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Audit of the Canadian Embassy Washington

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Including the Consulate of Philadelphia (November 2007)

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

An audit of the General Relations (GR), the Advocacy Secretariat, the Economic Policy, Commercial, and the Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Washington from May 30 to June 16, 2006. This included a visit to the Consulate in Philadelphia. The previous audit of the Political and Public Affairs, International Business Development, Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Washington in December 1999.

Washington is a very large Mission, with 137 Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 156 Locally-engaged Staff (LES). Managing a Mission of this size is understandably a daunting challenge in terms of maintaining clear communication and effective coordination. The Executive Committee and Committee on Mission Management are used effectively to coordinate the Mission's work and responsibilities. The Mission also effectively utilizes a "Task Force" approach to issue management, to ensure issues are dealt with in a cohesive fashion and are not compartmentalized. This approach has proved a successful technique in integrating the various players within the Mission and encouraging a broader collaboration on issues of substance.

The Minister (Political Affairs) manages a portfolio that consists of the Political Section, Environmental and Fisheries Section, and the Intelligence Liaison Office as well as several OGD representatives. The Political Section's work is dominated by US foreign policy, especially in terms of "common cause" issues such as Afghanistan and security, where Canada can leverage its work with the US as a partner on certain issues to make headway in improving the bilateral relationship. This approach is *** understood by staff in the Political Section, though further work to formalize the Section's strategy would be useful, especially in terms of evaluating its progress towards this goal. Despite a hectic schedule of visits and a heavy workload, the Environmental and Fisheries Section is functioning well given the current resource level. However, the Section should continue to push for an additional resource in order to improve its capacity to handle its significant workload. Overall, throughout the Political Affairs Program there is an *** team of *** managers and officers in place, working *** to advance Canadian interests in the US.

With changes in the US political climate, particularly related to the increased focus on security following the events of September 11, 2001, the Mission has increasingly needed to play a more important advocacy role than before in promoting Canadian messages. This has led to the establishment of the Advocacy Secretariat within the Mission, (created in 2004) integrating the functions of Public Affairs, Congressional Relations and Parliamentary, Provincial and Territorial Affairs. The province of Alberta is also represented within the Secretariat.

Although the various sections of the Secretariat have differing mandates, they have a common goal, which is the implementation of a holistic approach toward the promotion of Canada's interests in the US. Given that the US Congress and its members are its main focus, the Secretariat needs to ensure that its efforts and those of its constituent parts are working toward the same vision, with co-ordinated action plans in place. As such, the Unit needs to ensure that *** vision conflicts are mitigated. The Secretariat has made good use of a number of technological tools such as GOCCART, Connect2Canada and Congress Plus to facilitate their work.

The Economic and Trade Policy (EC) Program is very active and is involved in a number of significant high-profile market access and trade dispute files in the Canada-US bilateral relationship such as softwood lumber, mad cow disease (BSE), and border issues related to 9/11 security enhancements. Expectations from the Government, Headquarters and senior management at the Mission are high. The demands of these files and the rapid pace of operations are impacting the team: officers are putting in long hours, ***. The Program is *** delivering strong results; however, this is occurring at a significant human cost and will not be sustainable in the near-term. Strategic planning is done *** given the reactive environment. Resources are generally well aligned to existing priorities and the Program is looking ahead to new and emerging priorities. Greater efficiency could result from reorganisation of officers' duties and allocation of greater responsibility to the Deputy Program Manager.

The resident Commercial Program has national responsibility for Science and Technology (ST) policy monitoring and reporting; liaising with International Financial Institutions (the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank); hosting the Canadian Space Agency; and monitoring policy issues such as export controls and transportation policy. The Program has a sub-unit, under a Counsellor (Commercial), with regional responsibility for international business development (IBD) in Washington DC, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and the South-eastern part of Pennsylvania; however, most of its activities are concentrated within the Washington DC "Beltway". Washington also supports the commercial activities of the Consulate in Philadelphia. The Program is well resourced both in terms of staff and finances. In contrast to the Economic and Trade Policy Program, the Commercial Program does not appear to have as demanding a workload and is directly involved in only a couple of the major bilateral files that are of primary concern to the Mission (International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Detroit-Windsor crossing). The Program Manager and the Counsellor (Commercial) need to have their roles clarified. More time should be spent coaching staff and developing a practical IBD plan that identifies opportunities and promotes Canadian capabilities in a focussed set of niche areas. The ST Program's projects should be linked more closely to the work of the IBD team. More work needs to be done on technology promotion and there may be scope to re-profile an existing position within the section to carry out this function. The Office of Liaison with International Financial Institutions (OLIFI) team works *** and is an established model for other OLIFI teams globally.

The assistants in both programs could be more effectively used to support the officers. The InfoCentre, TRIO, budgeting and website administration could be done more efficiently with fewer resources implicated.

The Consulate in Philadelphia is principally a Trade Office, but also has Political/Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA) responsibilities, and was opened recently under the Enhanced Representation Initiative. An agreement was reached with Washington on priority sectors but its IBD planning is done independently from that of the Washington Commercial Program. More work needs to be done at both ends to integrate Philadelphia into Washington's IBD operations. Philadelphia's Public Diplomacy efforts should be more focussed on supporting its commercial agenda. Better communication and a common planning approach would improve the deployment of resources and reduce potential overlaps. The territory covered by Philadelphia needs to be reviewed. Currently, the state of Pennsylvania is split between two offices (Philadelphia and Buffalo), and the counties of Greater Philadelphia are shared with a third office (Consulate General in New York). These overlaps create significant confusion and make it challenging to carry out state-wide projects as well as projects that touch the greater metropolitan area.

Overall the Consular Program is working *** and has a sound control structure. Staff provide support to other US missions, particularly when interacting with local authorities. Passport Canada needs to document and communicate its policy regarding Canada-based Staff (CBS) and Locally-engaged Staff (LES) delegated signing authority for passport entitlement, ***.

The Administration Program operates in a complex and busy environment, providing services to the Embassy, to Canada's Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States, and to the Consulate in Philadelphia. Memorandums of Understanding are being drafted to formalize the Embassy's relationship with the latter two groups. Working to provide the best possible support, the Program is continuing its modernization of Mission practices and systems, for example, addressing CBS concerns regarding relocation to Washington by creating a unit that provides support to staff during this period. Key challenges facing the Mission include: reviewing the housing requirements (with HQ) for all staff including the two Ministers, realigning the roles and responsibilities within the Mission by conducting an organizational review, automating functions to eliminate transactional work and streamline operations, ensuring all information is current and consistent for missions in the US, ensuring compliance on all financial reporting (hospitality, etc.), managing LES legal and compensation issues, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) initiative, and ensuring appropriate documentation (Handbook/annual benefits) and salary reports.

A total of 111 audit recommendations are raised in the report; 103 are addressed to the Mission and eight 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 111 recommendations, management has stated that 85 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 26 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, the Advocacy Secretariat, the Economic Policy, Commercial, Consular and Administration Programs.

The audit objectives were to:

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

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

During the audit, audit issues and lines of enquiry were further refined from information gathered through interviews with the Head of Mission (HOM) and Program Managers, meetings with the LES, 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 Sheets

Human Resources (FTEs) - Washington and Philadelphia

Head of Mission (HOM) Office31114
Deputy HOM Office235
Economic and Trade Policy11415
Public Works and Government Services4610
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness112
Intelligence Liaison Office3-3
Solicitor General66
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Liaison224
Citizenship and Immigration3710
Advocacy Secretariat112
Provincial-Territorial and Parliamentary Affairs415
Congressional and Legal Affairs347
Public Relations41721
Defence Relations521769

Financial Information 2005/06 - Washington

Table 2: Fact Sheet Financial Information
Financial Information 2005/06
Operating Budget (N001)$ 9,162,853
Capital Budget (N005)$ 135,100
CBS Salaries Budget (N011)$ 4,524,200
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$ 9,132,720

Physical Resources - Washington

AssetsCrown LeasedCrown OwnedPrivate Leased
Official Residences2
Staff Quarters2114

Financial Information 2005/06 - Philadelphia

Table 4: Fact Sheet Financial Information - Philadelphia
Financial Information 2005/05 - Philadelphia
Operating Budget (N001)$ 339,798
Capital Budget (N005)$ 34,400
CBS Salaries Budget (N011) (*not devolved)-
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$ 232,491

Physical Resources - Philadelphia

AssetsCrown LeasedCrown OwnedPrivate Leased
Official Residences
Staff Quarters2

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 Canada's complex and constantly evolving relationship with the United States takes on many forms: neighbour, ally, competitor, trading partner. Charged with the immense task of managing these varied and often competing roles which constitute our most important bilateral relationship, the Mission is undoubtedly the Government's most important representation abroad. Contentious issues such as the softwood lumber dispute, border security, mad cow disease, and Devil's Lake, have kept the Mission extremely busy.

1.1.2 The management team provides *** leadership and resource management to the Mission. The Executive Committee and Committee on Mission Management are used effectively to coordinate the Mission's work and responsibilities. On the whole, morale is good, with a few exceptions as can be expected given the inherent challenges of managing a Mission of this size. There is significant interest in the work of the Mission from Other Government Departments (OGDs), politicians (both federal and provincial), other missions, etc. This puts tremendous pressure on the Mission, which handles it well. The Mission receives a high number of visits including from provinces and parliamentarians. The lead in managing these visits is with the Advocacy Secretariat (Secretariat), but they have an impact on all sections. Though this high level of political attention would be the envy of any other Mission, it presents a challenge for the Mission in ensuring coordinated messaging, as well as managing expectations of visitors. A significant amount of time must be spent as the interface between different US experts and organizations and Canadian OGDs, Provinces, and Government Officials who may arrive on short notice, without arranged agendas, and with limited time to secure access to key interlocutors.

1.1.3 The Mission effectively utilizes a “Task Force” approach to issue management. Most issues handled by the Mission are horizontal in nature, requiring extensive coordination within the Mission, with Ottawa and with other missions in the US. Due to the complex nature of many of these issues, existing accountability structures are not adequate. To address this, the Mission has focussed a lot of effort on refining the “Task Force” approach to ensure issues are dealt with in a cohesive fashion and are not compartmentalized. The challenge associated with issues management has been further magnified by the dismantlement of the Privy Council Office (PCO) secretariat that dealt with issues related to the Canada-US relationship, allowing the Mission to have more involvement and leadership in managing the bilateral relationship. No file is handled by a single section alone, and the “Task Force” approach has proved a successful technique in integrating the various players within the Mission and encouraging a broader collaboration on issues of substance. An example of this approach has been the management of the US-led Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which touches upon many programs within the Mission.

1.1.4 In the existing organizational structure, the role of the Deputy Head of Mission (DHOM) is filled by the Minister (Economic). Given the dual roles, the DHOM is very involved in key files such as Softwood Lumber negotiations and mad cow disease (BSE). The Economic and Trade Policy Program Manager is tasked largely with managing the Section, but is not the lead on the most important policy work. It is the opinion of the Audit Team that consideration should be given to having a dedicated DHOM, to whom the heads of the Political Affairs, the Secretariat, Economic and Trade Policy, Commercial, Public Works and Government Services Canada, the Defence and Liaison, and Management and Consular sections would report. To further alleviate the day-to-day program responsibilities on the DHOM, the Philadelphia office, which currently reports directly to the DHOM, should report to the Commercial Program Manager (see recommendation 5.4.8).

1.1.5 The removal of direct program responsibilities would allow the DHOM to do more outreach and to hold more meetings with US officials, alleviating some of the HOM's current workload. As many of the US issues are “cross-cutting”, impacting multiple sections of the Mission, OGDs, and regions of the US, they require significant coordination. Currently, despite the significant network of missions in the US, and the wide variety of issues managed within this network, no one has been tasked with an orchestrating role that would ensure consistency of policies and consolidation of resources among offices. Taking into account that each mission has its own mandate and reporting requirements, the Audit Team feels that the DHOM would be ideally placed to undertake a coordinating role on behalf of all missions in the US, focussing Canada's approach on key common bilateral issues. The development of such a role will require buy-in and cooperation from all missions, but will no doubt prove extremely beneficial in the long run.

HOM Office

1.1.6 The HOM is supported directly by a Canada Based Staff (CBS) Assistant (AS-03) and a Counsellor/Executive Assistant (EA) (FS-03), who also supervises the team of seven Locally Engaged Staff (LES) Official Residence (OR) staff, the Social Secretary (LE-07), Correspondence Assistant (LE-05), and Financial Assistant (LE-05). The HOM's Office is very busy given his intense schedule and workload. With the recent arrival of the new HOM, and the imminent turnover of two key positions (the Administrative Assistant and the EA), the Office has been evolving and undertaking some changes in operations. As a result, the division of tasks and responsibilities between some staff, especially the EA and the Administrative Assistant, needs to be clarified to ensure an appropriate division of labour. Staff also noted that communication within the Office is not always optimal, which impacts not only the team, but by extension the HOM as well. Daily meetings, even if extremely short, would be helpful in keeping staff informed of key events to ensure efficient functioning of the team and the Office as a whole. In addition, if space can be made available, the Correspondence Assistant, who is currently on another floor in the Chancery, should be relocated to the HOM's Office area.

Recommendations to the Mission

1.1.7 Consideration should be given to realigning the duties of the DHOM, so that the position is able to devote more time to management, outreach and co-ordination.

1.1.8 Roles and responsibilities of staff within the HOM Office should be clarified and documented.

1.1.9 The HOM staff should hold brief daily operations meetings.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.1.7 We have completed a review of the Mission's organization and agree that the duties of the DHOM should be realigned to better focus on integrated management of the Mission and to foster greater support to and contact with the network of missions in the US. The DHOM should also work closely with the Assistant Deputy Minister North America (NGM) management team to foster greater coordination and strategic issue management among all of the Canadian missions in the US and as appropriate, Mexico.

1.1.8 Job descriptions were completed and are on file. Communication Unit was been set up in July 2006.

1.1.9 Team members speak many times daily to review schedule and priorities. A redundancy system and automated work practices have been implemented in July 2006.

General Relations Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The Minister (Political Affairs) (EX-04) manages a portfolio that consists of the Political Section, Environmental and Fisheries Section, and the Intelligence Liaison Office. Other Government Department (OGD) programs, including Public Safety and Border Security, Immigration, and the RCMP Liaison Office also report to the Minister, although he acts in a coordination rather than management capacity for these entities. Overall, there is an *** team of *** managers and officers in place, working *** to advance Canadian interests in the US.

2.1.2 A major focus of the Program, led by the Minister and in collaboration with other stakeholders in the Mission, has been the US-led Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Under this US proposal, residents of Canada will require a passport for entry into the US by 2008. The economic and political implications of such a requirement would be immense and far-reaching, and as such the Minister spends approximately 65% of his time on this type of border-related work. Though bilateral issues are primarily handled by the Congressional Relations Section, the Program is always involved, particularly on key files handled by the Fisheries and Environmental Section such as Devil's Lake, climate change, and arctic refuge. US foreign policy dominates the Political section's work, especially in terms of “common cause” issues like Afghanistan and security, where Canada can leverage its work with the US as a partner on certain issues to make headway in improving the bilateral relationship.

2.2.3 The Program staff play a *** role in keeping the various players in Ottawa informed, and have the important role of coordinating the many requests and messages coming from OGDs. There is a sentiment within the Program, however, that they do not always get clear messages from Ottawa on major issues. Despite this, coordination between departments and various groups in Ottawa has been improving, an example being the standing weekly meeting between DFAIT and the Privy Council Office. With a new government in place, access to US counterparts and decision makers has increased, which has aided the work of the Program to a certain degree.

2.2 Political Section

2.2.1 Under the direction of the Counsellor (Political) (EX-01), the Political Section includes three senior Political Officers (FS-03 to FS-04), an officer seconded from the Department of National Defence (DND) (AS-07), and an Administrative Assistant (LE-05). Team members work *** together, *** and receives *** direction and support. Overall it is a *** functioning section.

2.2.2 Though there is no specific strategic framework document for the Section, staff have a *** sense of their own priorities as well as those of the Section and Mission as a whole. In the short-term, this implies dealing with irritants, and in the medium- to long-term, working with the US on “common cause” issues. The Section deals with many hot-button issues, which, by nature, necessitate a reactive strategic planning approach, rather than a proactive, longer-term focus. While recognizing that the Section will always need to be highly reactive to a certain degree, further planning of medium-to long-term priorities would be beneficial. Given that the “common cause” issues are a priority, it is important that the Section have a detailed plan to assure that adequate coverage and attention is given to these issues. A formal strategic plan, amalgamating current Performance Management Agreement/Performance Management Project (PMA/PMP) objectives and developed by the team, including input of other relevant sections, would allow the Section to further develop its medium-to long-term strategies, as well as to communicate their strategy to new staff and other programs in the Mission. With the addition of measurement mechanisms, it would also provide a valuable tool for the Section to continually evaluate its strategy and activities to ensure continued relevance and therefore would help in the development of future strategic plans.

Recommendation to the Mission

2.2.3 As part of the next retreat, the Political Section should formalize its strategy, including key objectives and measurement mechanisms. A clear link to the Mission's overall strategy and to managers' PMAs should be made.

Mission Action and Timeframe

2.2.3 The Political Section (as all sections in the Mission) has presented a clear game plan with key objectives, activities and outcomes, at the annual Mission retreat which provides the basis for the Mission's overall strategy for the coming year. Based on the discussion at the retreat and the ongoing discussions for the Business Plan, these objectives are incorporated into the officers PMAS.

2.2.4 Responsibilities for each officer are well defined, organized by geographic regions and specific topics. Officers had a *** understanding of their own files, as well as those of others in the Section, which is important given the high number of overlapping files between officers. Operationally, the Section spends the majority of its time responding to its client base, which is extremely varied and includes stakeholders from HQ, other missions, and OGDs. A significant amount of time is spent managing visits, which can be challenging given the varied expectations and requirements of these groups. Reporting, both self- and HQ-directed, tends to be widely distributed and reflects the multilateral nature of much of the Section's work. The line between the work of the Congressional Affairs Section and the Political Section is sometimes blurred, but each section ensures that the other is aware of any overlap in order to avoid inconsistent messaging outside the Mission. The Section makes a conscious effort to work with other groups within the Mission on common files.

2.2.5 A lack of administrative support was identified by all staff within the Section as a critical resource issue. At the time of the Audit, there was one Administrative Assistant for the entire Political Section, who was also filling the vacant Assistant position to the Minister Counsellor (Public Affairs). Both positions have heavy workloads, and when filled by only one individual, it is inevitable that not all tasks can be performed. As a result, officers have had to take on many administrative tasks, taking time away from their primary responsibilities. ***, the Mission should ensure that these positions are permanently staffed in the future to provide sufficient administrative support. The second administrative position in the Section was to be staffed by the fall of 2006.

2.2.6 Given the heavy workload and wide range of issues handled by the Section, there are some issues which are being insufficiently covered according to Section management, for example, proactive work on the Latin America files, currently part of the Program Manager's responsibilities. Once a formal strategic plan is in place, including appropriate measurement mechanisms, the Section should be able to evaluate whether an extra officer position is justified, and, if so, be in a position to create a business case to support it.

Recommendations to the Mission

2.2.7 The Mission should determine if a business case could be made supporting the creation of an additional political officer position. The Section's strategy and an evaluation of activities against the objectives will be useful tools in this determination.

2.2.8 The Mission should ensure that administrative support positions for the Minister - Political Affairs, and the Political Section are consistently staffed.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.2.7 A business case for a new Foreign Service Development Position (FSDP) political officer has been presented in the 2007-2008 Business Plan.

2.2.8 The Section is paying close attention to personnel vacancies and Minister and Minister Counsellor are devoting time to ensuring vacancies are filled promptly. As such, the Section had intensive and early discussions with Personnel about the replacement of rotational Administrative support, particularly the replacement of the Minister's Assistant. We have also examined the possibility of reassignment within the Mission. Despite early engagement starting in January, we were only able to secure the appropriate replacement for October 2007, leaving the Section short of staff for about two month. Many early candidates chose other postings. As in the case of other postings in US, it remains difficult to recruit candidates for low paying positions because of the lack of Foreign Service Directives (FSD) incentives to serving in US.

