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Audit of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei

PDF Version (101 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 Taipei from March2 to 8, 2007. The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT) was last audited in November 1997.

Overall, the CTOT is *** managed and is comprised of *** staff. A retreat held in October 2006 served as a valuable tool for management to develop strategic objectives for the coming year, serving as input into business plans and as a benchmark for performance measurement activities. Day-to-day operations are well supported by a comprehensive committee structure and an effective communication framework. With the foundation for program delivery secured, it is now time for management to focus its efforts externally to further develop networks and profile.

The GR Program is comprised of *** individuals who are *** working towards furthering Canada's objectives in Taiwan. The Team works closely with other sections to ensure that opportunities for inter-program cooperation are effectively leveraged. Given the high level of program funding, the Section's work is primarily driven by events and activities. While activities could generally be attributed to the objectives laid out in the country strategy, there is an opportunity to engage in a more formalized planning process to ensure that resources are allocated to initiatives based on strategic priorities. Such a planning process will facilitate the Program's goal to measure performance by establishing well defined objectives, planned activities and expected results. A review of the management of its public diplomacy grant funding indicated areas needing improvement to ensure compliance with the departmental Policy on Grants and Contributions.

Appropriate strategic focus, *** management, as well as *** staff have resulted in a functioning IBD Program that is favourably positioned to take advantage of the opportunities present in the Taiwanese market. The structure of the Program allows for effective horizontal management of files and a collaborative, integrated, and whole of government approach which also extends to cooperation with other programs in the CTOT. The dedicated Investment position and planning in the investment file reflect both Taiwan and Canada's identification of each other as investment priorities. The Director is currently preparing for his departure and, in consultation with his replacement, is examining possible modifications to the Program's structure to further enhance alignment with strategic priorities. As part of this process, the classification of the Investment position, currently an FS-02, should be examined given the nature and complexity of its responsibilities.

The Consular Program is extremely active and ranks fourth in the world for number of passport services delivered. Over the last 18 months, the Program has implemented a number of changes to improve client service and streamline systems and processes. Taiwan's presence in an earthquake prone region, combined with the estimated 25,000 Canadians living in the country, necessitates increased focus and attention on security and contingency planning. To ensure that plans are comprehensive and build upon past departmental experiences, the CTOT has been actively communicating with HQ with regards to lessons learned from the Lebanon evacuation.

The Administration Program provides *** support to the CTOT's programs and has focussed a significant amount of effort on addressing longstanding issues. The majority of staff in the Program are relatively new and this has required extra effort from the Management and Consular Officer (MCO) and the Deputy MCO to revamp procedures and coach staff. Staffing levels are now adequate with the exception of a Locally-engaged Staff (LES) Property Clerk, for which the CTOT has a business case to support the creation of this position. Upcoming priorities for the Program include providing support to the Physical Resources Bureau (SRD) in its search for a new chancery site and the development of a formalized mentoring program for the DMCO.

A total of 51 audit recommendations are raised in the Report; 50 are addressed to the CTOT 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 51 recommendations, management has stated that 42 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining nine recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Scope, Objectives, Resources

Audit Scope and Objectives

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

The audit objectives were to:

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

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

During the Audit, issues and lines of enquiry were further refined from information gathered through interviews with the Executive Director 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, CTOT management and CTOT operations.

CTOT Resources

Physical Resources
AssetsCrown LeasedCrown Owned
Chancery2 
Official Residence1 
Staff Quarters10 
Vehicles 4

Financial Information 2006/07

Table 2: CTOT Resources Fact Sheet Financial Information
Financial Information 2006/2007
Total$4,622,529
Operating Budget (N001)$ 2,559,445
Capital Budget (N005)133,210
CBS Overtime Budget (N011)20,000
LES Salary Budget (N012)1,909,874

Organization Chart

Organization Chart

Management of the CTOT

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei is a medium sized office with 12 Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 54 Locally-engaged Staff (LES). Canada's relationship with mainland China and the non-diplomatic status of the CTOT present unique challenges for the furthering of Canada's objectives in Taipei. Within these constraints, the CTOT is effectively delivering its programs in an effort to promote the development of substantive economic and cultural relationships.

1.1.2 The CTOT is ***l managed and appropriately resourced to deliver upon the strategic objectives outlined in its Country Strategy. Inter-program communication and cooperation is effective and supports the work of the Office as a whole. CTOT management has placed a great deal of emphasis on internal operations and has benefited from a *** complement of Canada-based and Locally-engaged staff. An all CBS retreat held in August 2007 helped set the strategic focus for CTOT's programs and served as valuable input to future performance management activities, Country Strategy preparations and International Business Development plans. With a solid foundation for program delivery, CTOT management should now focus its efforts externally to further develop networks and profile.

1.1.3 Since the arrival of the Executive Director in the fall of 2006, reinforcing strong internal communications has been made a priority. To this end, the Executive Director has met regularly with the LES Committee, chaired town-halls meetings, attended Program meetings and met with each staff member on an individual basis. To further enhance communication, the CTOT should consider adopting the best practice of distributing the minutes of the weekly Management Committee (CMM) meetings to all staff, as appropriate. CTOT management is further supported by a comprehensive committee structure, including Classification, Housing, Public Diplomacy Advisory, Security and Contingency Planning (which includes Public Health/Avian Flu), Occupational Health and Safety and a Contract Review Board. The CTOT has also designated an Official Language Champion and a Training Coordinator.

1.1.4 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, CTOT management was encouraged to be vigilant in fostering open communication with all staff, including LES, in order to ensure that any ethical dilemmas or potential harassment situations are reported at the outset before issues escalate. As a best practice, the CTOT should incorporate a values and ethics session each fall as part of their rotation process, so all staff (new and old) can be updated on policies and procedures. As noted in paragraph 5.3.14, the CTOT has developed a 'Receipt of Gifts' policy and created a central gift registry bringing consistency to managing this issue in an environment where gift giving is prevalent.

Recommendations to the CTOT

1.1.5 Minutes of the CMM meetings should be distributed, as appropriate, to all staff.

1.1.6 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 Canada-based Staff, to ensure all CBS and LES have a common understanding of the department's expectations regarding values and ethics in the workplace.

CTOT Actions and Timeframes

1.1.5 Effective September 2007, minutes of the CMM meetings will be distributed to all staff, where appropriate.

1.1.6 The importance of ethics and values were discussed at the last town-hall meeting in July 2007. Ethics and values will continue to be a topic of discussion in future town-hall meetings. The next meeting has been scheduled for November 2007.

General Relations Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The General Relations (GR) Program is managed by an FS-03 who is supported by a Political Officer (FS-02), two LE-07 officers and a LE-05 assistant. The Program operates within a unique and challenging environment, guided by a 'one China' policy. The strategic objectives related to the GR Program, as laid out in the Country Strategy, are to *** influence Taiwan's policy and program development in priority areas. While the nature of the relationship precludes formal diplomatic relations, the Program promotes the development of economic and cultural ties between Canada and Taiwan.

2.1.2 Activities and events play a pivotal role in operations and the Program is well supported by a Post Initiative Fund (PIF) of $47,500, Academic Grants for $25,000 and Cultural Grants for $15,000. Following the completion of the Audit, the Program's 2007/08 funding was decreased and includes a PIF budget of $20,000 and Academic Grants of $20,000. The Section's hospitality budget is $9,000 and $11,500 has been allocated for travel.

