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Audit of the Canadian Embassy Seoul

PDF Version (153 Kb) *

(October 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 Seoul from February 22 to 28, 2007. The previous audit of these programs took place in October 1997. The Mission oversees an Honorary Consul in Busan and has recently acquired responsibility for the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) from the Embassy in Beijing.

Overall, the Mission is *** managed and supported by a comprehensive committee structure and an effective communication framework. Morale at the Mission is improving and staff cited the new program managers’ focus on improved collaboration and communication between programs as the primary driver. The current resource base is appropriate for program delivery and, when combined with the forthcoming move to a new Chancery and the possible completion of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the Mission is well positioned to move bilateral relations to a new level of interaction and co-operation.

The GR Program’s key areas of focus have been the developments in the six party talks with North Korea and the Republic of Korea’s growing importance as both a regional and global player. Though the complete turnover of the Canada-based team within the past year has resulted in a period of adjustment, the Program is now functioning well and quickly gaining the experience and knowledge of the local environment necessary to focus on the strategic priorities. Now that the transition period is coming to a close, the structure and information management aspects of the Program should be examined to ensure optimal operations and workflow.

The IBD Program is *** managed and places significant emphasis on results. Communication within the Program is effective and frameworks are in place to support the Program Manager’s performance management goals. The organizational structure has also been modified to include Locally-engaged (LE) positions at a variety of levels ranging from LE-05 to LE-09, providing important career progression opportunities for staff. At the time of the Audit, roles and responsibilities were in a period of transition to allow for the assignment of a new business lead development function. It will be important for the Program Manager to further define how this new role will integrate into the Section’s workflow. The Program should devise an approach to measure the results of the business lead development function and periodically assess its effectiveness.

The Management and Consular Officer (MCO) is responsible for the delivery of the Consular Program and provides strategic oversight on day-to-day operations, which are managed by the Deputy MCO. The Program is supported by three LE consular officers and delivered approximately 4,800 passport services, 1,500 citizenship services, 1,300 notarial requests and worked on 300 consular cases in 2006. Consular service standards are adhered to and staff possess an *** knowledge and understanding of policies and procedures. The Audit identified deficiencies related to the control of blank and completed passport inventory and immediate action was taken by the Mission to address the control weaknesses.

The Administration Program is well managed and provides a good level of support to Mission programs. The MCO has built upon the progress made by his predecessors and has been able to dedicate more time to strategic activities. This is important given the level of planning and communication required to facilitate a smooth transition into the new Chancery. The absence of a current Locally-engaged Staff (LES) Handbook and benefits package is a primary concern for staff and management and negatively impacts operations.

A total of 48 audit recommendations are raised in the report; 46 are addressed to the Mission 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 48 recommendations, management has stated that 36 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 12 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Scope, Objectives, Mission Resources

Audit Scope and Objectives

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

The audit objectives were to:

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

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

During the Audit, audit issues and lines of enquiry were further refined from information gathered through interviews with the HOM and Program Managers, a meeting with the LES Association, 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 - Seoul

Physical Resources
AssetsCrown LeasedCrown Owned
Chancery11 (under construction)
Official Residence1
Staff Quarters163
Vehicles6

Financial Information 2005/06

Table 2: Mission Resources Fact Sheet Financial Information
Financial Information 2005/06
Total$8,290,144
Operating Budget (N001)$4,234,319
Capital Budget (N005)$127,875
CBS Budget (N011)-
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$3,927,950

Organization Chart

Head of mission (EX-03)
1 CBS
6 LES
International Business Development (EX-02)
3 CBS
10 LES
General Relations (EX-01)
3 CBS
5 LES
Citizenship and Immigration (FS-04)
3 CBS
23 LES
National Defence (Col)
1 CBS
0.5 LES
Management - Consular (AS-06)
2 CBS
18 LES
Alberta (Counsellor)
2 LES

Organization Chart

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Embassy in Seoul is a medium sized mission with 20 Canada-based staff (CBS) and 61.5 Locally-engaged staff (LES). The Mission oversees an Honorary Consul in Busan and has recently acquired responsibility for the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) from the Embassy in Beijing. South Korea’s position in Northeast Asia, while growing, is often overlooked due to the focus on the larger regional powers of Japan and China. While trade and investment have been and continue to be the primary drivers of our relations, there are also considerable people-to-people contacts in the form of English teachers, tourists and a small but growing Korean-Canadian community in Canada.

1.1.2 The Mission is appropriately resourced to deliver on its current mandate and, with the forthcoming move to a new chancery and the possible completion of a Free Trade Agreement, is positioned to move bilateral relations to a new level of interaction and co-operation. The accreditation to the DPRK has been in place since 2006 and has been a welcome addition to the work of the Mission.

1.1.3 The current management team has focussed significant effort on improving collaboration and communication between programs. Mission-wide communication is facilitated by town-hall meetings held by the Head of Mission (HOM). While the last posting cycle resulted in a large turnover of CBS, the transition process was relatively smooth. Staff cited the effort of the new program managers to consult and collaborate on projects, and promote a whole of government approach as the primary driver for the improvement of morale at the Mission.

1.1.4 There is a strong committee structure in place. The Operations Committee meets weekly and the Committee on Mission Management (CMM) meets as required, generally three times per year. Minutes are distributed to all staff and all Programs are involved in drafting policy. Committee membership includes both management and non-management staff. Other committees include Housing, Occupational Health and Safety, Training, Classification, Awards, Social and a Contract Review Board.

1.1.5 The Mission rolled out the Performance Management Program (PMP) in fiscal year 2005-06, but in a hard-copy format given the learning curve and a few frustrations with its implementation and will work with the electronic version in fiscal year 2007-08. When performance issues arise, the Mission has taken an appropriate approach to address the situation (via communications, training and coaching) before escalating to the Performance Improvement Plan. The Mission consulted HQ regarding the need for the HOM to be the reviewing officer for many of the staff and was informed that other officers can be tasked with this role as well.

1.1.6 The Mission’s last approved LES Handbook was published in 1997. Due to resource pressures within the Locally-engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD), the required benefit review has not been able to take place. The out-of-date Handbook was raised as a concern by management who noted that out-of-date benefits were one of the reasons for difficulties in staffing two technical positions for the new chancery. Following the Audit, HLD indicated that it was developing a new strategy to address the issues of outstanding benefit reviews and out-of-date Handbooks.

