trade Commissioner position to create capacity in the Program so more work on Investment and reporting on industry deregulation can be undertaken.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.3.7 Distribution of travel has been addressed in mission response 3.2.6. Mission concurs that more, and more regular, travel to key business areas in the territory is desirable, particularly in KSA. In 2005-2006, the Program had eight liaison visits to Jeddah, 11 to Eastern Province (which includes Khobar, Jubail and Dammam/Dahran), four to Bahrain, two to Oman, and none to Yemen. The 2006-2007 travel plan included an increase of 50% in trips to Jeddah and Bahrain, status quo for Eastern Province and Oman, and two trips to Yemen. Section is on track to achieve this plan. The plan for 2007-2008, which is now in preparation, will again include increases in officer trips to Jeddah, Eastern Province and Bahrain, and status quo for Oman and Yemen.

3.3.8 Support from HQ for Mission efforts on the investment file has been nonexistent. However, in light of recent changes announced in the Investment branch, the Program will devote a minimum of 15% PY (person year) to investment file in 2007-2008, if supported by HQ and domestic partners.

3.3.9 Individual sessions with local residents considering study in Canada were stopped in July 2006. Weekly sessions are, in our view, far too frequent. The first of 6 planned 2007 Education seminars is scheduled for Feb 2007.

3.3.10 TD (Riyadh IBD Program) has worked with Immigration for several years on tracking increases in student visas to Canada, data which has been reflected in PMAs, PMPs and the IBD plan since at least 2004. Given recent realignment at HQ of responsibilities for Education Promotion, TD will initiate discussion with other sections, HQ, the Regional Education Officer and other regional posts with a goal of developing a business case including an action plan covering the education sector potential in this market. There are synergies to be gained by initiating that discussion in conjunction with the planned finalizing of the Gulf Commerce Strategy by HQ in the first quarters of 2007-2008.

3.3.11 The job package of the Education sector LES TCA was last reviewed in 2005. More direct responsibility for the education sector was assumed by the *** incumbent. It is however not the intention of the Post to duplicate responsibilities here which are rightly the duties of the Regional Education Officer in Abu Dhabi. Therefore, as part of the overall review of all job packages, the duties of the LES TCA will again be reviewed to ensure that the current classification accurately reflects the work being performed. (See Section 5.1.7)

3.3.12 Mission efforts to encourage a review by responsible HQ divisions to have the Regional Education Officer (REO) relocated from Abu Dhabi to Riyadh date back to 2003 and have been unsuccessful. Because the position is apparently owned by the International Education and Youth Division (PCE), it is not within Mission’s mandate, nor the World Markets - Middle East/North Africa Division’s (WOLM), to transfer the position unilaterally. Memo with recommendation to move REO was sent to HQ and regional posts in March. Subject was discussed at STC meeting in Riyadh in early May, and discussion is ongoing.

3.3.13 The Mission notes the renewed interest for reporting and for increased work on investment. Mission TD sought guidance from HQ on a number of occasions, and had been advised that current level of reporting was sufficient. However, Mission notes the interest in increased reporting and will discuss HQ needs with WOLM. Additional reporting duties will be included in both the STC and Junior CBS Trade Commissioner position job packages. These are presently being reviewed, along with others in the section, with a view to accommodating recommendations 3.3.8, 3.3.13, and 3.4.15. The review was completed and implemented in Feb 2007.

3.4 Operations

3.4.1 The Program is relatively large, and officers in the section work well together. Regular team meetings are held to discuss plans, their implementation, and on-going operations. The Program has been drafting appraisals, and job descriptions are up-to-date. The Performance Management Program had not been implemented at the time of the fieldwork. Although responsibilities and objectives have been set for each Trade Commissioner, individual work plans for each priority sector need to be established. Such plans, with a focus on establishing objectives, activities and expected results, would assist the Trade Commissioners in better achieving targets and improving performance management.

3.4.2 The Mission is located in the Diplomatic Quarter (DQ) which is geographically isolated from the business community in Riyadh’s downtown core. Program staff need to make a special effort to get out of the Mission more frequently to cultivate contacts. This would include travel to other cities in the territory.

3.4.3 The inclusion of an outreach/outcall strategy as part of each officer’s sector strategy and work plan would allow the Program to more effectively use its resources to achieve optimal results.

3.4.4 In turn, the Program, in conjunction with partners in Canada, needs to increase communication with clients about the opportunities that exist in Saudi Arabia. The Headquarters geographic bureau and the Regional Trade Offices in Canada are critical domestic interfaces with the Program’s clients. The Program should also strive to build stronger relationships with Provincial agencies.