2.2 Management of the Program

2.2.1 The Program has an appropriate framework in place for managing staff. Communication within the Program is effectively managed via weekly all-staff meetings and supported by a good level of informal communication. Roles and responsibilities for all staff are clear, objectives have been set and performance appraisals are up-to-date.

2.2.2 Currently, the FS-02 Officer's time is largely dedicated to Academic Relations, particularly the administration of grants. While performing an important function, there is a need to expand the job package and place more emphasis on higher priority areas, such as political and economic reporting. The job package was reduced by the Program Manager (PM) ***. By allocating an appropriate level of responsibility and duties, the Mission will achieve better value-for-money for this position. In addition to reconstituting the full job package typical of an FS-02 officer, the PM should also work with the Officer to develop higher level objectives for Academic Relations and ensure that grants are leveraged appropriately. To achieve this, the current process for delivering grants at the CTOT will need to be streamlined, as discussed in section 2.5 of this report.

Recommendation to the CTOT

2.2.3 The PM should reconstitute the full range of duties for the FS-02 position.

CTOT Action and Timeframe

2.2.3 The duties of the occupant of the FS-02 position will be enhanced in second and subsequent years of assignment, beginning in September 2007.

2.3 Strategic Planning

2.3.1 The Section has a large amount of program funding and thus its focus is largely on activities. While activities are guided by CTOT priorities and can generally be linked to the Country Strategy, a formal planning process is not in place. The development of a plan would provide increased front-end strategic focus to guide the development and selection of activities, as well as improve the Program's ability to measure performance. This is important as the objectives laid out in the Country Strategy are broad and require further definition at the operational level to demonstrate how activities contribute to the overall objectives of the CTOT. This process would leverage aspects of the planning process which are already in place, such as the Academic Grants Plan and the Report on Public Diplomacy activities, and provide important linkages to the Country Strategy.

2.3.2 A strategic plan would also define what resources and activities will be leveraged in pursuit of those objectives, including staff, outreach, PIF, grants and hospitality. By formalizing this front-end planning process, the Section can ensure that activities undertaken not only address objectives based on priorities, but that they provide adequate coverage of all objectives. In areas where it is difficult to measure impact, such as policy and public diplomacy, it is important to set benchmarks and then measure your progress against planned activities and expected results.

Recommendation to the CTOT

2.3.3 The Section should undertake an annual planning exercise where strategic objectives are operationalized and the various resources available to the Program, including PIF, grants and hospitality, are allocated based on priorities.

CTOT Action and Timeframe

2.3.3 The GR Section recognizes the benefits of annual planning exercise and notes that detailed annual plans are already submitted for PIF expenditures, Canadian Studies grants and political reporting. The GR Section further notes that with budgets substantially more limited than at time of Audit, the objectives will be narrowed and the need to take advantage of unplanned and less expensive opportunities (primarily specialized visitors from Canada whose programs are initiated by and whose expenses are covered by others) that arise will become more important. This situation works against the implementation of an annual comprehensive strategic plan. Notwithstanding the above, the GR Section will undertake to develop an annual plan for the next planning cycle in March 2008.

2.4 Operations

2.4.1 Section operations are *** managed by the framework outlined in section 2.2.1. A reporting contract is also in place with the geographic which helps guide the Section's reporting activities. Discussion with various parties indicated that there is an opportunity to more narrowly define the current reporting contract and include a prominent provision for economic reporting. At present the majority of reporting focuses on political activities, however, the Executive Director intends to work with the GR Section to increase the focus on economic reporting. This is important as the interest in domestic politics is generally limited to its impact on cross-straight relations. Given Canada's large economic interest in Taiwan, economic issues represent an important opportunity for the Section to engage a wider audience.

2.4.2 There is a good level of communication and coordination between programs to ensure that all CTOT events are properly leveraged. At present, most communication occurs informally and open lines of communication exist between the LES officers and the IBD Program. With the forthcoming arrival of a new IBD PM, however, more formal arrangements may be required.

2.4.3 The Section also provides media monitoring for the CTOT. In order to provide better direction and reduce the media monitoring workload, the PM should regularly consult with other managers to determine each program's media monitoring requirements. At the time of the Audit, these activities were guided only by the Media Officer's prior understanding of the needs of various CTOT programs, which may not have reflected changing priorities or new information needs.

2.4.4 The Section is working to build synergies regionally and has leveraged events held by other missions in the region to further program objectives with minimal added cost to the Department. For example, the CTOT was able to coordinate with the mission in Manila to have some members of a Canadian aboriginal delegation extend their stay in Asia and add Taiwan to their tour. As resources for such activities are becoming scarce, missions will have to pursue more regionally coordinated activities to achieve common goals at reduced costs. The CTOT should, however, ensure that the decision to initiate or participate in regional activities is guided by the strategic plan recommended in 2.3.3.

2.4.5 Overall the hospitality diaries were completed *** and the evaluations of events were done ***. The PM treats the hospitality budget as a pooled resource rather than allocating it to Section staff based on priorities. Though the current pooled system functions well, the allocation of hospitality funds to officers would provide them with experience managing a budget and being held responsible for its effective use. In addition, the lack of a strategic allocation of hospitality resources creates the risk that resources may be used for non-priority activities. The Section should utilize a more strategic planning process, as discussed in section 2.3, to ensure that the allocation of hospitality funds reflects the strategic priorities of the Section and the CTOT.

Recommendations to the CTOT

2.4.6 The Section should work with the Executive Director and the East Asia Bureau (RPD) to more narrowly define reporting priorities and include the provision for increased economic reporting.

2.4.7 A more formalized inter-program communication process should be considered to ensure continued effective communication.

2.4.8 The Section should work with other program managers to define parameters for media monitoring to ensure activities are focussed on key priority areas.

2.4.9 The PM should allocate hospitality budgets to officers based on their responsibilities and priorities as set out in the strategic plan, as per recommendation 2.3.3.

CTOT Actions and Timeframes

2.4.6 Partly in conjunction with 2.2.3 above, a revised reporting contract that includes enhanced economic reporting was submitted to RPD in May 2007.

2.4.7 Good communication has already been established between GR PM and incoming IBD PM. Informal discussion occurs on daily basis and so we believe that more formal process is not required. All Mission PMs remain committed to the importance of continued good communication and cross-program coordination.

2.4.8 All program managers have already been directly solicited to provide input to the Media Officer. In response to the audit report, this notice was re-sent in June 2007 and will be sent again in the future. The GR Section commits to reporting on the number of relevant media articles provided to each section in a given month and solicit feedback on performance.

2.4.9 Allocations will be provided to each officer based on responsibilities and priorities, beginning in October 2007.

2.5 Delivery of Grants

2.5.1 A review of documents related to the delivery of academic and cultural grants was conducted during the Audit. While the review found that grant funding was being used for the intended purposes, deficiencies were identified in the management of the process. The issues identified related to the manner in which payments were being made to recipients and the documentation of program and project files. Improvements are required to ensure that projects are delivered at arms-length and that procedures comply with the Treasury Board (TB) Transfer Payment Policy (TPP) and the departmental Policy on Grants and Contributions.