1.1.7 The LES Association meets regularly with the Management and Consular Officer (MCO). While currently holding a number of town-hall meetings with all staff, the HOM should also meet with the LES Association on a regular basis to further enhance communications between the LES and management. The Audit Team met with the Association, whose main concern was the out-of-date LES Handbook and need for a benefits review. Other topics of discussion included:

  • The need for constant communications regarding issues pertaining to the Handbook as there was confusion regarding the release of the reformatted version;
  • Potential interest of some staff in being enrolled in the local employment insurance program;
  • Availability of parking for the LES at the new chancery; and
  • The requirement to replace the receptionist during breaks and the need for more training for those performing that role.

1.1.8 The Senior Harassment and Internal Disclosure Advisor from the Values and Ethics Division (ZVE) accompanied the Audit Team and made presentations to staff concerning values and ethics. During the presentations Mission management was encouraged to be vigilant in fostering open communication with all staff, including LES, in order to ensure that any ethical dilemmas or potential harassment situations are reported at the outset before issues escalate. Since January 2007, the Mission has been incorporating values and ethics into its staff orientation procedures. New staff receive a short briefing and all staff are/have been provided a copy of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service with a certification to be signed that they have read and understood their obligations. As a best practice, the Mission could incorporate a value and ethics session each fall as part of their rotation process, so all staff (new and old) can be updated on policies and procedures.

1.1.9 A review of hospitality claims found that expenses incurred were supported with the appropriate documentation. The sections on objective, purpose and evaluation of events, however, were not always properly completed. Mission management is responsible for ensuring that diaries are completed in such a way as to demonstrate that hospitality funds were used in pursuit of a program objective. This should be reinforced by management and monitored at Mission Management Committee level to ensure that results are achieved. Measures could also be taken to reinforce the need for proper completion of diaries by incorporating the strategic use of hospitality funds into the performance appraisal process. The review of diaries could then be incorporated in the performance appraisal process by measuring the officers ability to leverage resources effectively. By setting objectives for the use of hospitality at the beginning of the year and incorporating the review of diaries into the performance appraisal process, program managers would ensure activities undertaken are strategic in nature and demonstrate clear linkages to program objectives.

Recommendation to HLD

1.1.10 Once the HLD benefit review and Handbook strategy has been developed, the process and dates need to be communicated to missions so that management and the LES community remain up-to-date.

HLD Action and Timeframe

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

In 2007-2008, a consulting firm will be tasked with the review of benefits and the production of handbooks for 67 selected countries. The project will be divided in two phases based on the geographic breakdown as per set criteria. Seoul's last review of handbook was done in February 2006. Therefore a full comprehensive handbook review should be done in the Part II of the review project. The second phase of review should be completed by the end of 2009.

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

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

Recommendations to the Mission

1.1.11 The HOM should meet with the LES Association on a (quarterly) basis.

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

1.1.13 The Mission should ensure that hospitality diaries are properly completed and demonstrate linkages to program objectives. The strategic use of hospitality funds should also be incorporated into the performance appraisal process. This should be reinforced by management and monitored at the Executive and Mission Management committee level.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.1.11 Agreed. The HOM did indeed meet with the LES Association soon after the Audit and agreed to recommend to his successor that the HOM meet quarterly with the Association beginning fall 2007.

1.1.12 Agreed. This will be done annually during September under the purview of the HOM.

1.1.13 Agreed. Program Managers will ensure that their respective CBS and LES hospitality-related activities are properly documented, directly linked to their program activities and reflected in appraisals. The HOM will review hospitality reports in the second or third quarter and provide feedback to the entire CMM.

General Relations Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The General Relations Program in Seoul is led by an EX-01 Program Manager (PM), whose team includes two CBS political officers (FS-01, FS-02), five LES officers, and an Administrative Assistant (AS-01). Operations are currently organized in two distinct sections; Political/Economic and Public Affairs. The complete turnover of the Canada-based (CB) team within the past year has resulted in an adjustment period for both the CBS, LES and the HOM, but the transition has been relatively smooth. The Program is functioning well and staff are quickly gaining the experience and knowledge of the local environment necessary to effectively plan and implement the Government’s strategic objectives.

2.1.2 The Republic of Korea (ROK) has been designated as a “likeminded” country for the Department as a result of its growing importance as both a regional and global player on many political fronts. In addition to further building the historically strong bilateral relationship, the priorities for the Mission and the Program focus on the security and stability of the Korean peninsula. In particular, the Program has been following promising developments in the six party talks with North Korea to dismantle their nuclear program. Other key priorities for the Program include the domestic political and economic situation in both ROK and North Korea, human rights issues, and UN reform. Public diplomacy activities in support of these objectives are integrated in the work of the Program.

2.2 Program Management

2.2.1 One of the priorities of the new Program Manager has been to improve communication and collaboration between the GR and IBD Programs. This has been achieved both at the management and working level, contributing to a better functioning Mission with positive comments received from all involved. Likewise, communication within the GR Program is good, enhanced by an open, supportive environment ***. Appraisals are up to date, with roles, responsibilities, and priorities clearly communicated to staff. ***. Now that the PM and staff have had time to adapt to their roles, changes and adjustments to improve operations can take place. Many of the audit recommendations had already been identified by the Program.

2.2.2 The PM is considering the realignment of some files and responsibilities within the Program to improve operations and enhance workflow. Certain files will be (or have already been) transferred to other officers, such as the Academic Relations file, which was transferred from the LE-08 Political Officer to the LE-08 Public Affairs Officer. The PM was able to demonstrate appropriate logic and rationale for these changes and linkages to the strategic priorities of the Mission. To maintain goodwill and ensure buy-in of staff, the changes in structure and file distribution should be clearly documented and communicated to all involved. In particular, a clear delineation of the responsibilities of the FS-01 and FS-02 position is necessary to avoid any confusion among staff in the Program. The current organization chart should be revised to accurately reflect reporting relationships and position levels and updated as changes are made to the Program.

2.2.3 There has been some discussion at both the Mission and HQ regarding the adequacy of the FS-02 position’s classification. The PM presented logical arguments supporting the potential upgrading of this position to an FS-03, including the level of responsibility required, history of the position, and the complexity of files. Given the proposed addition of managing the Public Affairs Section (three LES), the PM should further examine this issue and create a business case for reclassification as conditions warrant.

2.2.4 The Program has a budget of $83,300, of which $32,800 is for travel, $15,000 for hospitality, and $35,500 for operations. There was some confusion in the fall as to the amount for operations and the specific monitoring requirements, with the Program unaware of some of the funds at its disposal until year end. The MCO and the PM are working together to avoid this issue in the future. Monthly reports are available from Finance, though read-only access to IMS would be beneficial for the Program to allow for real-time monitoring. Consideration should also be given to providing an IMS account and training to one of the assistants so that reports can be generated and monitored within the Program.