3.4.5 Hospitality funds are currently underutilized as the *** has not developed a strategy to use hospitality funds to target key Saudi officials/companies in priority sectors. Hospitality funds should be used strategically in conjunction with the outcall strategy to gain market intelligence and cultivate networks of contacts in the territory. Some LES Trade Commissioners currently have hospitality allocations, ***. The CPM also needs to ensure staff are coached on how to effectively plan and carry out hospitality functions.

3.4.6 There is a growing dependence on mobile communications in the business community. The Program has only supplied CBS staff with Mission cellular telephones. LES officers are currently using their personnel cellular telephones to carry out work on behalf of the Program, and are not submitting their invoices for reimbursement. The Program should consider purchasing work cellular telephones for the use of the LES Trade Commissioners.

3.4.7 The Program should attempt to increase input into WIN Exports in order to more accurately reflect its level of activity. This is an important ‘best practice’ since the new client relationship management application, TRIO, will be rolled out shortly and unlike WIN Exports, its use will be mandatory.

3.4.8 The Program does not have an InfoCentre. The majority of incoming enquiries are directed to specific officers. No central tracking system exists and it is difficult to assess whether the Trade Commissioner Service five day service standard is being respected. The Program Assistant should play a more central role in tracking enquiries and should develop a mechanism and process to accomplish this. Officers’ business cards and other publications should include the Program’s central e-mail address (RYADH-TD) and not those of the individual officers. All replies to enquiries must then be copied to the central e-mail address.

Recommendations for the Mission

3.4.9 The PMP should be implemented within the Program as part of the planning and objective-setting process.

3.4.10 The Program should develop individual work plans for each priority sector/sub-sector, indicating objectives in the sector, activities, and expected results.

3.4.11 The Program should include an outreach/outcall strategy and hospitality plan as part of each sector/sub-sector strategy, identifying why contacts are being targeted and how they link to the objectives.

3.4.12 The Program Manager, working in conjunction with the HQ geographic unit (WOLM), should develop a strategy on how to better communicate market opportunities to Canadian clients.

3.4.13 The Program should consider purchasing cellular telephones for the three LES Trade Commissioners.

3.4.14 The Program should increase its input into WIN Exports to better track client interaction.

3.4.15 The Program should develop and implement an InfoCentre-like approach to handling incoming and outgoing communications to effectively track and deal with all business development enquiries and to help ensure service standards are being met.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.4.9 On-line PMP program was used for all employee reviews for 2005-2006. PMP was used for planning and objective setting process for 2006-2007, though input into the on-line application was delayed until the system enhancements were announced in November. As of January 2007 all individual PMPs are on line.

3.4.10 The IBD plan provides sector specific objectives and activities. Individual work plans for priority sectors will be included as part of the 2007-2008 IBD planning process. Work plans are started but still in progress. Target of June 2007.

3.4.11 All Trade Commissioners have had hospitality allocations since September 2004. Outreach/outcall strategy and hospitality plan will be included as part of the individual work plans noted in 3.4.10.

3.4.12 Program Manager has been working with WOLM on the Gulf Commerce Strategy (GCS), which includes an outreach strategy to communicate market opportunities to Canadian companies. Though GCS is still in draft form and unfunded, the Program Manager and other Trade Commissioners continue to use every opportunity to engage new potential clients on the significant opportunities in KSA. Just one example in the past year was a TC who spoke to a Canadian board of directors to assuage their misperceptions of the local business environment. Through his efforts, the company is now engaged in KSA under an MOU, bidding on several multi-million dollar projects.

3.4.13 Cell phones were offered to LES Trade Commissioners in April 2006. The offer was declined by all at that time. Program Manager renewed the offer in January 2007, and three officers were supplied with Embassy cell phones.

3.4.14 WIN entries for 2006 show a small improvement over 2005 (14%). More needs to be done. There are challenges: continued IT technical problems prevent timely entry; the WIN Exports platform is slow and often not accessible; post bandwidth sometimes poses additional complication. However, given the utmost importance of accurately reflecting the volume of services delivered, TD Staff are reminded at least monthly to ensure WIN Exports entries are up to date. WIN Exports input has been included in PMP commitments for 2006-2007 and STC has instituted a monthly review of WIN data in December 2006.

3.4.15 Implementing a full Info-centre approach would require appointing one of the assistants as Info-centre manager. The resulting upgrade from LE-05 to 08 is unfunded. However, as part of a complete review of section job packages and section administration procedure, a tracking system based on the Info-centre model was implemented by 31 March 2007. The Mission has requested that all emails in Virtual Trade Commissioner (VTC) are directed to “RYADH TD” rather than individual officers.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is well managed by the Management/Consular Officer (AS-06), assisted by a Consular Officer (LE-08), Passport Assistant (LE-06) and Consular Clerk (LE-04). The Deputy MCO (DMCO) provides back-up to the MCO during his absences.