2.5.2 In an effort to reinforce accountability, the general practice of the CTOT was to make payments to grant recipients based on the submission of receipts to substantiate the use of funds. Once the project has been formally approved, the TPP does not require grants to be accounted for. The CTOT's practice unnecessarily complicated the grant process and resulted in an increased administrative burden on the Program. In some cases, it also unintentionally led to practices that are not consistent with the TB Transfer Payment Policy. For example, a review of financial documentation revealed that in some cases a CBS paid a service provider directly for recipients expenses. It was explained to the Audit Team that this practice was followed to avoid having recipients wait extended periods of time for reimbursement. The CBS were subsequently reimbursed by the CTOT out of Vote10 funds. This practice is not in compliance with departmental policies as grants should be issued directly to the recipient at the time of project approval based on the payment plan.

2.5.3 The Program maintains financial documentation related to grants in a central location. Other documentation such as key communications with recipients and grant reports, however, were not maintained in a central program or project file. The Section should ensure that it creates and maintains central grant program and project files in-line with the guidelines specified in Appendix D and E of the departmental Policy on Grants and Contributions. The CTOT should also take advantage of the grant documentation templates available from the Centre of Expertise on Grants and Contributions housed within Headquarters Financial Services (SMFH).

2.5.4 In order to maintain a consistent approach to the process in the future, the Section should consider the inclusion of an LES in the grant program. This practice would improve continuity of program delivery over the long-term as many incoming CBS will not have experience managing a grant program.

Recommendations to the CTOT

2.5.5 The grant process should be restructured to ensure that projects are delivered at arm's length. The process should be consistent with departmental policy, should be documented, and approved by the Cultural Relations Bureau (PCD) and the Centre of Excellence.

2.5.6 An expanded LES role should be considered in the delivery of the grant program.

CTOT Actions and Timeframes

2.5.5 The grant process was restructured in accordance with departmental policy and GR Section has drafted new internal guidelines for the operation of the program that have been reviewed and approved by PCD, effective July 2007.

2.5.6 Given that direct GR involvement in the grant process has been curtailed as per 2.5.5, there is less scope for an expanded LES role in the delivery of the program. There has always been an essential role for LES staff both in the administration and the implementation of the program and this will continue.

International Business Development Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The International Business Development Program is managed by a Director (EX-01), whose team includes three CBS Trade Commissioners (FS-03 and two FS-02s), five LES Trade Commissioners, and four Commercial Assistants. The Program is divided into three sector-based teams: Investment and Innovation, Advanced Technology, and Natural Resources. Each team is headed by a CBS Deputy Director. Included in the Natural Resources team is a CBS position funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), to which two LES officers and one Assistant report. Appropriate strategic focus, *** management, as well as *** staff have resulted in an *** functioning Program.

3.1.2 Taiwan is Canada's 16th largest export market, with total Canadian merchandise exports valued at $1.39 billion in 2006. Despite a relatively small population of 23 million, its per capita GDP and household disposable income are among the highest in Asia, and presents an attractive market for Canadian consumer goods, agri-food products, services, foreign education and travel. While strong across a broad range of sectors, Taiwan is best known for its electronics industry and the significant role it plays in global supply chains. A strong innovation infrastructure exists in Taiwan and Canadian engagement occurs at the academic, business and governmental levels. The National Research Council's largest science and technology relationship outside of North America is with Taiwan. While two-way investment is not large, there is a steady flow of investment prospects, largely from Taiwan's dynamic small and medium enterprise (SME) sector. Though a number of prominent Canadian companies have an in-country presence, the majority are managed locally by Taiwanese.

3.2 Strategic Planning

3.2.1 The Program has an integrated approach to planning, with all staff participating in the process. Plans reflect a whole-of-government approach and include regional offices in Canada as well as cooperation with other missions in the region. The Executive Director provides feedback and input into the planning process at a high level. The innovation and investment files are effectively integrated into the Program, aided by the assignment of one CBS with overall responsibility for these files and collaboration within the team itself. Planning in the investment file reflects Taiwan's inclusion in Canada's list of 25 priority markets for investment attraction and promotion, as well as Canada's inclusion on the Taiwanese government's "Global Deployment Initiative" of 20 priority countries for further investment.

3.2.2 The priority sectors identified by the team include aerospace and defence, agri-food, building products, life sciences, and information and communication technologies (ICT), with secondary sectors of educational services, environment, and seafood. In most areas, the Program recognized that more proactive work could be done and that this should be a priority for the future. Several market access issues are currently being followed by the Program, the most critical of which is the ban on Canadian beef due to mad cow disease (BSE).

3.3 Management of the Program

3.3.1 The Director is an *** manager providing appropriate direction to staff. He has maintained a *** working environment within the Program and staff ***. Communication was *** good, with weekly meetings and frequent ad hoc interaction with the Director and between sector teams as necessary. Inter-program cooperation is frequent and has led to many successful CTOT initiatives, such as the Taipei 101 event which effectively leveraged innovative Canadian technology in pursuit of public diplomacy objectives. Given his upcoming rotation in the summer of 2007, the Director is currently preparing for his departure and the transition process for his replacement.

3.3.2 As part of the transition process, the Director, in consultation with his replacement, is examining possible modifications to the structure of the Program to better align it with priorities. Both FS-02 positions will rotate this summer as well, and with some upcoming temporary LES absences, it is an opportune time to evaluate the Program structure and plan for the future. Overall, the distribution of priority sectors is logical and fits well with the current structure. As a result, the proposed changes represent fine-tuning as opposed to major reform within the Program. One proposal is to move the education marketing responsibilities (a secondary priority) currently under the Director's portfolio to the CBS Officer in the Advanced Technologies Team, and shift the majority of ICT work to the LES Officer. The Director has created a case for these changes with appropriate rationale. However, the impacts of these changes and implementation will need to be carefully considered, and should be the final decision of the incoming Director who will ultimately be responsible for the results.

3.3.3 Financial and human resources are appropriate for the Program given the stated priorities and workload. The Program's budget includes $72,000 for the Client Service Fund, $23,000 for Travel, and $33,000 for Hospitality. The Agriculture and Agri-Food position has a separate budget for operations and hospitality from that department. In the last two quarters of the 2006-2007 fiscal year, the Program faced a small deficit in its overtime budget. Ongoing monitoring of the budget by the Director is necessary to identify budgetary issues before deficits arise. With respect to overtime, the majority was generated by AAFC staff, given that Section's high level of sectoral events. The Director and the AAFC CBS Officer are looking at ways to secure additional funding for this type of overtime.

Recommendations to the CTOT

3.3.4 The Program should ensure that a clear implementation plan is in place for any structural or sectoral responsibility changes. The incoming Director should be involved where appropriate.

3.3.5 The Director should actively monitor the Program budget.

CTOT Actions and Timeframes

3.3.4 The outgoing and incoming commercial program managers have jointly reviewed the sectoral division of labour between officers in the Section, agreed on a number of small changes, and, following consultation with the Executive Director, implemented these in August 2007.