2.3 Environmental and Fisheries Section

2.3.1 Despite a hectic schedule of visits and heavy workload, the Environmental and Fisheries Section is functioning ***, given the current resource level. Under the management of the Counsellor (Environment) (EX-01), whose team includes two Officers (LE-09 and FS-02) and an Administrative Assistant (LE-05), the Section is responsible for a number of high profile files such as Devil's Lake, climate change, arctic refuge, and waste disposal in Michigan. In close cooperation with the Trade and Economic Policy Program and the Secretariat, its advocacy work includes both bilateral and multilateral interests with various levels of the US government. The Section is also responsible for developing environmental initiatives within the Mission, and works in collaboration with the Property Section to this end.

2.3.2 The Section's strategic plan is based on the Counsellor's PMA, and includes specific objectives and measurement mechanisms, developed with input from Section staff. The stated objectives clearly reflect the Mission's priorities.

2.3.3 A major challenge for staff in the Section has been managing requests for information and other tasking from a variety of stakeholders. The Section has taken steps to ensure that various OGDs such as Environment Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, as well as relevant provincial governments are kept informed and are aware of the numerous demands on the Section. A weekly email to these partners as well as relevant sections within the Mission has proven to be a useful tool to provide new developments on key files. The Section should continue to be proactive in bringing together the various players for each file, and ensuring open communication among all parties.

2.3.4 With approximately one senior-level visit per month, as well as a number of high profile files, the Section has a significant workload. In the previous Mission strategy submitted to HQ, the Section requested an additional officer at the LE-07 level, but this request has yet to be granted. Ideally, the Section would like to have an officer seconded from Environment Canada, who could provide not only additional capacity, but also subject matter expertise. Given the workload and importance of many of the files, the Section should continue to push for an additional resource. A business case should be created that clearly demonstrates the need for an additional officer.

Recommendation to the Mission

2.3.5 The Environment and Fisheries Section should create a business case to demonstrate its need for an additional officer level resource.

Mission Action and Time Frame

2.3.5 The Mission has made a business case in the 2007-2008 Business Plan and, a separate request by the DHOM for full or partial funding was made to Environment Canada in September 2006. Currently the Mission is funding the position through the Mission's own emergency funding.

2.4 Intelligence Liaison Section

2.4.1 Though the Intelligence Liaison Section reports to the Minister (Political Affairs) and keeps him informed of critical issues, it is a relatively self-contained section, comprised of a Counsellor Intelligence Liaison Officer (ILO) (EX-01), Deputy ILO (FS-03) and an Administrative Assistant (AS-01). Both officers *** feel they have adapted well after an initially steep learning curve. The Section has a *** relationship with relevant OGDs at the Mission, and access to the HOM as required.

2.4.2 A concern raised by the ILO was access to operational funding. The recent addition of the Deputy ILO position has greatly added to the workload capacity of the Section, but the position was not accompanied by a commensurate increase in the Section's operational budget. In addition, the allocation decreased this year from $10,000 to $7,000, despite an additional officer. This will impact the officers' ability to travel within the region, and will decrease training opportunities due to a lack of funds.

Advocacy Secretariat

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 As our neighbour, our largest trading partner, and arguably our most important political ally, our relationship with the US is more important than ever before. Recognizing this, the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC reconfigured some of its key functions in April 2004 to create the Washington Secretariat. Integrating the Public Affairs, Congressional Relations and Legal Affairs, and Parliamentary, Provincial and Territorial Relations sections, the Secretariat promotes a common approach to Canada's congressional relations with the US. Its primary functions are coordinating Canada's message and outreach to US Congress, and defending and promoting Canada's interests in the US.

3.1.2 Keeping in mind the Secretariat's goals of influencing Congress and promoting Canadian interests in the US, tools have been developed by and for the Secretariat to this end, including GOCCART (Government of Canada Congressional Analysis and Research Tool) and Connect2Canada. Connect2Canada is a Web site which allows those living in the US a forum to obtain information on what Canada is doing in the US and in their state. Through Connect2Canada (and with the help of Canada's many consulates throughout the US), the Secretariat has fostered a 27,000-person strong network of Canadian and American contacts which is increasing steadily.

3.1.3 The structure of the Secretariat is understandably complex, given that it integrated three previously autonomous sections of the Embassy. The Secretariat is headed by an EX-03 who reports directly to the Head of Mission (HOM) and supervises 33 staff (CBS and LES) as well as one employee of the Province of Alberta. It is divided into three sections: Public Affairs, Congressional Relations and Legal Affairs, and Parliamentary, Provincial and Territorial Relations. These sections are further divided into sub-sections. The Culture, Academic and Media sub-sections all fall under the Public Affairs umbrella, and Media is further subdivided into Media Relations, New Technology and the “Canadian Message”. The Congressional Relations and Legal Affairs section stands alone and handles the very critical task of interfacing the US Congressional staff, among other duties. The Parliamentary, Provincial and Territorial Affairs section handles the bulk of the many official visits to the US each year. All three Secretariat sections collaborate regularly with other Mission programs, particularly the Political and Trade Policy Programs.

3.2 Program Management

3.2.1 When the new Secretariat was formed, it grouped together Mission programs that had previously operated independently. As could be expected, ***.

3.2.2 In terms of planning, the Secretariat has developed priorities per section and works closely with the Political and Trade Policy Programs at the Embassy. It is part of an Embassy-wide Task Force whose purpose is to address important political and commercial bilateral issues, such as softwood lumber and the WHTI. The Embassy as a whole would benefit from a clarification of the Secretariat's roles and responsibilities.

3.2.3 The Secretariat managers hold weekly planning meetings that often do not produce the desired results ***. Increasing team spirit and bolstering confidence in the Secretariat's common vision should be priorities for the unit's managers. ***. The organization of the Secretariat is logical, and a revision of its structure at this time would be premature. In order to demonstrate the relevance of this new approach, the Secretariat should gather performance data and indicators in order to demonstrate results.

Recommendations to the Mission

3.2.4 The Secretariat should ensure that its mandate, role and activities are clearly defined. Further, each section of the Secretariat should then ensure that its mandates and strategies are aligned with those of the Secretariat as a whole.

3.2.5 Greater cooperation should be promoted between sections of the Secretariat. The Unit may wish to consider holding a retreat in order to consolidate viewpoints and establish a common understanding of the Secretariat mandate.

3.2.6 The Secretariat should reiterate its vision and action plan for the benefit of the other Programs and to improve cross-sectoral support for Mission projects.

3.2.7 The Secretariat needs to obtain more performance data/indicators so that it can better measure results and adjust its plans as required.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.2.4 With the arrival of the new Minister, Ministers-Counsellor Public Affairs and Congressional and Legal Affairs, and the new head of the Parliamentary, Provincial and Territorial Affairs section ***, the role and mandate of the Secretariat as a body to support all Mission priorities by coordinating Canada's message and outreach to US Congress and defending and promoting Canada's interests in the US became clearly and repeatedly articulated. Regular and meaningful Secretariat meetings ensure that all sections are aware of and are aligned with each other's priorities and activities. Development of Secretariat-wide responses to the Audit recommendations by itself compelled managers to ensure that mandates, roles and activities are clearly defined and aligned.

ensure that all sections are aware of and are aligned with each other's priorities and activities. Development of Secretariat-wide responses to the Audit recommendations by itself compelled managers to ensure that mandates, roles and activities are clearly defined and aligned. 3.2.5 The objective of the new and regular Secretariat meetings (weekly, of Heads of Section; weekly in each Section – at which representatives of other sections, including from outside the Secretariat, are in attendance; and monthly, of the entire Secretariat) is precisely to foster cooperation. Here are some examples of how cooperation has become entrenched: Parliamentary and Provincial/Territorial Affairs (PTP) cooperates with Congressional and Legal Affairs (CLAS) to ensure its activities related to visiting provincial, territorial and provincial partners are mutually reinforcing; a CLAS representative is always part of the Embassy Team (discussed under 3.3.5 below); a Public Affairs representative is also included to ensure PTP's Canadian clients receive sound advice regarding communications and media outreach.

3.2.6 The Secretariat's supportive role (for all Mission projects) is continuously enumerated by the Minister and Section Heads. Members of the Secretariat attend Economic and Political staff meetings (in fact, CLAS itself is represented at staff meetings of the following sub-section meetings: Foreign Policy, Economic, Environment, Homeland Security Coordination, Trade Development). All sections were involved in developing the Secretariat's contribution to the Mission's Business Plan. Concrete changes have been introduced to ensure that potential communications elements of all meetings that the HOM with outsiders are pro-actively considered. Some additional specific examples:

  • in October 2007, PTP met with each of the key Mission sections involved in the implementation of activities related to its provincial, territorial and parliamentary clients. The objective of these meetings was to clarify the supporting and coordinating role played by PTP. This role has been further clarified through the new 'Embassy Team' approach used for visit planning and implementation (discussed under 3.3.5 below). As well, PTP officers regularly attend other Mission section staff meetings to keep colleagues apprised of upcoming visits and programs where collaboration will be necessary. A schedule of upcoming visits is also distributed regularly to facilitate planning. Furthermore, in discussions with colleagues regarding collaboration, PTP points to the horizontal role played by CLAS as an example of how PTP can support the work of other Mission sections;
  • in addition to formalized participation in the various sub-section staff meetings detailed above, CLAS now participates in working group meetings on current priority issues (e.g. WHTI, waste, country of origin labelling, Devil's Lake)

3.2.7 Through the PMP and PMA processes, objectives have been set for all Secretariat staff, ensuring that objectives are specific and align with the HOM's and Minister's priorities. These objectives include performance indicators. Additionally, PTP has also begun using web-based surveys to solicit clients' feedback on PTP services and programs. A 'visits register' is now in place to track the support provided by PTP to provincial, territorial and parliamentary partners. Additionally, CLAS is in the process of identifying performance indicators that are appropriate to its common service provider role. At the moment, performance management is undertaken through regular consultation with client sections within the Mission to ensure that appropriate performance standards are met, and that concerns are addressed in a timely fashion.

3.3 Parliamentary, Provincial and Territorial Affairs Section

3.3.1 The Section is headed by an *** FS-04 officer whose team includes three CBS officers and two LES interns. The section shares the common vision promoted by the Secretariat. Its main roles include: providing information and assistance to official, provincial, territorial and parliamentary visits; developing strategies to better engage provinces, territories and parliamentarians in the promotion of Canada's interests in the US; coordinating official visits to Washington; producing briefing notes; and, writing reports.

3.3.2 As a result of the large number and diversity of visitors to the US for official meetings and activities, the section developed a proactive approach to meeting its various needs. Working directly with staff from incoming delegations, the Section provides a valuable service to visitors, facilitating logistical as well as program-related preparations. This service is ***. The Section also assists with visits from Canadian Members of Parliament. However, its functionality has been limited, not by the *** efforts of the Section, but due to a lack of coordination among the parties outside the Mission, including HQ.

3.3.3 The facilitation of such visits is a key function of the Embassy and is critical to maintaining good relations with US officials as well as with Headquarters in Ottawa. However, there is some concern that junior CBS political officers in the Section are not being exposed to the same variety of projects and duties as their counterparts at other missions. This narrow scope not only *** potential, but may deter *** in this unit. Section managers should review all job descriptions to ensure an equitable distribution of logistical tasks, and should endeavour to provide a variety of experiences to all new officers.

3.3.4 The Section also deals with the “Young Leaders” program, which targets young Americans from various regions of the country and gives them the opportunity to visit Canada, with the goal of educating them about our common values and the significance of our relationship.

Recommendations to the Mission

3.3.5 A coordination plan should be developed and communicated to improve the Secretariat's interaction with the various parties involved in federal and provincial parliamentarian visits.

3.3.6 Job descriptions should be reviewed and logistical duties equitably distributed among CBS and LES.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.3.5 In October 2006, the Provincial, Territorial and Parliamentary (PTP) affairs section of the Secretariat began implementation of a new approach to management of provincial, territorial and parliamentary visits which emphasises an 'Embassy-wide team'. The objective of this new collaborative and horizontal approach is to better share the logistical responsibilities related to visit planning and implementation and ensure better coordination with the various Mission sections and among subject experts. Key to the approach is the establishment of an Embassy Team for each visit at the outset. This is done as soon as a visit request is received from a provincial, territorial or parliamentary partner and the visiting partner has completed the PTP visit template outlining their objectives and requirements. The next step is an Embassy Team meeting and conference call with the visiting partner to clarify visit objectives and requirements. During this call, and in follow-up emails, the Embassy Team provides feedback to the visiting partner on visit objectives and approaches. This feedback is coordinated by PTP; however, all Embassy Team members are asked to contribute. Responsibilities for follow-up are divided among the team members, based on their area of expertise and contact base, with PTP playing a coordinating role and acting as the main point of contact for the visiting partner. This new approach has been used successfully for the planning and implementation of various visits over the past ten months. Establishing a Team at the outset ensures better coordination across sections and better shares ‘ownership', contributing to the delivery of a successful visit. The report of the visit is coordinated similarly by PTP with input from all team members. In order to facilitate planning, an upcoming visits schedule is distributed to Mission sections regularly.

3.3.6 This request was made in January 2007 as part of the Mission's ‘Organizational Review'. The addition of an LES position at the LE-06 level was recommended in order to alleviate the logistical burden of visits which is currently shared by PTP CBS officers. This position is considered essential for fully implementing PTP's plan for a collaborative, horizontal approach to provincial, territorial and parliamentary visits (discussed under 3.3.5 above). As well, in January 2007, the job descriptions of the two PTP CBS officers were modified to ensure meaningful and substantive job packages and to provide the officers with more relevant “classic diplomacy” experience. The model of CLAS was used; PTP work with provinces, territories and Parliament has been divided into trade and non-trade matters. This new approach permits each officer to develop subject-specific networks within the Mission and focus on particular areas in his or her work with PTP's Canadian clients. It also permits more substantive outreach to State contacts and development of subject-specific networks in this regard. The Mission awaits DFAIT's response to its Organizational Review recommendations.

3.4 Public Affairs Section

3.4.1 The Public Affairs section is headed by an LES (LE-10) and encompasses three sub-sections: Media, Cultural and Academic Affairs. Overall, there is *** synergy in the section, however greater harmonization between the activities of the three sub-sections would contribute to improved results for the Secretariat.


3.4.2 The Media section is led by an FS-03 Officer and has one CBS and three LES. It is further divided into three sub-sections: media relations, new technology, and development of the “Canadian message”.

3.4.3 The media relations sub-section is *** active given the importance of Canadian-American relations, the large number of Canadian visitors to the US each year, and the significant presence of Canadian and American media outlets in Washington DC. The sub-section regularly consults HQ, other government departments, provinces and parliamentary bureaux for advice and information about the wide variety of topics covered by local media. High-profile, long-standing issues such as softwood lumber and cross-border travel have pushed the sub-section into high gear, necessitating continuous efforts on behalf of Embassy staff to provide the media with accurate, up-to-date information and data, reiterating comments made by Canadian officials and correcting misperceptions conveyed by the American local or national press. The sub-section cooperates *** with the National Defence representative who handles all military and security-related inquiries.

3.4.4 Thanks to Enhanced Representation Initiative (ERI) funding, the technology sub-section has been able to develop web-based tools to better serve Canadian interests. GOCCART, a database whose target audience is US decision makers at the state level and at Congress, illustrates the importance of the Canadian economy to the American economy and the degree to which they are connected. For example, GOCCART can produce figures demonstrating the effects of Canadian investment on a particular region of the US, the number of jobs created as a direct result of Canadian investment, or the degree to which American enterprises are dependent upon Canadian resources. The success of the GOCCART database is dependent upon the collaboration of Secretariat staff with other programs in the Embassy as well as with consulates throughout the US. Consulates are consumers of this tool, using it to promote and protect Canadian interests across America and focus policy-makers' attention on Canadian priorities, as well as a contributors to its banks of information. The Connect2Canada website is another example of technology being used to transmit the Canadian message to an ever-expanding audience.

3.4.5 Significant funds were invested in these projects. Their maintenance will require time and money, and HQ should work in close collaboration with the Mission to ensure all instruments are being optimally used. Long-term financing will have to be reviewed to ensure the continuity of these databases and websites.

Recommendation to the Mission

3.4.6 The financing for the technology projects should be examined over the long term, as should the possibility of repatriating the systems development and maintenance to HQ.

Mission Action and Timeframe

3.4.6 The Mission has begun responding to this audit recommendation, with respect to Connect2Canada and GoCCART, by developing several key services that support other A base-level business lines, including business development, consular, mission operations, culture, and trade policy. Should ERI funding or support for these products be eliminated over the long term, these new services would support a business case to incorporate funding into the department's A base.

Regarding the possibility of repatriating the systems' development and maintenance to HQ, each product has very different requirements. For GoCCART, which functions with a governance committee and through extensive consultations with users, we have already begun discussions with DFAIT about possibilities to migrate GoCCART to Citrix as a Virtual Library product. Further exploration is required, however, to determine if project management could be more effectively done at HQ. This would likely be from within the North American branch.

Connect2Canada has been presented to the DFAIT Chief Information Officer (CIO), who has acknowledged that the technology supporting the network does not exist at present within departmental resources. A phased approach for greater participation from HQ, is recommended, which would include support of a governance policy and the development of training modules across US posts for greater participation in the virtual team.

Cultural Affairs

3.4.8 The Cultural Affairs Section is managed by the Counsellor (Culture) (EX-01 overfilling a FS-03 position), who is assisted by a Cultural Officer (LE-07) and an Assistant (LE-04), whose services are shared with the Academic Program. The Section is responsible for the promotion of Canadian culture and values in all major sectors of the arts, including film, visual arts, theatre, performing arts, music, and literature. In carrying out its mandate, the Section promotes events in the arts, manages a small Mission art gallery, publishes a monthly cultural calendar, and develops partnerships and alliances within the local arts scene. Overall, the Section functions ***, though some adjustment in its strategy and approach is necessary in order to increase its value and impact for the Mission.

3.4.9 With such a wide range of sectors, partners, and projects, the Section has been extremely busy. The staff have managed many successful projects and have a good reputation within the arts community. However, the Section's approach to cultural programming is not always strategic in nature, with a large amount of time spent focussing on a more “traditional” interpretation of public diplomacy and the role of cultural activities within a mission. These types of activities, such as certain exhibitions and promotion of Canadian artists, are of value, but do not always link well to the Mission's other objectives. More emphasis needs to be placed on creating inter-program linkages and synergies within the Mission, as reflected in the Department's initiative of main-streaming Public Diplomacy. The Section has successfully followed this approach on some initiatives in the past, such as Environment Week and NASCAR, but needs to place more emphasis on this type of programming in the future in order to better meet the Mission's public diplomacy goals.

3.4.10 Since cultural activities can be an excellent tool for other groups within the Mission, the Section needs to market itself better internally to encourage this type of partnership. At present, the Section tends to approach others in the Mission about potential joint projects, rather than other sections seeking their assistance. Other groups need to be aware that cultural activities are a tool they can use to help meet their objectives, gain influence, and build profile for the Mission. A concern among Cultural Affairs staff was that the Section did not always receive adequate attention from the Secretariat. As the umbrella under which the Cultural Affairs Section falls, the Secretariat plays an important role in ensuring that cultural activities add value to the Mission, and should take advantage of this resource by including it in key planning, activities, and decision making.

Recommendation to the Mission

3.4.11 The Cultural Affairs Section should work closely with other sections within the Mission to ensure a more strategic approach to its activities. Where possible, the Section's activities should be used to assist other sections to achieve their objectives, as well as the overall objectives of the Mission.

Mission Action and Timeframe

3.4.11 Since September 2006, the Cultural Affairs Section has worked closely with other sections of the Mission to develop guest lists and activities which might attract persons of influence or those key to Mission priorities. Messages on the importance of an open and secure border, for example, were delivered at the National Folk Festival in Richmond, Virginia in October 2006 to an assembled crowd of 200 leaders from that community. The Section agreed to host the Washington Premiere of the movie Breech, early in 2007, and worked with Counsellors in the Political Section to invite high ranking guests from the security and law enforcement communities, ***. Every opportunity presented to the Cultural Section is now judged on how it would attract the Mission's target audiences rather than purely on its artistic or cultural merit. Activities are only accepted if they meet the objective of attracting people of influence.

3.4.12 Relative to other large missions, and given the importance of gaining influence in Washington, the Section has few resources. Past requests for an additional officer position have not been granted. Once a more strategic approach to activities has been developed, the Section should use this in creating a business case to demonstrate the need for increased resources. In the interim, activities and workload should be based on the Mission's priorities, with only the most valuable being undertaken, given the limited human and financial resources in the Section.