4.1.2 Annually, the Mission provides an average of 2300 passport services, and handles 300 citizenship applications and 1800 notarial requests. The Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) system indicates there are 4600 registered Canadians in the Mission’s areas of accreditation (although the actual number of Canadians is estimated to be 12,000).

4.1.3 The Mission has four Honorary Consuls (HonCons); one in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as well as in Yemen, Bahrain, and Oman. The position in Oman is currently vacant and the Mission is searching for a replacement. In the interim, consular services for Canadians are provided by the British Embassy. The HonCons are not provided with annual letters of instruction, though they are provided with assessments every three years during the renewal process.

Recommendation for the Mission

4.1.4 Provide an annual set of instructions and objectives to each HonCon so that annual performance assessments can be completed.

Mission Action and Timeframe

4.1.4 Previous letters of instructions remain valid. Mission is preparing new letters of instructions to the Honorary Consuls. Honorary Consuls have been advised either verbally or by e-mail when specific priorities are changed.

4.1.5 With demand for passports increasing, the Mission has submitted a business case requesting a 1/2 LES position to work on the ROCA system so the Consular Clerk can devote more time to passport and citizenship processing. The Mission will be redistributing its registrants into new warden districts, divided on geographic lines, and will then hold a warden conference.

4.1.6 Staff are knowledgeable, systems and controls are in place and assets are adequately safeguarded. The Mission’s contingency plans are up-to-date and it is developing a Pandemic Flu Preparedness Plan. The Passport Assistant is scheduled to attend the Consular Specialist Course in Canada in April 2006. The Consular Clerk who acts as backup for the Passport Assistant will need more exposure to the new Mission Passport Print Solution (MPPS) system now that it is operational.

4.1.7 The Mission began operating under the MPPS in February 2006. The MCO is providing good oversight of the passport function, personally checking and approving all passport applications. However, the MCO only sees photocopies of the proof of citizenship, and Passport Canada requires that a CBS officer verify original documents in order to assess document authenticity. Passport shipments are currently arriving at the Mission within the 15-day service standard. The Mission has been discussing with Passport Canada the need for the HonCons to be involved in the exchange of temporary passports for regular ones, as Canadians in the Mission’s other countries of accreditation cannot always visit Riyadh to do this in person.

4.1.8 Now that the Mission has transitioned to the MPPS system and is scanning documents, it should consult with Passport Canada regarding the following issues:

  • The policy for retaining documents. The Mission has been photocopying documentation for passport applications.
  • The policy for scanning forms. For example, should the Mission scan a form such as PPT112 or simply send it with the monthly package to Passport Canada.
  • The policy regarding omissions/additions of names. Local authorities at times prefer to include middle names on documentation, which may not reflect what is on the citizenship cards or birth certificates.

4.1.9 The inventory of blank passports located at the Chancery is reconciled monthly by the MCO and quarterly with the HOM. The Mission should request a monthly count of Emergency Passports in the possession of the HonCons and the British Embassy in Oman.

Recommendations for the Mission

4.1.10 The Mission should retain the original proof of citizenship documentation so it can be used for verification by the MCO at the approval stage in the passport process.

4.1.11 The Mission should clarify with Passport Canada the policies and procedures regarding the issues listed in paragraph 4.1.8.

4.1.12 The HonCons should provide to the Mission their inventory count every month regardless of whether numbers have changed from the previous month.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.1.10 Applications are submitted to the MCO with original citizenship documents for verification. Exceptions are made for some applications received from our Consulates as the authenticity is verified by the Consulates and certified copies forwarded with the applications. Mail-in applications are also permitted with copies certified by the British or US missions in the region (Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and Oman).

4.1.11 Mission has consulted with Passport Canada regarding issues raised in paragraph 4.1.8. All missions have received a variety of Broadcast messages on these issues. Procedures have been revised accordingly.

4.1.12 Hon Cons are requested on a monthly basis to verify emergency passport stocks. The stock currently held by the British Embassy in Oman will be retrieved on our next liaison trip and be verified with Riyadh stocks.

4.1.13 The Mission expansion project will benefit the Consular Program as it should help to alleviate the following concerns:

  • To accommodate a new Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) section a few years ago, the Mission created offices for CIC staff behind the Passport Office. Access to the CIC offices is through an IDACS door via the Passport work area, a situation which is disruptive to both CIC and Consular staff.
  • The two former consular booths were given over to CIC for their use and the Consular staff now use the second window beside the main reception window to meet clients, limiting privacy. ***.
  • ***.

4.1.14 While processes and procedures within the Program are considered good, improvements can be made by implementing the following recommendations:

Recommendations for the Mission

4.1.15 The Mission should update the organization chart to reflect actual reporting relationships (the Passport Assistant reports to the MCO, not the Consular Officer, and the Consular Clerk reports to the DMCO, not the Consular Officer).