3.3.5 Program budgets (CSF, Travel, Hospitality, LES Overtime and special budgets such as that received for APGCI (Asia Pacific Gateway Corridor Initiative) initiatives) are reviewed by the Program Manager on a quarterly basis. In addition to budgetary records kept by the Administration Section in IMS, the Assistant to the Commercial Program Manager has put in place a system which tracks ongoing CSF, Travel and Hospitality expenditures by officer and sector. The Program Manager will continue to track LES Overtime budgets closely each quarter on the basis of reports produced by the Administration Section.

3.4 Operations

3.4.1 The teams have a collaborative approach to their sectors and, in addition to working with the staff responsible for investment and innovation, individual team members actively look for opportunities to share resources and capabilities. Resources at HQ are well used, as are opportunities for regional cooperation with other missions in the region, which is especially important given the limited trade missions and events that occur in Taiwan. The Program also keeps the co-located Alberta and Quebec offices up-to-date and informed of key activities.

3.4.2 The Program received TRIO in February 2007 shortly before the Audit and staff were still adjusting to the new software. However, staff were committed to using the new contact management system and learning how to adapt former methods of tracking. In particular, tracking and analysing the performance metrics the Program uses to monitor its results will need to be tailored to the new software. The Program plans to seek advice from missions in the region already using TRIO on how this can be accomplished. During the first several months, the Director should continue to encourage TRIO usage and provide training where necessary until it becomes a reflex for staff.

3.4.3 The Program has a modified InfoCentre in place, responsible for handling incoming enquiries and communicating with HQ. The duties are split between the Program Manager Assistant and the Trade Commissioner Assistant (Advanced Technology team). *** communication takes place between these two positions resulting in an InfoCentre that operates smoothly. With the implementation of TRIO, however, some InfoCentre practices may need to be revisited.

3.4.4 A human resources issue that requires examination is the classification of the Investment and Innovation position. The position is classified as FS-02, though the incumbent is an FS-03, as were two of the previous incumbents. Given the horizontal nature of the position, complexity of activities, and management responsibility for three staff, the position should be examined to ensure that the level is appropriate. A detailed analysis was not performed during the Audit, but the current circumstances warrant that one should be performed by Management.

Recommendation to the CTOT

3.4.5 The Program should examine the classification of the Investment and Innovation position, and prepare a business case to support a change in level if deemed appropriate.

CTOT Action and Timeframe

3.4.5 CTOT's management has examined the responsibilities of the Investment and Innovation position and has prepared a job description that was forwarded to Global Operations and Chief Trade Commissioner's (WMM) office for consideration in May 2007. The expanded responsibilities and increased complexity of the position were reflected in the job description. The CTOT will include a request for reclassification from FS-02 to FS-03 in the next update of the Mission's Country Strategy in January 2008.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Management/Consular Officer (MCO) is responsible for the Consular Program, with day-to-day supervision exercised by the Deputy MCO (DMCO). The Consular team also includes a Consular Officer (LE-07), two Consular Assistants (LE-06 and LE-04) and two Passport Examiners (LE-05). The Program is extremely busy and is the fourth largest passport processor outside of Canada, providing approximately 5,200 passport services each year. The CTOT also delivers, on average, 480 citizenship and 1,250 notarial requests per year.

4.1.2 *** supported by regular informal communication, facilitated by a common work area near the offices of the MCO and DMCO. Formal communications also take place via bi-weekly meetings. The Program is working *** and several changes have been implemented in the past 18 months to improve client service, reduce workloads and streamline systems and processes. These include the:

  • Addition of two LES full-time equivalent (FTEs) positions;
  • Redefinition of roles and responsibilities within the team;
  • Expansion and reconfiguration project to improve the physical layout of the Consular Section and waiting area;
  • Acquisition of a Queuematic system to facilitate improved management of clients in the waiting area; and,
  • Alteration of service hours to allocate time for application processing.

4.1.3 The CTOT has also recently made attempts to increase the amount of client feedback it receives by distributing survey forms to clients at the time of service. In an effort to further improve feedback on services provided and to enhance reporting to HQ, the Program should also display the client survey forms in the waiting area. The Program should also ensure that consular and passport service standards are prominently displayed in both official languages. A challenge noted by staff in delivering services is the inability of some Canadian clients to communicate in either official language, thus requiring staff to translate key documents into Mandarin.

4.1.4 The CTOT has been operating under the Mission Passport Print Solution (MPPS) since February 2006. This new system functions smoothly with printed passports arriving from Canada well within the 15-day service standard. Either the MCO or DMCO approves applications after having viewed original documentation. In cases where applications need to be returned for further processing, the rationale behind the rejection needs to be communicated to the LES so that they are in a position to learn and identify problems with new applications.

4.1.5 The CTOT's passport inventory is verified on a monthly basis and Program assets are appropriately secured. The monthly reconciliation was, however, only being completed by one CBS. Two CBS should always be present during the monthly reconciliation, including the Executive Director on a quarterly basis. Due to the high volume of passports issued and the related high levels of working stock, the Section should conduct daily passport stock reconciliations and ensure that official receipts are used when transferring funds within the Section. Incomplete passport applications should be returned to clients in their entirety so as to minimize the use of file space and the Department's liability for retention of identification documents.

4.1.6 The Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) system indicates there are 720 Canadians registered in Taiwan (out of an estimated 25,000) with a warden network of 21 individuals. The CTOT plans to continue expanding the warden network and to hold a warden conference in May 2007. The MCO and DMCO have developed a good local contact network and, when opportunities arise, should include Consular staff in outreach and hospitality events to improve the LES' contact base. Due to the large expatriate population, cross-strait relations with mainland China and Taiwan's presence in an earthquake-typhoon region, the CTOT is interested in the lessons learned from the Lebanon crisis in order to refine its Consular Contingency Plan and has been communicating with Emergency Services (CNE) on this matter. The Mission noted a desire for greater central leadership from the Consular Affairs Bureau (CND) and the possible exploration of regional contingency planning, particularly when involving like minded countries or military support.

4.1.7 As with other missions, the Section expressed a desire for increased training and more comprehensive contact lists in order to better provide citizenship services on behalf of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). These requests were provided to the CND following the Audit.

Recommendations to the CTOT

4.1.8 The CTOT should clearly display client survey forms in the waiting area in an effort to increase client feedback.

4.1.9 Consular and passport service standards, in both official languages, should be displayed in the waiting area.

4.1.10 The rationale for returning passport applications to Consular staff for further processing should be clearly indicated on the application to ensure that appropriate actions are taken.

4.1.11 Monthly reconciliation should be conducted by two CBS and include the Executive Director on a quarterly basis.

4.1.12 The CTOT should limit the retention of incomplete passport applications.

4.1.13 Daily reconciliation of the passport working stock should be conducted.

4.1.14 Consular staff should use official receipts when transferring funds internally within the Section.

4.1.15 When opportunities arise, the CTOT should include the LES Consular staff in hospitality events and out-calls in order to augment and to maintain key local contacts (i.e., government officials, police, etc.).

CTOT Actions and Timeframes

4.1.8 Client survey forms are now clearly displayed in the consular waiting area. A locked feedback deposit box has been installed for clients to anonymously deposit completed forms. Starting April 2007, consular employees have been distributing feedback forms to every client and have been actively soliciting their feedback.

4.1.9 Effective August 2007, consular and passport service standards are now clearly displayed in the consular waiting area in both official languages.