2.2.5 Hospitality funding also needs further clarification and monitoring. The PM had not seen the diaries generated by some officers, nor was there a specific allocation to each officer. Though staff have access to the Program’s overall hospitality budget through the PM, an individual allocation would provide officers the ability to better plan and manage their activities. Training for staff on how to strategically and effectively use the funds to achieve objectives, especially for the new officers, should also be undertaken by the PM.

Recommendations to the Mission

2.2.6 The PM should ensure that the rationale for any structural or file distribution changes in the Program are documented and communicated to staff.

2.2.7 The organization chart for the Program should be updated.

2.2.8 The PM should develop a business case for the reclassification of the FS-02 position to FS-03 if determined that conditions warrant this change.

2.2.9 IMS read-only access should be provided to an individual within the Program to facilitate monitoring of budgets.

2.2.10 Hospitality funds should be allocated within the Program to officers, and training on how to effectively use the funds should be provided by the PM.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.2.6 The rationale for changes in the Program was circulated to all staff, discussed in person and fully outlined in subsequent staff meetings.

2.2.7 The organizational chart was revised while the auditors were in Seoul. Future changes will be reflected in a timely manner.

2.2.8 This issue was raised with HQ and will be raised with the new Director by November 2007.

2.2.9 The MCO has developed plan for IMS access to be available across all programs and it will be implemented early in the fall 2007.

2.210 Hospitality funds were allocated to officers for fiscal year 2007/08 in April and officers were trained on the rules governing hospitality, how to account for them most appropriately and to link them with program objectives.

2.3 Strategic Planning

2.3.1 The current year’s strategic priorities were largely carried over from those of the previous team, with adjustments made as appropriate. The priorities in the Country Strategy are in line with the objectives the Program of the PM’s Performance Management Agreement (PMA) and the officers’ Performance Management Program (PMP) planning documents. In general, the objectives stated were fairly broad, and would benefit from being articulated at a working level in terms of specific activities, contacts necessary and measurement mechanisms to attain them. This process has started on certain files, but should continue for the remainder.

2.3.2 The Program is also working from the previous team’s reporting contract and understood that it had not been officially approved by HQ. In this respect, the Program was looking for comments and an official approval to ensure they were reporting on issues of value to stakeholders in Ottawa. The Mission did not receive this approval, though discussions with the Geographic Bureau after the Audit revealed that they were in agreement with the contract. Both the Mission and the Geographic Bureau should ensure that this uncertainty is avoided for the next reporting contract process.

2.3.3 Overall, it is important to ensure all staff have a good understanding of the priorities of the Program and the Mission. This was not always the case, but through staff meetings and feedback, the PM has taken steps to ensure that staff know how their work contributes to achieving the Program’s objectives. The PM should continue with these efforts to further enhance the functioning of the team.

Recommendation to the Mission

2.3.4 The Program should develop workplans which provide a detailed roadmap for how objectives will be carried out and performance measured.

Mission Action and Timeframe

2.3.4 Workplans have been developed for key files and will continue as necessary.

2.4 Operations

2.4.1 The Political/Economic Section’s workload has increased as a result of the addition of DPRK accreditation, but it remains at a manageable level. In general, resources are adequate for the reporting, tasking from HQ, and other activities of the Section. A sample of reports examined from each officer, as well as the weekly roundup produced by the Section, were in line with the priorities of the Section as stated in the Country Strategy.

2.4.2 The Public Affairs Section has formulated a good approach to its activities, using Public Diplomacy, academic, and cultural funding it has been allocated from HQ. The move to the new chancery will provide the Section with more opportunities for effective delivery of its activities, but will also change its structure slightly with the planned closure of the Library. The resources to maintain the library and information centre will be better put to use on other more value-added activities within the Section.

2.4.3 At present, a common contact management system is not in place within the Program. As a result, creating programs for incoming visits and other activities can be difficult. Some staff have set up their own databases within Outlook, but a Program wide solution is needed to ensure a comprehensive list is maintained, avoid duplication and reduce time allocated to contact searches.

2.4.4 Similarly, a consistent approach to the management of information is required. Staff recognize that further work is necessary to improve information management, and work has already begun on the Academic Affairs files, but should continue with the development of a strategy for the Program as a whole.

Recommendation to the Mission

2.4.5 The Program should develop and implement a common approach to contact and information management.

Mission Action and Timeframe

2.4.5 Work on a common approach to contact and information management has been started and will be completed in fall 2007.

International Business Development Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The Mission’s International Business Development (IBD) Program is delivered by an EX-01 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC), in an EX-02 position, and a team of three CBS and five LES Trade Commissioners (TC), supported by five Trade Commissioner Assistants (TCA). The Program Manager is ***, whereas the three CBS TCs are ***. The HOM provides input into planning exercises, attends events and engages with trade delegations. The Mission recently took on responsibility for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from Beijing, however most activities are of a political nature and to date impact on the IBD Program has been minimal. The Program’s budget includes $37,300 for operations, $27,000 for hospitality and $22,500 for travel.

3.1.2 The South Korean economy made a rapid recovery from the 1997 Asian financial crisis, emerging as the 12th largest merchandise trading nation in the world. The country ranks as Canada's 7th largest export destination. In 2006, two-way merchandise trade was valued at approximately $9 billion, with Canadian exports equalling $3.2 billion. Two-way investment between the two countries totalled $1.1 billion in 2005, with Korean investment into Canada valued at $364 million. The South Korean economy has become increasingly integrated into a region of strategic importance to global value chains. In July 2005, Canada and South Korea launched free trade negotiations, a move that has the potential to strengthen Canada's presence in the dynamic region of Northeast Asia.

3.1.3 At present, sector responsibilities rest with LES, with the exception of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) CB Officer who is responsible for Agri-Food. The FS-03 position is primarily responsible for management of the program, planning, reporting, market access and coordinating support for FTA activities. The FS-02 position manages the Market Intelligence and Services Unit (MISU) which performs functions similar to a standard InfoCentre in addition to tracking budgets and performance indicators. Roles and responsibilities within the group have undergone a recent reorganization to realign sector responsibilities and facilitate the addition of business lead development as a key activity for the MISU and the FS-02 position. As the Audit took place during a period of transition, it was difficult to assess workloads and identify the framework under which leads development would occur.

3.2 Program Management

3.2.1 The STC is an *** trade commissioner *** and possesses an *** understanding of the local environment, both inside and outside the Mission. As a result, he is in a position to effect more change within the Program than most PMs to bring operations in line with his vision for a more effective, results based IBD program. To facilitate the results focus, the PM has identified five key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs clearly identify the expected outcomes of the team’s activities and serve as the basis for performance management and measurement. The KPIs for the Program are as follows:

  • Information downloads;
  • Client service requests;
  • New clients;
  • Business leads; and,
  • Business successes.

