An inspection of the Commercial, General Relations, Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in February 2008. Previously, an audit was conducted in June 2000. The Mission has 55 staff all working for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Partner Departments (Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Public Safety Canada, National Defence (DND) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)) provide support from the Hague and Paris.
The Mission***in carrying out and achieving its defined objectives. There are a large number of activities, events, and visits. Many of these are related to Canadian veterans, ***by both Canadian and Belgian veterans and government representatives, but also on an evolving federalism and implications for national unity. The Mission has established an integrated planning process anchored in the Country Strategy and includes ongoing reviews and adjustments. ***communications are evident through various mechanisms, including weekly Mission management committees.
There are however several issues, some of a long term or systemic nature that require attention ***. There are no regularly scheduled, agenda driven meetings between the three Heads of Mission (HOMs) in Brussels. As the Embassy of Canada to Belgium (BRU) provides all administrative services to the mission of Canada to the European Union (BREU) and two thirds to the mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (BNATO), such meetings are essential to ensure issues of common concern or interest are discussed. Ensuring that common standards, administrative, financial, and security related issues are discussed and agreed to by all three HOMs is important in promoting *** consistent services as well as shared accountability.
The Mission faces *** challenges due to moral and motivation factors with Locally-engaged staff (LES). A large portion of the LES complement is made up of long-serving employees. Training and skills upgrading, greater communications with regard to new departmental and government-wide policies and initiatives, firmer controls and management oversight, will facilitate change management and transformation. The dissatisfaction on the part of the LES with regards to their employee benefits package, pension plan and out of date Handbook, which has not been revised since 1997, needs to be addressed.
The Commercial Program has been impacted by constant changes in priority sectors, the absence of the previous Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) ***and a change of management *** with the new STC. The Program would benefit from clearer objectives and performance expectations along with team building initiatives and improved communication.
The Mission is proposing to merge the Political and Public Affairs sections into a single Program by September 2008. This will streamline operations following Expenditure Review Committee (ERC) cuts and allow savings to be allocated to higher priorities, consistent with the Country Strategy, including an LES position at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. While the merge is seen as a constructive step, Headquarters (HQ) will have to assess, in consultation with OGDs (other government departments) and Parliamentarians, the level of importance the Department attaches to the Council.
The Administration Program has the largest number of LES and would benefit from ***a workplan with clear and realistic time horizons. The Management and Consular Officer (MCO) has,***, identified the need for training ***, improved communications, strengthened controls, introduction of modern practices, and the need to introduce these strategically over an appropriate time frame. In achieving success with this, the Program would benefit by employing change management techniques along with team building exercises, utilizing consultants to provide the required expertise and support. The Consular Program is running *** though succession planning for the departure of the Senior Consular Officer needs to be addressed.
Related to the provision of common services is the role and reporting relationship of the MCO at BNATO. This position is an anomaly in that BRU provides the major services such as financial processing, most of property, security and back-up support for Human Resources (HR) and Information Technology (IT). As is discussed more extensively in the BNATO report, having the BNATO MCO report to BRU would better provide BNATO with the full range of administrative support and conversely give BRU an additional Canada-based staff (CBS). This would make better use of the BNATO resource and augment BRU's service capacity.
A total of 58 recommendations are raised in the report, 55 of which are addressed to the Mission and the remainder addressed to HQ. Of the 58 recommendations, management has stated that 39 have been implemented. For each of the remaining 19 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.
1.1.1 The Embassy in Brussels (BRU) is a medium sized mission with 11 Canada-based staff (CBS) and 44 Locally-engaged staff (LES). The Head of Mission (HOM) provides a level of oversight and control through *** communication mechanisms, committee structure and planning and review process. These include *** communication through town-hall meetings and ***with managers and staff alike.
1.1.2 The management team consists of the HOM and four Program Managers (Public Affairs, Political, Commercial and Administration) and meets weekly in the Committee on Mission Management (CMM). This meeting has a fixed agenda covering items to be followed-up from previous meetings, forward planning for the next two weeks, issues and events, and administrative issues. Once a month the agenda is set by the Management and Consular Officer (MCO) and minutes are kept. In turn each Program holds a weekly meeting with staff that conveys decisions and information from the CMM and discussion of issues relevant to the Program.
1.1.3 In addition to the CMM, other Mission committees include Housing, LES, Health and Safety, and Classification. These committees include participation from all three missions and are essential in facilitating service to clients and adhering to departmental procedures. The Contract Review Board (CRB) has been reactivated and will provide necessary transparency over contract processing and guidance to clients. The LES Committee has not been meeting regularly in recent years and therefore needs support from the Mission to ensure regular and meaningful engagement on LES issues such as those noted in section 5.2 of this report.
1.1.4 The Mission planning process is anchored by the Mission's Country Strategy which is developed in reference to general Government-wide priorities and specific departmental goals and objectives. This strategy then cascades into the HOM and EX performance management agreements (PMAs) and employee performance management plans (PMP). At the Program level an in-house retreat is used to generate the specific initiatives, activities and expected results required at the operational level. Programming is adjusted throughout the year to reflect new requirements. Reporting agreements are in place.
1.1.5 The Mission should ensure that the Contract Review Board is in place and remains active.
1.1.5 A functioning CRB with records of decisions retained in Finance has been in place since November 2007. Procedures are continually being updated and documented by the CRB. However, we believe that clear Terms of Reference provided by Headquarters (HQ) and specifically designed to support mission CRBs would facilitate the process, be more efficient and cost effective.
1.2.1 The bilateral Mission provides all common services to the co-located mission to the European Union (BREU). The mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (BNATO) has its own MCO and a small Administration Program. The BRU Administration Program, however, does provide most property, finance and security services to BNATO and general support for other areas.
1.2.2 To facilitate cooperation, and provide a forum for joint planning and decision making, the three Heads of Missions in Brussels should meet regularly to discuss common issues. As the common administrative support structure evolves, this will provide an important mechanism to monitor, discuss and improve the provision of support to all three missions. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), currently in draft, should be updated to reflect the common service responsibilities of all three Heads of Missions.
1.2.3 The Mission should establish regular meetings involving the three Heads of Missions in Brussels to address common issues and objectives. Consideration should be given to including the MCO.
1.2.4 The draft MOU should be updated to reflect the responsibilities of all three Heads of Mission with regards to common services.
1.2.3 The three HOMs have agreed to meet quarterly to discuss common issues, agree on common policies, and find synergies. A tri-mission Management Board that meets monthly has been established, with a terms of reference, chaired by the MCO and including Deputy HOMs from BNATO and BREU and General Relations Manager from BRU.
1.2.4 The draft MOU will be updated once the administrative arrangement with BNATO has been established.
2.1.1 The Commercial Program is led by an EX-01 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) and is comprised of a core group of staff that includes two LES officers and two LES assistants. Three of the LES officers and assistants are *** and have a *** network of contacts. Each of the officers is responsible for at least one priority sector as well as additional sub-sectors.
2.1.1 The organization chart dated January 2008 lists two other personnel that report to the STC. These include one Agriculture and Agri Food Canada (AAFC) CBS officer and one LES assistant that are focussed on pan-European seafood commercial development. The reality is that the STC has effective control over only five staff members. The other two personnel, while on the organization chart do not contribute to Commercial Program activities in Belgium outside of their remit. The Program has a budget of $38,000 operations funding, a Client Service Fund (CSF) of $55,000, hospitality budget of $10,200 and a travel budget of $5,600.