4.1.10 Effective August 2007, the rationale for returning passport applications to consular staff for further processing are clearly indicated on the PPT038. Prior to this, the practice was to either provide verbal explanations to the employees as to the reasons for the rejection of the files or affix a post-it note on the files indicating the reasons.

4.1.11 Starting July 2007, monthly reconciliations of passport inventories are being conducted by two CBS. The Executive Director always conducted the quarterly reconciliations as per the guidelines and will continue doing so in the future.

4.1.12 In March 2007, the Passport Examiners were reminded of the Consular Section policy implemented in October 2005 which required consular employees not to accept or retain incomplete passport applications except for exceptional circumstances, mostly when the applicants were coming from the South of the Island and this would have required them to come back to Taipei, incurring significant costs in the process. These exceptions were allowed in order to provide better client services to the clients living far from Taipei City. The DMCO has been monitoring compliance with the policy more closely since.

4.1.13 Starting August 2007, passport working stocks have been reconciled daily by the Passport Manager and another staff within the Consular Section.

4.1.14 Official receipts are used when transferring funds internally within the Section, effective August 2007.

4.1.15 Ever since the serious staffing shortage problem in the consular section was resolved in August 2006, when appropriate to do so, the MCO and DMCO have included the appropriate consular employees in their official hospitality visits and Mission events. Meetings with the National Immigration Agency, Taipei Police, Prison and Hospital officials including consular LES have occurred at numerous occasions during that period.

In addition, since September 2005, both the LES Consular Officer and the Passport Manager have been provided with hospitality funds to meet regularly with their counterparts from other missions in order to enhance our LES consular network and our useful contacts network.

Later this fall, a meeting has been planned with the National Immigration Agency. Both consular LES and CBS will attend this meeting. In addition, staff from other like-minded missions has been invited to this meeting. This will give us an opportunity to meet and to develop and maintain relationships with the local authorities and those from friendly missions.

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Administration Program is managed by the MCO (AS-06) who is supported by the DMCO (AS-04), both of whom arrived at the CTOT in the summer of 2005. Since their arrival, the focus has been on addressing longstanding issues related to insufficient resourcing in the Consular Section, maintenance deficiencies in the Chancery, Annex and Staff Quarters (SQs), inadequate staffing of the Property Section, and the updating of the LES Handbook and pension package. The Mission cited time consuming ad hoc requests from HQ, with tight deadlines, as a major challenge to overcoming these issues. Upcoming priorities, identified by the MCO, include security and contingency planning, and providing support to the Physical Resources Bureau (SRD) in its search for a new chancery site.

5.1.2 The Program is *** managed and *** improvements have been made since the new CBS team arrived. The introduction of a number of policies, filing systems and processes which had not existed prior to the MCO's arrival have greatly improved the general administration of the CTOT as well as the Program's capacity to deliver services to its clients (e.g. the required use of Purchase Orders (POs), preparation of SQ Distribution Accounts and the creation of a central gift registry).

5.1.3 Since his arrival, a major focus for the MCO has been the training and coaching of Program staff, who, with the exception of the Finance Section, all have less than three years of experience in their positions at the CTOT. While awaiting the scheduling of departmental courses in Canada for LES through the Canadian Foreign Service Institute, the MCO made arrangements to send two staff members to a regional mission for on-the-job training from subject matter experts. This is an *** initiative. Given that the DMCO has worked primarily on consular and property activities, the MCO should develop a formal mentoring and development plan, with incremental increases in responsibility, to ensure that the DMCO is exposed to the full range of MCO activities prior to their departure from the post.

5.1.4 The heavy involvement of both the MCO and DMCO in managerial and non-managerial administrative tasks has led to a significant amount of overtime. This was particularly true for consular and property/materiel related work, as LES staffing levels within these sections were inadequate. While the Consular Program has since been staffed appropriately with the creation of two new LES positions, the Property/Materiel Section has contracted an emergency employee Property Clerk on a routine basis to assist with the workload (see Physical Resources Section 5.3.2). As LES gain more experience with their work and staffing levels within Sections become adequate, the overtime required by the MCO and DMCO should diminish.

5.1.5 Communications within the Program are good, with weekly Property meetings, weekly Consular meetings and continuous informal sessions and feedback between the MCO and Program staff. Objectives and expectations are clear, and staff appreciate the accessible and approachable management structure within the Program. *** within the Program, given the relatively recent more manageable workload and training provided to LES, ***.

Recommendation to the CTOT

5.1.6 The MCO should develop a formal development plan for the DMCO, with incremental increases in responsibility, to ensure that the Officer is exposed to the full range of MCO activities prior to their departure from the post.

CTOT Action and Timeframe

5.1.6 The MCO has been adjusting the workload and the exposure of the DMCO to the different aspects of the MCO curriculum ever since she arrived at the Mission in August 2005. This was done informally up to now and took into consideration the heavy workload and the shortage of resources in the section.

Now that the workload and most resources issues have been resolved in July 2007, the MCO is committed to develop a formal training plan for the DMCO in the next few months to cover the few areas to which she has not been exposed to since her arrival. The plan will be implemented in September 2007.

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 The Human Resources function is overseen by the MCO who is supported by the Personnel Manager (LE-07). The Personnel Manager, while relatively new to the position has developed a number of *** initiatives including the preparation of a flowchart detailing the Non-Residency and Tax Waiver process for Canadian LES as well as the *** attendance at a local labour course to gain an understanding of local market practices. Plans were also in place for her to attend the ***.

5.2.2 The Performance Management Program (PMP) has been rolled out at the CTOT and, with few exceptions, staff receive appraisals on an annual basis. The Personnel Manager has an *** system to track outstanding appraisals and remind PMs when salary increments are coming due for LES. She sends individual messages to LES advising them of changes to their salary due to increment increases. While not all job descriptions are up to date, the MCO is aware of this and the Personnel Manager is working with PMs to update these. A list to track the completion of outstanding job descriptions has been created.

5.2.3 There is a strong and active committee structure within the CTOT. The Classification Committee has reviewed six reclassifications in the past year and its files are well documented with evident involvement of the Executive Director. The Occupational Health and Safety Committee maintains a record of its minutes and submits annual reports on time. This Committee should meet nine times per year as per the policy outlined in the Canadian Labour Code - Part II.

5.2.4 An Official Language Champion and a Training Coordinator have been designated, although the MCO remains the primary contact for issues relating to both of these topics and has taken on the bulk of these duties. A learning strategy document has been developed but no formal training plan exists to allow for coordination of training efforts and assist in prioritizing needs and identifying funding requirements.

5.2.5 The LES Committee meets at least four times per year and the Executive Director, MCO and Personnel Manager attend these meetings. A number of issues were raised by the Committee during the Audit Team's visit, many of which were related to changes made in the recently updated LES Handbook (April 2006). Given that these changes (the deletion of the annual health check and the change in sick leave policy) were based on local market data and regulations, the Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD) will not be re-evaluating the changes at this time. Salary data from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Hay Management Group (HAY) do not exist for Taiwan and this is another concern for employees who feel that the current salary markers are not the best indicators of the local market. Just prior to the Audit, the MCO had approached HLD to inquire as to whether Mercer data would be acceptable for salary comparisons, and is now awaiting their response.