3.2.2 Communication within the Program is effectively managed via weekly all-staff meetings and a good level of informal communication. Monthly one-on-one meetings also take place between officers and the PM in order to assess performance in line with the key performance indicators. This practice ensures that employees are provided with timely feedback on their performance and, thus, provide adequate time to identify issues and take corrective action prior to the annual appraisal process.

3.2.3 The role of the FS-03 position primarily relates to management and planning activities. As a result, staff that report to this position on paper often go directly to the PM for sector related advice. While fulfilling an important role in the Program, there is a need to provide the FS-03 with more sector related responsibilities to ensure the incumbent obtains the appropriate experience to fully assume the TC role in a future posting. Given that the FS-03 is ***, consideration should be given to providing this position with responsibility for a small team of TCs or perhaps a horizontal role such as Science and Technology or Innovation.

3.2.4 Administrative reporting relationships within the Section were generally clear to staff. More clarity was required, however, regarding the responsibility for setting objectives and conducting the performance appraisal for the AAFC funded position. The previous incumbent was an EX with AAFC and thus the PMA process was managed by their home department. The present incumbent is not an EX and, thus, responsibility for the establishment of objectives and assessment of performance rests with the IBD PM.

3.2.5 The PM has adopted a philosophy that identifies all staff as trade commissioners. As such, both TCs and TCAs have sector related responsibilities. These responsibilities have been distributed to staff based on the priorities set by the Section. As such, priority sectors are allocated to TCs and non-priority sectors are allocated to TCAs. To support this practice, the Section is comprised of a variety of different level LES positions, including LE-05, LE-06, LE-07 and LE-09. The hierarchical structure, combined with the assignment of sector responsibilities to all staff, ensures that employees are provided the opportunity for career progression as positions become available. This is a positive departure from the traditional IBD program composition of LE-05 and LE-09 positions which restricts progression opportunities for junior staff. On the other hand, it has the potential to create confusion over the delineation between officers and assistants. The PM is aware of the related risks and has communicated the rationale for sector allocation to staff. The risk remains that, if the rationale is not properly documented, a new PM may remove Sector responsibilities from junior staff in favour of a more traditional model. To mitigate this risk, the PM should ensure that rationale for sector responsibilities is properly documented, communicated to staff and utilized in the eventual handover to a new PM.

3.2.6 The rationale for sector assignments should be incorporated into a larger document which also outlines the business lead development and responsibilities of the FS-02 and MISU as well as the rest of the Section, defines the planning cycle and establishes mechanisms for the TCs to feed into lead development activities. It should also specify how leads developed by the MISU and their related business successes will be tracked to ensure that the MISU is able to see the results of their efforts and the PM is in a position to evaluate the effectiveness of his approach to lead development.

3.3 Planning and Operations

3.3.1 IBD Program operations are supported by an experienced team of LES. Staff are actively engaged in the planning process through the development of work plans, which ensures buy-in to activities and objectives. The PM *** and, as a result, existing plans were modified for the remainder of the year, with a new planning process commencing for the 2007/2008 fiscal year.

3.3.2 The 2007/2008 planning process is of increased importance at this time as Section roles and responsibilities are in a period of transition. The new roles were introduced earlier in the calendar year, with full implementation to take effect following the departure of the Audit Team in March 2007. The new roles have been communicated to all staff, however, some concerns where raised regarding the uncertainty of future workloads. Specifically, it remains unclear as to how the new role of business lead development will be discharged and integrated with the rest of the team. The concept has been communicated and is understood by staff, but how it is to be delivered, the synergies and the required linkages within the program have yet to be outlined. The PM intends to conduct an informal follow-up exercise to ensure that the appropriate balance exists between officers and sectors.

3.3.3 The ongoing FTA negotiations between Canada and Korea rely on support and information provided by the Mission in Seoul. At present, the Section is managing, although the requests made by HQ do impact on operations as issues are complex and often accompanied by short lead times. With the positive movement to the finalization of the agreement, the support provided to HQ is not a major concern at this point.

3.3.5 At the time of the Audit, TRIO had been in place for one week and, as such, an assessment of its implementation was not feasible. The PM, however, supports its use and is exploring ways to track the majority of the Sections five KPIs within the system.

Recommendations to the Mission

3.3.6 In an effort to facilitate and sustain change, provide staff with appropriate direction on the implementation of the PM’s concept and facilitate future transitions to new CB officers, the Section should develop a document which:

  • operationalizes the PM’s vision for the program;
  • outlines what level officers and assistants have which sectors and why;
  • articulates roles and responsibilities for sectors and business lead development for all staff;
  • defines the planning cycle;
  • establishes mechanisms to facilitate two-way communication between officers and lead developers; and,
  • incorporates the tracking of successes related to business leads developed by the MISU so that the PM will have the appropriate information to measure the effectiveness of the concept in his remaining two years at post.

3.3.7 The PM should consider the realignment of the responsibilities of the DFAIT funded FS-03 position to include exposure to sector related responsibilities in order to ensure that the incumbent receives the appropriate exposure to all TC activities.

3.3.8 The PM should clarify the reporting relationship of the AAFC position, establish performance objectives and responsibility for the annual performance appraisal.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.3.6 i, iii, iv, v, vi: The Program maintains a multi-chapter 'Manual of Procedure', available in print form and electronically on the network , which supplements the Horizons intranet site by providing further guidance on practices and procedures. These documents are being continually developed and re-worked to better clarify the vision, expectations, planning cycle and effectiveness measurement.

ii: The difference in levels is set by competencies required, not by sectors assigned. The different competencies required, by level, are within the individual job descriptions.

3.3.7 This Officer's responsibilities have been changed to include a much stronger focus on operational matters.

3.3.8 AAFC officers abroad operate as an integral part of the Trade Commissioner Service and work within the normal supervisory and reporting framework for which the Head of Mission is responsible. In Seoul, the AAFC Officer reports to the Senior Trade Commissioner, who in return reports to the Head of Mission. The AAFC Officer also has reporting requirements to AAFC HQ. In this context, performance objectives are set and assessed by the Senior Trade Commissioner.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program in Seoul is an active and busy program managed day-to-day by the DMCO (AS-04) who is supported by three consular officers, one LE-08 and two LE-06. The two staff at LE-06, though technically consular assistants, were given the title Consular Program Officer upon receiving their delegated Consular Signing Authority, as per the Implementation and Operational Instructions of such delegation. The MCO provides strategic oversight of the Program, passport review assistance and retains overall responsibility for the delivery of consular and passport services. In 2006, the Mission delivered approximately 4,800 passport services, 1,500 citizenship services, 1,300 notarial requests and worked 300 consular cases. Consular services to the limited number of Canadians in North Korea are provided by the resident Swedish Embassy.