2.1.3 Belgium is an important trade and investment partner for Canada. As the 7th largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the world and Canada's 8th largest source of FDI in Europe (13th globally), FDI attraction is a very important aspect of Canada's commercial interests in Belgium. FDI promotion is in fact identified as a key component for each priority sector. As well, the Program has identified the various components in the context of the integrated trade approach, which is a good practice. There were three major Belgian Economic and Trade Missions to Canada in 2007-2008.
2.1.4 The main trade objectives for Luxembourg are to increase the volume of Luxembourg investment in Canada through the organization of visits and increased partnership with the Canada-Belgium-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. The economy of Luxembourg is based on financial services. Luxembourg investment in Canada reached more than 5.6 billion dollars in 2006.
2.2.1 The Commercial Program's priority sectors have gone through several iterations since 2006/2007. The STC arrived *** and was instructed to scale back the International Business Development (IBD) Plan that had been developed for fiscal year (FY) 2007-2008. The plan for FY 2008-2009 is currently being developed; non-priority sectors were dropped and two local priority sectors are being added for consideration next year, which marks the third year in a row that the Program's priority sectors have been changed. The rationale for the current changes are to align the Program's priority sectors with the European Market Plan, which has recently been promulgated. While this is definitely a step in the right direction, it does introduce another element of change ***.
2.2.2. The European Market Plan provides a good opportunity for the Mission to focus its efforts. The objective of the STC, in consultation with the Europe Commercial Relations Division (WOE) and other relevant sectors, should be to ensure that priority sectors are consistent with the European Market Plan, Headquarters priorities, as well as Canadian interests and capacity to take advantage of opportunities in Belgium. The current draft lists three common priority sectors to the European Market Plan and two local priorities related to the Belgian market. The rationale for these priority sectors should be articulated in the IBD Plan which once completed at Mission should be sent to the relevant sections at HQ for validation.
2.2.3 As previously noted, three of the five priority sectors (information and communication technologies (ICT), environmental technologies, and biotechnology) are the subject of both the European Market Plan and multi-country sector teams. The Commercial Program is currently a member of one sector team - environmental technologies and the AAFC officer is also a member of the Agri-food sector team. Given the current resource situation it is not recommended that the Mission seek participation or membership on other groups. Rather the Mission should seek to gain the maximum benefit from the knowledge and intelligence that it receives from these groups.
2.2.4 In addition to taking into account the resources available, the selection of IBD Plan priority sectors needs to be based on a sound rationale taking into account all available information and analysis. Exploring new priorities requires serious consideration as to why these are important and what value added the Program could bring into the promotion of Canadian trade interests in Belgium. In essence, given the limited resources it is essential to focus on a limited number of key sectors, where the Program can make a difference.
2.2.5 Given the changes in priorities proposed for 2008-2009, it will be important that the Mission fully comply with reporting requirements on results achieved and lessons learned for 2007-2008 in the business plan. This will help both the Mission and WOE to validate the proposed IBD Plan for the upcoming year. Indeed CSF allocations to BRU should not be approved until the business plan has been thoroughly completed.
2.2.6 The Mission, in coordination with WOE, should review the current Commercial Program organization chart to ensure that it reflects actual bilateral trade resources.
2.2.7 The IBD priority sectors should be based on the European Market Plan and be supported by a solid rationale and in accordance with available resources.
2.2.8 The Mission must complete all aspects of the IBD Plan, including reporting on previous year performance and lessons learned. WOE should be part of the IBD planning process and validate the plan prior to its implementation in FY 2008-2009.
2.2.6 In progress, in partnership with WOE. Starting April 1, 2008, all AAFC resources deployed outside Canada now report to AAFC headquarters; this change is being reflected in a new organization chart.
2.2.7 BRU's IBD priority sectors are now based on the European Market Plan and supported by a solid rationale, reflecting available resources.
2.2.8 The Mission prepared its 2008-2009 IBD Plan, taking into account comments from WOE. Reporting on previous year's outcome is nearing completion and includes AAFC data. The Investment Plan is being reworked for 2008-2009 in partnership with Investor Services (IMS) and is based on target lists developed at post, mostly from lists provided by Headquarters.
2.3.1 Currently, the Commercial Program is ***. The constant changes in priority sectors, the arrival of a new STC ***, the absence of the previous STC ***, the loss of one LES assistant and one AAFC investment officer this fiscal year, the possible departure of one LES position and the *** level of absenteeism contribute ***. This situation has led to, among other things,***. Engaging staff constructively and bringing stability to the Program is the most significant, and pressing challenge facing the STC. Further compounding the situation, the STC arrived at the Mission *** There does not appear to have been a handover briefing book or detailed list of contacts prepared in advance of her arrival. In addition, part of the IBD Plan 2007-2008 had not been completed.
2.3.2 The STC has taken some initial steps to address the situation by holding individual meetings with staff soon after her arrival at post and taking note of staff's interests in order to align those to their roles and responsibilities and priority sectors. In addition, the STC holds weekly meetings with all staff. While informal notes are taken, there should be one set of formal minutes with a Record of Decision taken once a month. This will promote information sharing and ensure that resources are being used in an effective and efficient manner.
2.3.3 The current situation sees the Program trying to be all things to everyone, with demands being put on the staff that are far greater than the Section's capacity. The Program needs to identify *** the most important issues, interests, capacities and opportunities and move forward based on a solid action plan. The STC needs to ensure that mandates given to the staff are clear and that expectations are realistic and achievable. This year's planning process is critical to the short and medium term success of the Program. As such, it is critical that the Section take stock of the situation and allocate resources to areas that they can have the most impact. It is time to review what actions they have taken in the past with a view to keeping those that advance Canada's interests and dispose of those that take up time and do not lead to results. They need to undertake work that focuses on making the maximum impact given the resource base they have to work from.
2.3.4 Staff Performance Management Programs (PMPs) are up-to-date and each officer has a training plan. While individual staff member training needs have been listed, these have not been put in any order of priority. The STC should identify the training priorities for each staff member rather than have a list of training required. By prioritizing staff training needs, there is a better chance that they will obtain the most important training that they need to improve their capabilities and performance.
2.3.5 While staff PMPs have been completed, the STC's Performance Management Agreement (PMA) was only recently drafted with input by WOE. HQ should normally have provided objectives for the STC early in the fiscal year.
2.3.6 The Commercial Program should hold a staff retreat to develop the FY 2008-2009 IBD Plan. The retreat could also serve as a team building exercise that would present a good opportunity to ensure staff are on the same page as the STC and have full knowledge of what is being asked of them and their colleagues. In addition it would provide a good opportunity to inform them of how what they are doing fits into Canada's broader interests in Europe and the world. WOE should participate in this retreat. A good practice that could be used is that of the India Commercial Program whose annual conference bring in people from HQ, and outside experts on the country that identify opportunities and link them to Canadian capacities.
2.3.7 Records of decisions of staff meetings and action items should be officially recorded once a month.
2.3.8 Staff training plans should list training needs in order of priority to ensure that staff training is focussed ***.
2.3.9 The Mission should consult with WOE as soon as possible to ensure clear objectives are set for input into the development of performance management agreements and plans.
2.3.10 The Section should hold a retreat as soon as possible that would be part of the planning process and act as a team building exercise. WOE and other relevant sectors should be included in the retreat.
2.3.7 To be implemented in August 2008.
2.3.8 Staff training plans are addressed in PMPs with a schedule developed for the fall according to each employee's needs***. TRIO training is proceeding internally and with Paris support pending new trainers coming on board at e-Services Division.