5.2.6 The policy regarding emergency employment and term employment was *** understood by Human Resources staff. Letters of offer are signed by the Executive Director and all unsuccessful candidates receive written notification of the results of the competition. Letters to internal unsuccessful candidates should also include a clause explaining the right to grieve and copies of these letters should be added to the competition file. While documentation (scoring and selection process, resumes, recommendations, etc.) exists, it was not organized in a single competition file which made it difficult to review one staffing process from start to finish. A file should be created for each competition and should include all documentation relevant to the selection process.

5.2.7 Personnel files were present, but not organized in a clear and coherent structure, with documents being kept on the Personnel Manager's *** and some in separate paper files. It was also noted that security documentation was interspersed with personnel documents. The spreadsheet developed and used by the Personnel Manager to track LES overtime and leave is complicated and not user-friendly for PMs. Departmental training in Canada will assist the Personnel Manager in managing and structuring her documentation and files.

5.2.8 In the past two years, there has been little interest by CBS spouses for the Community Coordinator (CC) position due to low contract amounts and restrictive contract dates as mandated by the CC program at missions abroad. As a result, management has come up with creative alternatives to provide this service (position-sharing with the Australian Embassy and the short-term hire of a part-time summer student). If there continues to be no interest in the CC position by CBS spouses, the CTOT will likely need to re-examine alternative solutions which do not fall under the generic CC program and are, therefore, not reimbursed by the Foreign Service Directives, Policy and Administration Division (HEF). HEF should review the current CC program and its restrictions in order to accommodate alternative solutions, recognizing that the needs of missions vary based on internal and external environments and require a more flexible approach.

Recommendations to the CTOT

5.2.9 The HR Section should continue its efforts to update all job descriptions.

5.2.10 The OHS Committee should meet nine times per year as per the Canada Labour Code, Part II.

5.2.11 A formal, CTOT-wide training plan should be developed to coordinate training efforts, prioritize needs and identify funding requirements.

5.2.12 Competition files should be maintained and include all documentation relevant to the job announcement and selection process.

5.2.13 Letters to internal unsuccessful candidates should include an explanation of their right to grieve and copies should be placed in the competition file.

5.2.14 Personnel files should be organized as per departmental guidelines.

CTOT Actions and Timeframes

5.2.9 As of August 2005, the majority of the LES job descriptions had not been reviewed and/or approved by the Classification Committee in the timeframes required by the regulations. At that time, the Mission developed a schedule to have all the job descriptions reviewed and approved within the following 2-3 years. Only a few job descriptions still need to be reviewed and we expect that this will be completed by March 2008.

5.2.10 The OHS Committee has scheduled nine meetings in the coming calendar year as per the Canada Labour Code and will keep doing so in the future.

5.2.11 The Mission always had an informal training plan and training was provided on a regular basis as requirements arose. The Mission is now developing a formal training plan which will be implemented at the latest in October 2007.

Training on oral communication, effective presentations, team building, time management, client services and supervision of staff will be provided by a professional trainer in the first week of September 2007.

5.2.12 Effective March 2007, competition files contain all the documentation relevant to competition, including the job announcement and selection process.

5.2.13 Effective August 2007, the message sent to unsuccessful internal candidates includes an explanation of the right to grieve and a copy of the message is placed in their personnel files.

5.2.14 Personnel files are now organized as per the departmental guidelines. Security files are kept separate from the individual files.

Recommendation to HEF

5.2.15 HEF should review the current Community Coordinator program and its restrictions in order to accommodate alternative solutions when the needs of a mission are not met by the typical program.

HEF Action and Timeframe

5.2.15 A new Community Coordinator Program was launched as a pilot in 2006. The length of the contract was limited to six months, to maximize coverage over the period of the relocation and integration period when families are in most need of assistance (six months during the period May/June to Oct/Nov). Although the contract length was reduced, the funding stayed the same, i.e. the compensation for the coordinator did not decrease. Occasionally missions feel coordinators are required for duties not strictly within the Coordinator's role. HEF will need to determine whether to meet and how best to fund these needs. HEF will review the pilot based on the results of a consultant's assessment (summer 2007) to determine whether it meets program objectives and with a view for possible enhancements for next fiscal year.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The Physical Resources Section is managed on a daily basis by the DMCO with support from the Property Manager (LE-07), and an emergency employee acting as a Property Clerk. Oversight and strategic direction is provided by the MCO. Since their arrival in the summer of 2005, the MCO and DMCO have made a great deal of progress addressing specific property deficiencies. These projects include *** the air intake project at the Annex, Official Residence (OR) renovations, and general repairs to the Chancery and SQs.

5.3.2 A major challenge facing the Program is a lack of corporate memory. The Section has had three LES Property Managers in the last year and a half and previous file structures have not adequately supported the maintenance and transferring of corporate memory. As a result, a significant amount of overtime was required by both the MCO and DMCO to support the Program. With the hiring of the most recent Property Manager and the emergency employee Property Clerk, workloads have diminished and client satisfaction has improved. The MCO has requested the creation of a permanent Property Clerk position, which is supported by the Audit Team. This request has been recognized as a priority by the Geographic Bureau (RPD) and the CTOT is now waiting for a response from senior departmental management (RGM).

5.3.3 The next major property project for the CTOT will be the identification of a new chancery site that will bring all operations together under one roof. The current working environment at the Annex, while improved due to recent maintenance projects, continues to be the major source of discontent for employees. Bringing the CTOT together into one location will foster integration between CIC employees and the rest of the staff, eliminate feelings of isolation, reduce the property workload related to managing two offices, and address a number of other unpleasant environmental conditions (rodents, odours, air intake issues, etc.). A visit by the Property Strategy Section (SRSK) in late 2006 initiated the chancery search process and the intent is to locate a building that meets Taipei's earthquake related structural integrity and design standards. Given the significant issues surrounding the current Chancery/Annex set-up, the Audit Team strongly supports SRSK's intent to negotiate and sign a deal for a new site prior to the end of December 2007. This is a critical deadline that should be pursued in consultation with the Regional Security Abroad Division (ISRA) to facilitate a move from the current buildings at the earliest opportunity.

5.3.4 The MCO is planning to send the LES Property Manager to HQ for the in-Canada classroom course for Property and Materiel Managers at the first opportunity in order to fully equip him with the knowledge required for his duties. Through the Performance Management Program (PMP) process, the DMCO should ensure that the Property Manager is aware of his objectives and priorities for the year, as well as who his direct supervisor is and who will be conducting his appraisal.

5.3.5 The DMCO and, where appropriate, the Property Manager, should 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 Property staff.

Recommendations to the CTOT

5.3.6 A training plan should be developed for the Property Manager. This should include property training provided by the Canadian Foreign Service Institute.

5.3.7 The DMCO should be more involved in the day-to-day operations of the Property Section and provide increased coaching to the Property Manager.

5.3.8 The DMCO should clarify the Property Manager's objectives and priorities for the year, and clarify reporting relationships and responsibility for the appraisal process.

5.3.9 The DMCO and, where appropriate, the Property Manager should develop a network with other Property Staff in like-minded missions.

CTOT Actions and Timeframes

5.3.6 The DMCO in consultation with the MCO will develop a training plan for the Property Manager by the end of November 2007. The Property Manager is on the list for the next available in-Canada property training.