4.1.2 Without exception, the Program is well served by its *** staff and receives numerous compliments from clients through both formal and informal feedback channels. The LES have an *** knowledge of consular policy and are *** in their field. Good collaboration exists throughout the Section with informal communication on a daily basis between CBS and LES. The DMCO has established a network of consular contacts and attends regular meetings with her counterparts at like-minded missions to further increase collaboration and knowledge sharing. The Mission is provided with adequate and timely support from the Consular Services Bureau for any issues or questions which may arise.

4.1.3 A limited scope of consular/passport assistance is also provided by the Honorary Consul in Busan in the south-east of the country, with direction from the Mission. The Honorary Consul is assisted by two of his own staff members who receive consular and passport training from the senior LE Consular Officer. The recent change in staff at the Consulate requires the senior LE Consular Officer to plan another consular training session for the new staff. Up to this point, the Honorary Consul has not been receiving annual assessments, however, with the renewal of his service engagement in the fall of 2007, a process will be implemented to ensure annual taskings and assessments are completed by the Mission.

Recommendation to the Mission

4.1.4 The Honorary Consul's performance should be reviewed annually by the Mission and a formal feedback process established.

Mission Action and Timeframe

4.1.4 Upon the renewal of the Honorary Consul’s commission, a tasking letter was prepared. Annual Honorary Consul Tasking Letters and Performance Reviews have been programmed into the Mission Diary.

4.2 Operations

4.2.1 There are approximately 2,550 Canadian Citizens registered with the Mission under the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) system, although the Mission estimates that approximately 10,000 Canadians (or dual citizens) are resident in South Korea. ROCA is up-to-date and there are no expired registrations. The Mission has established a warden network and provides warden training and conferences periodically. An outreach event took place last year to introduce local officials to registered Canadians and to educate residents on important local knowledge. This is seen as a valuable initiative and the presence of the HOM would add further value and visibility to these types of events. Consular Emergency Plans have been recently reviewed by the Mission and submitted to the Consular Emergency Services Division (CNE) for final approval.

4.2.2 There is a clear division of labour among the Program staff with the senior LE Consular Officer handling the majority of consular cases and contingency planning, and the other two officers handling ROCA, passports, routine service requests and daily cost recovery reconciliation. The senior LE Consular Officer has taken the initiative and opportunity to include the two LE officers on complex consular cases as a training exercise so that they are capable and comfortable to handle cases during her absence. A referral system is in place if LES consular staff are not able to meet the language requirements of French-speaking clients.

4.2.3 While consular service standards are being met, it was noted that these standards were not posted in the lobby, nor were client survey feedback forms visibly available. Service Standards should be clearly displayed in both official languages and feedback forms made available in the lobby. All completed client survey forms should be forwarded to the Consular Program Services Division (CNP).

4.2.4 Consular revenues are received in cash, Canadian dollar traveller's cheques, bank drafts and money orders. Consular staff count the cash in front of the client and official receipts are provided for all transactions. All revenues, regardless of which staff member receives them, are placed into a ***. ***, the designated LE Consular Program Officer (LE-06) reconciles the revenues received against the receipts and brings the complete reconciliation package to the Accounts Section. *** is counted in the Accountant's office in front of the Consular Program Officer and she is provided with a receipt. Upon relocation to the new chancery, each consular officer should be provided with their ***, depending on the system adopted by the Mission) and a *** to improve controls and accountability for individual consular receipts. *** would also allow staff to be individually accountable for the two wet seals currently allotted to the Section, rather than being ***.

4.2.5 A reconciliation of the consular petty cash was conducted and no discrepancies were found for the period reviewed. While daily management and monthly reconciliation of the petty cash were carried out by one of the LE-06 Consular Program officers, the petty cash custodian is officially the senior LE Consular Officer and the advance is under her name. As a result, ultimate responsibility rests with her. To ensure that accountability rests with the employee managing the advance, official responsibility should be transferred to the LE-06 Consular Program Officer through the appropriate Request for Petty Cash Advance form. Upon relocation to the new chancery, this Officer should safeguard the Petty Cash in her own safe as this will increase internal controls surrounding the advance. Currently, the Petty Cash advance is located in the ***, and can be ***.

4.2.6 Given the relatively recent reduction in the hours of operation that the Consular Section is open to the public (08h30 to 11h30 daily), clear directives should be given to the Receptionist and her replacements in order to respond to clients arriving outside of these publicized hours. The current directive, in its attempts to accommodate clients in urgent need, is subjective and requires further clarification to ensure that the policy is interpreted in the same manner by consular and reception staff.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.2.7 The Head of Mission should attend key consular outreach events to reinforce the importance of these types of activities.

4.2.8 Consular and passport service standards, in both official languages, should be clearly displayed in the client waiting area, and client survey forms made available to allow for a more accurate assessment of the quality of services offered by the Mission. Completed surveys should be forwarded to CNP.

4.2.9 Upon relocation to the new chancery, each consular officer should be provided with an individual safe in order to increase controls and accountability for consular revenues, wet seals and the consular petty cash advance.

4.2.10 The petty cash advance should be recorded officially in the name of the employee who is managing the advance and doing the reconciliation.

4.2.11 Clear, written directives should be given to the receptionist and her replacements on how to respond to consular clients requiring assistance outside of the Program's public hours of operation.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.2.7 HOM participation will be incorporated into the development of all appropriate future outreach activities.

4.2.8 Consular service standards are displayed in the waiting area in both official languages. Client survey forms will be provided directly to all recipients of consular and/or passport services. Completed client survey forms are being forwarded to CNP on a regular basis.

4.2.9 Each consular staff member has a four-drawer lateral cabinet with an integrated S&G lock.

4.2.10 The petty cash advance has been recorded officially in the name of the employee who is managing the advance and doing the reconciliation.

4.2.11 Clear written direction has been provided to the receptionist and her replacements.

4.3 Passports

4.3.1 All consular staff, both CBS and LES, have received training on the processing of passports. New passport policies are well understood and temporary and emergency passports are issued as an exception, with consular staff clear about their intended use. The Mission is consistently meeting the 15-day global service standard for passport delivery.