2.3.9 WOE comments on the IBD plan have been factored into the preparation of PMP objectives and performance indicators.
2.3.10 A retreat will be held in 2008-2009 as part of the planning process in consultation with WOE, and will include team-building aspects.
2.4.1 The current state of operations within the Commercial Program is reflective of the current realities related to the reactive approach ***that are evident in the Program. While the staff are *** with an *** network of contacts, there are significant opportunities *** that would increase efficiency and effectiveness in carrying out the Programs tasks.
2.4.2 Staff, including the STC, are currently working in a reactive mode and spend a lot of their time on administrative tasking, that according to them takes up at least 50% of their time. In fact, officers indicated that because of this situation they are not in a position to meet companies and perform outcall activities as much as they would like to, ***. In this situation, and with the actual capacity of the Section in terms of available resources that focus solely on bilateral, non-agricultural commercial interests, there is a real and urgent requirement for focus and solid action plans with a definite emphasis on priority sectors.
2.4.3 As stated earlier, the STC has taken some initial steps to bring focus to the Program and has developed with the staff a list of priorities to bring forward for 2008-2009. Given the resources available, the *** degree of absenteeism, ***, the plan seems to be overly ambitious. Based on the current environment, the STC should estimate at least 40% of officers' time being devoted to reactive work and ideally 60% to do proactive work. The current documentation provided by the STC states that staff will be allocating 22% of their time to reactive work, which in this context, at this moment is not realistic. Getting to a 60-40 level will take time and be well within reach only *** has put in place the essential fundamentals and operational improvements required.
2.4.4 The most pressing operational requirement is related to the necessary conformity with the use of, and reporting in, TRIO. Present TRIO statistics indicate that in 2006-2007 only 110 service requests were registered. So far in 2007-2008, 170 service requests have been recorded, which is *** over the previous year. However, 55% of these were generated by priority sectors covered by AAFC (agri-food and seafood) followed by the non-priority sector of service industries (8.2%) and ICT (6.5%).
2.4.5 The low use of TRIO amongst *** is leading to significant deficiencies in terms of providing a window into the operations of the Section. By not using TRIO the *** are losing out on the efficiencies that it brings to their work in terms of contact management, information on how issues were resolved in the past, as well as tracking performance on a day-to-day basis. Based on the TRIO numbers, it is difficult to validate the priorities as determined in the present business plan. It is essential that *** acquire the appropriate training and coaching to use TRIO to the maximum extent possible. Currently, the assistant's time is being used to perform work that the trade officers are not willing to perform, such as TRIO entries.
2.4.6 The team was also unable to confirm the number of FDI related outcall activities undertaken by staff. IMS statistics indicated only 14 meetings were conducted in 2007-2008. This number *** than expected given the relative importance of investment opportunities in Belgium and Luxemburg. Based on our on-site review, it was found that there has been an inward focus amongst the staff over the past year. Officers, including the STC, *** in their work as they should be and as a result they have a low number of outcall activities. There is a need to increase the number of outcall activities performed by officers and increase the percentage of time they spend on proactive, commercial development work outside their offices and in particular in the region of Flanders.
2.4.7 A list of pre-qualified companies should be developed by each officer and a certain number of important outcall activities should be planned at the beginning of the year for the HOM. Outcall targets should be established in each officer's PMP and progress against objectives should be tracked at one of the weekly staff meetings. Meetings should be thoroughly recorded in TRIO, including follow-up. In addition, use of TRIO should also be included in the PMPs and progress measured on an on-going basis. The staff's conformity with the use of TRIO should be clearly outlined in their PMPs and there should be a performance measure that has consequences for non-compliance.
2.4.8 There is also a need to update information on InfoExport, the International Trade web site that provides information to potential Canadian clients. For instance, the Trade Section site shows old Science and Technology (ST) newsletters and past investment award recipients; yet, these practices are planned to be abandoned by the Mission and should consequently be eliminated from the site. Moreover, based on the information found on the web site at the time of the Inspection (February 2008) there was no sectoral information for four of the six priority sectors on the site. This lack of data does not provide the right information to potential clients that are looking to explore options in the Belgian market.
2.4.9 Given the location of the Mission, they receive a higher than usual number of visitors for a post of this size. As such, visit management is becoming an issue that is impacting on the Section's ability to focus on priorities. The STC should work with her officers and other sections of the Mission and BREU to ensure that the work undertaken by the Section in managing *** and provides a value added service. Visits could be seen as a positive aspect in so far as visitors open doors that can lead to increased proactive opportunities.
2.4.10 One area where more focus could be brought to the Program is in the establishment of an InfoCentre that could act as a central clearing house for incoming correspondence and issue management. As well, the documentation centre should be better managed with more current and relevant material. With the elimination of one assistant position this FY these tasks have fallen by the way side. One option would be to re-orient the job package of one of the two assistants who could dedicate the majority of their time to value-added InfoCentre activities.
2.4.11 The Program should work closely with the e-Services Division (WSE) in order to develop an action plan to ensure that TRIO is fully deployed.
2.4.12 All staff PMPs should include the use of TRIO as well as number of outcall activities to be conducted and performance should be regularly monitored by the STC to ensure that these activities are taking place.
2.4.13 A list of pre-qualified companies should be established for outcall activities and for HOM outcall activities at the beginning of the fiscal year.
2.4.14 The InfoExport web site should be updated with sector information on priority sectors.
2.4.15 Assess the possibility of changing one LE-05 assistant position to address information management and InfoCentre duties.
2.4.11 BRU will work closely with WSE to develop an action plan for use of TRIO and with Strategic Trade Planning and Performance Management (PDC) to ensure that Dashboard indicators continue rising. However, this is pending WSE recruitment of trainers.
2.4.12 All staff PMPs include the use of TRIO and the number of outcall activities to be conducted. Performance is monitored by the STC to ensure that these activities are taking place.
2.4.13 A list of pre-qualified companies has been established for outcall activities by staff members and for HOM outcall activities until her departure from post. A new list is being developed for the arrival of the new HOM.
2.4.14 BRU's IBD Priority Sectors are being updated with a November 2008 deadline for completion; responsibility for maintaining sectoral information on Infoexport is reflected in PMPs.
2.4.15 Reorganization of resources is underway, with WOE and HOM approval, but pending position reclassification and recruitment action.
3.1.1 The General Relations and Public Affairs Program review covered the following aspects:
3.2.1 The activities undertaken by the Section, whether in general relations or public affairs, largely stem from the Country Strategy established by the Mission. An activities and projects review showed that the Section is focussed on the set objectives and endeavours to attain them using all the means at its disposal.
3.2.2 One of the Section's activities is covering the Council of Europe. In fact, the Council of Europe, located in Strasbourg, is a pan-European institution consisting of 47 members and five observers, including Canada.
3.2.3 Questions that came up included covering the Council of Europe, Canada as an observer and whether BRU or BREU was better placed to take on this task. Some elements remain unanswered after responsibility for covering the affairs of the Council of Europe and providing assistance to Canadian members of Parliament was transferred to BRU (Berne was formerly responsible for coverage): a) How important is this institution to Canada? b) Who should be the convergence point in Ottawa? c) Who should be responsible for Strasbourg (BRU or BREU)? and d) What resources does this require?
3.2.4 From an organizational point of view, BREU should consider taking on this responsibility since the mission already has contacts in certain institutions in Strasbourg and a good number of files often extend beyond the bilateral framework or are multilateral. It should be noted that this responsibility was formerly assumed by BREU.
3.2.5 The Geographic Bureau and the missions should determine the importance of the Council of Europe to Canada's interests and who should take on the observer role.