4.1.16 Signage (service standards, service costs, etc.) should be displayed in the Consular waiting area in both Official Languages. The Mission may also wish to consider posting key messages in the local language as well.

4.1.17 The Mission should consider placing survey forms in the waiting area to obtain feedback on services provided.

4.1.18 Ensure passport forms, such as parental consent (PPT028), are submitted to Passport Canada along with the monthly returns.

4.1.19 Upon issuance of Canadian Citizenship Cards, applicants’ case files should be closed in CAMANT.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.1.15 Updated organisational charts have been prepared. The Passport Assistant reports directly to the MCO and the Consular Assistant reports to the Passport Assistant. The Consular Assistant divides her time between ROCA and passport file creation.

4.1.16 Signs in the public area meet bilingualism standards.

4.1.17 The Mission has placed survey forms in the waiting room. Unfortunately, response has been less than desired (one form used in 2006).

4.1.18 The Mission was provided with specific reporting requirements by PPSP (Foreign Operations) on June 12, 2006 and are adhering to these requirements. Form PPT-028 are not required to be sent with monthly returns. The form is faxed immediately to Passport Canada on receipt.

4.1.19 Mission has performed an extensive clean-up of all Camant files. Citizenship files are closed on receipt of the cards.

Administration Program

5.1 Management of the Program

5.1.1 The Program is *** managed by an MCO ***. Such attributes are appropriately situated given the environment, and the problematic Chancery construction project, which may be finally coming to a close over the next year and a half.

5.1.2 The MCO and with the LES Property Manager have completed a substantial number of projects benefiting CBS primarily, such as the exercise room and equipment, the Maple Leaf Club facilities, and the ambitious program of staff quarters (SQ), official residence (OR), and Chancery renovations. The Chancery construction project is covered further in the Physical Resources section of the report.

5.1.3 Similar to other missions in the region, the Locally-engaged staff are not ***, and tend to be *** for their jobs. ***. This situation could be resolved in part by instituting regular staff meetings and distributing CMM minutes as appropriate.

5.1.4 Although the Mission has an elected LES Committee, its membership is not representative of programs or occupations, and there is no constitution describing committee roles and responsibilities. The members themselves were unsure of the purpose of an LES committee. The MCO has since provided examples of LES Committee constitutions, and during the post-tour debrief the LES Staff Services Bureau (HLD) indicated that a constitution template will be sent to the Mission. The Audit Team met with the LES Committee, and separately with the staff of the CIC Program, as they were not represented on the Committee. CIC staff raised a number of concerns regarding office accommodation, air quality and equipment, given that their program was heading into the summer peak visa season, and that their numbers were to increase by ten temporary staff. They also complained of receiving peer pressure overtures for visas from other LES, on behalf of friends and relatives. This takes place in spite of the well-known practice involving Program Managers in the visa application process when friends or family of staff are involved.

Recommendation for the Mission

5.1.5 LES should be encouraged to establish an LES Committee that is representative of programs and occupations, and governed by an agreed, comprehensive constitution. Periodic meetings with the MCO and the HOM should occur.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.1.5 The former LES Committee was elected by the LES. The only candidates were in one program. The newest LES Committee is representative of all programs. The Committee meets with the MCO and HOM on a regular basis.

5.1.6 There are some job descriptions that are not up-to-date, and others that need to be reviewed and adjusted or re-balanced. Accordingly, and for reasons of equity and comprehensiveness, all work packages in the Mission should be reviewed, starting with the Administration and Consular Programs. In an effort to improve communication and understanding of roles and responsibilities, the overall results should be summarized and be made public throughout the Mission, as appropriate.

5.1.6 There are some job descriptions that are not up-to-date, and others that need to be reviewed and adjusted or re-balanced. Accordingly, and for reasons of equity and comprehensiveness, all work packages in the Mission should be reviewed, starting with the Administration and Consular Programs. In an effort to improve communication and understanding of roles and responsibilities, the overall results should be summarized and be made public throughout the Mission, as appropriate.

Recommendation for the Mission

5.1.7 All Mission work packages should be reviewed with the collaboration of incumbents and other involved staff, workloads re-balanced, job descriptions updated where necessary and summaries made available as appropriate for the information of all staff.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.1.7 All Mission work packages are under review. Completion of this exercise is scheduled for May 2007.

5.1.8 During his assignment, the current DMCO has been delegated certain responsibilities under the general guidance of the MCO, and divides his time approximately 40% Human Resources, 20% Finance, 20% Consular/ROCA, and 20% Property and other Administration tasks. Given that the DMCO position is also a training assignment, designed to prepare the incumbent for an MCO position, a formal training and coaching plan should be designed and implemented. Such a plan had not been prepared for this assignment. A mentoring plan including specific learning objectives, assigned responsibilities, skill and judgement development, and coverage of all MCO duties should be developed with input from both parties. The HOM’s input and final sign-off should also be sought.

