An audit of the Canadian Delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Vienna (VOSCE) was conducted during the period of January 23 to 30, 2006. The delegation was last audited in October 1996. The Canadian Embassy in Vienna and the Permanent Mission to the United Nations (VPERM) were also audited in January 2006, and are subject to a separate report.
The delegation is composed of six Canada-based Staff (CBS) and one Locally-engaged Staff (LES). Despite its limited resources with a lot of ground to cover, the Mission is running well and displays good coordination. Officers are faced with heavy workloads and competing priorities. Given that the Mission does not have the capacity to cover all aspects of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) work, including the numerous committee meetings, it is recommended that priorities be set in this regard. The Mission, in consultation with Headquarters (HQ) and other government departments (OGDs), should review its various fields of operation and establish priorities, given the resources available.
The delegation would benefit from Ministerial representation at annual OSCE meetings. Canada's last Ministerial attendance was three years ago. Since that time only senior officials from Ottawa and the Head of Mission (HOM) herself have led the Canadian delegation at these meetings.
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is an important contributor to human rights and democracy issues as they relate to the OSCE. While it makes substantial financial contributions, it does not have a representative assigned to the delegation. Given its importance and the impact on workload at VOSCE, it would be beneficial to the organization to have a CIDA representative assigned to the delegation.
A total of two audit recommendations are raised in the report; one is addressed to the Mission and one is addressed to Headquarters (HQ). Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the two recommendations, management has stated that both have been implemented.
The scope of the audit included a review of the VOSCE objectives, their delivery and management of the Mission. The Mission's administration functions were largely carried out by the bilateral Mission in Vienna, with whom VOSCE is co-located.
The audit objectives were to:
The focus and extent of on-site work was based on an assessment of materiality and related risk. This was done through communication with Headquarters (HQ) bureaux, including briefings by line management and the functional bureaux, review of relevant HQ and Mission documentation, and past audit findings, and an analysis of recurring trends and systemic issues.
Audit issues and lines of enquiry were further refined from information gathered through interviews with the Head of Mission (HOM), individual interviews with staff, and results of other documentation reviewed. The level of audit work for a given area was therefore based on issues and information identified and gathered at all levels: HQ, mission management, and mission operations.
|Assets||Crown Leased||Crown Owned|
|Chancery (VOSCE collocated with VIENN)||1||–|
|Financial Information 2004/05|
|Operating Budget (N001)||$96,197|
|Capital Budget (N005)||$500|
|CBS Salary Budget (N011)||$349,200|
|LES Salaries Budget (N012)||$59,600|
1.1.1 The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) employs some 440 people in its various institutions and around 3,000 in its field operations. The OSCE's 2005 budget amounted to approximately 168.6 million Euros. Almost 73% of this budget is directed towards field operations. With 55 member States from Europe, Central Asia and North America, the OSCE forms the largest regional security organisation in the world.
1.1.2 The Canadian delegation is composed of six CBS, including the HOM Assistant and one LES Registry Assistant. Despite its limited resources, it is a well-coordinated mission with a lot of ground to cover. The HOM is responsible for the overall coordination, with the military adviser covering essentially all military issues. The three other officers are assigned one of the three pillars of the overall mandate of the OSCE: politico-military cooperation, protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and economic and environmental dimensions, which include the monitoring of the financial aspect of the Canadian contribution.
1.1.3 Canada is the sixth largest contributor to the OSCE budget, contributing $13.5 million in 2005. CIDA has a cooperation agreement to channel extra funds ($7.28 million in 2004-2005) for projects within the OSCE's institutions and field missions. Each sector covered by the delegation members is considered an important instrument of Canadian foreign policy and rests at the forefront of Canada's International Policy Statement (IPS).
1.2.1 The delegation works very well despite the limited number of officers involved in a wide range of issues. Despite heavy workloads and competing priorities, there is *** among the various members of the delegation. Flexibility is part of their daily work, as officers are often required to cover for each other's responsibilities. There were, however, indications that burn-out and work-life balance issues are factors of concern. While staff indicated high levels of stress and uncertainty with respect to their ability to adequately cover their workloads, they also mentioned that the *** towards the demands on the delegation.
1.2.2 The HOM is *** and open communication. She is committed to defining individual responsibilities, regularly reviewing performances, and organizing weekly coordination meetings as well as an annual retreat for planning purposes. The annual Business Plan is also the result of team work.