3.4.13 Due to the small size of the Section and its workload, the LE-07 Officer has taken on many responsibilities and tasks which would normally be commensurate with an LE-08 level position. The Program Manager (PM) believes that this position is under-classified, but an official case to reclassify it has not yet been made. The job package of this position should be reviewed and, if required, submitted to the Classification Committee.

Recommendation to the Mission

3.4.14 The PM, in conjunction with the Human Resources Section, should review the job package of the LE-07 Officer position.

Mission Action and Timeframe

3.4.14 The job description was submitted to the Mission Classification Committee in September 2006. The Committee met in June 2007 and requested further material. That request was quickly responded-to; the Committee met again in July 2007 and deemed that the position should be reclassified to a LE-08.

Academic Affairs

3.4.15 With a relatively small amount of funding, the Academic Affairs Section has been able to accomplish a number of *** results. The Section's responsibilities include both traditional academic relations activities as well as education marketing and involvement in the Mission's Think Tank Watch, Connect2Canada, and public opinion surveys. Overall, it is a *** managed and organized section with a good strategy in place, and effectively integrated within the Secretariat.

3.4.16 Through its grant program, the Section actively promotes Canadian Studies in the Washington DC region, and throughout the United States in cooperation with other missions. An effective framework has been implemented to manage the grant process, from application and evaluation of candidates to financial management and follow-up of the grants distributed. The off-the-shelf database and tracking system in place has been particularly useful to this end, and should be considered by other missions with large grant programs as a best practice.

3.4.17 The Section is managed by an LE-10 Program Manager, who is assisted by two part-time resources, one shared with Cultural Affairs (LE-05) (approximately 60%), and another shared with Public Affairs (LE-05) (approximately 30%). This arrangement has been challenging, both for the Assistants as they must balance the workload assigned by two managers, and for the PM of Academic Relations, who must negotiate with other managers for the employees' time. If conditions allow, it would be beneficial to have one full time assistant assigned to the Section, rather than two part-time resources, to reduce the time currently lost in the management of this less than ideal arrangement. The Section should examine this possibility, in co-operation with the Cultural Affairs Section and Public Affairs Section, to assess its feasibility.

Recommendation to the Mission

3.4.18 The Academic Affairs section, in co-operation with the Cultural Affairs and Public Affairs Sections, should review the division of work among Assistants.

Mission Action and Timeframe

3.4.18 In January 2007 Public Affairs (PA) managers began working on a reorganization which re-examined the division of work among Assistants. In April 2007, Assistants were given clear tasks; they no longer report to two different sub-sections and to two different supervisors.

3.5 Congressional Relations and Legal Affairs Section

3.5.1 Prior to the creation of the Secretariat in 2004, the Congressional Relations and Legal Affairs section reported directly to the Economic and Trade Policy program. Given the Section's role in promoting public relations with members of Congress, its incorporation into the Secretariat was both logical and desirable. The Section is run by an EX-01 who supervises five officers (two CBS and three LES) as well as one LES Administrative Assistant. Congressional Relations and Legal Affairs has had ***.

3.5.2 In addition to maintaining a presence in Congress and cultivating relationships with members of Congress and their staff, the Section should strive to be more proactive and visible in their daily interactions and collaborations with other Mission sections. While working with other programs, all of the sections' strategies should, above all, be developed based on the factors that guide and motivate legislators and policy-makers in Washington. Opening and maintaining channels of communication with members of Congress is of extreme importance to promoting Canada's interests in the US. To this end, section staff should become more creative in their efforts to adapt to and gain access to congressional structures of power.

3.5.3 The Congressional Relations and Legal Affairs section is also responsible for producing political reports on certain domestic issues. Since the reports target a wide audience at HQ as well as at the Mission, the section should strive to broaden its analyses and prognoses of key events and major issues, keeping in mind both readership and the section's mandate. A reexamination of this mandate, as it fits into the Secretariat, would provide an excellent occasion for the section to reposition itself within the Embassy. At the same time, LES Assistant and Officer job packages should be reviewed to ensure that all employees are exposed to a broad range of files and that their knowledge of the intricacies of Congress and channels of power is maintained. Section management should consider pairing LES with CBS officers to facilitate this goal.

3.5.4 The Congress Plus database should be updated regularly, particularly since other Embassy programs also interface regularly with members of Congress and their staff. To eliminate the problem of duplicated or incorrect information being entered into the system, control and updating of the Congress Plus database should rest with the Congressional Relations and Legal Affairs section. The number of staff who enter or alter information should be limited for quality control purposes, and training should be provided to users and those responsible for data entry.

Recommendations to the Mission

3.5.5 A more active representational strategy with members of Congress and their staff should be adopted by the Section.

3.5.6 The analyses and prognoses of key events and major issues of the section's political reporting should be broadened.

3.5.7 The Section's role and responsibilities should be re-examined.

3.5.8 The job descriptions and duties of LES Officers and Assistants should be re-evaluated.

3.5.9 Information contained in Congress Plus should be updated regularly and training provided to users and those responsible for updating.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.5.5 An active and aggressive congressional outreach program was developed through consultation with the HOM, senior Mission officials and senior North America Bureau management. Implementation began in November 2006 and is ongoing. The program focuses on outreach by the HOM and the Minister (Congressional, Public Intergovernmental Relations) in a highly targeted fashion, focussing on high-priority topics, such as WHTI and Afghanistan. Targets are identified on the basis of committee membership, district connections to Canada and influence. Active outreach includes strategic coordination of frequent provincial, territorial and parliamentary visits.

3.5.6 In January 2007, on the recommendation of the Minister, CLAS began to produce a weekly political report for use by senior Mission management. Following consultation with North America Bureau management, this document was revised and, starting in April 2007, was distributed more broadly to all Canadian missions in the United States and a wide range of Ottawa-based officials with interests in US political issues. Mission representatives and DFAIT officials are regularly consulted on content, and positive feedback is consistently received. Additionally, CLAS prepares and contributes to regular reporting on key legislative developments of concern to Canada. Such reporting analyses legislative prospects and potential impacts and suggests strategies for engagement/response.

3.5.7 The Section has carefully reviewed its role and responsibilities in order to ensure that resources are being directed towards the highest priority activities possible. In support of this objective a regular program of internal strategic discussions has been implemented, as well as regular discussions with key Mission clients.

3.5.8 As suggested job descriptions and responsibilities for LES Officers and Assistants have been reviewed to ensure exposure to a wide range of files, and efforts have been made to include Locally-engaged Staff more actively in Section decision-making.

3.5.9 A program of regular weekly updating of Congress Plus began in fall 2006 (within CLAS). Training has been offered to Mission staff and will again be offered to newly-arrived staff in fall 2007. The organizational benefits of more regular and frequent updating of Congress Plus have been promoted with Mission colleagues.

Economic and Commercial Programs

4.1 Overview - Economic and Trade Policy Program

4.1.1 The Economic and Trade Policy (EC) Program is very active and is involved in a number of significant high-profile market access and trade dispute files in the Canada-USA bilateral relationship, such as softwood lumber, mad cow disease (BSE), and border issues related to post-9/11 security enhancements. Expectations from the Government, Headquarters and senior management at the Mission are high. At the time of the Audit, the Section had also been very involved in the softwood lumber negotiations, which had added significantly to the Program Manager's workload. The demands of these files and the high tempo of operations are impacting the team: officers are putting in long hours, ***. The Program is *** professional and productive; however, this is occurring at a significant human cost that will not remain sustainable in the near-term.

4.1.2 The Program resources include one EX-03 Program Manager (Minister-Counsellor), an EX-01 Deputy Program Manager, six CBS Foreign Service (FS) Policy Officers from DFAIT (1 x FS-04, 4 x FS-03, 1 x FS-02), one FS-03 position from Agriculture Canada, one EX-01 position from Finance Canada, and one LES (LE-10) Senior Policy/Advocacy Officer. An additional FS policy position (FS-02) position, shared by the EC and Congressional sections, is on loan to the Environment section until 2008. The Program is supported by one CBS Senior Program Assistant (AS01), and three LES (LE-05) Program Assistants.

4.1.3 Some management and structural issues exist within the Program. Strategic planning is done well given the reactive environment. Resources are generally well aligned to existing priorities, and a vision is in place of how to address new and emerging priorities. No major concerns were observed in the operations of the Program though some minor items need review and correcting.

4.2 Management of the Program

4.2.1 As was noted in the July 2000 Audit Report, the Program Manager (Minister-Counsellor) position is burdened with excessive control of the section. Ten staff continue to report directly to the PM, and cover a broad range of subjects, despite recommendations for change made in the last Audit Report. ***, this current span of control continues to be too wide and demanding. Adding incremental resources to the Program (transferring in the Transportation Policy Officer position, adding a new Foreign Service Development Program (FSDP) position) would simply add to the PM's current supervisory workload. The Program Manager believes, as was described in the 2000 Audit Report, that staff may not want an additional layer of management; however in the 2006 interviews staff expressed an interest in having more access to a manager when required.

4.2.2 Due to the Program Manager's considerable responsibilities and competing priorities, ***. All of the staff in the section mentioned delays in obtaining signatures and approvals for documents, as well as for leave requests. There was a sense that the Deputy Program Manager (DPM) has not been delegated sufficient responsibility ***, as one might expect, in day-to-day operational activities (e.g. the DPM is not allowed to sign off on or approve items unless the Program Manager is on official leave or travel). The Program Manager requests that she be copied on all messages, creating a significant volume of e-mail in her inbox which contributes to the delays before items can be answered. The Program Manager has also indicated that she prefers to discuss issues directly with staff because of the volume of e-mail she receives. However, she is often not available because of internal meetings with other Mission programs and external clients. A review of her calendar shows she is frequently double- or triple-booked, leaving limited flexibility or availability to interact with her staff during the day.

4.2.3 The Program Manager has expressed a desire to do more front line policy work but in order to do so will need to delegate responsibilities to members of her team. The Program Manager could create some flexibility in her schedule by changing the reporting relationships and delegating more to the DPM. The Program Manager position is akin to a Director General at HQ and should remain focussed on strategic management and high-level issues.

4.2.4 The Deputy Program Manager position seems only titular in nature. The Deputy Program Manager position is currently classified as an EX-01 position but its managerial responsibility or authority needs to be enhanced. This assignment is a *** opportunity for the incumbent but the Audit Team feels that the scope of responsibilities are currently not sufficient to justify the EX-01 classification. That being said, we do not advocate downgrading the position, but instead increasing the amount of responsibility and authority vested in the position as a way to solve some of the challenges, outlined above, that currently face the Program.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.2.5 The Program Manager should review her *** practices to ensure she remains strategic, has the capacity in her schedule to attend high-level meetings, and is available to coach and mentor staff as required.

4.2.6 The Deputy Program Manager job package should be reviewed to ensure that the position is best supporting the Program in a managerial role.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.2.5 The conclusion of the softwood negotiations and the return of the DPM greatly increased the time available to the Program Manager to coach and mentor staff, as well as to focus on other managerial responsibilities. The issues raised in the report were discussed with each individual officer in the section. Changes to the PM's *** practices have been made and will be reviewed regularly.

4.2.6 The EC Deputy Program Manager (DPM) has become the Head of the Trade Policy Unit, where she is responsible for the strategic direction and day-to-day operations of the unit, and the recruiting, managing and evaluating of the four (soon five) trade policy officers who report to her. As such, she is effectively functioning as a PM for the trade policy group, within the EC Program. These changes in her responsibilities occurred incrementally, culminating in the formal creation of the unit on 1 April 2007. Concurrently, she has taken a less active role with respect to the other officers in the Section. She continues to undertake some responsibilities for the entire EC Section, such as representing the EC (and IBD) sections in the preparation of the Mission business plan, and replacing the Program Manager in her absence. [There may be further changes in the role of the Head of Trade Policy Unit/DPM when the rest of the Mission's organizational review is completed.]

4.3 Strategic Planning

4.3.1 The Program operates in a very reactive environment, responding to the priorities of the day. This means planning is primarily viewed as a tactical tool to respond to issues that arise. The strategic plans are distilled from Mission annual plans and Ambassadorial documents, and include ongoing as well as new emerging issues. More strategic planning could be done to establish a proactive approach to intelligence gathering and reporting on these ongoing and emerging issues. This would also help in creating work plans for officers that include established milestones to be used in the performance measurement process. The Deputy Program Manager has previously worked on the results-based management framework in a policy environment. This skill set should be utilized.

4.3.2 In 1992, when the Minister Counsellor (Trade Policy) position was merged with the Minister Counsellor (Economic Policy) position, a redistribution of the Trade Policy positions was done to ensure that the number of staff reporting directly to the Program Manager was equal to that of the other Minister Counsellor (Head of the Commercial Program). This action resulted in common policy files (e.g. border, transportation) being split between both Programs.

4.3.3 Border issues have a significant impact on Canada's economy. The Economic and Trade Policy Program has one Officer working on border issues and, in close conjunction with an officer in the Commercial section, on Transportation issues. The Commercial Section position does not conduct trade promotion activities but, as was indicated in the 2000 Audit Report, this Officer's activities include representation, advocacy, tracking US bills and policy decisions, monitoring US media and reporting, and analysing and reporting on US bilateral and international transportation policies and developments, i.e. it resembles the work of officers in the Economic and Trade Policy Section. In fact, this portfolio presently has a heavy concentration on border issues. The majority of the Officer's day-to-day interaction is with the staff in the Economic and Trade Policy Program. Greater value could be realized by having both positions in the EC section, given the policy nature of the jobs and the existing synergy between the two positions on common border issues.

4.3.4 Much of the EC Program's area of work is impacted by the activities of the US Congress. In 2004, the Program shared one of its positions with the Congressional Relations Program to create a bridge between the programs and to increase understanding amongst EC staff on how to best use the mechanisms of the Washington policy arena. That position was subsequently moved to the Environment Section until at least 2008. However, given the growing demands on the Section and the rapidly increasing importance of border files, the upcoming growth in work on energy policy, and emerging trend for third-country support in bilateral free trade agreements (the USA is also negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Korea at the same time as Canada) the Program could benefit from an additional officer position. There are a limited number of junior trade officer jobs abroad and Washington would be a good training ground for a new policy officer coming out of a Headquarters policy unit. The Audit Team supports the addition of one junior policy officer (FS-02) position to the Program.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.3.5 Transfer the Counsellor (Transportation) position from the Commercial Program to the Economic and Trade Policy Program.

4.3.6 The EC Program should submit a business case to HQ for one incremental policy officer position at the FS-02 level, to work on emerging policy issues (the border, energy policy, and third-country support for FTAs).

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.3.5 The Transportation Counsellor was transferred to the EC Section effective April 1, 2007.

4.3.6 An FSDP position was requested through the Washington Mission Business Plans for 2005-06 and 2006-07, and through the Global Commerce Strategy (GCS). After the Memorandum to Cabinet and Treasury Board decisions on the GCS, the Trade Policy Branch agreed on July 24, 2007 to allocate sufficient resources to the Mission (via the North America Branch), to create a new FS-01 position in the trade policy unit of the EC section. We are currently working with the Assignment and Pool Management Division (HFP) to create the position and run a selection process in order to have a new officer in place ***.

4.4 Operations

4.4.1 The efficiency and management of the Section may be improved by regrouping officers by section or issues (border issues, agricultural issues, economic/trade policy, finance and energy) in small teams. Some of these teams could report to the Deputy Program Manager. At minimum this would reduce the number of officers who report directly to the Program Manager from ten to five.

4.4.2 The Program is active yet has only one assistant position for every three officers. Ordinarily the ratio would be closer to 1:2 however the assistants in the program said they were not busy. It appears that the Program is using a historical model whereby assistants are working as secretaries, performing routine administrative or logistical tasks. Officers also do not tend to distribute work because of the perception that assistants may not be qualified or able to help. In fact, there are opportunities where the assistants could play a more value-added role in doing research or other tasks to alleviate the workload of the officers.

4.4.3 The Senior Program Assistant reports to the Program Manager and also supports the Deputy Program Manager. One of the other assistants has responsibility for the Program's budget management. The Senior Assistant, given her role and proximity to the management team, is usually the one managing budgets. Given that a similar structure exists in the Commercial Program, the two programs may wish to consider whether they can share a common services position for budget and other common administrative duties. (See paragraph 4.11.2 ).

4.4.4 There is also some value in having a backup system in place so assistants and officers can take leave unencumbered. Overall, the system for assistants is working well; however, it is recommended that a sub-unit structure be created to benefit both assistants and officers. Often work is done in silos and there is no-one available to cover a file during an employee's absence. On several occasions this has resulted in the need to contact employees during their holidays, as well as requiring that employees maintain contact with the office while they are on leave.

Meat Health Guarantee Certificates

4.4.5 The Agricultural Section of the Trade Economic Policy Program finds itself in the position of providing a health certificate guarantee service to Canadian meat exporters whose shipments are detained at US Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection houses. Usually a couple of requests are received each week when shipments are detained because the accompanying health certificates have been incorrectly filled out by the exporter. The USDA requires that a corrected replacement certificate be issued by the exporter before the shipment can be cleared. The Mission is making a formal guarantee that the company will issue a corrected replacement certificate in short order, and upon receiving this guarantee, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) authorizes the US inspection house at the border to release the load. There is significant cross-border trade in meat products and this service is of great help to Canadian meat exporters that have poor administrative controls. That being said, the service does not seem to fit very well within the mandate of the Economic and Policy Program. It may be more appropriate for the Commercial Program to undertake this task as part of its “troubleshooting” core service. Meat Health Guarantees are being provided regularly, which points to a wider problem. The FSIS has a *** working relationship with its Canadian counterpart, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). It would seem more appropriate that the CFIA work with FSIS to come up with a common inspection regime to help facilitate the movement of meat products across the border. It would be of great benefit to the Program if Agriculture and Agrifood Canada (AAFC) or the CFIA undertook a training program for meat exporters and developed a web-guide on the correct completion of paperwork.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.4.6 A number of sub-units should be created within the Section to reduce the span of control, grouping officers working on similar files.

4.4.7 The Program should review the job packages of the assistants to see if the packages could be enhanced in order to provide more value to the Program.

4.4.8 In the short term, the Program should give budget responsibility to the Senior Program Assistant. In the longer term, the Program should explore the creation of a common services support position to be shared with the Commercial Program (see Recommendation 4.11.10).

4.4.9 The Mission should have a discussion with the USDA, FSIS, AAFC and CFIA to explore new arrangements for the provision of Meat Health Guarantee Certificates.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.4.6 To formalize what is happening already in practice, a trade policy sub-unit will be created under the management of the DPM. This will comprise four officers (trade in goods; services; investment and IP issues; and agriculture) plus a possible additional FSDP trade policy position. The other sub-units continue to work informally, ensuring that all officers continue to have back-up during their absences. The trade policy unit was formally created 1 April 2007.

4.4.7 This issue has been raised with the supervisors of the assistants, as well as the assistants themselves. However, while this may not have been the case at the time of the audit visit, generally the assistants are quite busy with visits and events. The PM and DPM have continued in their plans, discussed with the audit team, to create a researcher position within the Section, through the upgrading of one of the assistants' positions. The job packages of the assistants were reviewed, in a thorough process involving the entire section, ending in March 2007.

4.4.8 Budget responsibility is now being shared with the Commercial Program, and with changes in personnel, the Senior Program Assistant now assists in the budgeting process.

4.4.9 The Mission has raised this issue with CFIA. However, given that this is the system that FSIS has set up with all foreign missions in Washington, and given the few resources that these arrangements require in order to provide important benefits for the sector, no imminent change is anticipated.

4.4.10 Additional common administrative issues that impact the Economic and Trade Policy Program are dealt with in section 4.11 of this report.

4.5 Overview - Commercial Program

4.5.1 The resident Commercial Program has national responsibilities for Science and Technology (ST) policy monitoring and reporting; liaison with International Financial Institutions (the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank); the Canadian Space Agency; and policy issues such as export controls and transportation policy (see paragraph 4.3.3 and recommendation 4.3.5). The Program also has a sub-unit with regional responsibility for international business development (IBD) in Washington DC, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and the South-eastern part of Pennsylvania; however most if its activities and interests are concentrated within the Washington DC “Beltway”. Program staff spend approximately 62% of their time on export promotion, 15% on investment, 10% on science and technology and 13% on policy and market access issues.