5.3.7 The DMCO has been in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Property Section since August 2005. However *** of the DMCO, a significant workload in the passport section which required her attention *** and staffing issues in the Property Section forced the MCO to temporarily assume the bulk of the property duties in the first year. With the resolution of the problems after the first year, the MCO was able to gradually delegate the duties back to the DMCO. She has been able to assume the full supervision of the day-to-day work of the Property Section since the month of December 2006. She has been providing increasing coaching to the Property Manager since.

The MCO has also been providing coaching ever since the Property Manager was hired in August 2006.

With the proper training in Ottawa when available and the implementation of the training plan, the Property Manager should be well equipped ***.

5.3.8 In the context of the PMP exercise in June 2007, the DMCO and the Property Manager discussed his objectives and priorities for the year and reporting relationship were clarified. The Property Manager is basically reporting directly to the DMCO now that she assumed the full supervision of the position.

5.3.9 The DMCO and Property Manager have made contact with property personnel of like-minded missions *** in order to discuss subject of common interests such as reliable suppliers, SQ rental availability and procurement.

Strategic Planning and the Property Portfolio

5.3.9 To date, the long-term SQ property strategy has been shaped predominantly by the MCO. The MCO plans to use the upcoming departure of CBS as an opportunity to upgrade to newer and better maintained buildings. From the sample of SQs visited by members of the Audit Team, residences are adequate and those with ongoing maintenance issues (e.g. SQ 5280054) are targeted for disposal. Aside from the OR, the sole representational SQ possesses an awkward lay-out and is not well-suited for hospitality functions. Given that it is also targeted for disposal upon departure of the current occupant, the CTOT should ensure that any future representational housing appropriately facilitates in-home hospitality. For exposure and training purposes, the MCO plans to increase the involvement of the DMCO this posting season in the SQ property strategy and acquisition process.

5.3.10 The Housing Committee is seen to be dormant by several CBS and is not heavily involved in the housing decision process. While the Audit Team was able to review a series of email communications on SQ accommodation, it was not possible to follow the entire acquisition and allocation process, nor the rationale for the Housing Committee's recommendations to the Executive Director. Discussions with the MCO indicated that the Mission followed the suggested process for housing acquisition and allocation, however, without complete documentation, it is difficult for the process to be seen as fair and transparent. To avoid possible future complaints of inequity, the role of the Housing Committee should be strengthened, a clear mandate established and minutes of their meetings taken and made available to all CBS staff upon request.

Documentation and Controls

5.3.11 Within the past year, significant efforts have been made to update documentation and implement a filing structure in the Property and Materiel Section. Occupancy agreements, leasing agreements, vehicle logs, the Fine Art Agreement and the Gas Coupon system are up-to-date and signed by the appropriate CBS. Distribution accounts exist for each property and should be signed and dated by the current occupant.

5.3.12 A system exists to track work orders but a number of modifications could be made to increase client satisfaction, such as an acknowledgement of the request and regular status updates showing target completion dates for repairs. A *** initiative by the LES Property Manager has been to prepare a weekly agenda to outline priorities, which is shared with the DMCO and MCO at the weekly property meeting. The DMCO should be *** monitoring and following up on outstanding work orders, in addition to the weekly agenda of the Property Manager.

5.3.13 The Property Manager's current work and file organization methods are labour intensive and paper-heavy. ***, this will likely be addressed. Until such time, the DMCO should work with the Property Manager to streamline his processes. The Team did note a *** practice in place at the CTOT in which the Property Manager develops an annual inspection plan for SQ and Chancery maintenance and completes a checklist during each visit.

5.3.14 Many internal CTOT policies have been developed and communicated to staff since the MCO's arrival, such as the Use of Official Vehicles and the Receipt of Gifts. In particular, the Receipt of Gifts policy is an *** initiative to assist staff in complying with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service, recognizing that Taiwan is a gift-giving society. All gifts with a value over 500NT ($17) must be donated to a central gift registry maintained by the Administrative Assistant. Gifts in the registry are periodically auctioned off to staff and earnings are donated to a local charity. The MCO or Executive Director should conduct spot checks on the gift registry file to provide proper oversight of this practice.

5.3.15 The Contract Review Board (CRB) is active and takes its role seriously. The CRB has a clear mandate which has been well communicated to all sections. All contracts over $5,000 or involving a CBS spouse must pass through the CRB for review and approval. CRB documentation was complete and well organized. All contracts are entered into the Materiel Management (MM) module in IMS by either the Property Manager or the Administrative Assistant, depending on the nature of the contract or purchase order.

5.3.16 A review of the documentation on the auction held in January 2007 indicated that the CTOT did not adhere to the disposal rules outlined in Chapter7 of the Materiel Management Manual, Volume One. Disposals should be public events and not restricted to CTOT staff only. Sealed bids should be opened by at least two employees, one of whom must be a CBS. The disposal report should be signed by the Executive Director and show the amount received for the disposal process. All supporting documentation, including disposal of IT assets, (advertisements, sealed bids, copies of receipts, IMS disposal report, etc.) should be included with the disposal report in the disposal file. Particular attention should be given to donations to ensure that appropriate approvals have been given for the donation prior to the disposal process.

Recommendations to the CTOT

5.3.17 Future representational housing should be selected to ensure the lay-out facilitates in-home hospitality, where required as per departmental policy.

5.3.18 The MCO should move forward with plans to increase the DMCO's exposure and involvement in the SQ property strategy and acquisition process.

5.3.19 The role of the Housing Committee should be strengthened by establishing a clear mandate. Documentation of meeting minutes and records of decision should be maintained, and available to CBS upon request.

5.3.20 Distribution Accounts for SQs should be signed and dated by the current occupant.

5.3.21 An acknowledgement of each work order request as well as regular status updates should be sent to property/materiel clients.

5.3.22 The DMCO should establish a formal monitoring and follow-up process for outstanding work orders.

5.3.23 The DMCO should work with the Property Manager to consolidate and organize property-related documentation and records.

5.3.24 The MCO or Executive Director should conduct spot checks on the gift registry file.

5.3.25 Disposal should be conducted in accordance with Chapter 7 of the Material Management Manual, Volume1. Proper documentation for all disposal exercises should be maintained on file.

CTOT Actions and Timeframes

5.3.17 The representational SQ is being disposed of at the end of September 2007 and no representational housing replacement is planned. Should this be revised in the future, the Mission will ensure to acquire an SQ which will be adequate for representation.

5.3.18 The DMCO has always been involved in the Mission SQ property planning and strategy. As part of this process, she was also in charge of drafting the MPMP for the Mission after extensive consultations with the MCO. She was not, however, involved in parts of the implementation of the plan such as the search for suitable replacements for SQs and the lease negotiations. Since April 2007, she has been fully involved in this search for SQ replacements and more involvement on the Housing Committee and the leasing side is planned for the months to come.

5.3.19 The new Housing Committee, lead by its Chairperson, is fully committed to fulfill its mandate and follow all of the relevant guidelines in the year to come. Proper minutes and record of decisions will be kept and available to all CBS at the Mission to consult, beginning in September 2007.

5.3.20 The Distribution of Accounts for SQs have all been signed and dated by the current occupants as of March 2007. The lack of documentation and proper property filing system, the vacancy of the property manager position for a significant period of time and the heavy property workload prior to August 2006 were the cause of these oversights.