3.2.5 An interdepartmental meeting was held in May 2008 involving departments and agencies active on behalf of Canada at the Council of Europe. This meeting confirmed that our status as an Observer State at the Council of Europe continues to benefit Canadian interests. Government of Canada departments and agencies see positive impacts from their participation in the various working groups and meetings of the Council of Europe on a targeted basis directly linked to specific Government priorities. Canadian parliamentarians also see benefits to Canadian interests from their regular and active participation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
It is recommended that responsibility for our Observer status at the Council of Europe remain with Canada's bilateral mission in Brussels (BRU). The Political Section of the Mission was reorganized in 2008 as part of an overall plan to align the Section with current priorities. This reorganization will also allow the Mission to provide an appropriate level of support to our activities as an Observer State at the Council of Europe. This reorganization has been completed and will be implemented effective September 1, 2008. The Mission will review and assess the modalities of representation within the next twelve months.
At Headquarters, REC will staff a desk officer position with responsibility for the Council of Europe during the 2008 HQ staffing process. For the past year, responsibility for the Council of Europe has been included on an interim basis in the responsibilities of the desk officer responsible for Poland and the Baltic states. The staffing of the desk officer position (who will also be responsible for Norway and Iceland) will allow HQ to provide a higher level of policy and organizational support to our Council of Europe activities.
3.3.1 An objectives-based action plan was put in place and carried out. Initiatives for both General Relations and Public Affairs were identified, and groups and partners were targeted. Activities and events were also identified, including receptions in support of the action plan.
3.3.2 Generally speaking, the two sub-sections have a *** understanding of the Mission's objectives and how they fit in with Canada's priorities. The approach used for developing contacts seems ***-aligned and there is a *** understanding of the principles and means sub-sections should use to attain committed public diplomacy.
3.4.1 The current organizational structure includes a GR Program Manager (EX-01) and the head of Public Affairs (EX-01). However, this structure is no longer valid for a number of reasons, including:
3.4.2 The recently proposed structure does not represent any substantial cost savings, but it does have the advantage of recognizing and addressing certain abnormalities. The proposal includes eliminating the Manager of Public Affairs position and fusing two sub-sections by adding an FS-02 position. The separation of resources between BRU and BREU is also being considered, as the LES position would be 100% dedicated to BREU.
3.4.3 The restructuring also takes into account one resource to cover the Council of Europe, as discussed earlier.
3.4.4 The Section's financial resources are reasonable and allow it to continue giving Canada a certain visibility and carry out its activities. However, once the restructuring is complete, the Section's budgets should be increased and responsibilities should be reviewed in order to reflect the Section's priorities so that the Section, and through it, the Mission, will be able to adopt a proactive approach.
3.4.5 In light of the new structure, job reviews should be held to reflect the new responsibilities and proposed changes.
3.4.5 Job reviews were completed. Staff were consulted/informed regarding their new tasks as a result of the restructuring. The Mission has started re-writing job descriptions (for Locally-engaged staff and for the new FS-02).
The new job descriptions will be completed by the end of August 2008 and the new structure will be operational on September 1, 2008.
3.5.1 The Section did its part with regard to the agreement on periodical reporting. A significant number of political reports and reports covering public affairs and cultural aspects were delivered to various entities. The same can be said for electronic publications, which are widely used by the Mission. The website is also a good communications tool ***.
3.5.2 The publications inventory, public hearings and number of articles are good indicators of the Section's level of activity.
4.1.1 The Consular Program falls under the direction of the EX-01 Management and Consular Officer, with day-to-day management by the AS-06 Deputy MCO (DMCO). The Section also includes a Consular Officer (LE-08), and Consular Assistant (LE-06). ***. Roles are well defined with a good segregation of duties. Communications of both a formal and informal nature ***. Overall, the Section is running *** with *** service to clients.
4.1.2 ***. Succession planning will present a major challenge for the Mission***.
4.1.3 An appropriate succession plan should be developed.
4.1.3 The current Consular Assistant *** regularly provides back-up when required. Authority for additional resources will be sought from HQ to ensure appropriate overlap ***.
4.2.1 The Consular Section is active with five arrest and detention cases, 404 Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) registrants, and 876 passports issued in fiscal year 2005/2006. While the workload is manageable, staff have noted a steady increase over the years as they are not able to provide the same level of service as in the past. At present, there is no back up for the Consular Officer or Consular Assistant, so they must manage their absences appropriately. This presents a risk to the Mission given that should both consular staff members be absent on the same day, passport services could not be provided. A suitable backup resource, from another program area, should be identified and provided with the appropriate training.
4.2.2 The Consular Assistant has *** completed the mandatory passport training. The DMCO and Consular Officer are aware that they must complete the training by the deadline, however, they are finding it challenging to manage their workload. Both the DMCO and Consular Officer will need to adjust their workload priorities to ensure the training is completed prior to the deadline. However, this will be more manageable given that the deadline has been extended to December 2008. Ideally the MCO should also complete the training in order to back up the DMCO, when required.
4.2.3 A suitable consular backup should be identified and provided with the required training.
4.2.4 Both the DMCO and the Consular Officer should complete the mandatory passport training prior to the deadline.
4.2.3 The Mission will include in the learning plan of the receptionists, who already are trained on ROCA and have access to COSMOS, and other staff including Administration assistants, additional consular and passport training.
4.2.4 Three of four consular staff have completed the training; the remaining staff member will complete the training by the deadline of December 31, 2008.
4.3.1 The Mission's contingency plans for both Luxemburg and Brussels have not been updated since 2005. While there have not been any significant changes to the information, an update is warranted. The MCO recently developed a workplan for all sections including the Consular Program and reviewing the Consular Plan has been identified as a priority.
4.4.1 In conjunction with the DMCO, *** has been designated to approve passport applications. In accordance with the instructions from Passport Canada, a CBS must exercise the entitlement function based on a verification of original application forms and citizenship documents. Prior to the Inspection, however, the entitlement process was being conducted by ***, in addition to the DMCO. While restricting the entitlement function will have an impact on the workload of the DMCO, the Mission will need to explore options to addresses this as Passport Canada intends to restrict the passport entitlement function in the future.
4.4.2 Overall, controls are in place and assets are adequately safeguarded. Monthly passport inventory reconciliations are conducted by the DMCO, and quarterly reconciliations are signed off by the HOM. A reconciliation of passports was conducted by the Inspection Team and all assets were accounted for.
4.4.3 Passport and consular revenues are adequately secured and transferred ***. The Mission has been storing passport application files beyond the 90 day limit. In accordance with Passport Canada regulations, all passport application files should be destroyed after 90 days.
4.4.4 As required by Passport Canada Security Policy, the passport entitlement function should be exercised by a designated CBS officer based on their review of the client's original citizenship documentation.
4.4.5 Passport application files should be destroyed after 90 days.
4.4.4 A CBS officer currently reviews all difficult cases and as authority is withdrawn from ***, will assume the entitlement function.
4.4.5 The passport policy requires that missions retain passport applications for a minimum of 90 days and that their destruction complies with Departmental procedures. This is currently being done.
4.5.1 The Mission has two Honorary Consuls (HonCons), one in Antwerp and a second in Luxembourg. The Antwerp HonCon is primarily a trade representative and, as a result, is only marginally involved in consular activities. The Luxembourg HonCon provides a full range of consular services including the issuance of emergency passports, if required (note no emergency passports have been issued to date). The Consular Section has a *** working relationship with both HonCons and *** with the services they provide on behalf of the Mission.