4.5.2 The team is comprised of a group of *** individuals who work *** together and contribute to Canada's commercial development goals. The Program has a total of 18 positions – The Commercial Program Manager, ten Officer and seven Assistant positions. The positions with “national” responsibility, reporting to the CBS Program Manager (EX-02, Minister-Counsellor), include a CBS ST Counsellor (FS-04), a CBS Transportation Counsellor (FS-03), the Canadian Space Agency Office (1 CBS officer and 1 LE-05 Assistant) and the Office for Liaison with International Financial Institutions (1 LE-09 Trade Commissioner and 1 LE-06 Program Assistant), as well as the “regional” International Business Development (IBD) Section. The Commercial Program additionally receives the support of two LES Senior Program Assistants (LE-06) and three LES Program Assistants (LE-05).

4.5.3 The regional IBD Section is led by a CBS Trade Commissioner (FS-04), who is effectively the STC for the Mission's mid-Atlantic region of the US, carries the title of Counsellor (Commercial) and, in the absence of the Program Manager, manages the Commercial Section. His team includes two junior CBS Trade Commissioners (one FS-02, one FS-01) and three LES Trade Commissioners (LE-09).

4.5.4 For FY 2005/06 the budget included $35,000 for travel, $25,000 for hospitality, and $70,250 for the Client Service Fund (CSF). There is an additional budget of $142,400 for the Enhanced Representation Initiative (ERI). The Program appears to be very well funded, and given the number of activities in the IBD plan that do not relate to expressed priorities, there may be excess money in the system.

4.5.5 The Program is well resourced both in terms of staff and finances. In sharp contrast to the Economic and Trade Policy Program, the Commercial Program does not appear to have a heavy workload. From time to time certain pockets are active but the overall tempo is low. The Program is not directly involved in any of the major bilateral files that are of primary concern to the Mission (for example, border controls, BSE, and softwood lumber) with the exception of export controls, and generally flies under the radar, being left to its own devices by senior Mission management. There have been no Team Canada missions for the past two years, nor major Premier-led business missions, hence program resources are rarely if ever committed to the organization of political-level visits and other logistical tasks as seen in other missions. The Program is able to operate comfortably within its niche but needs to take a more proactive stance in its efforts.

4.6 Management of the Program

4.6.1 The Program is led by a Commercial Program Manager (CPM) who brings diverse experience to the Program. ***.

4.6.2 ***. The DCPM (the Counsellor (Commercial)) position has evolved over the last couple of years as the ERI has been introduced. This position is responsible for the regional IBD mandate and has eight staff reporting directly. However, it appears the position is still functioning much like the previous “Section Head” from which it evolved. The position has no real responsibility for IBD budgets or planning. Furthermore, there does not appear to be a clear delineation of responsibilities between the Program Manager and the Deputy. At times some cross-management occurs and both Managers assume the other is taking care of things. The roles of both the Program Manager and the DCPM need to be clarified.

4.6.3 The Program Manager is the only member of the Section regularly working long hours, with all other members enjoying an appropriate work-life balance. The PM should delegate greater responsibility to the DCPM (Counsellor (Commercial)) in order to cement the supervisory nature of this position and to help alleviate some of the demands on himself.

4.6.4 There is some inconsistency between the classification of the Deputy Program Managers in the Economic and Trade Policy and the Commercial Programs. The Economic and Trade Policy DPM is classified as an EX-01 but has no direct supervisory role and very little management responsibility. The Commercial DPM (FS-4) supervises eight staff directly, has management responsibility, and a large budget and geographic territory. The classification and job descriptions of both DPM positions need to be reviewed to ensure they are consistent.

4.6.5 ***. A good example of this is coaching subordinates. There are two *** officers ***, plus a number of new Program assistants and a new ST Counsellor. They are generally receiving no coaching from their managers unless specifically requested. It is essential that more coaching be done to ensure that officers develop the skills necessary to be *** Trade Commissioners. Coaching would also help the management team share their vision of the Program with their staff.

4.6.6 A review of services provided demonstrates a low volume of incoming requests, indicating that Program staff need to be more proactive in generating leads and sharing them with prospective clients. Staff must increasingly identify opportunities, promote Canadian capabilities and advantages to local contacts, and work with partners and clients in Canada in order to take advantage of these opportunities. To increase their effectiveness, officers need to develop a more detailed road map of how they will deliver on their annual plans, including outcall and hospitality strategies.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.6.7 The Deputy Program Manager job package needs to be reviewed to ensure that the position is designed to effectively manage the IBD Section as well as support the efforts of the Commercial Program as required. The classification of this position also needs to be reviewed.

4.6.8 The Program Manager and Deputy Program Manager should ensure that they are making themselves available on a regular basis to coach staff, including accompanying junior officers on out-calls.

4.6.9 The Program Manager and Deputy Program Manager should develop a strategy to make the Program more proactive and creative in its approaches to communicating opportunities to Canadian firms.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.6.7 Completed. Responsibilities of the Counsellor (Commercial) were revised and operational in practice as of September 1, 2006. Consideration of reclassification of the position from FS-04 to EX-01 forms part of the major re-organization currently being proposed and reviewed for the Mission as a whole. The Counsellor (Commercial) is effectively the STC for the IBD program within Mission's mid-Atlantic region of the US. The Counsellor (Commercial):

  • has assumed all budget/planning responsibilities for the IBD program in the mid-Atlantic
  • has clarified to his IBD staff that they report to him and that the Program Manager need be consulted only in his absence or in unusual circumstances
  • meets directly with his Officers each week to review operations and planning
  • represented the Mission's Commercial Section at the STC/ERI partners regional planning meetings in Philadelphia in December 2006
  • will participate in the US STC/GR meetings in Ottawa in January/February 2007 (in addition to the Program Manager)

4.6.8 Completed. As of September 2006, Section meetings were re- organized to provide more opportunity for exchange and feedback with Officers, replacing a bi-weekly all staff (18 persons) meeting with:

  • for Program Manager, weekly one-on-one meetings with each of his direct reports (Counselors for ST/Space/Transportation/Commercial and Trade Commissioner (OLIFI))
  • for Counselor (Commercial), weekly group meeting with Officers (5 direct reports)
  • monthly group meeting for all Assistants together with Program Manager and Counselor (Commercial)
  • occasional all-staff meetings (once per quarter, limited to one hour)
    The Counselor (Commercial) has undertaken a greater coaching role for the two *** CBS, including accompanying on outcalls and working to develop a significantly revised work package for one of the officers.

4.6.9 In progress. Managers of the Commercial Section have discussed with Headquarters issues related to recruitment in Canada of potential exporters to the territory and are actively seeking ways to get the Regional Offices involved and take greater advantage of their proximity to and knowledge of local companies. Recent trade missions have also made good use of Canadian business associations in communicating opportunities in the Mid-Atlantic Region. The Section presently produces an Investment/Innovation Newsletter aimed at corporations in the territory and will be expanding the number of recipients. Managers are also seeking ways to more exactly identify Canadian companies with an interest in the territory as indicated by enrollment in the Virtual Trade Commissioner system.

4.7 Strategic Planning

4.7.1 The Implementation of the Enhanced Representation Initiative has not impacted the priorities of the Program. In the absence of a Commerce Strategy for the United States market, each Mission continues to develop its own plan for its particular territory. All Officers in the program participate in an annual planning exercise that produces a comprehensive IBD Plan for the territory. A review of the plan shows a wide and diverse range of activities. It appears there are no priority areas as there are activities planned and funded for a large range of industrial sectors.

4.7.2 The economic landscape of the capital region seems concentrated in the fields of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Defence, Publishing, and Financial Services/Venture Capital. Beyond Washington DC, there is a heavy concentration on science and technology, including research and development (RD) in biotechnology and other health industries. Not only do the activities of the Section not closely align with these themes, but the well-funded and diverse strategic plan indicates that the Program may be over-funded and engaging in a number of extraneous activities. For example, even though the special Client Service Fund (CSF) allocations for Education Marketing and Cultural Industries were dropped in 2005, funds were allocated by the Commercial Program to other Programs in the Mission to support these files. These are not priority sectors, and funding should only be allocated if there is potential to leverage and support key Program initiatives. It was also noted in the minutes of the December 2005 retreat that the team felt they are taking on too many events and not doing enough follow-up. This needs to be watched closely.

4.7.3 The Program currently has one officer devoted to ICT and another to Defence Procurement. Other missions resident in Washington have a higher number of staff working on the ICT file (e.g. Australia has five officers working exclusively on ICT). Two officers in our Mission are assigned to what may be considered “legacy sectors” (agriculture and building products) which could be handled differently, allowing priorities to be refocused.

4.7.4 The Mission has submitted a business case for the creation of a Technology Promotion Officer (TPO) position to further help Canada realize opportunities in the ICT and RD files. The ST Counsellor and the Investment Officer do not have the capacity to undertake this work, but would play key roles in supporting the work of the TPO. There is sufficient data to support the Mission's request for this kind of resource; however, given the current lack of focus in existing resources, the Audit Team cannot support the addition of an incremental officer to the Program. Instead, we strongly support re-profiling one of the existing positions that currently handles non-priority items to take on these critical duties.

4.7.5 The Consulate in Philadelphia, which reports to Washington, has its own IBD planning exercise and has considerable overlap in sectors with its hub mission (Food and Beverage, Information Technology, and Bio Industries). Given the short commuting distance, resources could be more effectively deployed if planning was integrated and sectoral overlap reduced. Officers from each mission should have full responsibility for a given sector and cover the entire territory, meeting regularly with the other mission to compare and consolidate efforts.

4.7.6 The Program is using the Trade Commissioner Assistants (TCAs) as secretaries. A review of their work showed that a large portion of their time is devoted to administrative and logistical work. As in other Commercial Programs around the world, additional value could be added to the Program by having the Assistants work on some of the lower-priority sectors.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.7.7 The Program should review its priority sectors and emerging markets, and establish an IBD plan that is more focussed. This review should also include the Philadelphia Office.

4.7.8 The Program should undertake a review of the distribution of sectors across the team in Washington and Philadelphia, and should include the Trade Commissioner Assistants who could be assigned to manage lower-priority sectors.

4.7.9 The creation of a Technology Promotion Officer (TPO) position should be encouraged within the existing resource envelope of the Program.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.7.7 Completed. Again, as a result of the Program Manager completing *** experience at Mission, the Counselor (Commercial)'s knowledge of the territory and the Audit, Post IBD priorities were significantly re-oriented in September 2006 to better reflect and capture the evolving opportunities in Post territory:

  • Security and Health (Health IT/Medical Devices/Biotech) were designated new priority sectors, along with existing priorities of Aerospace/Defense and ICT (i.e. Mission now has four priority sectors)
  • Urban Transport, Environment and Consumer Goods were deemed reactive only
  • responsibility for Agri-food for the entire mid-Atlantic region was transferred to the Consulate in Philadelphia
  • increased coverage of the burgeoning ICT sector will result from the ICT components of Security and Health, now covered by Officers responsible for those two sectors, in addition to ICT coverage for the sector as a whole by a third Officer
  • 2007/08 IBD plan currently under development reflects this sectoral re-orientation.

4.7.8 Completed. Discussions between the Program Manager and the Consul/STC in Philadelphia on respective areas of sectoral focus and priority resulted in Philadelphia taking on responsibility for Agri-food for the entire mid-Atlantic region, freeing up resources in the Mission for higher-priority activities in the District of Columbia area, and taking advantage of a) Philadelphia's identification of Agri-food as a priority sector in its immediate territory and b) Philadelphia's Agri-food Trade Commissioner who has extensive sectoral experience.

Other priority sectors in Philadelphia have been reviewed between the Program Manager and Philadelphia with the conclusion that Philadelphia's remaining focus on Life Sciences and ICT remains appropriate. It was also concluded that there were sufficient, discrete ICT opportunities in the Philadelphia and District of Columbia (DC) areas to warrant each office having ICT as a priority sector with a dedicated Officer.

(See also response 4.8.14 re: Assistants)

4.7.9 Completed. While the Commercial Section was prepared to re-allocate, if necessary, internal resources to carve out a Technology Partnering Officer position (TPO) given the importance of this role in the technology-rich DC area, the pitch to Ottawa for incremental resources to staff this as an LES position was finally successful in September 2006, using ERI funds which run to March 2008. This enabled the Program Manager to both re-orient priority sectors to significantly more promising opportunities while bringing on board a TPO to undertake critical work with DC area research institutes and technology companies.

Since the DC area is a large recipient of federal research funds ***, the technology partnering opportunities may be more “upstream” than for other missions in the US. Hence the TPO will report to the ST Counsellor, but will collaborate closely with sectoral and investment Trade Commissioners in the IBD Program. The Mission actively sought an LES (rather than CBS) TPO, the first in the US, to complement on the US side the ST Counsellor's knowledge of the Canadian research scene.

4.8 Operations

4.8.1 Once sectors have been reviewed and new priorities established, it will become important to formalize the development of sector plans. Although responsibilities and objectives have been set for each Trade Commissioner, individual work plans for each priority sector need to be created. Such plans, with a focus on establishing objectives, activities and expected results, would assist the Trade Commissioners in better achieving targets by linking activities, outcalls and hospitality spending to the results sought by the Program. The Program has done a considerable amount of work on the MARCUS (Measuring Achievements and Results by Canada in the US) initiative to help define targets. The inclusion of an outreach/outcall approach as part of each officer's sector strategy and work plan would add the tactical element, allowing the Program to use its resources more effectively and to reach the targets detailed in MARCUS. Some officers in the section are already laying the groundwork for sector work plans in their preparation for the annual Performance Management Program objective setting exercise. Work plans would also help provide a framework for coaching and add value to performance management agreements.

4.8.2 The Program has an InfoCentre and has been using TRIO, DFAIT's client relationship management system, to track service requests since October 2005. A review of the tracking data shows that the IBD team in Washington receives on average 50 service requests (SR) from Canadian clients per month. These are mainly in the advanced technology, advanced manufacturing, and government procurement sectors. Some trade commissioners reported receiving as little as two to five SRs per month. This low level of activity should allow significant time for outcalls and proactive market development and networking. However, it is not clear that the activities currently undertaken are resulting in increased market intelligence/leads being provided to Canadian clients. When responding to service requests for Key Contacts, there appears to be a tendency to send out large non-validated lists generated by databases. ***. The InfoCentre should work more closely with officers and assistants when receiving requests, even if for general information. Officers should also have the opportunity to see all inquiries in their sectors. Virtually no business leads are generated through tools such as IBOC (International Business Opportunities Centre).

4.8.3 The InfoCentre should filter trade inquiries, manage information and coordinate internal procedures for the Commercial program. It was created as a single-service window for serving external and internal clients. The jobs of the InfoCentre and TRIO Champions should be combined. Currently, the InfoCentre does not provide service to Philadelphia. Given the low volume of traffic among Canadian missions in the US, it may make sense to create a single InfoCentre for all posts. This would lead to more effective operations and better centralized client service. If this occurred the Mission could still benefit from having a Common Services Unit. (See paragraph 4.11.2).

4.8.4 The Program has become a centre of expertise for the use of TRIO. In fact, the TRIO Champion provides useful “best practice” documents that are being used by other posts. She has also been sent to China to train staff there on using the application. That being said, the Program should attempt to increase input into the system as their client activity increases. The Program's effectiveness is hampered by the current split of the TRIO/InfoCentre job package between two individuals. Ideally, these systems and roles should be closely intertwined so as to better monitor work flows and be of optimal use.

4.8.5 The Program has a large number of Trade Commissioner Assistant positions for the workload of the Program (seven Assistant positions). The Economic and Trade Policy Section has a higher volume of work but fewer assistants. The Commercial Program may want to consider transferring one assistant position to the Economic and Trade Policy Program along with the Transportation Policy Officer Position (see paragraph 4.3.3).

4.8.6 The Commercial Program would also benefit from reducing the segregation of duties among the assistants. Some of the assistant positions are fenced or are deemed specialists and do not have job packages that conform to the principles of the New Approach. The Assistant to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is currently only supporting one officer. The Program should engage the CSA in a discussion to see if this resource could be used more effectively. None of the assistant positions have sectoral responsibilities and assistants do not generally appear to be working closely with their officers on their files, conducting research, or interacting with clients. Instead, we witnessed a very dated model where it appeared assistants are working as secretaries performing routine administrative and logistical tasks.

4.8.7 A number of staff *** may be overfilling assistant positions. However, operational requirements should dictate the classification of positions, not the incumbent. A number of the assistant positions are classified as LE-06, which is above the norm for IBD Programs. It would be appropriate for the Senior Trade Commissioner Assistant and the InfoCentre/ Common Support Unit Manager/TRIO Champion positions to be classified as LE-06. The Program should undertake a review of the job packages of these positions and downgrade those deemed to be over-classified.

4.8.8 The Program is relatively large, and given the specialized role of certain positions, some silos exist. Regular team meetings are held to discuss plans, their implementation and on-going operations but these are chaired by the Program Manager and include both the nationally-focussed specialist policy officers and the regionally focussed IBD section. The Deputy Program Manager does not hold meetings for the regional IBD section, and this should be encouraged. Philadelphia does not presently participate in Washington's meetings; however, they should be included to build better links between the offices (see paragraph 4.7.5). A practice is in place in which one officer from each Program sits in on other Program's team meetings and in horizontal task force meetings. It was not apparent if these officers are reporting back to their home units and sharing what they have observed. It is important that this occur in order to maximize the return from participating in other units' meetings.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.8.9 The Program should develop individual work plans for each priority sector that indicates objectives and expected results.

4.8.10 Work plans should each have an outreach/outcall strategy, including a hospitality plan that identifies why contacts are being targeted and how they link to the objectives.

4.8.11 The practices of the InfoCentre need to be reviewed to ensure it is providing the best value possible to the Program. The Program should create a strategy to improve their InfoCentre-like approach to handling incoming and outgoing communications to effectively track and deal with all business development enquiries and to help ensure service standards are being met.

4.8.12 The roles of the TRIO Champion and the InfoCentre should be combined.

4.8.13 The InfoCentre should extend coverage to Philadelphia. Inclusion of other US missions should be examined.

4.8.14 The number of Assistant positions in the Program, their job packages and classifications, should be reviewed.

4.8.15 The regional IBD section should hold its own team meetings to better coordinate business development efforts and ensure trade officers can share their learning with each other.

4.8.16 Officers representing the Commercial Program at other team meetings or on task forces should ensure they are reporting back to their home Program. This is important to help improve communication and reduce silos within the Program.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.8.9 Completed. During the Commercial Section's Planning Retreat in November 2006, officers prepared detailed overviews of their newly-aligned priority sectors, describing the current environment and what they specifically planned to accomplish in the coming year. These will be incorporated in the internal planning process, which will include the overviews and a detailed budgetary worksheet for each officer in addition to the required Departmental documentation.

MARCUS has also been incorporated into the Section's operations as a planning, results and management tool.

4.8.10 Works plans for the 2007/08 period will include more detail on outcall strategies. However, the Program does not envisage major changes nor need a detailed hospitality plan. Hospitality events are either small, such as one-on-one lunches, to deal with specific issues and opportunities, or larger-scale events, such as the Technology Leaders Dinners, to promote Canadian advanced science and technology as a branding project with targeted follow-up.

4.8.11 Completed. The Counselor (Commercial) is reviewing InfoCentre requests with the Assistant responsible on a regular basis. While removing the burden of general enquiries from officers has been useful, improvements will be made to ensure the continued meeting of Departmental service standards. Focus will be on ensuring that the InfoCentre provides a response commensurate with the quality of the request; in some instances, no response will be warranted. The Commercial Counsellor has, since March 2007, received quarterly updates on InfoCentre activity and all service standards are being met.

4.8.12 The Mission TRIO Champion had past experience with WIN, and has continued her training responsibilities into TRIO for the Section and for other missions; she Chairs the TRIO Assistants' Group Meetings representing all US missions. She is also the Financial Administrator for the Commercial Program. ***, it is important to continue to use her in both roles, which makes for a full job package. To this she added, in September 2006, financial support to the Economic and Trade Policy Section. Our current InfoCentre manager is the Assistant to the Counselor (Commercial) and the Investment Trade Commissioner; given the considerable amount of work required to support the investment program, this is also a full package. Our view is there would be limited synergies to be gained from combining TRIO and InfoCentre roles, whereas the current system, with enhanced oversight over the InfoCentre by the Counselor (Commercial) will contribute most to effective operation of the Section.