1.2.3 Despite the fact that the work of the OSCE is at the centre of Canada's IPS, the Mission does not have the capacity to cover all aspects of the OSCE, including the numerous committee meetings. Priorities need to be set in this regard, given the resources available. It is the Audit Team's view that the delegation should determine such priorities and have them validated by HQ. At that time, resource requirements can be reviewed. The Mission is staffed with *** officers who, following a priority setting exercise, will be *** their load.
1.2.4 The Mission should review its various fields of operation to establish reasonable priorities. Such an exercise should be conducted in consultation with HQ and OGDs concerned, keeping in mind priority areas within the OSCE's activities and Canadian foreign policy objectives.
1.2.4 VOSCE welcomed this recommendation, as a priority setting exercise had already begun within the Mission. A VOSCE all day staff retreat was held on 13 February, 2006 (which had been planned before the ZIV visit) at which time, priorities were set in draft, and subsequently finalized. A draft of VOSCE priorities, based on the IPS, was sent to our HQ division, Defence and Security Relations Divison (IDR), and International Security Bureau (IDD), for discussion, and a March 2006 visit by the HOM to Ottawa for consultations permitted further discussion of priorities with main stakeholders in Ottawa. Subsequently, the change of Government meant that these priorities were reviewed, in the course of the year, as new Government policies became better known. While staff workload is still high, overtime dropped dramatically in 2006, due to a better examination of priorities and ongoing discussion about workloads. The one exception was the workload created by Canada's chairing of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation from September to December 2006, but strong HQ support with funding for extra, temporary staff cushioned this extra duty (see below). The setting of priorities is an ongoing process, as we continue the discussion with IDD and IDR, and other stakeholders on priorities. as a part of the Mission strategy process for 2007. VOSCE has also had ongoing discussions with CIDA regarding the possibility of having a CIDA programme officer within the VOSCE delegation.
1.2.5 It is to be noted that for a mission of such small size, Canada is seen as making a difference and highly regarded in the OSCE Secretariat as well as by other member States. Such Canadian presence places pressure on the delegation to remain more engaged than feasible with the number of officers at the Mission.
1.2.6 The OSCE provides opportunities to monitor activities in Central and Eastern Europe, where in a number of countries Canada does not have diplomatic representation.
1.2.7 Given the important contribution Canada is making to the OSCE, as well as its focus on some of the key issues of the IPS, efforts should be made by HQ to encourage more senior representation in the future (such as ministers) to the annual OSCE meeting, where a number of foreign ministers from participating countries are found in attendance. Canada was last represented at the Ministerial level three years ago. Since then, only senior officials from Ottawa and the HOM herself have led the Canadian delegation at these meetings.
1.2.8 CIDA has been making important financial contributions on human rights and democracy issues as they relate to the OSCE without having a representative assigned to the delegation. Discussions were underway with CIDA to have CIDA fund half of a position at the delegation, however this has not been confirmed. Given CIDA's interest, its substantial contribution and therefore the impact on workload at VOSCE, it would be highly desirable that a CIDA representative be assigned to the Mission.
1.2.9 Canada will be chairing the 2006 OSCE Forum on Security Cooperation where a number of initiatives will be proposed. In order to ensure an effective leadership role during this chairmanship, consideration should be given to supplement the Mission with additional resources for the duration of this period. A request has already been made by the Mission to hire an intern for four months. In addition, a support staff has been offered by the Department of National Defence (DND), if DFAIT is willing to pay for housing and provide per diems. If neither option is possible, HQ should consider sending an officer on temporary duty.
1.2.10 Consider providing additional resources to the delegation for the period of the Canadian chairmanship.
1.2.10 IDR provided the financial resources in August-December 2006, for the temporary duty of a Department of National Defence (DND) officer to assist VOSCE, as well as to hire a temporary officer *** for that same period, while DND provided the salary of the officer. The two additional staff allowed VOSCE to carry out the duties required of the Canadian Chair of the OSCE's Forum for Security Cooperation with *** Canada's reputation on political-military issues.
1.2.11 Administrative services are provided to VOSCE by the Administration Section of the Embassy (Vienna), which is co-located on the same floor as the delegation. Despite the proximity of offices between the two missions, staff raised concerns with respect to the level of service provided to VOSCE, which they did not feel was comparable to that provided to the Embassy. Recommendations to address capacity, communications and morale issues in the Administration Section have been made in the Vienna report and should help improve service delivery to the Embassy, the Permanent Mission to International Organizations (VPERM) and VOSCE.