4.3.2 The Audit Team identified deficiencies related to the control of blank and completed passport inventory. Monthly inventory reports were being completed without a physical count and completed passports were being stored in an unlocked safe in the receptionist’s booth. Immediate action was taken by the DMCO to implement procedures to correct the identified control deficiencies.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.3.3 In order to ensure an adequate passport control environment exists, the Mission should ensure that:

  • Two CBS physically verify the passport inventory on a monthly basis, with HOM participation every quarter;
  • Inventory control sheets are completed to track the transfer of all blank passport stock; and,
  • Completed passports are stored in a locked safe until such time as they are delivered to clients.
Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.3.3 Two CBS physically verify the passport inventory on a monthly basis. HOM participation once per quarter has been incorporated into the mission diary. Inventory sheets are being used to track the transfer of all blank passport stock. A 2-drawer locker-safe has been ordered for the safekeeping of completed passports. It is expected that this locker-safe will arrive in December 2007.

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Program is managed by an AS-06 Management-Consular Officer (MCO) and supported by two CBS and 18 LES. During the tenure of the last two MCOs, considerable progress has been made to improve efficiencies within the Program allowing the current MCO to devote more time to strategic activities, such as the Program’s work-plan and the DMCO mentoring plan.

5.1.2 Communications within the Program are cited by staff as good and they indicated that both the MCO and the DMCO are ***. The Program holds weekly meetings, which also include consular staff. These meetings are used to review Program objectives and periodically invite “guest” speakers from other programs to provide overviews of their challenges and needs. This is valuable as it improves staff’s understanding of how they can contribute to the overall objectives of the Mission.

5.1.3 Administrative support is provided to DFAIT Programs as well as to the Other Government Departments (OGDs) located in Seoul; Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), Department of National Defence (DND) and the province of Alberta. Consideration is being given to revising the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with DND to formalize support provided to two military personnel located outside the Mission. Mission staff indicated that the Program is client service oriented. The Program uses the Management Services Portal to post policies, processes, etc. so that all staff have easy access to them. Service standards were created in 2004, however, the MCO identified a need to review and update the standards.

5.1.4 The Mission’s Club is administered by the Social Committee and has been an asset in promoting team spirit. The major activity is the monthly “TGIF” in addition to seasonal events. The club operates within the Chancery property. There is a need to tighten controls over its inventory, some of which is not securely stored. The DMCO indicated that the Mission will look into acquiring a suitable cabinet with a locking mechanism.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.5 The Program should review and update the service standards.

5.1.6 The Program should ensure Club inventories are securely stored and inventoried.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.5 A review of mission Service Delivery Standards has been scheduled to be undertaken annually in January.

5.1.6 The Social Committee has been advised of this requirement and will undertake to inventory all goods on a quarterly basis. A locked cabinet has been provided in the representational space for Committee goods.

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 HR functions are managed by the MCO with the support of the LE-07 Personnel Officer who also supervises the LE-04 Receptionist. The Mission is equipped with a mini-clinic and has support from a contract Community Co-ordinator.

5.2.2 Overall the Section’s files and documentation are well maintained and it has developed a number of Mission specific tools, such as rounds sheets for new employees, CBS arrival/departure checklists and new staff orientation instructions for PMs. The Mission was also in contact with the Locally-engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD) to obtain advice on how to incorporate Values and Ethics requirements in letters of offer. Areas identified for improvement include:

  • Consolidation of documents for staffing actions in one file rather than dispersed through many;
  • Ensuring that a copy of the competition results memo to the HOM is on file;
  • Providing letters to internal candidates regarding the results of the staffing competitions and include the right to grieve; and,
  • Providing letters to employees regarding classification requests and include the right to grieve.

5.2.3 The Mission, via the Training Committee, is making use of training opportunities that are made available locally and through HQ. There is, however, no formal Mission training plan linked to Mission objectives. A Mission-wide training plan would allow for co-ordination of training efforts and assist in prioritizing training needs and identifying funding requirements.

5.2.4 The Mission’s current organization charts need to be reviewed and updated in order to more accurately reflect current reporting relationships.

5.2.5 Over the past few years the local authorities have become more vigilant in enforcing qualifications required for teaching, previously one of the main opportunities for spousal employment in the country. The Mission needs to ensure that the spousal employment report is updated regularly to reflect changes as they occur.

5.2.6 The Community Co-ordinator contract now runs for six months (May 1 to October 31, in accordance with departmental guidelines). However, the Mission feels that it would be useful to start and end the contract earlier. Other missions have also indicated an interest in adjusting the date to suit their needs. The Audit Team raised this issue with the Services Centre (SERV), who indicated the program will continue as is for now but will consider what flexibility may be available in the future.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.7 The Mission should retain all documentation for staffing competitions in one file.

5.2.8 The Mission should ensure that the competition committee requests final approval from the HOM and that this memo is kept on the file.

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

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

5.2.11 The Mission should review and update the organization chart.

5.2.12 The Mission should ensure that the spousal report is updated regularly.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.7 The Mission will ensure that all future competition files are consolidated files that include all relevant information to the competition.

5.2.8 All competitions held since January 2007 have received final approval from the HOM via e-mail. A copy of the e-mail has been placed on the competition file.

5.2.9 This procedural change will be implemented as of 1 October, 2007. Form letters and all other forms of communication will be adjusted accordingly.

5.2.10 The Mission agrees that this should be developed and will be incorporated into 2007/2008 PMPs. The Training Committee will take a lead role in helping individuals and the mission as a whole develop a training plan.

5.2.11 Noted and recommended changes have been implemented.

5.2.12 An annual (or more frequently as required) update of the Spousal Employment Report will be undertaken in February of each year. This has been incorporated into the Mission Diary.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The Physical Resources Section is managed by the DMCO (AS-04) with support from the Property Manager (LE-08), the Electrician/Handyman (EL) and a Materiel Manager (LE-07) who has other non-Property/Materiel related administrative tasks. For the most part, clients are *** with the services provided by the Property/Materiel Section. The Property and Material Management training given by HQ should be provided to the Property Manager to fully equip him with the knowledge required for his duties. Increased coaching and daily involvement by the DMCO are encouraged to ensure that the Property Manager is given sufficient opportunity to learn and ***.

5.3.2 The major property initiative at the current time is the construction of the new chancery and the impending relocation scheduled for summer 2007. While the construction has seen cost overruns and many delays, the arrival of the Physical Resources Bureau (SRD) on-site Project Manager in late 2006 has been instrumental in getting the project back on track. Good communication and collaboration exist between the on-site Project Manager (PrM) and the Mission, with bi-weekly meetings taking place between the PrM, MCO and the HOM. Some resistance to the relocation, on the part of both LES and CBS, has been voiced but this is generally attributed to the uncertainty that arises with any significant change. The MCO has recognized this and has taken steps to promote positive change through the creation of a Relocation Committee and by offering tours of the new chancery to all staff.