Recommendation for the Mission

5.1.9 A formal mentoring plan for the DMCO should be developed.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.1.9 On arrival of the new DMCO, a mentoring plan was developed and discussed. The DMCO is involved in all management and consular activities with emphasis on particular responsibilities changing over the assignment period.

5.1.10 The Management/Consular Program Assistant has been assigned the task of Training Coordinator and has been gathering information to prepare a training plan. Rather than simply collating a list of training preferences, the Mission should conduct a training needs assessment, aimed not only at skill enhancement but also at professional development and team-building. Sessions could be conducted using local professional facilitators as appropriate. Other group activities could include program “who does what” presentations to all Mission staff (after the work packages have been reviewed), and orientation programs for new employees and temporary staff.

Recommendation for the Mission

5.1.11 A Mission-wide training needs assessment should be conducted and a comprehensive Mission training plan should be developed based on the results of the assessment.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.1.11 Local training opportunities for staff are extremely limited due to the local culture. The majority of training opportunities available to staff are either on-line, regional seminars or HQ based courses. Course availability is monitored by the Mission training coordinator and brought to the attention of staff and supervisors. Staff are advised to check the CFSI (Canadian Foreign Service Institute) website periodically to see what is available. The Mission will be preparing a training needs assessment with an anticipated completion date of May 2007. Based on this assessment, a Mission training plan will be developed.

5.1.12 The Maple Leaf Club, located on the Chancery property, was established to support social activities for the CBS and their families. There are by-laws and a constitution which set out the Club’s policies and procedures and the Club has purchased accounting software to track revenues and expenses and to prepare financial statements. Beverage inventories are maintained, however, there was no inventory of the other items purchased by the Club. Such an inventory is needed to clearly record items that belong to the Club from those provided by the Mission. There appears to be appropriate internal control of the operations and access to the beverage inventory is limited.

Recommendation for the Mission

5.1.13 Inventories of items purchased by the Club should be maintained.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.1.13 The Maple Leaf Club (MLC) assets are maintained by the club manager. An inventory has been prepared and will be maintained. It should be noted that the majority of "assets" in the MLC (aside from liquid assets) are crown assets - not MLC assets. An inventory of liquid assets has always been maintained by the club manager.

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 The Human Resources portfolio is managed by the DMCO under the general direction of the MCO. The Administration/Consular Program Assistant spends approximately half her time on HR matters, assisting the DMCO.

5.2.2 During the course of the audit, the Physical Resources section was reorganized to reflect existing reporting relationships ***. The new structure is a considerable improvement over the previous one.

5.2.3 The Mission was in the process of completing appraisals for all staff. A number of appraisals for staff at Step 10 of the LES pay scale were missing, giving the impression that since these individuals had reached the top salary increment, appraisals were no longer necessary. Appraisals are required for all staff as a means of accurately assessing performance. They also play a role in documenting deteriorating performance as part of the Department’s formal discipline process. In this respect, the Mission should re-emphasize the role of the discipline system and its various aspects to all staff. While the Mission takes steps to improve communications and morale and reduce the effects of the class structure, staff should realize that there is a process to deal with poor performance that will be used whenever necessary.

5.2.4 A review of a sample of competition files indicated that some required documentation was missing from the files. In view of staff interest in the competition process, as well as departmental requirements, it is important that competition files are properly documented. For example, the competition committee’s recommendation to the HOM stating the successful candidate should be on file.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.2.5 Appraisals should be regularly completed for all staff, including those at the maximum step of their pay levels.

5.2.6 Competition files should contain all necessary documentation.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.5 With PMP being implemented at Mission, annual appraisals are no longer required. All office LES had electronic PMP appraisals prepared for 2005-2006. Non-office LES had paper appraisals completed.

5.2.6 All documentation relating to competitions will be retained on Mission files.

5.2.7 Throughout the Mission, many CBS indicated that they felt the pre-posting Arabic language training they received was not adequate and that access to translation services was sometimes lacking. Much of the media in Saudi Arabia is in Arabic, and in areas outside Riyadh it is especially important to be able to speak the language as neither English nor French is widely spoken. The Department should endeavour to ensure that individuals destined for Arabic-language designated positions are provided with uninterrupted language training prior to arriving in Riyadh.