4.5.2 Consular revenues collected by the Luxembourg HonCon are transferred and deposited ***. The revenues should be deposited ***. This could be achieved through ***, or the establishment of a bank account to facilitate regular deposits.
4.5.3 The Mission should ensure that the Consular revenues collected by the HonCon are deposited on a regular basis.
4.5.3 The Mission will study both the options of opening a bank account *** to ensure that deposits are made on a regular basis.
5.1.1 The Administration Program is headed by the EX-01 MCO. Reporting to the MCO is the DMCO responsible for Property and Consular, a Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP), a Military Security Guard (MSG) and an LES complement of 25.5 FTEs (which will be reduced by four DND funded positions in the summer of 2008 with the departure of the Canadian Chair of the NATO Military Committee and his delegation). The Program provides all administrative services to the Bilateral Mission and the European Union mission. The mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is supported by its own MCO who manages a small Administration Program. The BRU Administration Program provides most property, finance and security services to BNATO along with general support in other areas.
5.1.2 Overall administrative services ***. While no major concerns were noted there are many minor issues across the Program that need to be addressed. The MCO, ***, is aware of this situation and had already prepared, in consultation with her staff, a work plan to address these issues. Greater attention will need to be placed by all staff on the on-going requirement for change, including training and ***, and for *** understanding of government-wide policies and initiatives and the need for firmer controls and compliance with Departmental and central agency policies and directives. In addition, inadequate documented operating procedures and service standards have hindered both accountability of staff and client satisfaction. In order to correct deficiencies, all staff within the Program will need to focus their efforts on better sharing of information and working as a team to introduce required new business practices.
5.1.3 The largest activity and greatest challenge to the Program is managing the property function comprised of a Chancery, two official residences (ORs), and ninety-nine Staff Quarters (SQs). Improvements are required in terms of feedback to clients and communicating service standards. Clients, particularly those from partner departments, were unaware of service levels and there was a lack of coordination and communication between *** responsibilities. As well, the Finance Section needs to update processes in order to address changing departmental policy and service requirements. The Finance function would benefit from a HQ ‘advise and assist visit' by a financial expert.
5.1.4 The MCO has developed detailed and comprehensive workplans covering all Administration sections. These plans are ambitious and attempt to rectify, in some cases, ***. While it is imperative to achieve improvement quickly it should be recognized that effective change will require time and appropriate attention. To this end it is recommended that a change management strategy be developed and implemented with the assistance of experts and with the on-going training and development of the administrative staff. This will help ensure an orderly and effective approach to instituting change and improvement. Team building and planning exercises should also be considered with the use of retreats and staff and management meetings to ensure that goals and objects are achieved and that improvement continues. As previously noted, HQ expertise should be considered in areas where technical issues need to be addressed. This will also provide objective direction and support to Administration management when trying to introduce change.
5.1.5 The Mission should develop a change management protocol with the assistance of experts and that through this exercise change management training and development be given to Program staff.
5.1.6 The Mission should consider the use of team building and planning exercises as well as retreats and staff and management meetings to ensure that goals and objectives are achieved ***.
5.1.7 The Mission should consider the use of HQ expertise for areas where technical issues need to be addressed.
5.1.5 A change management strategy, including a multi-year Work Plan, has been developed and is being implemented. Numerous experts, including those from HQ (Values and Ethics (ZVE), Corporate Finance, Planning and Systems Bureau (SMD), Corporate Operations Bureau (SPD) and Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services (SCM)) have already visited or will soon visit the Mission and are assisting with providing the context for required changes.
5.1.6 Regular meetings with section heads were introduced in October 2007 to discuss short term and longer term objectives, and records of decisions are maintained to assist in monitoring progress. Weekly meetings continue and progress is being made towards achieving the objectives outlined in the Work Plan and raised in the Inspection Report. Consideration will be given to other forms of team-building events as the occasions present themselves.
5.1.7 Technical experts are being invited on an on-going basis. The Mission is making use of expertise from HQ, and other missions by various means, including teleconferencing, virtual training, and on-site visits. At the time of the Inspection, the Mission had already hosted the visit of the Finance Officer from London, and was planning for the temporary duty assignment of an FI (financial officer) from HQ.
5.1.8 While BRU and BREU are served by a single Administrative Program, the BNATO Mission has its own MCO and a small Administration Program. As BRU is responsible for managing the majority of administrative services for the three missions, it is recommended that the BNATO MCO position be placed under the direct supervision of the BRU MCO and that all administrative services for BNATO be coordinated and delivered through BRU. This will assist in the overall management and control of common service delivery and coordination of policy matters. It will also allow BNATO to take full advantage of the expertise and infrastructure which the BRU Administration Program can offer.
5.1.9 As stated in the BNATO Inspection Report, the BRU MCO will be able to provide the incumbent of this position with the ***. They would also be able to intervene and provide support for the officer when ***.
5.1.10 In assuming supervisory responsibility for the BNATO MCO position, BRU will be provided with the services of an additional CBS resource which can be used to assist in the overall delivery of Administrative and Consular services and thus reducing the heavy workload which currently exists. An additional CBS resource could also prove valuable in advancing the change management agenda within the Program.
5.1.11 A recommendation has been made in the BNATO Inspection Report for the Department to evaluate whether or not the BNATO MCO position would serve the Mission better as a member of BRU, providing the senior BRU MCO with responsibility for administration in all three missions. While the position would move to BRU, primary liaison responsibilities and a part-time presence at BNATO could remain. The MOU, currently in draft, would have to be revised to ensure service standards are incorporated. Meetings of the three Heads of Mission, as recommended in the mission management portion of this report, would then serve as a key mechanism to monitor, control and correct the provision of common support services to all missions.
5.2.1 The Human Resources Section is under the supervision of the EX-01 MCO, with day-to-day management provided by a Human Resource Officer (LE-07). The LES payroll function is administered by an HR Assistant (LE-05) who works with the Section part-time.
5.2.2 The HR Section provides a full range of HR services to both BRU and BREU, and a more limited range of services to BNATO. While BNATO is responsible for undertaking its own staffing actions and maintaining employee files, the HR Section at BRU provides policy guidance and administers the LES attendance and payroll functions. In addition, the LES Committee and Classification Committees have membership from all three missions, while they physically meet in the BRU Chancery.
5.2.3 Providing HR services to three missions is challenging, however, it is further complicated by the fact that there is a mix of Belgian and Canadian LES in all three missions. The two groups are subject to slightly different health and social insurance benefits due to local government provisions that Belgian LES are entitled to, and are difficult to match through an independent service provider. The Mission has endeavoured to put in place an equitable plan for both Canadian and Belgian LES, however, the cost sharing arrangements are not identical in all cases. ***. Managing the two systems is also challenging for the HR Officer who must provide guidance on the provisions for both systems, although she has not received formal training on the Canadian system.
5.2.4 The fact that the LES Handbook is over ten years old, further compounds this problem and makes it difficult for the HR Section to provide relevant advice and guidance to the three missions. Several LES are concerned that they do not receive consistent HR guidance given that the Handbook is so out of date. The situation should improve if the Handbook is updated as planned by the Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD) in 2008 as part of the global Request for Proposal (RFP).
5.2.5 LES in all three missions expressed concerns over the recent salary increases. The increases were 1% for staff below a level 08 and 3% for staff above. An information session was organized by the BRU HOM and HR Officer to explain the rational underlying the increases. However, staff remain concerned that the increments are well below the rate of inflation, as is general local practice. They also question the rational for two tiers of increments. This will continue to be a challenging issue for the Mission to manage, as the general principle underlying DFAIT's salary increases is that they are not intended to keep pace with inflation. The overall intent is to provide a comparable salary to similar markers within the country.