Recommendation to the Mission

5.3.3 The Property Manager should be provided with increased training through the Canadian Foreign Service Institute as well as increased coaching and involvement from the DMCO.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.3.3 The Property Manager will be recommended for the first available LES In-Canada training program. The next course is scheduled for February 25, 2008. Supervisory responsibilities have shifted at the Mission and direct supervision is now being provided by the MCO. The MCO is working closely with the Property Manager.

Strategic Planning and the Property Portfolio

5.3.4 The LES Property Manager is currently responsible for the initial preparation of several strategic property documents, such as the Mission Property Management Plan (MPMP) and the Mission Maintenance Workplan (MMW). In discussions with both the DMCO and the Property Manager, a disconnect was evident when discussing long-term strategy for the Staff Quarter (SQ) portfolio. The Property Manager was unaware that certain SQs were being targeted for disposal by the Mission Management Team and the MMW showed $88,000 worth of proposed maintenance work on these SQs. More collaboration and communication is required between the DMCO and the Property Manager to ensure that a clear vision exists for the SQ portfolio and to enable appropriate planning for maintenance projects.

5.3.5 The Mission Housing Committee (MHC) has a written mandate and is an active group which takes its role seriously. Minutes for their meetings are recorded, although the MHC file is not organized and did not contain all the necessary written documentation, such as SQ recommendations to the HOM nor HOM allocation approvals for the 2006 posting season. Some under-housing and over-housing exists, due to the fact that the MHC was not properly trained on SQ guidelines in the past. This has been recognized by the Mission and the MCO has already made plans to provide training to the Committee prior to the next posting cycle. Vetting of possible SQs should be conducted by the DMCO or MCO, prior to participation by the Committee, to ensure acquisition of appropriate SQs.

5.3.6 The Mission is currently leasing serviced accommodation for eight of its CBS and believes that this provides a cost savings to the Mission as furnishings and utilities are included in the monthly cost. Also included in the overall monthly rental cost are the following benefits: breakfast, a maid service (general cleaning, washing of linens/dishes), cable TV, internet and gym/club facilities. In order to ensure equity among CBS staff accommodations and to adhere to departmental regulations, the Mission should develop a cost structure for these additional benefits and recover this amount from CBS occupants.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.7 The DMCO should ensure that the Property Manager is aware of management's direction in terms of a long-term property strategy to allow for appropriate forward planning and maintenance scheduling.

5.3.8 Training on SQ acquisition and allocation guidelines should be provided to the MHC prior to the next posting season.

5.3.9 A cost structure should be established for additional benefits received by occupants of Serviced Accommodation and these amounts should be recovered.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.7 The MCO or DMCO meets with the Property Officer on a weekly basis to discuss both operational and strategic direction for the Program. The Property Officer will play a stronger role in developing strategic plans for the Mission by providing key realty and providing significant input into the strategy portions of PRIME.

5.3.8 Training on SQ allocations and related regulations was provided to the MHC prior to 2007 housing decisions being taken.

5.3.9 A CMM decision on cost-sharing at Serviced Residences was taken in March 2007. Cost-sharing provisions were implemented on April 1, 2007.

Maintenance

5.3.10 The recently implemented work order tracking tool available electronically to all staff on the Management Services Portal is a good initiative and a positive means of increasing client service. A further improvement would be the updating and communication of service standards for various property/materiel requests to ensure that client expectations are realistic. The DMCO and, where appropriate, the Property Manager, should further develop their network with other Property Staff in like-minded missions. This would facilitate the sharing of information on contractor quality and reliability, an issue which was raised as a concern by the DMCO. An annual SQ inspection plan, for both maintenance and furnishings review, would enable the Section to identify requirements in a systematic and routine method.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.11 Service standards should be updated for property and materiel related requests and communicated to all staff.

5.3.12 The network of property/materiel contacts at like-minded missions should be further developed to ensure the sharing of best practices within the local environment.

5.3.13 An annual SQ inspection plan, for both maintenance and furnishings review, should be established.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.11 This remains an ongoing project. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of December 2007.

5.3.12 The Property Management Officer has been allocated hospitality funds in order to develop these contacts. The Property Officer has been advised that contacts should be developed within like-minded missions and that further funding can be made available to cultivate these contacts. Discussions have taken place as to the purpose and intent of such hospitality events.

5.3.13 Maintenance plans have been developed for SQs and the Chancery. As these are “living documents”, they will continue to be refined over the coming years. Furnishings are not part of the property maintenance plan. However, a materiel replacement plan will be developed prior to the end of the calendar year to address the replacement requirements for materiel (furnishings).

Documentation and Controls

5.3.14 In general, documentation and controls exist for the provision of basic maintenance and overall materiel management. Distribution Accounts, Leasing Agreements, Vehicle Logs, the Fine Art Agreement and the Gas Coupon system are up-to-date and signed by the appropriate CBS. The Contract Review Board (CRB) is active and keeps a well organized file of its involvement in Mission contracting. There are two areas for potential improvement of documentation and controls:

  • A review of Occupancy Agreements for all CBS should be conducted to ensure that all are signed by the Employer Representative and that Appendix A is completed and signed.
  • Disposal reports should be signed by the HOM, not the DMCO. Greater supporting documentation should be included in the Disposal Report File, such as disposal advertisements, copies of receipts, and IMS reports showing the summary of proceeds corresponding to the total of all sales, etc. In disposals involving IT equipment and donations, the Mission should ensure it follows departmental policy and receives necessary HQ approvals, as defined in Chapter 7 of the Materiel Management Manual, Volume 1.
Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.15 A review of Occupancy Agreements should be conducted and incomplete sections and signatures completed.

5.4.16 All staff involved in the disposal process should review Chapter 7 of the Materiel Management Manual, Volume 1, to ensure compliance in future disposals.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.15 This has been corrected.

5.4.16 This has been discussed at Section Staff Meetings and all staff are aware of the regulations associated with the disposal of Crown assets.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The MCO oversees the Finance function with the DMCO responsible for its day-to-day management. Both *** and are assisted by the Senior Accountant (LE-07), the Accountant (LE-05) and the Accounting Clerk (LE-04). Annually, the Mission handles approximately $7.4M of revenue, $7M from the CIC Program and the remainder from the Consular Program, and processes $900,000 in CIC refunds.

5.4.2 Appropriate processes and controls are in place as evidenced by:

  • Proper exercising of signing authorities;
  • Sufficient segregation of duties;
  • Up-to-date bank reconciliations, appropriately reviewed by management;
  • Routine monitoring and distribution of budgets to program managers;
  • Effective controls over the receipt and payment of funds; and,
  • Well organized files.