Recommendation for HFP (Assignment and Pool Management Division)/CFSL (Centre for Language Training)

5.2.8 Full Arabic training should be given to individuals in the designated Arabic-language positions.

HFP/CFSL Action and Timeframe

5.2.8 The established proficiency level for all positions abroad identified as requiring knowledge of a foreign language is Level 3, General Professional Proficiency. At this level, individuals are able to speak the language with sufficient structural accuracy, vocabulary and cohesiveness in discourse to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations on practical, social and professional topics. It generally requires two years of full-time language training to achieve a Level 3 proficiency in Arabic. In addition to full-time foreign language training, CFSL also offers optional, pre-posting Social Integration courses of twelve weeks. It would be an accurate reflection that employees who undertook this type of training would lack proficiency. This is fundamentally a crash course in which participants learn basic language skills to help them survive the first weeks of their arrival at post.

Currently: Riyadh has two positions identified as requiring foreign language proficiency: the Second Secretary (Political) and the Second Secretary for Yemen. ***.

From an overall mission perspective, the foreign language requirements of the missions may be seen to have been met.

Nonetheless, the challenge has been to have staff released from their duties sufficiently early that they may spend the recommended length of time studying the language prior to posting. The Department agrees that foreign language training needs must be better linked to staffing and will, by winter 2008, study foreign language training requirements and develop an action plan.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The Physical Resources portfolio is managed under the general direction of the MCO, with day-to-day activities carried out under the supervision of the LES Property Manager (LE-08), and the DMCO. The Property Manager is supported by a Materiel Manager (LE-05), an Administrative Assistant (LE-05), a Handyman/Driver, and by a contract building maintenance firm that has three staff permanently assigned to the Chancery. The DMCO is supported by a Transportation Supervisor/ Administrative Assistant and six Drivers.

5.3.2 The Chancery, with attached Official Residence, is Crown-owned and was purpose-built in 1984. The Staff Quarters are all Crown–owned and were built about the same time as the Chancery. All of these are located ***, which is a fenced and security-guarded suburb of Riyadh.

5.3.3 The Chancery is due to undergo a major mid-life refit and office and guardhouse expansion starting in September 2007, at a total estimated cost of $13.3 million. The project was initially conceived as office expansion to accommodate the CIC Program, which returned to the Mission in September 2002 after an absence of approximately four years. The estimated cost of the CIC expansion was $2.1 million.

5.3.4 Unfortunately, as the re-fit project developed, more problems were found that needed resolution. The guardhouse expansion that was originally a separate project was incorporated into the design. The Chancery/OR building systems were discovered to be at capacity, and could not accommodate the planned office expansion. The plumbing system needed to be completely replaced owing to the corrosive nature of the Riyadh water supply. The rest of the mechanical and electrical systems were deemed to have reached the end of their life cycle and reliability. The entire facility was seen as requiring a life cycle retrofit. Further modifications were required to accommodate new communications systems. In short, by September 2005, the small office addition conceived two years earlier had grown into the $13.3 million building expansion and refit project referred to above. The CIC Program should be able to move into its new accommodation by March 2008, almost six years after it re-joined the Mission.

5.3.5 The CIC workload has been growing by approximately one-third annually. For the 2006 summer peak season, 10 temporary LES and two temporary duty CIC CBS will have to be accommodated in the existing Chancery and the Program will handle an increased volume of clients. The existing office space, seen at the time of the Audit (March 2006), was dysfunctional, with poor air quality and insufficient Signet drops. During the summer period, the Program will expand into the multi-purpose room, exacerbating the aforementioned problems.

5.3.6 The major challenge for the Mission will be maintaining operations during the summer peak visa season due to space constraints. Required facilities to accommodate applicants and the visa office with its increase of temporary staff should not be postponed pending completion of the project. To the best of Mission’s ability, office space, SIGNET drops, air quality maintenance, *** and public address system requirements, etc., should all be in place, however temporary, in order to provide basic acceptable working conditions during the peak season.

5.3.7 Fit Up and Renovation Services (SRPA) have begun to discuss arrangements for swing space office accommodation for the construction period, to ensure minimal disruption to normal operations. ***. The Mission and SRPA should agree as early as possible on a plan of action that will minimize disruptions to Programs and staff while construction is underway.

5.3.8 The incremental CIC temporary staff will need the same transportation arrangements as the rest of the Mission staff. While the Mission has a sufficient number of vehicles, an additional temporary driver may have to be engaged.

Recommendations for the Mission and the Physical Resources Bureau (SRD)

5.3.9 The Program should ensure that all necessary office space and equipment is in place for the CIC Program to maintain operations in normal working conditions during the peak visa period.

5.3.10 An agreed plan for swing space accommodation should be established so that the Mission can maintain *** normal operations during the construction period.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.9 In July 2006, the mission provided additional workspace for the CIC program to meet peak workload periods. Provision of further work space is not possible due to space constraints.