5.2.6 During the Inspection several team members met with the LES Committee, to discuss issues of concern. The Committee began by explaining that they were elected in 2001, and have not been meeting regularly since 2002. Given that the current Committee is not meeting regularly, it should be disbanded and official elections held to create a new committee. The establishment of a new committee will go a long way to improving communications among LES in the three missions. It will also provide an effective forum for LES to discuss their concerns with management.
5.2.7 The Committee highlighted several issues of concern to LES, including the new Pension Plan. In 2002, employees were offered a choice to continue with their current non contributory plan as offered by the Canadian Government, or to opt for a new local contributory plan. A number of employees moved to the new plan, while others remained with the old. All new employees with a start date after 2002 automatically became members of the new contributory plan.
5.2.8 While a team from HLD was on site in 2002 to explain the differences between the two plans prior to any selections being made, there is still confusion regarding the plans. For example, employees who decided to follow the new plan are under the impression that the benefits decreased after they switched over, while in reality this is probably as a result of funds management by the local firm. The pension plan is similar to a registered savings plan (RSP), so if the market in which the funds are invested perform poorly, the benefits that the plan offers upon retirement will be reduced.
5.2.9 There is also confusion regarding the age at which employees are entitled to retire under the two plans. After discussing the issue with headquarters it is clear that there is the potential for employees, who have been working with the missions for 15 years, to retire at age 60 regardless of the plan they are under. While there may be local tax implications for employees, as the normal retirement age according to Belgian law is 65, clearly the option is there. Given the level of confusion regarding the pension plans, a visit from HLD to explain the options available to LES, many of whom are nearing retirement, would be extremely beneficial to the Mission.
5.2.10 *** an ongoing issue for the missions as yearly appraisals had not been completed for many staff in several years. The MCO is aware of the issue and has developed a workplan for the full implementation of the PMP, however, this will need to be closely monitored to ensure success. As part of the MCO's workplan, enhanced attention is being placed on training and development of staff.
5.2.11 Job descriptions were in the process of being of updated at the time of the Inspection. While progress has been made, a number of job descriptions are still out of date. The MCO should continue to leverage the CMM to ensure the process is completed.
5.2.12 The process and controls related to staffing actions was found to be complete. Files were generally well maintained with a few files that did not contain all of the required documentation.
5.2.13 A new LES Committee should be established through an official election. The Committee should develop a new constitution outlining the frequency of meetings, and formal mechanisms for communicating with the broader LES community and Mission Management.
5.2.14 The PMP rollout should be carefully monitored to ensure full implementation by all program areas.
5.2.15 The Mission should complete the process of updating all outstanding job descriptions.
5.2.16 The Mission should ensure that all staffing files contain the appropriate documentation
5.2.13 Management has met with the LES Committee and a new Committee has been elected. A constitution outlining the specified details already exists, and the new Committee members will be invited to update it.
5.2.14 The completion of staff PMPs as well as the development of learning plans are being introduced into the objectives of all program managers.
5.2.15 The Administration Section has undertaken a review and is updating the job descriptions where they have become outdated. The HOM will hold program managers accountable for updates.
5.2.16 Existing files have been reviewed to identify missing documentation and will be updated in the coming months as part of the Work Plan. All new files will contain the appropriate documentation.
5.2.17 HLD should visit the Mission in fiscal year 2008/2009 in order to clarify any misperceptions with regard to the benefit packages and pension plans offered to Locally-engaged staff.
5.2.17 HLD has BRU on its travel plan for the fall of this fiscal year. The visit will include the delivery of information sessions to LES whereby clarification of the benefit package and pension plan would be provided.
5.2.18 Discussions with CBS spouses revealed that a number are not receiving information and invitations sent on behalf of the Administration Section. A majority of the spouses were not aware of the orientation session for new arrivals that was hosted in December 2007. In the future, the Administration Section should communicate directly with Canadian spouses instead of relying on CBS to pass along the message. This will help to improve client satisfaction and ensure higher participation at events.
5.2.19 A number of the CBS from Other Government Departments suggested that more detailed orientation sessions should be provided to CBS from OGDs, prior to departing on post. The preposting training was generally found to assume a certain level of knowledge regarding how DFAIT operates, when many of the OGD CBS have little or no prior exposure to DFAIT. A "DFAIT/FSD 101" course specifically designed for OGD CBS would assist them in making a smoother transition to their post.
5.2.20 Administration should develop a mailing list of all Canadian spouses for the distribution of relevant information.
5.2.20 The Mission has established a centralized electronic data base of e-mail addresses retained by the Administrative Assistant and updated as part of the "new arrivals" procedure/checklist.
5.2.21 A more comprehensive preposting orientation session should be provided to employees from OGDs who have limited, or no prior exposure to DFAIT.
5.2.21 AED intends to review the framework that defines the pre-posting administrative briefings and service needs of OGD employees. The findings of the framework review will be used to modify current processes and establish new ones if needed in order to ensure that the Department provides the information and services that meet the needs of its clients. Anticipated completion date is July 2009.
5.3.1 The Property, Maintenance and Materiel Services Section is managed by an *** DMCO and delivers a *** standard of service to its clients. Preventative maintenance plans and schedules are in place for the Chancery, two ORs, and 68 SQs to ensure *** upkeep and appropriate use of government funds. The Section is also currently assisting with the management and maintenance of 32 additional SQs which are used to house members of the Chairman of the Military Command (CMC). These SQs will be released when the CMC assignment ends at BNATO in the summer of 2008 and as such will serve to reduce a portion of the workload for the BRU Property Section.
5.3.2 Authority for allocation of housing to CBS rests with the BRU HOM. The Housing Committee consists of a representative cross-section of programs from the three missions and makes housing allocation recommendations to the BRU HOM. HOMs at the BREU and BNATO missions do not currently have any input to this process. It is recommended that the BRU HOM consult with the HOMs of BREU and BNATO prior to final decisions being taken. The previous Housing Committee was chaired by the BRU MCO – it is recommended that the HOM appoint another senior officer as chair of this committee and that either the MCO or DMCO sit as non-voting advisory members only.
5.3.3 Prior to final allocation of SQs for incoming staff, the BRU HOM should consult with the HOMs of BREU and BNATO to ensure that they are fully aware of the decisions being taken.
5.3.4 The HOM should appoint a senior officer other than the MCO or DMCO as Chairperson for the Housing Committee. The MCO or DMCO should sit as non-voting members and act in an advisory capacity only.
5.3.3 The HOM in BRU is accountable for the SQ accommodation pool. The HOMs of BREU and BNATO have an opportunity to input into the Housing Committee decisions through their mission representatives. In the event of any concern or controversial decisions, the HOM has been and is available to review the concerns and address them as appropriate. BREU and BNATO HOMs were made fully aware of the decisions for 2008/2009.
5.3.4 The MCO was appointed as BRU's representative to the Housing Committee and sat as Chair in that capacity. The DMCO is already a non-voting member acting in an advisory capacity. The Housing Committee Terms of Reference have been adjusted to ensure that the Committee is renewed on an annual basis, and that members are appointed for a one-year term. The Chair will be appointed by the HOM BRU upon recommendation of the members of the Committee.