4.8.13 The InfoCentre does not require a formal mechanism for channelling appropriate requests to Philadelphia given the very small number of requests received in the Mission's corporate mailbox for priority sectors in Philadelphia. Instead, for the very few occasions which do arise, the incoming request itself is sent to the mini-Info Centre in Philadelphia for action. Philadelphia does the same in reverse. Philadelphia is in full agreement that this is the most efficient approach.

4.8.14 With the departure of the Counsellor (Transportation) to the Economic and Trade Policy Section, and the hiring of a Technology Partnering Officer, the Assistant who departed *** was not replaced. Revised Assistant job packages were developed, based on a re-distribution of work-load, and became operational as of April 1, 2007. Regarding the role of the Assistants, the Program does not believe the model of using Assistants as Junior Trade Commissioners will work well in this Mission, given:

  • the *** existing Assistants who, with one exception, are most effective and needed, in management's view, in a supporting role
  • the position level of the Assistants (LE-05 and LE-06), appropriate to their current functions, is too low to task and compensate them for a Junior Trade Commissioner role (which would need to be at least LE-07 and more likely LE-08 level)
  • the trade missions and events organized by the Section require substantive administrative support for which, with one less assistant, the Section is now appropriately staffed
  • the one Assistant *** has been moved to support two Officers with regular incoming missions, providing her with training and experience relevant to direct company support and client interaction

4.8.15 Completed. The regional IBD Section has been holding weekly meetings with all Officers since September 2006 to discuss business development activities, share best practices and coordinate with other units of the Commercial Section and the Mission as a whole.

4.8.16 Commercial Program Officers attend a cross-section of other Mission meetings to keep abreast of relevant developments elsewhere. However, only some issues discussed at other Section meetings are relevant and are usually of interest to a single IBD Section Officer, who is then briefed separately on the issue rather than via a debriefing to a group meeting.

4.9 Science and Technology (ST)

4.9.1 Washington is not only the principal policy centre in the USA but is also the nucleus of an important research and development cluster. The ST Counsellor's time is consumed with monitoring and reporting on policy and legislation changes and the US federal science budget. She has very little time to work on technology promotion, partnerships, and foundation-building, reinforcing the need for the Mission to have a dedicated TPO (see paragraph 4.7.4).

4.9.2 The ST position reports directly to the Minister-Counsellor (Commercial), distinct from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Office, while the Investment Officer reports to the Deputy Program Manager. The business case for the creation of the TPO position has the TPO reporting to the ST Counsellor. None of these reporting relationships is ideal or effective. The ST Counsellor and the CSA representative should be in the same section with a shared assistant to encourage more cooperation between the two policy positions. The Program should consider placing the new TPO in the same sub-unit as the Investment Officer since both positions target business development and there will be significant opportunity to cooperate with the Trade Commissioner responsible for Information and Communication Technologies.

4.9.3 The ST Counsellor not only needs to work more closely with Investment and CSA, but also with other partners in the Embassy active in ST and RD files: the Energy Counsellor, Trade Policy Officers handling Intellectual Property, the Environment Section and Defence Research Development Canada. In the absence of a TPO, the Counsellor also needs to work closely with IBD Officers in both Washington and Philadelphia on advanced technology sectors. There are also opportunities for this position to take a national lead in coordinating reporting efforts and consolidating technology promotion resources across the United States.

4.9.4 The ST Officer receives very little direction from the Science and Technology unit (IIS) at HQ. Instead, she has a close working relationship with the Science Advisor's Office at Industry Canada. Operational support for events and conferences is provided by the US Business Development unit (WAD). Most tasking comes directly to the Mission from science-based departments and agencies (SBDAs). IIS needs to play a greater role in coordinating the SBDAs and developing reporting contracts for the ST Counsellor network. This will ensure that resources in the field are used effectively and are reporting on subjects that client groups are interested in. These contracts will also help form work plans for the officers and aid in performance measurement.

4.9.5 The ST Newsletter produced bi-monthly by the Section is distributed to approximately 400 readers. The newsletter is really a clipping service and, unlike section reporting, does not provide much in the way of intelligence or analysis. It may be useful to evaluate the click-through rates on the links embedded in the articles to see what topics readers are interested in. A survey on the value of the publication to its readers may also be helpful in redirecting the efforts of the program. Another helpful promotional tool for ST would be the inclusion of “Innovation” messages and talking points in the Mission's advocacy booklets, remaining consistent with “Investment” messages.

Recommendation to the Science and Technology Unit (IIS)

4.9.7 IIS should use the Interdepartmental Network on International ST (INIST) committee to create a set of priorities and reporting contracts for the ST Counsellor network.

4.9.8 IIS should work with the Science Advisor's Office and other partners to develop an inventory of ST experts in Canada. This will make it easier to find speakers and presenters.

Science and Technology Unit (IIS) Actions and Timeframes

4.9.7 ***. Work in the area of ST has been fast changing throughout the last two years, within the Department as well as our interface with the ST community (federal science-based departments and agencies, provinces, universities, private sector) and will likely continue to evolve. While INIST is a very useful forum for building a more coherent government approach to international ST by discussing priorities, and coordinating federal initiatives - reports from INIST meetings are circulated to missions and ST counsellors can be on the agenda if desired - the ST Counsellor position is under the responsibility of DFAIT and as such, the Department should be the one setting the priorities. These priorities are established after consultations with the community but it is important that flexibility is maintained with respect to tasking and deliverables. Reporting contracts would not add value to the work. In the context of the new Global Commerce Strategy, IIS is working on defining the roles and responsibilities of DFAIT ST players, including the ST network abroad and taking into account the specificity of the policy mandate of some positions, including the Washington. There is already *** cooperation between IIS and NCP on all ST files, and we will ensure that there be a more regular exchange of information between IIS and the ST counsellor as well. IIS will commit to providing more regular updates, especially as it relates to priorities. Quarterly conference calls will be considered between ST counsellor, IIS and NCP, and other important players such as IC/ONSA when required.

4.9.8 There has been an ongoing need for the domestic Canadian ST community as well as our missions to have an inventory of ST experts in Canada created for the purpose of identifying Canadian ST capabilities; it seems that no comprehensive database exists as such yet. While an inventory for the purposes of identifying speakers and presenters would be useful, the priority is on a wider inventory that would facilitate the identification of Canadian partners for the establishment of efficient international ST partnerships; for sure, such tool would help identify speakers/presenters as well. IIS is actively pursuing different options in this regard and, pending the availability of required resources, and hopes to have something in place in the next year or so. In the meantime, as the need for speakers/presenters fluctuates greatly and requests are very targeted to the event, informally, IIS, IC/ONSA, and missions share recommendations for speakers/presenters on an as needed basis. IIS can access the INIST network with specific requests for speakers/presenters. At this stage, keeping a list of Canadian ST experts used for speakers and presenters would mainly be to avoid repeated requests to the same people more than identifying key experts to be contacted.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.9.9 The Program should work closely with IIS to ensure an ST reporting contract is developed.

4.9.10 To help promote communication and coordination, the Program should consider having the ST Counsellor position lead a sub-unit that includes the Canadian Space Agency representative. This sub-unit should not include the TPO position as it is oriented towards business development rather than policy.

4.9.11 The ST Counsellor should consider leading an Embassy-wide ST Committee that brings partners within the Mission (Environment, Trade Policy, Defence Research and Development Canada, etc.) together on a monthly basis to share information, intelligence, and reporting.

4.9.12 The Program should survey the uptake and readership of the ST newsletter to ensure that audiences still find the information useful and effective when it comes to decision making with respect to Canada.

4.9.13 The Program should work with Public Affairs to ensure that the key messages booklet and Mission publications such as Connect2Canada have sufficient messaging on Canada's commercial capabilities, including innovation and investment attraction.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.9.9 Discussions were held between the Minister-Counselor (Commercial) and the Director of IIS, in November 2006. IIS was satisfied with the current focus and contribution of the current ST Counselor. Given the diversity of the client base and its interests, and the ad hoc nature by which issues of interest arise, it is felt that a reporting contract would not provide useful or additional value. The ST Counselor is in regular consultation not only with IIS but also with NCP, the Office of the National Science Advisor, and other government organizations such as CIHR and NSERC thus making it difficult for one party to implement a contract.

4.9.10 The sub-unit proposed with the Space Counsellor reporting to the ST Counsellor would not be appropriate at this time given the current Space Counsellor's seniority and responsibilities. This structure will be re-visited when the current Space Counsellor finishes his open-ended assignment, ***. There are some, though limited, synergies between these two roles, since the Space Counsellor focuses almost exclusively on the programmatic and project relationships between the CSA and NASA. However, under re-organization options, the Mission is considering the practical measure of having a single assistant support the ST Counsellor, Space Counsellor and Technology Partnering Officer (TPO).

With regard to the TPO, other ST Counselors in other missions have worked closely with Technology Development Officers (similar to TPOs) such as in London and Berlin and this combination has been deemed successful given the synergies. In the mid-Atlantic area, there appears a higher proportion of institutional versus private sector research, making the new TPO's focus upstream in other territories such as New York or Boston. As such, the TPO and ST Counselor are likely to have common contacts and networks, and will complement each other on familiarity with Canada's technology environment (Counselor) and that of the US (LES TPO). Finally, the current ST Counselor has had a *** relationship with other TPOs in the US and can be a source of important guidance to the TPO in the Mission. While the TPO will therefore report to the ST Counselor, the TPO will at the same time collaborate closely with the Investment Officer and Sectoral Trade Commissioners in the IBD Program.

4.9.11 Since January 2007, the ST Counsellor in the Commercial Section has held ad hoc discussions with other Mission staff with a role in ST (Defence, Energy, Environment). The conclusion is that there are few areas of overlap, but the relationships and networks are in place to ensure information sharing and collaboration on an as-needed basis. While there should be information-sharing, it is not obvious that there are many issues of common interest in the work that the ST Counselor is doing with others in the Mission who have some involvement in ST. In the case where there are issues that may concern other sections, the ST Counselor is inclusive in her distribution of reports or leads. This should be the same for the other officers who may come across an ST issue in their work (i.e. they should include the ST Counselor in their distribution).

4.9.12 In progress. The newsletter is a useful instrument that assists the Counselor in keeping up to date with various issues related to ST, as well as informing Canadian stakeholders accordingly. It consolidates in one place the wide range of high level US ST issues and can also be used as an effective marketing tool. The interns have been helpful in keeping the newsletter a going concern. IIS also reinforced its value as a means for them to remain up to date on issues. While many of the articles are taken directly from other sources, some of the articles are analyses of particular issues and require some research.

While readership seldom expresses comments, no one has requested to be taken off the distribution list and there have been additions of over 50 people in the last year. It would be useful to evaluate the click-through rates to see what topics readers are interested in and the Mission will evaluate ways to get this information with a view to making a change in the program we currently use.

4.9.13 In progress. Messages on innovation should be developed. The Mission website should also include a link to ST and investment as well. The ST Counselor will meet with Public Affairs to develop/provide messaging on innovation and science and technology in general.

4.10 Office of Liaison with International Financial Institutions (OLIFI)

4.10.1 OLIFI is a unique function within the Trade Commissioner Service. With several locations world-wide, it is not strictly part of the Washington Commercial Program, but is located in Washington DC because this is the headquarters city of the World Bank and the Inter-Americas Development Bank (IDB). Its objective is to help Canadian firms sell products and services to public procurement initiatives funded by international development institutions such as multilateral development banks, bilateral development agencies, United Nations agencies and other humanitarian projects.

4.10.2 While planning and priority-setting for the OLIFI Program are done in conjunction with that of the rest of the Commercial Program in Washington, the OLIFI is still treated as independent and remains largely unaffected by the day-to-day operations of the Commercial Program. OLIFI does not have its own budget, but a fenced portion of the Client Service Fund. The current structure of the Washington OLIFI Program, located as it is within the Mission's Commercial Program, works ***. Care should be taken to preserve the current set-up in the face of future staff changes. These structures and approaches could be beneficial if applied to other OLIFI offices world-wide.

4.10.3 *** the Washington OLIFI team as they have established a number of “best practices” that will benefit other OLIFI units. For example, the Office has established an informal arrangement with the Executive Director's Office at the World Bank whereby an OLIFI Officer works at the World Bank for half of the week. This relationship currently relies on the goodwill of all parties involved and should be formalized so it will benefit team members in the future. Other OLIFIs should consider similar arrangements with their host-bank where appropriate.

4.10.4 Several challenges face the OLIFI Program in its present location within the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) at large. Some of the tools designed to assist Trade Commissioners are of little value to OLIFI Officers in their present format. The OLIFI Program should consider drafting their own version of the TCS “six core services”, tailored to their specific work environment and client group. Such a list would be useful to all OLIFI units and would help supervisory Program Managers (in this instance, the Washington Commercial Program), to better understand the specialized role carried out by officers working on IF portfolios. The OLIFI's inclusion in the Virtual Trade Commissioner (VTC.) service also needs to be examined. In some cases OLIFI officers have been omitted from the VTC.'s electronic listing of Trade Commissioners due to the nature of their work; unlike most Trade Commissioners, they do not necessarily have specific sectoral responsibilities. Specialized Trade Commissioners, including those at the OLIFI in Washington, should be included on all electronic VTC lists. In addition, TCS website are designed to produce market reports based on sectors and markets. OLIFI reports are regionally-based therefore are not consistently posted. This approach needs to be reviewed.

WTR Comment:WTR is presently leading a review of the six core services which aims at integrating the activities of DFAIT's four commerce branches, in order for clients to continue receiving a consistent message from the Department. In fact, the six core services are very much applicable to the OLIFI clients. Companies looking to bid on IFI projects/procurement contracts depend on OLIFI Trade Commissioners to provide them with detailed information/intelligence about a project /contract (Market Prospect) as well as who are the decision-makers they should be speaking with (Key Contacts Search). Trade Commissioners (TCs) also meet with clients to discuss specific opportunities (Face to Face Briefing) and advocate on their behalf (Troubleshooting) when they are seemingly unfairly cut from a short list or excluded. While it is true that OLIFI work is more specialized, TCs can also use some of the tools developed for the TCS, such as the Client Acquisition Initiative when they are looking to identify Canadian companies to fill an IFI need or the Prospecting Guide when they need to expand their network of contacts. It would be useful if the best practices developed in Washington would be shared with other TCs doing IFI work. As for the need to be better understood by their managers, the OLIFI should for example consider drafting a purpose statement based on the TCS statement to clarify their mandate. The Leadership Guide to Quality Management (A Journey to Excellence) developed by WTR may be a tool that the manager of the OLIFI office may consider to help achieve better clarity in that regard.

Recommendations to BPF

4.10.5 BPF should undertake a review of the OLIFI network in order to ensure that approaches are consistent globally, that tasking and reporting lines are clear, and that resources are being used effectively.

4.10.6 BPF should review Washington's list of OLIFI core services to see if they would make an appropriate global standard.

4.10.7 BPF should examine how OLIFI mission staff are listed in Virtual Trade Commissioner and how OLIFI sector and opportunity reports can best be included in both the VTC and Infoexport website.

BPF and Timeframes

4.10.5 This recommendation was addressed at an IFI retreat organized by BPF last year and is a work-in-progress. At that retreat, an Aid Market Support Network matrix comprised of (1) BPF, (2) the OLIFIs and (3) the regional teams across Canada was developed. For each of these players, the matrix identified the corresponding roles, clients, partners etc. In its role of network coordinator, BPF continues to strive towards the establishment of an effective (and leveraged) use of resources, a clear division of roles and responsibilities, the non-duplication of services to clients, and the sharing and replication of best practices. The draft BPF business plan for fiscal year 2007/08 includes a number of actions such as monthly conference calls and other regular liaison activities aimed at furthering the existing collaborative relationship among the matrix players, including that between BPF and the OLIFIs.

BPF Comment:
It is important to emphasize that the relationship between BPF and OLIFI Washington is in effect a collaborative effort based on a shared theme (MDBs) and goals. It is one that must also recognize the dynamics in place at post in terms of accountability, access to financial resources (in large part from the post's budgetary envelopes, leveraged by ad-hoc BPF contributions) and other operational issues (travel; absence from post). While BPF and OLIFI continue to work together in developing work plans, liaison and coordination efforts (conference calls; meetings in both Ottawa and Washington) involving the Head of the commercial program have been a feature of BPF's delivery of its network coordination role and this will continue to be the case in the future. In other words, the objective is for BPF to strengthen the *** relationship it enjoys with OLIFI Washington (and the Mission). As this relationship continues to evolve, BPF will ensure that any changes in the nature and scope of this existing relationship (in terms of coordination, use of resources, accountability) is appropriately redefined and agreed upon.

4.10.6 To have an appropriate OLIFI global standard is a recommendation BPF subscribes to entirely. In fact, such a global standard does exist as the services delivered by all OLIFIs must - and do - conform with the delivery of the “core” services under the Department's New Approach@Work. Differences may exist in terms of the focus and importance a particular OLIFI places on a given core service. In our view, however, such variations do not reflect discrepancies in the delivery of a global standard but rather reflect dynamics on the ground and/or “environmental” factors such as distance from Canada, the language factor, how comprehensive and user friendly individual IFI web sites are, the size of the OLIFI office and whether the OLIFI officer must also contribute to the delivery of the mission's bilateral trade programme. BPF will continue to work with the OLIFIs in maintaining a service delivery standard that is, to the extent possible, appropriate and global, and consistent with established departmental guidelines.

4.10.7 BPF is aware of the issue, which will need to be examined in light of the departmental review of web tools such as the VTC, and the recent re-definition of BDM's role that will now be concentrated on developing expertise and information on Canadian sectoral capabilities. As part of its draft business plan for 2007/08, BPF will monitor developments and engage discussions with relevant players with a view to address the recommendation put forward by the audit team.

Recommendation to Trade Commissioner Services Renewal (WTR)

4.10.8 WTR should design a training module within the Global Learning Initiative for managers on how to manage specialist resources, regional and OGD positions that are part of their programs.

WTR Action and Timeframe

4.10.8 The Global Learning Initiative for managers is meant to cover the needs of commercial program managers at all our missions in the world, few of which present such specialisation as in Washington. WTR will add the suggestion made in the report to its compiled list of training requirements. The appropriate way to address the training requirement will be examined.

Recommendation to the Mission

4.10.9 The Program should formalize the part-time working arrangement ***. A similar arrangement should be attempted ***.

Mission Action and Timeframe

4.10.9 Completed. An exchange of letters was signed in September 2006 *** to put in writing the part-time working arrangement that the Mission OLIFI Trade Commissioner has within the ED's office. This is as formal a relationship as can be established for a non-employee of the Bank; the advantages of this association for Canadian business was raised with the new incoming Canadian ED upon his arrival ***.

The office *** has on staff (i.e. separate from the Mission) a Counsellor responsible for both policy and business development, who is already well placed within the bank to support Canadian company business development activities. While there is close collaboration between this Counsellor and the Mission's OLIFI Trade Commissioner, it is not necessary to embed the Trade Commissioner part-time *** to achieve our goals.

4.11 Common Administrative Issues

4.11.1 The following administrative items are common to both the Economic and Commercial Programs unless otherwise specified.

4.11.2 Neither the Economic nor Commercial Programs are making full use of their assistants' ***. Rather than assisting officers with research or undertaking a specialised budgeting or information management role, for the most part assistants are under-utilized and are tasked with very basic administrative duties. The workload among the assistants needs to be rebalanced as some are currently overburdened while others are not being optimally tasked. Work should be assigned to the group of assistants in order to maximize their skills, maximize the efficiency of the section (e.g. by having a “common services unit” that provides logistical services to all officers and having one specialist assistant working on InfoCentre, TRIO and the website), and maximize support to all officers in the Programs. Management should re-examine all of the assistants' job packages, striving to consolidate common tasks under one position (e.g. information management, budgeting) and creating a common pool of assistants to support the work of the Trade Commissioners.

4.11.3 All Economic Officers and Trade Commissioners in Washington have hospitality budget allocations; however, although some are very active in this domain, others are not using their budgets fully ***. Hospitality funds are commonly used to host large events rather than smaller, targeted events. These funds could be used more strategically by each officer in conjunction with outcall strategies to gain market/policy intelligence and cultivate networks of contacts. Program Managers and Deputy Program Managers should coach their staff on how to effectively plan, carry out and report on hospitality functions.