5.3.10 The renovation project is still in the developmental stage. Works will not commence until approximately September 2007. Swing space is being located at this time.

SRD Actions and Timeframe

5.3.9 In October of 2006, the Mission and SRPA discussed the complexity of the construction programme implementation. Continued access to the CIC programme has been recognised as a priority. Strategies are being developed and will be presented to the Mission prior to projected construction start in the fall of 2007.

5.3.10 In October 2006, it was agreed that trailer facilities on site would be used for swing space. Leased swing space had been considered, however to date, suitable space is not available.

Recommendation for the Mission

5.3.11 Normal transportation should be provided for all Mission staff, both regular and temporary, throughout the peak visa season and the construction period.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.3.11 The Mission has always met transportation needs of all staff - be they temporary or regular.

5.3.12 The Property Manager has developed a work order system based in Outlook, making use of the Task Manager and Public Folders features. This system was reviewed by the Audit Team and found to be an innovative use of available departmental tools. During the audit debriefing with Physical Resource Bureau (SRD), this system was cited as an example of a best practice that could be considered for use by other small missions. The Department does not have a recommended or promulgated system or systems in place for missions to use in the management of their property, maintenance, and materiel operations. Missions have a track record of developing their own systems, Riyadh being a case in point.

5.3.13 In response, SRD referred to the work order system that had been developed within the Bureau, but had not been rolled out to missions. Reference was also made to the working group within the Strategy and Services Bureau (RSD) that was considering a departmental approach to the mission work order situation. The RSD working group met on April 13, 2006, and decided to consider four work order systems, three already developed and in use in missions (including Riyadh’s system), plus the Headquarters SRD system, which is presently being field-tested in a few missions.

5.3.14 In view of the impending departure of the Property Manager during the summer 2006 posting season, the work order system should be thoroughly documented and institutionalized to ensure a seamless operational roll-over when the Property Manager’s successor assumes the duties of the position.

Recommendation for RSD

5.3.15 RSD should continue its evaluation of work order systems as part of its standard toolkit for mission administrative operations in order to define a common approach which could be used at all missions.

RSD Action and Timeframe

5.3.15 A number of missions have developed and shared several different versions of a property management system which contain amongst the many different features, a module for the management of work orders for SQ, OR and Chancery maintenance. RSD is coordinating efforts amongst several HQ stakeholders to bring coherence (and hopefully integration) to the various initiatives underway to implement a Works Control System for Missions. To date there has been a number of meetings in order to develop:

  1. consensus on common way forward;
  2. consensus for early implementation of a standard system; and,
  3. feasibility of making this a 'System Integration Project' for financial support from Chief Information Officer (CIO) fund.

Further meetings will be taking place in the near future to discuss the System Integration Project and to develop an action plan and timeframe covering the completion of consultation through implementation.
Note that a Works Control Systems for Missions was highlighted in RGM's submission to the department's IM/IT Investment Plan for Treasury Board .

Recommendation for the Mission

5.3.16 The current work order system should be documented and institutionalized to ensure it is not lost in the transition from the incumbent Property Manager to his replacement.

Mission Action and Time Frame

5.3.16 ***, the former Property Manager documented the work order system he developed for use by his successor.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The Finance Section is *** managed by the MCO, who is assisted by an LE-07 Accountant and an LE-05 Assistant Accountant, ***. Mission staff indicated that the Section provides *** service.

5.4.2 The Mission is well served by its reference levels and the MCO monitors budgets closely for reporting and planning purposes. Section 33 and 34 signing authorities are properly exercised and bank reconciliations are up-to-date. The work is distributed within the Section to allow for sufficient segregation of duties. Processes are in place to provide appropriate control over the receipt and payment of funds.

5.4.3 The Mission’s bank is implementing a new financial system which has proven challenging for the Mission as monthly original bank statements are not always available, interim bank statements arrive out of order and client service has been poor. The Mission will continue to monitor the situation to determine if/when new banking arrangements may be needed.

5.4.4 The Audit Team counted the petty cash accounts, all of which balanced, however the counts revealed the following issues:

  • ***;
  • petty cash chits were not being used to record money being distributed to staff; and
  • surprise counts are not conducted.

The Mission uses its petty cash accounts frequently and may wish to encourage suppliers to invoice monthly to avoid paying for each individual transaction.

5.4.5 The Mission indicated that there were occasions when the Section was not meeting its five day standard for issuing cheques. The Section may wish to consider limiting client service hours for the Accounts Section to provide staff quiet periods to concentrate on financial transaction processing.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.4.6 To improve petty cash procedures, the Section should provide a *** and petty cash chits to all petty cash holders. Surprise petty cash counts should be conducted.

5.4.7 To minimize the number of payments made by petty cash, the Section should request monthly invoices from suppliers as appropriate.