5.3.5 Some CBS members raised concerns regarding *** provided by the Mission upon first arrival to their SQ; for example simply being handed a set of keys and provided with the address of the SQ. It would be useful to all incoming staff members for the Mission to arrange for a member of the Property Section to accompany the staff member to the SQ in order to familiarize them with various aspects of the property and the related systems (i.e. water, electrical, gas shut-off valves), and to answer any questions they may have.
5.3.6 The Mission should arrange for a member of the Property Section to accompany newly arriving staff members to their SQ in order to familiarize them with various aspects of the property and the related systems.
5.3.6 This had already been included in the Work Plan for the Property Section and plans are underway to implement this briefing for the 2008 relocation season.
5.3.7 A review of accommodation files indicates that occupancy agreements and asset inventories have been signed off for all properties. With the high number of properties and the large amount of assets which the Mission administers, it would be prudent for the Mission to obtain an electronic inventory management system. The implementation of an inventory management system would better equip the Mission to track these assets, to provide real-time information regarding location and value of assets on hand, as well as to assess future year budgeting requirements for replacement of assets. The completion of form EXT182 (Materiel Transfer Voucher) should be undertaken when any change to the inventory takes place after the occupant has initially signed the distribution account and so assumed responsibility for the furnishings and equipment
5.3.8 The Mission maintains an off-site warehouse facility which is used to receive incoming shipments of materiel from Canada as well as to store items such as new and used furnishings, major appliances and other electrical equipment (TV's/VCR's/small kitchen appliances), pack up kit supplies, and linens/blankets/pillows. Detailed inventories are maintained for all assets although no member of the Property Section staff was assigned custodial responsibilities and is signing for these assets. Currently, no dollar value is attached to these assets and as such, the Mission does not know the value of goods being stored on these premises. As noted above, the Mission is encouraged to obtain an electronic inventory management system which would be able to provide real-time information regarding location and value of assets on hand. An annual reconciliation of assets should be undertaken and verified by the DMCO.
5.3.9 The Mission should investigate purchasing an electronic inventory management system which would be able to provide real-time information regarding location, condition, value of items on hand, as well as to track the flow of assets in and out of the warehouse and SQs.
5.3.10 The Mission should use form EXT182 when any change to an inventory takes place.
5.3.11 The DMCO or a designated LES officer should be assigned custodial responsibility for all assets being stored at the off-site warehouse and should sign off as the distribution account holder.
5.3.12 An annual reconciliation of assets which are stored at the warehouse facility should be undertaken and verified by the DMCO.
5.3.9 An electronic inventory system existed at one time at the Mission butfell into disuse given the high resource demands of the system. The Mission has already begun exploring options for a new system, including hiring a consultant, and partnering with other missions. As this is a systemic issue throughout the network abroad, the Mission suggests that a Departmental-wide system be introduced. Economies of scale would suggest that this would be more efficient and less costly overall.
5.3.10 The Mission is now using the EXT182 form.
5.3.11 The Materiel Management Officer has been assigned custodial responsibility and will sign off as the distribution account holder following the next review.
5.3.12 The DMCO will verify the assets following the next review.
5.3.13 The Mission does not have a long range capital acquisition plan in place for SQ furnishings and appliances and simply relies on in-year analysis of requirements. With the large number of staff turnovers occurring year after year, establishing a long range plan in this regard would assist in better financial planning and should allow for minimum storage levels to be maintained.
5.3.14 The issue of damage to SQ and OR furnishings was raised as a concern. Although inspections were undertaken where apparent damages were noted when occupants were vacating their SQs, it does not seem any recovery action was taken on behalf of the Mission. Most damage appears to have been caused by household pets and occupants need to be held responsible as per the terms and conditions set out in the occupancy agreement.
5.3.15 The Mission should establish a long term replacement plan for furnishings and equipment to ensure a proper balance is maintained between budget availability and in-year requirements and to minimize risks associated with potential heavy seasonal turnover of CBS.
5.3.16 The Mission should remind all CBS members of their obligations regarding damages to household furnishing, equipment, and property. Any wilful or negligent damage caused by members of the household, guests, or pets should be appropriately assessed and the CBS member requested to reimburse the Mission for damages which are considered beyond normal wear and tear.
5.3.15 The Mission is developing an in-year capital replacement plan and has already begun the development of a five year capital replacement plan for SQ furnishings with an expected completion date by the end of FY 2008/2009.
5.3.16 CBS are aware of their responsibility through Occupancy Agreement which they sign. They are further reminded of this responsibility through e-mail communication upon arrival, and during presentations given to newcomers and departing personnel. The Mission Housing Committee will be asked to review damage assessments.
5.3.17 The majority of surplus Crown Assets are disposed of through the use of a commercial auction house. Surplus materiel is given to the auction house and an acknowledgement of materiel received is provided to the Mission. Once goods have been sold, the auction house provides the Mission with a detailed listing of prices obtained. However, there is no reconciliation between the auction house records and those of the Mission. There were also several instances where the Mission had donated surplus materiel to charitable organizations. Records indicate that the DMCO has been signing off as authorization for these donations. The Mission should be reminded that only the HOM has authority to donate surplus materiel to charitable organizations up to a maximum of $200 and that any donation above $200 must be authorized by the Physical Resources Bureau (ARD) or the Information Technology Bureau (AID). In all cases involving donations, copies of such records must be sent to ARD for their information and files.
5.3.18 A reconciliation of crown assets disposal records should be conducted by the DMCO to ensure that the Mission is being reimbursed for all assets once they have been sold by the auction house.
5.3.19 The HOM should sign off on any surplus assets being donated to charitable organizations for which the original value is below $200. The Mission should seek prior authority from ARD when such assets are valued in excess of $200. Copies of donation documentation should be forwarded to ARD for their files.
5.3.20 AID should be consulted prior to any computer equipment being considered for disposal to charitable organizations regardless of the value of such assets.
5.3.18 A new process to track the reimbursement for assets disposed of by the auction house involving the assistance of the financial section is being introduced. The DMCO will sign off as required.
5.3.19 The Mission is now complying. However, the Mission recommends that where Treasury Board (TB) authority would allow, the financial authority given to HOMs for such transactions be increased.
5.3.20 The Mission is now complying. The Mission recommends that where TB authority would allow, such authority given to HOMs is increased.
5.3.21 The official vehicle inventory consists of eight vehicles. These vehicles are well maintained and a replacement program is in place to ensure future year maintenance costs are kept to a minimum. While logs for gas/repairs and maintenance are being maintained, driver logs of individual trip usage are not being kept. As such, no formal record exists which could be used by administration to reconcile official vehicle usage with operating costs.
5.3.22 Official vehicle trip logs should be maintained for all vehicles.
5.3.23 The DMCO should ensure that these logs are reviewed on a regular basis in order to reconcile official vehicle usage with operating costs.
5.3.22 Official logs are being maintained for fleet vehicles.
5.3.23 The DMCO will sign these logs on a quarterly basis.
5.3.24 No formal system is in place to ensure that the HOMs at the two ORs pay for personal use of cleaning and other consumable items which are purchased by the Mission for use at the ORs. The Mission, in consultation with the HOMs, should establish a fair percentage of reimbursement for these items to ensure that private usage costs are being recovered.
5.3.25 Cable/satellite and Internet costs for the ORs are currently being paid for in full by the Mission. These charges are the responsibility of the occupants and as such should be reimbursed in full to the Mission on a monthly basis.
5.3.26 The Mission, in consultation with the HOMs, should establish a fair percentage of reimbursement for consumable items purchased on behalf of the ORs to ensure that private usage costs are being recovered.