4.11.4 Hospitality diary forms are not always completed correctly. Officers should clearly link hospitality events to Program objectives, identify the purpose or expected contribution of the event, and give a frank assessment of the value of the event and anticipated follow-up. Program Managers should verify Hospitality diaries regularly.

4.11.5 It was noted that when large events are co-funded by more than one Program in the Mission, funds are passed to the organizing officer by personal cheque. This is being done because officers are using funds from their hospitality advances. However, funds should be returned to the Finance Section and processed internally as a transfer between Programs by the Mission accountants.

4.11.6 Overtime is not managed consistently across both Programs. Program Managers should review Mission policies on overtime to ensure common interpretation. Presently, informal systems are being used to manage overtime, which may result in employees being short-changed. Managers should not discourage employees from claiming overtime hours, but should encourage time to be taken in lieu of cash to avoid budget constraints. Overtime claims should be submitted and reviewed regularly.

4.11.7 A number of employees are following flexible work hour schedules. It is important that managers keep all employee HR files up-to-date, including all paperwork related to flex-hours. As per departmental policy, managers should also be satisfied that operational requirements are being met and that flex-hour schedules are not leading to an overall increase in costs (including overtime) or a decrease in productivity.

4.11.8 Most appraisals and job descriptions are up-to-date. The PMP is being well implemented.

4.11.9 Organizational charts need to be updated to accurately show reporting relationships. Job titles also need to be reviewed to ensure they clearly show job function. Job titles should be consistent on letterhead, business cards and organizational charts, etc. The list of employees on InfoExport is incomplete (includes culture but not education), in the wrong order and includes incorrect titles. The Virtual Trade Commissioner does not include all employees and needs to be reviewed. Program Managers should ensure that public information regarding their sections is consistently updated to reflect staff changes.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.11.10 The Program Managers and Deputy Program Managers should examine the creation of a common support unit (CSU) that could create a small pool of resources for general inquiries, financial/budget support, research assistance, and event logistics.

4.11.11 The Program Managers and Deputy Program Managers should ensure that their respective staff are coached on increasing their use of strategic hospitality.

4.11.12 Staff will need to ensure diary forms are fully completed so they clearly indicate the link to a strategic objective, lead or initiative being advanced, and the evaluation and potential follow-up resulting from the event.

4.11.13 The Program Managers should review the Mission overtime policies and ensure that they are being applied consistently in both sections. Employees should be allowed to claim their supplementary work hours in accordance with the policies.

4.11.14 The Program Managers should review flex-time work arrangements to ensure they are up-to-date and HR files are complete. The Managers should also ensure that operational requirements are being sufficiently met and no undue additional costs are being incurred.

4.11.15 The Mission should:

  • update organization charts;
  • update directories; and
  • ensure job titles are used in a consistent fashion.
Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.11.10 A review of Officer support needs and Assistant roles within the Commercial Section is currently underway, and managers are considering eliminating one Assistant position. However, most support needs of the Economic and Trade Policy Section differ substantially from those of the Commercial Section as they have different clients bases, different local contacts, different types of issues and different nature of activities. There are common issues in financial administration and the Commercial Financial Administrator now supports the EC section as well.

4.11.11 In progress. As part of the 2007/08 planning process, Commercial Program Managers are reviewing with Officers how to use hospitality funds strategically; however, these resources were generally made good use of in the past.

4.11.12 Completed. ***. Both TD Managers review hospitality reports carefully and coach Officers on providing more complete information when necessary.

4.11.13 Completed. Overtime policies have been reviewed between EC and TD Program Managers, with the clear principles of approval in advance and appropriate compensation, and the policy has been reviewed with staff.

4.11.14 Completed on December 1, 2007. EC and TD Program Managers have reviewed flex-time policies with senior Mission management and between themselves. Both programs (and program clients) can be best served by Officers who do not take flex-time. However, there is sufficient back-up for Assistants to be offered flex-time when they so request. Currently, *** have flex-time “grandfathered”; those in TD use it only occasionally. New Officer hires will not be offered flextime. It is understood that this is a privilege and can be revoked for operational reasons. *** on flex-time submit their work calendar for the entire year at the start of the calendar year.

4.11.15 Completed. TD organization charts have been updated, Trade Commissioner websites carry up-to-date information on TD staff and job titles in the TD Section are consistent.

Consulate of Canada, Philadelphia

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 Canada reopened a Consulate in Philadelphia in October 2004 as part of the Enhanced Representation Initiative program. While positions were fully staffed in 2005, ***. As a result staffing was completed in early 2006. Previously, Canada had a Consulate-General in Philadelphia from 1967-87. The Consulate-General was closed in 1987 as part of Program Review and a reduced Trade Office was maintained until its closure in 1995. The city is located approximately 150 km from New York City and 225 km from Washington DC.

5.1.2 The region is a strong centre for the Life Sciences, Information Technology, Chemicals, Food and Beverage, and Financial and Legal Services sectors. More than 300 IT companies are headquartered in the area. Philadelphia boasts the highest concentration of research physicians in the US, and 80% of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies are situated within a 65 km radius of the city. The city contains a significant number of foundations as well as cultural and philanthropic organizations. Many of the city's elite, who sit on the boards of these organizations including significant commercial and political figures, are key contacts for the Consulate in defending and advancing Canadian interests in the region.

5.1.3 The Consulate in Philadelphia exists to supplement the efforts of the Washington DC Embassy in a particularly important part of the Embassy's territory (eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware) that is difficult to cover effectively from Washington. The Consulate exists principally for business development purposes but is also expected to deal with advocacy issues and political reporting demands in its geographical area.

5.1.4. The Consulate is led by a CBS Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner (FS-04). Reporting to him are an additional CBS officer (FS-03) who is Director of Public Affairs, two LES Trade Commissioners (LE-09) and one (LE-05) Program Assistant.

5.2 Territory/Area of Responsibility

5.2.1 The Philadelphia Office's physical area of responsibility is confusing at best. The greater Philadelphia area includes eleven counties in three states, five of which (Camden, Mercer, Burlington, Gloucester and Salem) are in New Jersey. Of these, only Camden County falls under Philadelphia's umbrella, while the remaining counties are the responsibility of the Consulate General in New York City. It would be more practical for these counties of the greater metropolitan area to be serviced by the office in Philadelphia. Furthermore, the state of Pennsylvania is split into two centres of responsibility - Philadelphia is responsible for the eastern part of Pennsylvania with shared access to Harrisburg, the state capital; the Consulate General in Buffalo is responsible for the western and central parts of the state, as well as the state capital, via our Honorary Consulate in Pittsburgh. Any metropolitan or state-wide initiative, or initiative that involves state agencies, requires the coordination of resources in multiple offices and presents all the associated challenges. To further complicate the matter, the consular territory is different from the commercial/political areas of responsibility. It would be more effective to consolidate responsibility for the greater Philadelphia area and the state of Pennsylvania under one program.

Recommendation to North America Bureau (NAD)

5.2.2 HQ should re-examine the territories and responsibilities assigned to the offices in Philadelphia, Buffalo, and the Consulate General New York.

NAD Action and Timeframe

5.2.2 The issue is currently under review in Ottawa.

5.3 Management

5.3.1 The Office is led by an *** Trade Officer who is on *** assignment as a Head of Office and a Senior Trade Commissioner (STC). ***.

5.3.2 Officers were seen to be working on files that were generally *** not part of a master plan. The STC needs to spend more time establishing a common vision and coordinating the activities of the individual officers to ensure priorities are aligned. Work plans need to be established and the STC should spend more time providing direction, coaching and performance feedback to his staff.

Recommendation to the Mission

5.3.3 The STC should ensure he is devoting sufficient time to the development of the Commercial portfolio. He should promote a common vision, provide clearer direction to staff and coach them on developing their portfolios and networks of contacts.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.3.3 The STC will continue to provide intensive support toward the development of the Commercial Portfolio. IBD staff were hired for their extensive network of local contacts. The STC will continue to assist them in developing their knowledge of Canada and their network of Canadian contacts within both the private sector and government of Canada. The Consulate sent all IBD staff on Global Learning Initiative training within the first six months of their employment to reinforce their understanding of the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service.

5.4 International Business Development

5.4.1 Philadelphia notionally reports to the Deputy Head of Mission in Washington but realistically acts as an independent office. This is a challenge, given the special responsibilities of the DHOM in Washington. The Consulate exists primarily for commercial purposes. The Minister-Counsellor (Commercial) in Washington should assume oversight of a more integrated IBD Program between Washington and Philadelphia. There may be concerns about the reporting lines for the Public Affairs Officer; however, any public affairs or political reporting initiatives should be strictly oriented to promoting Canada's commercial interests.

5.4.2 For IBD purposes, the Mission is supposed to be an extension of Washington and the two posts have a sector-sharing arrangement. Under this arrangement, Philadelphia is supposed to select a small number of priority sectors, while the remainder are to be handled by the Washington-based team remotely and during regular visits. However, significant overlap exists, for example, both Missions have officers working on ICT and Food and Beverage issues. The other sectors are generally ignored as Philadelphia doesn't have the necessary resources to cover them. In addition, the officers that should be covering the remaining sectors from Washington rarely, if ever, visit Philadelphia. Priority sectors need to be better defined in coordination with Washington, plans need to be better integrated and overlap needs to be reduced where possible. Officers in both locations should direct more effort to their territorial areas of responsibility.

Mission Comment:Consistent with best practises in the Trade Commissioner Service, Philadelphia has been operating with five priority sectors: ICT, Agri-Food, and Building Products (primarily on the trade side) and Life Sciences and Chemicals (primarily on the investment side). There are some common sectors between Washington and Philadelphia, as there are common sectors between all missions in the US. Philadelphia was established to capitalize on the unique characteristics of its market, which are distinct from the markets covered by Washington. Washington's IBD staff have visited Philadelphia on several occasions, including for an educational IT, construction, and joint Health IT mission. Both missions cooperate in sectors of mutual interest, although the uniqueness of each market imply a different focus. Greater communication and coordination of Washington visits to Philadelphia's geographic territory are undertaken in order to avoid confusion among local contacts on each mission's respective roles and responsibilities.

5.4.3 In addition, to better help integrate Philadelphia, the Office should be included in Washington's annual IBD planning exercise. Although joint planning between Washington and Philadelphia could improve, Washington and Philadelphia have separate IBD budgets and the STC in each mission is ultimately accountable for their respective results. Responsibilities and objectives have been set for each Officer in PMP, individual portfolio work plans for each priority file should be established. This should be done, however, in conjunction with the IBD team in Washington. Such plans, with a focus on establishing clear objectives which link to supporting activities and expected results, would assist officers in better achieving Program targets.

5.4.4 Philadelphia should participate remotely in the regular weekly Washington IBD meetings. This is currently not happening. Meeting minutes should also be shared between both offices, including the Honorary Consuls in Pittsburgh and Richmond.

5.4.5 Though all officers are conducting some outcalls, they still spend a significant amount of their time in the office. The Program needs to act more strategically and increase its amount of focused outcalls in order to gain market intelligence and cultivate a network of contacts in its areas of responsibility. The inclusion of an outreach/outcall strategy as part of each work plan would allow the Program to more effectively use its resources to identify results.

5.4.6 Hospitality funds are mostly being used to promote large-scale cultural events and receptions in support of the Consul's role as Head of Office. These funds should be used more strategically in conjunction with the IBD plans to promote Canadian commercial capabilities, gather market- and policy-related intelligence and cultivate networks of contacts in the territory. Funds should be used to support smaller, more targeted events.

5.4.7 The new officers *** have established some best practices that should be emulated by other Programs. One Commercial Officer conducts a short survey after each event or initiative to see if clients' needs are being met. This survey helps tailor future events to be more targeted and useful to the team's clients. In addition, the office is exploring non-traditional initiatives that are having significant pay-offs, such as approaching the Chief Diversity Officers in US corporations to find new opportunities for Canadian Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs), owned and operated by women and designated minority groups. These best practices should be documented so they can be shared with other programs via Horizons, the Trade Commissioner Service's Intranet site.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.8 Washington, in conjunction with HQ, should review the reporting relationship of Philadelphia to the DHOM and consider having the office report to the Minister-Counsellor (Commercial).

5.4.9 Philadelphia's IBD planning should be more integrated with that of Washington.

5.4.10 The Washington and Philadelphia IBD teams should hold joint weekly planning meetings.

5.4.11 The Program should develop individual work plans for each priority sector portfolio. These plans should link with the strategy documents and should clearly indicate objectives, activities and expected results.

5.4.12 Officers should be encouraged to spend more time out of the office. The Program should include outreach/outcall strategies and hospitality plan in each portfolio work plan that identifies why contacts are being targeted and how they link to Program objectives.

5.4.13 Hospitality funds should be used more strategically.

5.4.14 Philadelphia should document its best practices (client surveys and innovative approaches to non-traditional opportunities) so they can be shared with other Programs via Horizons.

5.4.15 Philadelphia should seek to have an MOU with the Commercial Program in Washington to ensure that key IBD support services are provided from the hub Mission to the spoke Mission.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.8 Philadelphia will be continuing to report formally to the DHOM though, in fact, there is a close working relationship with the Minister Counsellor (Commercial) in Washington. The PERPA Section in Philadelphia will continue to report to the STC and consult regularly with Washington Public Affairs. Philadelphia will use the PERPA position to provide additional support to IBD.

5.4.9 Steps are being taken to promote greater integrated planning between Washington and Philadelphia to the extent this is possible and desirable. Since the audit, some rationalization of sectors has taken place, with Philadelphia covering the Agri-Food sector for both missions. Philadelphia's STC and Minister Counsellor in Washington have a weekly phone call to discuss important issues and direction of the program in Philadelphia.

5.4.10 STCs in Washington and Philadelphia have been holding a weekly conference call since March 3, 2007. Both IBD sections have participated in joint planning sessions and will hold another in the fall of 2007. Both missions also participate in an annual regional planning session for the north eastern United States (last meeting was in December 2006 in Philadelphia and the next meeting is scheduled for November 2007 in Washington).

5.4.11 Philadelphia has exceeded its program targets as established and measured through MARCUS and PMPs. Priority sector work plans for the current fiscal year were prepared in the February-March 2007 time-frame and recently reviewed an updated in July and August 2007.

These plans will continue to link with the strategy documents and PMPs, clearly indicating objectives, activities and expected results.

5.4.12 Staff are already spending considerable time outside of the office and STC will continue to encourage this in order that they may meet their objectives. STC will encourage staff to put specific “target” companies into their plans where these have been lacking.

5.4.13 Philadelphia will continue to ensure that Hospitality funds are being used strategically.

5.4.14 The use of post-event surveys is a procedure that the Head of Office implemented and requires of all Officers in the program. Such surveys enable the STC and his staff to measure the effectiveness of events and better report on results. Philadelphia has widely shared this format with other missions and has incorporated it into all Philadelphia's event reports to Headquarters. Philadelphia has also been widely documenting and sharing its experience with Diversity Buyers in the United States. Philadelphia's Agri-Food Officer has obtained a US-wide mandate to work with other missions on Diversity programs in the agri-food sector. The Mission has sent copies to HQ of the evaluation form it uses to survey clients who participate in its events and explained how this tool is used to assess the effectiveness of the event as well as to document event results (usually in the form of current and projected sales). The information was sent to Trade Commissioner Service Overseas Operations (WTS) for inclusion on the Horizon's web site. WTS is currently in the process of revamping the Horizons web site and cannot at this time provide a precise target date for when the material will be on line.

5.4.15 A Joint Operational Agreement between Washington and Philadelphia is now in its sixth draft version. The document is expected to be finalized and implemented in the fall 2007.

5.5 Political and Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA)

5.5.1 A CBS officer position (FS-03), currently staffed by a *** Political/Economic Officer, is the Director of Public Affairs. There are no other staff in the Section. The Officer, the first incumbent in this newly created ERI position, *** was in the early stages of developing the position. The Officer has started to build a network of contacts with various cultural organizations. Critical to the success of this position, and of the PERPA section, will be the creation of a solid network of contacts in the cultural and philanthropic communities in Philadelphia, whose members are some of the region's most important political and trade players.

5.5.2 This position is new and generally focusses on managing the Public Affairs of the Office and promoting cultural activities. Other ERI posts use mid-level LES positions to conduct public affairs activities, making Philadelphia, with its senior CBS position, an exception to the model used elsewhere.

5.5.3 Some additional work is being carried out in the other areas of political and economic reporting. There is no reporting contract in place, but the Officer has produced reports for HQ on a variety of issues of interest to HQ and neighbouring missions, such as regional political themes and local reaction to federal topics. This informal approach has been taken as the Section currently receives little direction or supervision from its hub mission, Washington. Most of Public Affairs Officer's time should be spent promoting and supporting the Commercial Program's objectives through outreach activities and networking.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.5.4 The Section's activities, especially public diplomacy, should be more clearly linked to the activities of the Commercial section.

5.5.5 Philadelphia should consider replacing the senior CBS position with a mid-level LES position as in other ERI posts.

5.5.6 Washington and HQ should establish a reporting contract for Philadelphia.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.4 PERPA plan will support IBD plan objectives in addition to standalone PERPA objectives.

5.5.5 A CBS Officer is vital to this position to effectively represent Canadian interests locally at a level that counts and to provide relief to the CBS Head of Office so that he can focus primarily on the IBD program.

5.5.6 As part of the PERPA planning process, a list of reporting priorities will be finalized with Washington, Buffalo, and Canada-US Advocacy and Mission Liaison Division (NAL) in the fall 2007.

5.6 Physical Property and Administration

5.6.1 The Consulate is centrally located in Philadelphia's downtown core in a high-rise Executive Office Centre across the street from City Hall. The Executive Centre is less than ideal and borders on unsatisfactory. No signage exists to identify the building, or the office, as containing the Canadian Consulate. The offices of the Consulate are scattered all over the floor in amongst those of other tenants, and not in a unified cluster. Costs are extremely high and the Consulate is charged on a per-use basis for each phone call, sheet of paper, etc. The facility is of poorer quality than is acceptable for a Consulate. During its time in the building, the Consulate has experienced floods and a rat infestation. ***.

5.6.2 During the audit, the Consulate and the Audit Team visited other Executive Centre facilities in the downtown core. A new centre is being built and could accommodate the Consulate in a corner cluster at a lower rate than the existing facility. The Consulate should relocate to more cost effective accommodations that are more presentable, in keeping with the image that Canada wants to project.

5.6.3 As Philadelphia is a small office, administrative work can weigh them down and take away from more value-added work. Currently, Philadelphia receives significant administrative support from Washington. This is a practical arrangement and a hub and spoke Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement is currently being drafted. Philadelphia would benefit from receiving increased support from all related programs in Washington. Washington has dedicated resources to manage Infobank, the Client Service Fund, InfoCentre and trade-related websites. These services should be extended to Philadelphia. See recommendation 7.1.11 to formalize the hub/spoke administrative agreement with Washington.

5.6.4 The Consulate receives a significant number of phone calls across a wide range of subjects such as citizenship, tourism, and studying in Canada. Charges are incurred every time a receptionist transfers a call, plus the Program Assistant has to spend time with each caller, taking her away from her other duties. The Office should implement a phone tree that automatically directs calls based on their subject matter to a more appropriate centre of responsibility.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.6.5 Philadelphia should relocate to a more cost effective, secure and presentable facility.

5.6.6 Philadelphia should establish procedures to better handle the high volume of telephone enquiries unrelated to Trade and Commercial Development.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.6.5 Completed December 2006.

5.6.6 Philadelphia is seeking to identify a solution to better manage its phone traffic with Washington's IT Section and the business centre.

Consular Program

6.1 Overview

6.1.1 The Management/Consular Officer (MCO) (EX-02) has overall responsibility for the program with the LE-09 Senior Consular Program Officer overseeing day-to-day operations. The team also includes an LE-07 Consular Program Officer and LE-04 Consular Assistant. The Program is *** managed, with staff ***, procedures and controls that are in place, and assets that are adequately safeguarded.

6.1.2 In addition to assisting Canadians, the Program provides support to the other US missions, which includes liaising with US authorities on issues such as the Transfer of Offenders Treaty. The Program is responsible for the geographic territory of Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia and Delaware. While Washington is responsible for the Consulate in Philadelphia, consular services for Philadelphia are covered by the mission in Buffalo. The Honorary Consul in Richmond, Virginia (under the ERI initiative) is there primarily to enhance the reach and intelligence of the Mission in that part of its territory, primarily in the areas of advocacy and of business development. Consular duties can be requested by the Mission. The Mission has noted that the use of the term “Consulate” for ERI offices is confusing for clients, as the title implies that consular services are provided.