5.4.8 The Mission should examine the requirement for quiet hours for the Accounts Section.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.6 ***. Petty cash chits are used by both holders of petty cash advances. Unscheduled cash checks are conducted periodically.

5.4.7 The Mission has arranged accounts with a number of suppliers. However, there still remains a significant number of suppliers who work on a cash basis only. This is the fiscal culture in Riyadh.

5.4.8 There is no requirement for quiet hours for the accounting section. While service standards may not be met at all times, these instances are infrequent.

5.4.9 This Mission, as with others, has been experiencing difficulties with the IMS Materiel Management (MM) Module functions, such as multiple payments. The Mission has been in contact with HQ regarding this issue. When problems are resolved, it would be useful if more explanations were provided as to the cause of the problems so that the Mission can avoid repeating incorrect procedures in the future.

Recommendation for Integrated Management System (SMSF)

5.4.10 In order to reduce repeat processing errors, SMSF should provide feedback to missions on the reasons for MM problems and the correct steps to avoid them in the future.

SMSF Action and Timeframe

5.4.10 SMSF has changed to be SMES, but is still responsible for the development, configuration, testing and support of IMS as the departmental ERP. As such, we have documented the processes concerning the MM modules and support the on-line documentation that helps end users complete transactions. We provide knowledge transfer to the Centre for Corporate Services Learning (CFSS) concerning changes to the financial system to enable them to provide training to end users.

We work with Head Quarters Accounting Operations SMFV, Mission Accounting SMF and Policy SMO to develop and tune functionality. SMES also operates a second level support desk where end user tickets are referred to resolve IMS technical issues.

SMES does not have the ability or responsibility to monitor IMS postings made by end users in our Production environment. We provide documentation to the users as outlined above and to CFSS to train users. We have reviewed the IMS remedy tickets created concerning Riyadh for the last two fiscal years and all problems were followed up via phone and e-mail at the time the help ticket was recorded.

5.4.11 While processes and procedures within the Program are considered good, improvements can be made by implementing the following recommendations:

Recommendations for the Mission

5.4.12 Administration and CIC are conducting the monthly POS+/IMS reconciliation, however only the MCO is signing the document. The CIC Program Manager should also sign off on the monthly reconciliation.

5.4.13 The MCO reviews the Asset and Liability Report approximately every quarter, however this should be done on a monthly basis.

5.4.14 The Finance Section should issue official receipts in the name of the individual submitting a deposit for processing, rather than the name of the individual’s section.

5.4.15 Rental payments for the SQ land, which are made every five years, should not be expensed immediately. These should be set-up as a prepaid asset and expensed in the appropriate fiscal year.

5.4.16 The Contract Review Board’s (CRB) threshold to review contracts is $25,000. The CRB should perform random checks on contracts below the threshold to ensure that proper procedures are being followed.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.12 The monthly POS+/IMS reconciliation is signed off by both the MCO and the CIC Program Manager.

5.4.13 The Asset and Liability Report has always been reviewed on a monthly basis by the MCO.

5.4.14 Official receipts are issued in the name of the employee depositing funds.

5.4.15 Mission will contact HQ regarding the procedures for amortising land rental costs over the 5 year period.

5.4.16 The CRB conducts random checks on contracts below the $25,000 limit.

5.5 Information Technology (IT)

5.5.1 The Information Technology function is under the direction of the MCO, though managed day-to-day by the (CS-02) Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP). There are no Locally Engaged Information Technology Professionals (LEITP) at the Mission and the DMCO provides back-up for routine tasks during the FSITP’s absences. The FSITP will be returning to Canada to undertake the ESMAIT (Enhanced Support Model Abroad for Information Technology) training course and his replacement will be fully ESMAIT trained. The FSITP also provides assistance to Kuwait when needed. Overall, Mission staff indicated that they receive good service from the Section.

5.5.2 The Mission has the following secondary communications in place:

  • SIGNET Web Access via DISA cards;
  • a small office setup at the OR;
  • a satellite phone;
  • cellular phones for key staff; and,
  • three Tharaya phones.

However, the Mission has not developed specific procedures to ensure continuity of IT functions in case of disruption. These procedures could be developed in conjunction with the Pandemic Flu Preparedness Plan the Mission is in the process of creating. ***.

5.5.3 Paragraph 5.1.13 highlights the need for a Mission-wide training plan and the Section should survey clients to determine IT training needs for integration in this plan.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.5.4 A business continuity/resumption plan should be developed for IT requirements.

5.5.5 IT training requirements should be included in the overall Mission training plan.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.4 A business continuity/resumption plan will be developed. Completion date is estimated to be June 1, 2007.

5.5.5 IT training is an on-going exercise and has always been part of all training for staff.

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