5.4.3 The majority of the Mission’s 3000 payment transactions are made via Electronic Fund Transfers (EFTs), with only six percent made by cheque. Duplicate entries are required for EFTs as IMS entries cannot be automatically downloaded to the banking system the Mission uses. Discussions were underway between the Mission and the Financial Management Services Division (SMFF) regarding the need for an IMS software reconfiguration to facilitate the download, but the Mission had not yet received an update. The Mission has been meeting with the bank to discuss options for streamlining the process, such as the use of a Canadian dollar account, direct deposit for Consular client revenue and blocking client internet payments.

5.4.4 CIC revenue is deposited offsite by clients into the second Korean won account. SMFF visited the Mission approximately three years ago to review the IMS account and POS+ reconciliation process and provided new guidelines to follow, to which the Mission is adhering. The Mission is still working to clear some outstanding reconciliations for the period prior to the installation of the new guidelines.

Recommendation to SMFF

5.4.5 SMFF should provide an update to the Mission on the status of the IMS software reconfiguration which would allow the download of information to the banking system.

SMFF Action and Timeframe

5.4.5 As of now, South Korea (KRW) is not one of the countries (currencies) that will have access to the Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) Standard Payments System (SPS). PWGSC is targeting the most popular currencies at the moment but SMFF is working closely with them to identify other countries and currencies who could benefit from this process. There is currently no timeline as to when this could happen.

5.4.6 While processes and procedures within the Section are appropriate, improvements could be made by implementing the following recommendations.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.4.7 The Program should propose revisions to the Mission’s internal country travel policy to the CMM in order to:

  • Define the capital region;
  • Establish a consistent structure regarding time period for meals; and,
  • Ensure that the requirement for travel authorization is clearly stated and adhered to by all staff.

5.4.8 To improve the process regarding petty cash, the Finance Section should:

  • Conduct periodic spot checks on petty cash accounts;
  • Remind staff that petty cash is to be used only for expenditures under the equivalent of $200; and,
  • Review the Senior Administration Assistant’s petty cash allocation to determine if an increase is required, to a maximum of $2,000, to streamline the reimbursement process.

5.4.9 The Mission should examine the feasibility of implementing quiet hours for the Finance Section.

5.4.10 To provide additional control to the bank reconciliation process, the original bank statement should be delivered to the MCO-DMCO directly, and not to the Finance Section.

5.4.11 Complete and provide to SMFF an updated banking survey.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.7 This has been implemented effective 1 September 2007.

5.4.8 Spot checks have been incorporated into the Mission Diary. Staff have been reminded to use petty cash for expenditures under the equivalent of $200. The Senior Administration Assistant’s petty cash has been increased to $2,000.

5.4.9 The Finance Section is now closed 08h00 – 09h00 and from 15h30 – 16h30.

5.4.10 Original bank statements are now delivered to the MCO.

5.4.11 This was completed in January 2007.

5.5 Information Technology (IT)

5.5.1 Information Management and Information Technology operations are carried out by the Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) (EL-05) and two Locally-engaged Information Technology Professionals (LEITP) at the LE-07 and LE-08 levels. The FSITP is also responsible for providing IT support to the Mission in Taipei. This regional duty occupies approximately one third of the FSITP's time and she visits the mission at least once per quarter, but ideally every two months. The FSITP enjoys a good working relationship with the MCO in Seoul along with the Client Support Regional Manager (CSRM) located in Singapore. This was strengthened by the CSRM's recent visit to the Mission just prior to the Audit.

5.5.2 Despite challenges in the past, ***. Formal communication takes place at the Section's weekly meetings however, informal, daily communication between the FSITP and the two LEITPs is encouraged in order to ***. While a large portion of the IT workload is responsive in nature due to requests from HQ or Mission staff, a written work plan with established objectives should be developed by the FSITP. This would further improve team dynamics and clarify expectations within the Section.

5.5.3 Given the upcoming move to the new chancery, a primary objective for the FSITP since arrival at post has been to assess the Mission's IT inventory, dispose of dated documentation and IT items that were either obsolete or not in accordance with departmental standards, as well as to organize all remaining files and equipment. This, along with the revision of the Octel system in Seoul and in the mission in Taipei, has been a major and necessary undertaking.

5.5.4 Infobank has not been rolled out at the Mission and staff are using a combination of public folders, the I:\ drive and their personal H:\ drives to store and share information. The Mission should review and establish a method to store and share information, based on a consistent file structure and naming protocols, to foster and promote knowledge sharing and efficiency.

5.5.5 The FSITP has been an active participant in the Business Continuity Plan and IT equipment has been installed at a secondary site to ensure back-up communications exist, should access to the Chancery be restricted in an emergency. All CBS have Direct Inward System Access (DISA) cards and Signet Remote Access (SRA) accounts exist for a number of key staff. The Mission has two Mini M satellite phones and two locally purchased handheld satellite phones.

5.5.6 In general, the Audit Team received positive comments from clients with respect to the level of service received from the IT Section. While no specific IT training plan exists, all incoming staff are offered IT orientation training and have access to one-on-one training upon request. Work orders arrive at a central IT inbox that is accessed by all members of the Section. A clear policy does not exist to determine responsibility for actioning, assigning or responding to requests. As a result, work orders are occasionally overlooked. The FSITP should establish a method within the Section to monitor and assign incoming work orders.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.5.7 The FSITP should increase the number of daily, informal exchanges with the two LEITPs in order to continue fostering *** further open lines of communication.

5.5.8 A written work plan with established objectives should be developed by the FSITP in order to clarify priorities and expectations for the Section's staff.

5.5.9 The Mission should establish a method and protocol for sharing information and ensure that it is communicated to all staff.

5.5.10 The FSITP should establish a method within the Section to monitor and assign incoming work orders arriving in the central IT inbox.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.7 Noted, and the IT team continues to increase informal daily communications.

5.5.8 A workplan has not yet been developed. However, each section of the Management Services Section will be requested to develop a workplan as part of an annual planning exercise. This plan will incorporate an IM/IT component. It is expected that this activity will be completed by the end of October 2007.

5.5.9 The Mission has a number of tools that it uses for the sharing of information. These tools include the use of the I-drive, Public Folders (in Outlook) and through a web-based Management Services Portal. Other sections have developed in-house methods for the sharing of information. The Mission continues to examine new and more efficient ways for sharing information and communicating it to all staff, such as the possible introduction of Crow Canyon Outlook Helpdesk and by holding new arrival briefings for all new staff.

5.5.10 To date, this has not been an issue and all incoming work orders into the central IT inbox have been actioned in a timely manner. However, the Mission will look at ways to ensure that appropriate response times continue to be met at all times.


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Date Modified:
2012-10-23