6.1.3 The Section has moved three times over the past six months as a result of an internal reallocation of office space and is currently housed ***, along with the MCO. This has proven frustrating as staff regularly serve clients at the consular booth which is located on the ground floor, ***. The Mission plans to relocate the consular booth since its current location, with the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) booths, is problematic from operational, security and privacy perspectives. The Mission is also exploring the use of tools such as video conferencing, direct deposits for fees, and increased use of forms on-line to reduce the need for staff movement between floors

6.1.4 The Program's plans, manuals and reports are up-to-date. The Mission is examining the possibility of consolidating various contingency plans, for example security and consular, to streamline processes and eliminate multiple updates. HQ had some concern as to whether the Program was meeting service standards regarding prisoner contact and citizenship applications, but prior to the audit the Mission reviewed and updated its case files. The Mission has implemented new data entry procedures so that the timing of services provided is more accurately reflected in the system.

6.1.5 As at many missions, the Program experiences additional workload due to telephone enquiries from CIC clients. Workload and processing requirements within CIC prevent their staff from taking calls and they encourage the use of the Department's website. However, not all clients have access to the internet, or find the information required, and so wish to speak with an individual. Many other countries have integrated consular and immigration services so CIC clients often assume that the same is true in Canadian Missions and they contact the Consular section for assistance.

6.1.6 In 1993, passport production in the US was repatriated to Canada with missions responsible for only issuing passports in urgent cases. This is still true under the new Mission Passport Print Solution (MPPS), under which the Mission has been operating since February 2006. A key file for the Mission is the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and the potential future requirement that a passport or other travel document be used for all travel to and from Canada and the US. Depending on the outcome of this issue, there may be a resource impact for US missions.

6.1.7 The Mission raised concerns regarding the roll-out of MPPS and potential resource implications:

  • the length of time to examine, enter and now scan documents has increased dramatically;
  • there are now increased case creation requirements: two files for temporary passport cases, one for passport exchanges and one for passports returns; and,
  • the Passport call centre has been advising clients to go to the Mission if they require faster service as the service standard for passports mailed/couriered to Canada is 20 days, whereas the service standard for passports processed through the Mission is 15 days.

6.1.8 The MCO, the Senior Consular Program Officer and the Consular Program Officer have been designated to approve passport applications. The two LES officers divide the processing and approval steps between them, with the MCO completing the approval function during absences and for spot checks. Passport Canada has indicated that a CBS should be responsible for verifying all original application forms and citizenship documentation prior to issuance; however, no policies outlining this requirement (or controls in instances where CBS verification is not operationally feasible) have been developed and communicated to missions. The Senior Consular Officer counts the working passport inventory monthly, and the entire inventory quarterly with the MCO.

Recommendation for the Mission

6.1.9 The entire passport inventory, not just the working supply, should be counted monthly.

Mission Action and Timeframe

6.1.9 In place since October 2006.

Recommendation for Passport Canada

6.1.10 Passport Canada should clearly document the policy regarding CBS and LES delegated signing authority for passports. Once documented, this policy should be formally communicated to missions, and any outdated policy references should be removed.

Passport Canada Action and Timeframe

6.1.10 The policy supporting approval authority for Canadian passports is derived from the Government of Canada's Security Policy in so far as any compromise to the passport entitlement process that leads to the printing of data into a SECRET-classified security asset (a passport blank) could reasonably be expected to cause serious injury to the national interest.

In 2005 Passport Canada asked each mission to complete a questionnaire. A portion of this questionnaire spoke to the issue of CBS oversight of the passport program. ***, the software program used to entitle regular passports and issue Temporary and Emergency Passports abroad under MPPS, is the product of rigorous consultation between DFAIT and Passport Canada. As a result of these consultations, mutually agreed upon user profiles were incorporated into the *** system and designed to restrict the electronic approval authority ***.

Passport Canada's requirements as they apply to authority to entitle passports will be formally communicated to all missions in a broadcast message scheduled to be dispatched by the fall 2007.

6.1.11 The following procedural recommendations are noted for action:

Recommendations for the Mission

6.1.12 The Consular Assistant should receive consular specialist training.

6.1.13 The Mission should consider placing a screen in front of the Consular Assistant's desk, which currently faces an open area, to provide more privacy when speaking with clients.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

6.1.12 Agree. The Mission had been waiting for a place since September 2006 and the Consular Assistant participated in the exercise, from February 19 to March 2, 2007.

6.1.13 This issue, will be dealt with in-house with the Consular reconfiguration, as required.

Administration Program

7.1 Management of the Program

7.1.1 The MCO is responsible for the management of the Administration Program. The Program has five Sections: Human Resources, the CBS Portal, Physical Resources Services, Financial Services, and IT Services. The MCO is also the Mission Security Officer (MSO). The Program is comprised of 16 CBS and 58 LES. The recent reclassification of the two DMCO positions, particularly the DMCO Property position to AS-07, was important ensuring that the Mission has a qualified back-up during the MCO's absences.

7.1.2 The Program provides administration services to the Embassy, to the Permanent Mission of Canada to the Organization of American States (OAS), which is housed in the Chancery, and to the Consulate in Philadelphia. There is also significant Other Government Department (OGD) representation at the Mission, which places an additional demand for services on the Program.

7.1.3 Overall, the audit revealed sound management practices through an effective balance of service-oriented planning and control. *** management and leadership is provided by the MCO, who is supported by a *** group of Section Heads as well as *** LES. The Program is properly resourced for its current workload and it was noted that staff were well prepared for the audit. The Mission has a sound committee structure, and Administration has benefited from the roles played by the Mission Committees in decision-making, communications and achieving buy-in from a wide variety of sections and functions.

7.1.4 Although the MCO has only been at the Mission ***, she has already identified most of the areas that required improvement. She has done so by conducting interviews and surveys of a combination of Program Heads, Mission staff and clients. This inclusive approach has assisted in building relationships among staff members and with management, and fostering the support of many long-serving employees. While most staff are receptive to her plans, effective change management will remain an ongoing challenge.

7.1.5 The Program places a particular focus on the continued modernization of Mission practices and systems. Using a proactive and client-service oriented approach, policies and procedures have been developed, and other working relationships formalized, through the implementation of service standards. ***.

7.1.6 The Mission is currently drafting Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) for services provided to the OAS as well as the Consulate in Philadelphia. While the Embassy provides most of the OAS Administration services, it's Mission Administration Officer (MAO) does oversee some services. The Administration Program and the OAS will be reviewing which of these other services can be more effectively and efficiently delivered by the Mission, thereby freeing up the OAS MAO for additional OAS program-related duties. To support the MOU with Philadelphia, the Mission may wish to consider a quarterly rotation of visits from the MCO/DMCOs to address management issues and provide functional guidance.

7.1.7 Over the long term there is a high probability that Washington will assume an expanded role as a common services provider to the other US missions, but at present the Program is focusing its efforts on perfecting the Washington model. In the future, certain services may be centralized at other US missions or at HQ, but the work currently being undertaken by Washington will nonetheless be invaluable in establishing working models, processes and procedures. It should be noted that the role of Washington as a common service provider on financial matters has in fact decreased in recent years.

7.1.8 The Canadian Embassy Staff Fund was established under the authority of the HOM to provide social, recreational and sports services for CBS and their families. Revenue is derived from, and is used in turn to support, the operations of the Commissary, the Officers Club, and the Happy Campers Club. A committee has been established to govern the Fund and is responsible for the stewardship of its assets ($40,205 as of March 31, 2006). The Committee meets twice annually, or more frequently as required.

7.1.9 The Fund's primary source of revenue is the Commissary. The Committee provides pricing guidelines and requires the completion of an annual inventory by an independent third party. At the time of the fieldwork, the year-end inventory had not been completed.

7.1.10 Financial statements for the Fund are prepared monthly by a part-time accountant and approved by the Fund's treasurer, the DND Comptroller. While the Financial statements have never been audited, they should be reviewed by the Committee annually. If any irregularities are noted, the Committee should investigate the matter with the assistance of either the Mission Finance section or an external accounting firm.

Recommendations for the Mission

7.1.11 Finalize the MOU with the Consulate in Philadelphia.

7.1.12 Finalize MOU with the OAS.

7.1.13 The Committee should review the Embassy Staff Fund's financial statements annually. If irregularities exist, a qualified independent party should be engaged to investigate.

7.1.14 The Commissary inventory count should be performed as soon as possible after each year end.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

7.1.11 See response 5.4.15 above.

7.1.12 The OAS MOU was completed the end of March 2007

7.1.13 The Committee reviewed the financial statements.

7.1.14 The Mission is reviewing process of tracking purchases. Expected target date is fall 2007.

7.2 Human Resources (HR)

7.2.1 The Human Resources Section is undergoing a reorganization into two groups. A DMCO position, the Head of Human Resources (reclassified from AS-05 to AS-06) will be responsible for LES Benefits, Recruitment and Career Management. A second, new DMCO (AS-05) position is being created to manage the CBS Portal, Protocol and Information Management. The CBS Portal consists of CBS Benefits, Relocation and Information Services. The HR Section provides HR services to Mission staff as well as a number of services to the US Consulates; protocol and accreditation of diplomats; administration of health and pension plans; and general HR advice.

7.2.2 This new structure will allow the Section to focus on a number of projects identified in the Mission's HR work plan. These projects include: developing a Mission-wide training plan, reviewing job descriptions, and examining organization structures and reporting relationships. During the course of interviews, the following position classifications were identified requiring review:

  • the Consular Assistant (LE-04)
  • the Benefits Financial Clerk (LE-05)

7.2.3 A concerted effort was being made to update personnel files, including appraisals; however a number were still outstanding. The Mission is in the process of rolling out the Performance Management Program. The Mission noted that there are some frustrations with the system, in particular the process of transferring information to a new fiscal year, but also indicated that HQ has been helpful when contacted.

7.2.4 LES focus groups were held during the audit and the following issues were raised, and discussed with Mission Management:

  • staff's desire for mobility within the mission, the country and potentially world-wide. It was suggested that position openings at the Consulates be posted on the Mission's intranet site;
  • training for both technical and soft skills is required, and there is a desire for a formal Mission training plan for staff.
  • the lack of LE-06 and LE-07 positions at the Mission which would allow for career progression for most staff starting in support positions. Staff are interested in opportunities such as temporary reclassifications or bonuses for special projects when doing higher-level work for a short period;
  • the lack of a career path for most LES;
  • the out-of-date LES Handbook;
  • the need for an orientation program for new LES and interest in a mentoring program for new LES.
  • there was a perception that there are certain divisions among the staff such as between CBS and LES; and,
  • the need for a policy on hand-over notes as part of the development of desk procedures.
    Mission Comments: Position openings at the Consulates are now posted on the Mission's intranet site. The Mission is working on a training plan which includes both technical and soft skills.

7.2.5 Given the large number of staff and diverse groupings in the Mission, communications are always the key to clarifying information, sourcing ideas and team building. Suggestions for augmenting communications within the Mission include: regular town halls, brown-bag lunches, encouraging the formation of an LES Committee, and more clear and direct methods of distributing meeting (such as CMM) minutes.

7.2.6 With 23 missions in the US, including offices opened under the Enhanced Representation Initiative, the North America Bureau (NAD) is examining business models that would better support the comprehensive delivery of programs in the US. As a result, NAD is undertaking a study of the employment and management of LES in the US to examine areas such as career paths, mobility, professional development and a common approach to classification and staffing.

Mission comment: The Mission is putting in place an Intranet site which will include information for all Missions to use.

7.2.7 The LES Handbook for the Mission, as well as those in the other US missions are out-of-date. Washington is in the process of coordinating a legal review of federal and state employment laws to determine its current level of compliance with those laws. This is the first step in a review of the LES benefit packages to produce an up-to-date handbook for the entire US that takes into account local laws (to the extent possible given our regulations) and market practices, where appropriate, and streamlines the format and administration of the benefits and handbook. The Mission has targeted Fiscal Year 2007-08 for completion of the compensation review and new handbook review. The Mission has created a term position in the benefits section so that the LES Benefits Advisor (LE-09) can focus on the review.

7.2.8 The Mission in Washington administers pension and benefit plans for all the US (with the exception of health plans administered individually by three Consulates) and includes a few other participating government employers. The pension plans' financial data are audited yearly and the plans' administration every second year. The Section is acquiring new functionality for its HR database, ABRA, which began as an LES HR and insurance plan database. This expansion will include electronic leave authorization for LES and an HR database for CBS. As noted in paragraph 7.5.9, the Mission will also be using ABRA as its payroll system. Once the Mission has refined the system for its own use, it plans to pilot it with a Consulate to determine whether it will be part of the common services package Washington hopes to provide to all Consulates in the future. Pension plans are currently managed with the ALPH database system and ABRA will be reviewed to determine whether it can be used for this purpose as well so that all systems are integrated.

7.2.9 The Program has been reorganizing certain functions in order to capitalize on synergies. For example, the Mailroom was moved from HR to Property and the Switchboard was added to Information Management. The Mission will be examining the feasibility of transferring responsibility for Information Management to the Information Technology Section.

7.2.10 Staffing CBS positions (not just for this Mission but for others in the US) can be problematic for a number of reasons; one of the main being the perception that the Foreign Service Directives (FSDs) do not adequately meet the needs of those posted to the US. Concerns relate to the inadequacy of cost of living compensation, the challenges of private leasing, child care, health care, as well as vacation travel allowance, spousal employment, education, transportation and insurance. HQ is developing a business case to expand allowance provisions for missions in the US in an effort to address some of these issues.

7.2.11 The Mission created the CBS Portal to better support CBS moving to Washington. Moving to the US is not the same as moving to back to HQ, and employees require the Mission's assistance in screening real estate agents, coordinating communication between arriving and departing staff, reviewing leases, and conducting education research.

7.2.12 During the audit, the Mission did not have a Community Liaison Officer because HQ was in the middle of conducting a worldwide review of the program. The Mission hired an emergency employee to examine spousal issues and fulfill some of the community liaison responsibilities. The Mission is trying to be more proactive in its communications and support to CBS spouses and dependents. It plans to up-date its information database, initiate direct communications, expand the orientation program and encourage neighbourhood linkages as families are located throughout Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. The Mission has also begun to exchange information with other embassies and consulates in Washington regarding spousal employment opportunities.

7.2.13 During the focus group with CBS spouses, many of the familiar concerns about life in the foreign service were raised. These include: restricted access to official language training, lack of recognition by employers in Canada (including the Federal Government) of work experience abroad or in missions, lack of compensation for duties performed by spouses (e.g. at hospitality functions), and decrease in support when abroad such as the elimination of recreational facilities and the loss of certain indirect hospitality expenses. While it was recognized that, given the relative size of the Mission and lack of language and legal barriers, there are more opportunities for spouses to find work in Washington than in most missions, it remained apparent that the Department needs to revamp its policies to be come a modern employer of “family units”.

Recommendations for the Mission

7.2.14 The Mission should:

  • encourage the LES to reconstitute the LES Committee and schedule regular meetings with the MCO and/or DMCO as well as regular meetings with the HOM and/or DHOM;
  • schedule regular town hall meetings;
  • more prominently feature the CMM, LES Committee and other meeting minutes on the Intranet; and,
  • consider holding brown-bag lunches.

7.2.15 All outstanding appraisals should be completed.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

7.2.14 The LES Management Committee was reformed in 2006/2007 and has met with management twice. Future plans are to meet quarterly, or more if required or requested by LES.

  • meetings have been held quarterly for the past two years
  • minutes have been on the intranet for the past two years and LES Chair is a member of the CMM
  • informal meetings are held

7.2.15 PMP appraisals are in place and bring forward system is set up as of June 2007.

7.2.16 The following procedural recommendations are noted for action:

7.2.17 The HOM and/or DHOM, rather than the Head of Human Resources should sign letters of offer and receive recommendations from hiring and classification committees.

7.2.18 Internal mission candidates should be informed in writing of their right to grieve the results of staffing actions.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

7.2.17 DHOM has been doing this since 2006.

7.2.18 Candidates are now informed of their grievance rights.

7.3 Physical Resources

7.3.1 The Physical Resources Section is managed by an *** DMCO (AS-07) ***. He is assisted by an *** group of LES *** supporting a high volume of program activity, which is the norm at this Mission. The Section focuses its efforts on documenting policies and procedures for both clients and employees.

7.3.2 The DMCO Property position was recently reclassified from AS-05 to AS-07, making it the most senior DMCO position and de-facto number two in the Program. This means that future incumbents of the position will most likely be recruited from the MCO stream, as a full knowledge of all administrative functions will be required when replacing the MCO for extended periods. After examining the position duties, and discussing them with staff, it became apparent that the key skills for this position were more management-oriented than technical, and as a result a candidate from the MCO stream is likely to be a better fit than a Professional Property and Maintenance Officer (PPMO). Careful consideration will need to be given to identifying a replacement for the DMCO ***, to continue the work started by the incumbent in making Washington a centre of expertise through the development of global models and best practices.

7.3.3 The Physical Resources Section has the capacity to undertake projects and perform work in-house which is unparalleled in any other mission. In addition to performing routine maintenance and managing the Mission's materiel, the Section also has a reprographics section, an events management unit, a workshop which produces most of the furniture used in Chancery, and the ability to design and plan various types of renovations. Before proceeding with in-house solutions, the Section gets external quotes to determine the most cost-effective means of proceeding with the work request.

7.3.4 The Audit Team reviewed the property portfolio of the Mission, which includes the Chancery, three Official Residences (ORs) and two crown-leased staff quarters (SQs). All properties were found to be very well maintained, and the Chancery, in particular, is in exceptional condition considering it was opened in 1989. In addition to office space, the Chancery offers excellent facilities for official representation, which are used extensively to support Mission objectives. Mission programs are very well housed and recent efforts have been made to consolidate space, ***.

7.3.5 There are some projects which have been identified to improve functionality of the current Chancery layout. The Consular Section does not have a suitable booth in which to meet clients. The Mission has already ordered the necessary materials and created a project to locate a suitable booth in the main Embassy reception area. Plans have also been developed to provide CIC with a large interview booth, designed to accommodate interviews with groups or families while offering more privacy than the current open-concept booths. Funding has not yet been secured for this project and will need to be provided by CIC. A small project is also required to improve the functionality of the receptionist working area. The current configuration makes it impossible for the receptionist to reach the window without standing ***.

7.3.6 The Mission has been closely monitoring construction of the Newseum, an interactive museum of news which is being built next to the Chancery. The Newseum, expected to open in 2007, will draw a large number of visitors to the neighbourhood. This will create opportunities for the Mission's programs, ***. Mission management has maintained an effective dialogue with representatives of the Newseum, and a number of potentially problematic issues *** have already been resolved. The Mission has also formed a Committee, comprised of representatives from different programs, *** and administration, to manage the opportunities and risks related to the Newseum as they arise.

7.3.7 The Audit Team visited the Official Residences of the two Heads of Mission, as well as the OR of the Minister (Economic). All of the ORs were found to be suitable, well maintained, and *** managed and administered by the house managers.

7.3.8 OR staff are provided meals at as part of their benefits package. While this practice is not discouraged, a dollar amount should be calculated for the total cost of providing OR staff meals in order to limit the amount of administration of this benefit and provide staff more flexibility. This amount should then be paid as a benefit directly from administration.

7.3.9 The Mission will be undertaking a comprehensive Housing Strategy review in the fall, at which point they will assess their current housing portfolio in its entirety, including private leases and the continuing need for the two crown-leased Minister staff quarters. The Mission has two crown leased SQs, one for the Minister and Head of the Washington Secretariat, and another for the Minister Political Affairs. SQ6120666 houses the Minister and Head of the Washington Secretariat, and has a monthly rent of USD 8,500. SQ6120661 houses the Minister Political Affairs and has a monthly rent of USD 12,000. In both instances, the business case supporting continuing crown leased accommodations at significantly higher rents than those of other SQs (chosen under the private leasing guidelines) was based on time constraints in finding alternative accommodation and the requirement to entertain at home. However, a review of hospitality files indicated that the majority of officers did not entertain extensively at home, preferring to make use of the Chancery facilities or downtown restaurants. The business case for SQs with representational space for these positions is not strong given the viable hospitality alternatives offered by the sixth floor representational facilities at the Chancery, and the availability of the ORs for representational purposes as necessary.