5.3.21 Effective March 2007, all work requests are formally acknowledged with the clients and frequent updates on their status are being provided by the property manager or the property clerk. This was done informally before.

5.3.22 Effective March 2007, all outstanding work requests are reviewed formally by the DMCO and Property Manager on a weekly basis and informally in-between. Complicated or major work requests are still being discussed at the bi-weekly meetings as per the prior practice.

5.3.23 The DMCO and the property manager centralized and organized all of the property-related files, documentation and records in March 2007.

5.3.24 Commencing September 2007, spot checks of the gift registry file are being done quarterly by either the Executive Director or the MCO to ensure compliance.

5.3.25 In March 2007, the Property Team reviewed all of the guidelines applicable to the disposals and will make sure to be in compliance when performing the next sale of surplus items.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The CTOT's Financial Management Officer (FMO) is the MCO, assisted by a *** team including an LE-07 Senior Accountant and two Accounts Assistants (LE-06 and LE-05). Annually, the CTOT handles approximately $9.3 million of revenue, including $8.8 million from the CIC Program and the remainder from the Consular Program. CIC revenue is deposited off-site by clients directly into a Taiwanese dollar account. CTOT payments are made via cheque, with the Section processing an average of 2,400 payments each year. The CTOT should explore the possibility of efficiency gains through the use Electronic Funds Transfers (EFTs).

5.4.2 CTOT accounts are well organized and documentation is complete. With limited storage in the Chancery, previous years' accounts are kept off-site in a warehouse. When reviewing space needs for a new Chancery, consideration should be given to providing some storage capacity for pertinent financial records. Bank reconciliations are up-to-date and appropriately reviewed by the MCO and the Executive Director.

5.4.3 Signing authorities are properly exercised, however the process for obtaining Section 33 and 34 signatures is cumbersome as the Section is using a set of forms which request a second round of signatures. This second round of signatures is an unnecessary duplication of effort. The CTOT should examine ways to streamline the process such as eliminating one of the forms or using a stamp for Section34. Other efficiency gains could be realized by implementing quiet hours to minimize disruptions. Increasing the petty cash threshold for minor purchases would also improve efficiency in the payment process, since petty cash payments are less time intensive than reimbursements by cheque.

5.4.4 Budgets are monitored monthly for reporting purposes and the MCO provides regular up-dates to the CMM for planning purposes. The Section provides all Program Managers a monthly report on their travel and hospitality expenditures, as well as other reports as requested. The CTOT will also be monitoring its fiscal year 2007-08 reference levels as the planned SQ replacement strategy may result in increased lease commitments.

5.4.5 The CTOT expressed interest in HQ examining some initiatives that would, in their view, improve processes and these were raised with Financial Management Services (SMFF) for consideration. These include a desire for budget training for senior accountants given the implementation of monthly FINSTAT review and the use of credit cards for receiving payments from Consular clients.

Recommendations to the CTOT

5.4.6 The CTOT should examine the feasibility of EFTs in its local banking environment.

5.4.7 The CTOT should examine ways to streamline its Section 33 and 34 signing process.

5.4.8 The CTOT should examine the feasibility of implementing quiet hours for the Finance Section.

5.4.9 The CTOT should review the petty cash allocation to determine if an increase is required (to a maximum of $2,000) to streamline the reimbursement process.

CTOT Actions and Timeframes

5.4.6 The MCO and the Accounts Section have looked into the possibility of using EFTs in the Spring of 2006 and because of the peculiar nature of the banking system in Taiwan and the unusually complicated and burdensome requirements and processes involved, it was determined that the issuance of cheques was still the less work and paper intensive option for the time being. This will be reviewed in the future should the market practice change.

5.4.7 Approvals for section (s.) 33 and s.34 have been streamlined to eliminate the unnecessary approval memos from managers. S.34 stamps on the invoices will replace the memos.

5.4.8 The Accounts Section employees were consulted and they have indicated that they preferred to keep the current availability hours. They will however restrict the flow of people to the section to keep disruptions to a minimum.

5.4.9 After consultation with the Accounts Section and the HR Officer who manages the Petty Cash on a daily basis, it was decided to increase the Petty Cash to NTD 30,000 (about $970) from NTD 20,000 ($645).

5.4.10 While appropriate processes, procedures and controls are evident at the CTOT, improvements can be made by implementing the following recommendations.

Recommendations to the CTOT

5.4.11 Official, numbered, receipts should always be used when the CTOT receives any funds, including CBS reimbursement of personal expenses.

5.4.12 To apply additional control on the bank reconciliation process, the original bank statement should be delivered to the MCO directly, and not to the Finance Section.

5.4.13 ***.

CTOT Actions and Timeframes

5.4.11 Official receipts are now being used for all receipt of funds by the Mission, including CBS reimbursement of personal expenses. Prior to that, another set of receipts were used for the purpose of acknowledging receipts of money from CBS for the payment of their home phone bills assisted through the Accounts section but not transiting through the Mission's Accounts. Official receipts were always used for all other funds received which transited through the Mission's Accounts.

5.4.12 Original Bank statements are being received by the MCO or DMCO since March 2007.

5.4.13 ***.

5.5 Information Technology (IT)

5.5.1 Under the direction of the MCO, day-to-day IT operations are carried out by two Locally-engaged Information Technology Professionals (LEITP) (LE-08 and LE-07), one located in the Chancery and one in the CIC Annex. ***. Discussions with CTOT staff revealed that the IT team provides *** service.

5.5.2 A great deal of work has been undertaken by the team to revise the Octel system, organize and update inventories, dispose of dated documentation as well as IT items that were either obsolete or not in accordance with departmental standards. The Remedy system is now being used more consistently to tracking requests. Recent initiatives include the acquisition of Blackberry units now that the service is available and preparation for the installation of the TRIO system.

5.5.3 The CTOT's primary IT challenge is related to connectivity issues experienced at the CIC Annex, believed to be linked to insufficient bandwidth. A business case for increased bandwidth was prepared and submitted to the MITNET Advisory Board. The CTOT is awaiting formal notification of the Board's decision. As a short-term measure. the Information Management and Technology Bureau (SXD) has begun sending software upgrades and patches to the CTOT during off-hours so as not to disturb operations.

5.5.4 Although a formal Business Continuity Plan is not in place, the CTOT possesses a number of the key pieces, including secondary communications such as cellular and satellite phones, ***. Business continuity requirements should be included in the MCO's planned review of the CTOT's security and contingency plans.

5.5.5 To support the CTOT-wide training plan, as recommended in 5.2.11, the IT Section should conduct a client survey to determine IT training needs to be included in the plan.

Recommendations to the CTOT

5.5.6 The MCO should include business continuity requirements in his planned review of the CTOT's security and contingency plans.

5.5.7 The IT Section should conduct a survey to determine IT training needs for integration into the CTOT-wide annual training plan.

CTOT Actions and Timeframes

5.5.6 Security and Contingency planning and Business Continuity plans are the next priority of the MCO and revised and detailed plans should be available by the end of the 2007 calendar year.

5.5.7 A survey will be conducted in September 2007 with employees and managers to determine training requirements as a part of the development of the formal training plan of the Mission. IT training will be a component of that survey.

Office of the Inspector General


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Date Modified:
2012-10-24