7.3.10 The SQ for the Minister Political Affairs, in particular, raises value for money questions at a rent of USD 12,000 per month (almost double the monthly rent of the SQ previously allocated to the incumbent of this position). It is recommended that the Mission dispose of SQ6120661 upon the departure of the Minister Political Affairs ***, and that new housing be sourced with the private lease ceiling used as the key rent parameter. Should the monthly private lease rent ceiling need to be exceeded for operational reasons, the Mission should clearly document the rationale and send the business case to the Geographic Assistant Deputy Minister for approval. As part of the Mission's planned fall 2006 property review, the housing requirements of the Head of the Washington Secretariat should also be reviewed with consideration given to disposing of SQ6120666 upon the departure of the present occupant. While the current Minister of the Washington Secretariat entertains regularly at his SQ, it should be determined whether there is a strong operational requirement to do so.

7.3.11 The Audit Team was asked to look closely at staff accommodations during the field work, in order to examine the impact of the private leasing system. While staff and their dependents raised a number of issues such as insufficient rent ceilings, a lack of flexibility under the FSDs, insufficient allowances for fit-up, etc., the number one issue consistently raised by staff was a lack of relocation support from the Administration Program in previous years, in particular in finding suitable accommodation close to appropriate schools. In some instances, the lack of direction provided to the employee contributed to staff making uninformed decisions and becoming associated with unsuitable landlords. The result in these cases was not only unhappy and poorly-adjusted employees and dependents but also additional work for administration in recovering security deposits and getting legal advice regarding landlord obligations. Earlier this year, administration undertook a study which resulted in similar findings, and subsequently developed a plan to address these support gaps by establishing a CBS Portal and taking a more proactive and organized approach to supporting relocations. The rent ceiling is starting to become a constraint in finding suitable housing in certain desirable communities, and should be increased. A recent decision in HQ has allowed up to a 30% increase in the rent ceilings, which will give the Mission the necessary flexibility to deal with problematic cases.

7.3.12 A number of effective cost saving measures have been implemented at the Mission. One example is an initiative to decrease the annual supplies expenditures, resulting in a decrease from $400,000 to $180,000 annually. A second example is a number of energy efficient measures undertaken in recent years. The Mission energy bill increased by approximately 40% last year due to deregulation in the sector, resulting in the expiration of previously locked rates and a surcharge for wind power (3%). While the Mission had planned and budgeted for this increase, they also identified a number of energy efficiencies including the purchase of a more fuel-efficient vehicle, recycling toner cartridges and switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, appliances, and photocopiers. A plan to “green” the Chancery roof has been proposed and will be considered, if cost effective, when the current roof comes up for refurbishment in eight years.

7.3.13 The Mission could make more effective use of standing offers. This would allow both purchasing and payments to be consolidated, and diminish the number of transactions handled by the accounting staff. There is currently a vacant LE-08 position in Finance which, when staffed, will be used to develop standing offer agreements, and consolidate vendors and payments.

7.3.14 The Assistant Transport Supervisor position is classified at the same level as the drivers on the organization chart, which indicates that the drivers report directly to the Stationary Clerk. In reality, the drivers receive their instructions from the Assistant Transport Supervisor. The organizational chart should be changed to reflect the real reporting relationship. The position description of the Assistant Transport Supervisor should then be written to reflect the true dispatcher duties and the classification should be reviewed.

Recommendations for the Mission

7.3.15 The cost of providing OR staff meals should be determined and paid directly to OR staff.

7.3.16 SQ6120661 should be released upon the departure of the Minister (Political Affairs) ***.

7.3.17 As part of the planned fall 2006 property review, the Mission should review the housing requirements of the Minister positions from a representational requirement perspective.

7.3.18 The Mission should create more standing offer agreements, targeting vendors who can consolidate billing.

7.3.19 The Assistant Transport Supervisor position description should be revised to reflect dispatcher responsibilities, the organizational chart should be changed to reflect the true nature of reporting relationships, and the classification of this position should be reviewed.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

7.3.1 We are reviewing procedures this fall, will endeavour to make changes, if deemed appropriate, by January 2008.

7.3.16 Completed fall of 2006, SQ6120661 replaced with SQ6120717 (rent USD 6,000 per month).

7.3.17 Completed fall of 2006, SQ6120666 replaced with SQ6120714 (rent USD 5,000 per month).

7.3.18 Finance is in the process of developing a Standard offer policy and procedures. Implementation has not occurred yet, new expected date is April 2008

7.3.19 Completed and submitted for classification review in March 2007.

7.4 Finance

7.4.1 The Finance Section is headed by the Mission Finance Officer (FMO), a FI-03 who supervises an LE-08 Budget Financial System Manager (or Senior Accountant), an LE-05 Cash Management Clerk, four LE-06 Financial System Analysts and three LE-04 Accounts Clerks. There is also a vacant LE-08 Deputy FMO position. The Section is well organized and structured. Signing authorities are properly exercised and there is sufficient segregation of duties to ensure an appropriate level of control. Bank reconciliations are up-to-date and appropriately reviewed by the FMO and the MCO. Budgets are properly controlled and reports prepared in a diligent and timely manner. The Section provides all Program Managers a monthly report that compares actual expenditures (relating to travel, hospitality and LES overtime) to those originally budgeted.

7.4.2 Accounting operations are significant. Responsibilities include controlling a budget totalling $23.7 million and accounting for annual Immigration fees of approximately $1.4 million. The Mission issues approximately 3,000 Electronic Fund Transfers (EFT) each month.

7.4.3 Mission accounts are well organized, and appropriate processes and controls are in place. Day-to-day responsibilities are handled by an *** team. The Senior Accountant is ***. The Section is currently updating financial processes, including client service standards and individual desk procedures. When away on vacation or other leave, the Accountant is backed up by the FMO and/or the Cash Management Clerk. The Section is responsible for Mission finances, and for providing support to the OAS and the Office in Philadelphia. Services standards have been created, however they have not been finalized.

7.4.4 While there is considerable supervision within the Section by the Senior Accountant, there does not appear to be sufficient monitoring by the FMO, and hence there is limited CBS oversight of the Mission's financial operations. The MCO takes a proactive role in reviewing the monthly bank reconciliations and any financial reports prepared by the Section.

7.4.5 The Department's policy on delegation of financial authorities states that bank account signing authority is normally restricted to CBS, except in exceptional circumstances (e.g. not enough CBS at the Mission). LES may be provided with bank account singing authority but only if approved by Financial Management Services (SMFF). The Senior Accountant has bank signing authority, including cheque signing authority and EFT payment approval authority. This approval has not been received from SMFF. Furthermore, the Senior Accountant has been delegated with:

  • full Section 33 and 34 signing authority (subject to Departmental regulations, directives and policies); and,
  • signing authority with respect to acquisition cards.
    Each section head has identified various Section 32, 33 and 34 signatories at the Mission.

7.4.6 The bank reconciliations are prepared by the Cash Management Clerk, reviewed by the Senior Accountant, approved by the FMO and also approved by the MCO. SMFF procedures call for the MCO to review and the HOM to approve monthly reconciliations before being sent to SMFF. This is also the case for disposals; however, due to the staff structure of this Mission, these authorities have been delegated to the MCO. The bank reconciliations are up-to-date and submitted to SMFF on a timely basis. Although sufficient internal controls surround the accounting function, the FMO does not:

  • review and approve the monthly Asset and Liability Report;
  • review and approve SA documents; and,
  • review vendor master changes or updates until after they have been entered into the system.
    There should also be a reconciliation of PAYEs that are created at year end.

7.4.7 The Mission has three bank accounts, all denominated in US dollars. Virtually all Mission payments are made by EFT. The Mission utilizes internet banking to pay vendors, with the Senior Accountant, and/or the FMO having the ability to activate payment transfers, while SMFF has the authority to release or approve the payments. EFTs are normally done three times per week. Once a payment has gone through the payment run process it takes two business days for the vendor to receive payment. Furthermore, only one signature is required on cheques. Ideally, two CBS signatures should be required for all cheques. Financial instruments are securely taken to the bank by a private security firm ***.

7.4.8 Due to the high volume of Immigration revenues received by the Mission, SMFF is not required to transfer funds to the Mission. In fact, funds are transferred from the Mission to SMFF in USD on a monthly basis. Although there is no formal policy or process in place, the Mission has been maintaining a monthly cash balance ***. Mission management has calculated this reserve as part of the contingency planning exercise. This contingency balance would allow the Mission to cover operating expenditures for approximately 30 days in the event of an emergency. Interest is not earned on these funds. It is not clear to the Audit Team whether the Mission and SMFF have agreed upon the ideal situation for maintaining a minimum cash balance on hand in the Mission's local bank.

7.4.9 There are three petty cash accounts at the Mission: one maintained in the Finance Section, one in the Consular Section and the other in the Philadelphia office. The Audit Team counted the petty cash accounts in the Washington office and did not find any discrepancies.

7.4.10 The Mission has an active Contract Review Board (CRB), consisting of three members: the MCO, the FMO and the Program Manager of Public Relations. Detailed procedures have been developed and issued by the Finance Section outlining the requirements for the submission and approval of contracts and the related responsibilities of Program Managers and administrative personnel. All contracts of value greater than $5,000 and tendered on a competitive basis must be approved by the CRB. Any contract that is of value greater than $1,000 that has not been tendered competitively must also be approved by the CRB. The minutes of the CRB were reviewed, as well as a sample of approved contracts for the period May 1, 2005 to April 30, 2006.

7.4.11 In December 2004, missions were instructed by HQ to enter all contracts greater than $5,000 into the Automated Contracting System (ACS), part of the Materiel Management (MM) module in IMS. The Mission is complying with this requirement.

7.4.12 A large sample of hospitality diaries was reviewed and diaries were generally found to comply with the Department's hospitality policy. The Mission has an official hospitality policy and officers maintain hospitality diaries for each function and submit quarterly Hospitality and Expense reports. The review revealed no major observations; however, more attention to detail is required, as well as more descriptive evaluations of events and properly documented claims with proof of payment.

7.4.13 During our field work it became apparent to the Audit Team that Program Officers were transferring their individual hospitality budgets amongst themselves. This occurred primarily when the Program Officers were jointly sponsoring events. These transactions should be recorded in IMS and hospitality allocations should be adjusted accordingly.

7.4.14 Consular and passport funds received, as well as refunds issued, are recorded *** onsite at the Mission. Fees are received in CAD or USD financial instruments: cash, postal order, certified cheque, etc. The Audit Team reviewed the reconciliation process with the responsible Consular Officer. Consular revenues are provided to the Finance Section periodically (the Finance Section does not provide the Consular Officer with an official receipt, however, a copy of the Document Input Form is provided) and are deposited ***. The reconciliation of consular/passport services provided and cash received is performed on a daily basis. The Consular Section completes EXT-119 (Record of Fees Received) and issues official receipts for all services.

7.4.15 A key is required to process refunds using the cash register. This single key is stored ***. Access *** is not limited, thereby increasing the risk that non-authorized refunds could be made. All refunds/voids from the register are signed off by the Consular Officer.

Recommendations for the Mission

7.4.16 Service standards and desk procedures should be finalised and approved by the MCO and the Operations Committee.

7.4.17 The FMO should to take a more participatory role in the financial operations of the Mission. This would include, but not be limited to, monitoring and approval of transactions within IMS, generating reports within IMS and BI, ensuring that the Accountants are adhering to policies, and following up on requests made by Mission management or SMFF at HQ.

7.4.18 Formal approval should be sought from SMFF to keep certain LES as signatory on the bank accounts, as appropriate.

7.4.19 The FMO should review and approve the Asset and Liability Report on a monthly basis.

7.4.20 The Mission should reconcile all PAYEs that are created at year end.

7.4.21 The FMO should review and approve all vendor master record changes or updates prior to them being entered into the system and being processed.

7.4.22 Two signatures should be required on all cheques written by the Mission.

7.4.23 The Mission, in consultation with SMFF, should formally agree upon the best practice for maintaining a minimum cash balance, if any, on hand in the Mission's local bank.

7.4.24 Officers should provide a more descriptive evaluation of events and functions in their hospitality diaries.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

7.4.16 Service standards and desk procedures have been approved by MCO and are being updated regularly

7.4.17 The FMO is now involved in every aspect of Mission financial operations including approval of all financial transactions (FAA Section 33). The FMO is also the main point of contact with HQ on all financial and contractual questions.

7.4.18 Mission Accountant and LES Benefits Advisor (both LES) are signatory on the Mission's bank accounts. Formal approval was sought from SMFF on November 22 2006, in response to email on Banking Signing Authority. Additional justification was provided to SMFF via email on January 16 2007 although no formal reply from SMFF was received.

7.4.19 The Asset and Liability Report is being reviewed on a monthly basis.

7.4.20 The Mission is reconciling all PAYEs created at year end.

7.4.21 Since September 2006, the FMO reviews all requests for the creation/modification of Canadian vendor master records and forwards them to SMFF for approval. In response to audit recommendations, the creation/modification of local vendor master records is now handled outside the Finance unit. Considering the high volume of transactions in a mission the size of Washington, the FMO reviews monthly an IMS change report highlighting the creation/modification of local vendor master records with the monthly bank reconciliation.

7.4.22 All cheques now require two signatures.

7.4.23 The average monthly balance in the mission bank account was reduced *** starting from September 2006 based on Washington's requirements for liquidities and necessary flexibility to respond to potential emergencies. Although this was not addressed in terms of a formal agreement, this issue was discussed over the phone with our SMFF regional advisor.

7.4.24 Instruction updated effective April 2007.

7.5 Information Technology (IT)

7.5.1 The IT Section is managed by a CS-03, Team Leader IT Services, who supervises three Foreign Service Information Technology Professionals (FSITPs), one Senior Locally-engaged ITP (LEITP) and two LEITPs. There is a vacant LEITP position in the Section. The Section is *** managed and provides *** support to the Mission. Systems are functioning within the Mission and staff indicated that they receive *** service and support from the Section. There appears to be a sufficient capacity for the team to back-fill for one another when required.

7.5.2 The Section has recently updated and finalised its Information Management and Information Technology work plan, which also includes regional activities as IT services are provided to the Office in Philadelphia. It became apparent to the Audit Team that the Section spends a considerable amount of time assisting Philadelphia via telephone. The Section should consider periodic visits to the Office as a way to streamline its supportive role.

7.5.3 An annual IT budget (including overtime requirements) has been established and agreed upon. Monthly budget versus actual reports are regularly reviewed by the Team Leader.

7.5.4 Client service standards were recently revised and are being finalised. The standards are to be approved by the CMM along with the other Sections' revised service standards. It would appear that these standards are being adhered to as indicated by Mission staff during discussions with the Audit Team.

7.5.5 The division of labour amongst the IT specialists is logical, efficient and facilitates program delivery. HQ redistribution plans will reduce the number of FSITPs from four to three ***. One FSITP will be moving *** to provide support for missions located on the west coast of the United States, which were previously being managed by Washington. In addition to this change, *** the Section has started the process to hire a new LEITP. The reduction in staff will impact services, forcing the IT Team to streamline and prioritise, adhering more strictly to the core services the Information Management and Technology Bureau (SXD) supports.

7.5.6 Staff within the Section have the *** to deliver the program. The Section is using the required tools, such as Remedy and Tech Serve, and is maintaining relevant data; however, the Section is not consistently using Remedy for basic or routine questions that are submitted by Mission staff. The Section should consider the benefit of logging these types of calls to augment the management of resources and administration of requests within the Section. Job descriptions have been recently updated; however, some performance appraisals are outstanding. The Audit Team understands that completing the Section's appraisals is the Team Leader's top priority and that they were expected to be completed over the summer months. Weekly team meetings are held to ensure that staff within the Section are kept up-to-date on key happenings. The Team Leader also meets with the MCO on a weekly basis and reports on all Section activities and initiatives.

7.5.7 An IT Steering Committee has been established and appears to be operating effectively. The Committee meets periodically and as necessary when a new project is being planned, to provide direction and input. The Mission Continuity Plan incorporates key IT functions; however, it has not been tested recently. Back-ups are performed routinely and tapes are stored in a safe location. Essential systems are safeguarded by power surge protectors and uninterrupted power is supplied to these systems. Inventories of IT assets are properly and adequately maintained and controlled. Surplus IT assets have been properly disposed of as per Departmental policy.

7.5.8 An IT Training Officer was recently hired and a training room has been created. The IT Training Officer's mandate is to provide training on IT issues (relating to software applications, usage of special hardware, etc.) and coaching on best practices. Individual training plans incorporate IT training. An overall IT training program has been developed and is scheduled to commence in the fall.

7.5.9 The IT Team works with clients in streamlining work flow and procedures and recommending software applications to assist in achieving their goals. Some of these applications use custom off-the-shelf software (COTS) and the Section has ensured that the applications have been certified for use on SIGNET. The main concern when developing or customizing new applications is that continued maintenance and support from the local providers is ensured. The Mission is currently testing its customized stand-alone system for LES benefits administration and management, known as ABRA, which has been certified for SIGNET 3. The Mission is hoping that the system will become a best practice and, as a result, will be distributed to other missions, especially in the US. ABRA is expected to be up and running by the fall of 2006 and should aid in streamlining the administration and management of the Human Resources function. The Audit Team was very impressed with this system.

7.5.10 Connect2Canada is an initiative to encourage all Canadians living in the US or US citizens who are closely associated with Canada, to provide contact information online. A local company hosts the site and gathers the information that people submit voluntarily, and provides basic management of the system for the Mission. Through our discussions with Mission staff, a concern was raised that the information collected by Connect2Canada could be fully accessed by the US government under the US Patriot Act. It is not clear to the Audit Team whether or not this poses a risk to the Mission and/or to Canadians providing this information on a voluntary basis. In addition, it is not clear whether or not this potential access has been communicated to Canadians participating in this initiative.

7.5.11 A very impressive media room was recently created, which has a stage, a podium, an audience area, a press room (complete with a green room for waiting dignitaries), multiple plasma screens for satellite television, as well as plug-ins for local media for their cameras and microphones.

7.5.12 Washington is probably the largest user of remote access tools among all of Canada's missions. It has about 40 SRA laptops, many of which are on the SW pilot, and approximately 100 Blackberry devices. The Mission has been able to negotiate an excellent agreement with its wireless provider. The Section is well equipped to implement the Information Management and Technology Bureau's (SXD's) new policy on servicing mobility tools.

Recommendations for the Mission

7.5.13 Periodic site visits to the Philadelphia Office should be conducted by the Section.

7.5.14 The Client Service Standards should be approved and signed off by the CMM. Once approved, they should be distributed to all Mission staff.

7.5.15 The Mission should ensure that the LEITP position is filled in a timely manner.

7.5.16 The Section should examine the feasibility of logging basic and/or routine requests in the Remedy system.

7.5.17 Appraisals should be completed, using PMP, as soon as possible.

7.5.18 The Mission Continuity Plan should be tested to ensure that the plan will function during an actual emergency.

7.5.19 A maintenance and support action plan, which should include service agreements, should be created to ensure that customized software service requirements are maintained.

7.5.20 The Mission should determine whether or not the accessibility of the Connect2Canada information has been adequately disclosed to those Canadians who are voluntarily entering their information into the system. This may require involving Public Affairs.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

7.5.13 The Mission thinks that one visit every two-four months will be sufficient, with emergencies handled on a case by case basis. Please note: telephone support is the official model for these ERI Missions. SXD does not officially support these missions other than to offer them remote access support via the Ottawa Helpdesk. Any and all visits are the financial responsibility of the Mission.

7.5.14 Service Standards are reviewed and presented to CMM for approval as they are completed, this is ongoing.

7.5.15 The LEITP position has been filled.

7.5.16 The IT Section logs all service requests in Remedy. The Section now produces statistics monthly on how many tickets are created and closed. The Section averages more than 200 per month.

7.5.17 All employee annual reviews have been completed in June 2007.

7.5.18 The Mission Contingency plans are going through a major transformation with the help from a professional in New York. All new plans have been forwarded to New York. The new plans should be prepared and back to the Mission by December 2008. As for testing, it was conducted on May 30, 2007 which went very well.

7.5.19 Team has developed a new strategy in documentation processes and internal work procedures to address this.

7.5.20 This has been addressed by the Connect2Canada team via a clear disclaimer on the front page.

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