5.3.27 The Mission should ensure that costs associated for cable/satellite and Internet charges at the ORs are reimbursed.
5.3.26 The HOMs are aware of this requirement and are purchasing and paying for their own supplies.
5.3.27 The Heads of Mission are aware of this requirement and an appropriate cost attribution model is being developed. Given that this is an issue impacting on all missions with official residences, we believe that the development of a model or formula by HQ is required.
5.4.1 The Finance Section reports to the MCO and consists of a Senior Accountant and three and one-half accounting assistants. ***, however, roles and responsibilities are not well defined or documented and segregation of duties and backup for key functions can be improved.
5.4.2 Management is *** and is endeavouring to institute fundamental accounting controls and efficient practices. The MCO and HOM review and sign-off monthly bank reconciliations and the MCO reviews the monthly FINSTAT submissions and reviews and approves expenditures for payment and revenues received.
5.4.3 Upon review of the Section's workflow and procedures, it was difficult to ascertain the responsibilities assigned to each staff member as processes were not documented. Furthermore staff were signing off on document processing but could not explain or demonstrate the criteria used. No checklists exist as a guide to what is needed to be checked or what documentation is required for transactions being processed. As a result there is no assurance that transactions presented to the Senior Accountant and the MCO for approval have been properly verified and have the necessary documentation attached.
5.4.4 The Mission should ensure that checklists are created and maintained to ensure proper verification of transactions.
5.4.4 A draft checklist and Mission payment process has been developed.
5.4.5 Standards have not been established or communicated to clients for the various services provided in terms of timelines and expected service levels. Without service standards it is difficult to manage or assess the efficiency and effectiveness of financial operations.
5.4.6 The Mission should ensure that service standards are established, maintained and communicated to clients.
5.4.6 Service standards are currently being established and will be documented and communicated to BRU/BREU/BNATO employees.
5.4.7 As noted above it is not clear as to the exact duties of each finance staff member. It is crucial for a financial operation to ensure proper control through segregating key activities and review points. This reduces risk and increases accountability and transparency. Three areas of concern relate to bank signing authority, Section 33 certification and petty cash. Per departmental policy and internal control best practices, banking authorities are not delegated to LES.
5.4.8 The Mission should remove this authority from the Senior Accountant and be exercised by the MCO with the DMCO as back-up.
5.4.8 The Mission has been reviewing the entire payment process, including bank signing authority, and has engaged in consultations with HQ since early February 2008. The Accountant's bank signing authority has now been withdrawn.
5.4.9 The Senior Accountant also has Section 33 authority as a back-up to the MCO. Per policy and sound internal control principals, this authority should only be exercised by a CBS. The large number of transactions generated through serving three missions and requiring Section 33 review requires considerable attention by the MCO. To mitigate this, arrangements can be made to have the DMCO alternate Section 33 review and as well by identifying low risk transactions (small $ amounts and routine payments) that would require minimal review. The Mission should consult with the Corporate Finance, Planning and Systems Bureau (SMD) for advice on and concurrence with proposed options.
5.4.10 The Mission should remove this authority from the Senior Accountant, and in consultation with SMD, delegate authority to the DMCO or another appropriate position.
5.4.10 As outlined in 5.4.8, the Mission has been in consultation with SMD since February 2008 regarding the possibility of granting the Senior Accountant with Section 33 authority. We have just been informed that Financial Operations-International (SMFF) on an exceptional basis has allowed delegation of Section 33 to the Senior Accountant.
5.4.11 A petty cash fund is located in and managed by the Finance Section. Again policy and internal control dictate that petty cash not be maintained by Finance staff who review and process reimbursement. In addition to the fund being located in finance, two staff have access to the fund.
5.4.12 The Mission should ensure sole custodianship of the petty cash fund in order to ensure accountability. As well a monthly reconciliation should be conducted to verify assets on hand.
5.4.12 The Petty Cash process is being adjusted to ensure that the policy isfully respected.
5.4.13 There is no formal back-up procedures to ensure that duties are covered during absences. This is particularly true for the Senior Accountant's financial responsibilities. No staff member is trained to perform the monthly bank reconciliation or any other of the Senior Accountant's duties. As well, no one is trained as back-up for the employee who operates the LES pay system. These deficiencies pose serious risks to operations and control during prolonged staff absences.
5.4.14 The Mission should ensure that there are formal back-up procedures to ensure coverage of responsibilities during absences.
5.4.14 A member of the Finance Section has been identified as the formal back up of the LES pay system and has been asked to perform the duties once per quarter to ensure her knowledge is current. The key responsibilities of the Senior Accountant have been identified and documented. Other staff are being assigned the responsibilities to undertake these functions when required.
5.4.15 As mentioned previously,*** basic financial fundamental controls are not evident. Discussions with staff indicated that the need for these controls were not well understood.
5.4.16 The Mission should ensure that a training and development plan is developed, addressing fundamental financial control processing principals and client service requirements.
5.4.16 A learning plan for the Finance staff has been developed, and objectives and processes established to enhance controls, financial procedures and client service objectives.
5.4.17 As noted at paragraph 1.1.3, a renewed Contract Review Board was recently established. The Mission is still in the process of finalizing the terms of reference and intends to create a centre of expertise in the Finance Section that would be responsible for advising clients and providing support to the CRB. Given the sensitivity of contracts and the three mission environment, it is important to ensure that contracts are processed consistently according to departmental and Mission policy criteria.
5.4.18 The Mission should consult with HQ regarding implementing a proper procedure and control framework. A temporary duty Finance resource should be requested to advise and support to the Mission.
5.4.18 The Mission has been in consultation with HQ well prior to the Inspection for assistance in establishing a CRB and developing clear Terms of Reference, and has since the Inspection hosted the visit of a team from Contracting Policy, Monitoring and Operations (SPP). A temporary duty Finance resource has assisted the Mission in preparing and documenting CRB procedures and these are currently awaiting management approval.
5.5.1 The Mission's IT services are managed by a *** Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) (CS-03) who reports to the MCO. Additional support is provided by a Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP) (LE-07). The FSITP also provides support to The Hague.
5.5.2 ***. The FSITP and LEITP work *** as a team with continual formal and informal communications. The Section takes a proactive approach to resolving problems, and clients are *** with their service.
5.5.3 Despite the loss of an FSITP position in 2006, the Section is managing with its current workload. Back up support is provided by the FSITP in BNATO. This arrangement is working well, due to the *** working relationship of the two FSTIPs.
5.5.4 The Section recently initiated a clean up of the ITAMS inventory as a number of items were out of date. The clean up is ongoing as a number of inventory items still need to be located.
5.5.5 The Mission has not developed specific service standards for IT services. While clients are *** with services, specific standards would assist in managing client expectations. They will provide the Section and their clients with a common understanding, and will help to avoid any possible misunderstandings.
5.5.6 Service standards should be developed for the provision of IT services.
5.5.6 Draft service standards exist but are not widely circulated. These will be reviewed following the arrival in September 2008 of the new FSITP.
The scope of the Inspection included a review of Mission Management and the Commercial, General Relations (Political and Economic, and Public Affairs), Consular and Administration 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 HQ bureaux, including briefings by line management and the functional bureaux, review of relevant HQ and mission documentation, and past inspection findings, and an analysis of recurring trends and systemic issues.
During the Inspection, issues and lines of enquiry were further refined from information gathered through interviews with the HOM, and Program Managers, a meeting with the LES Committee, individual interviews with staff, and results of other documentation reviewed. The level of inspection work was therefore based on issues and information identified and gathered at all levels, HQ, Mission Management and Mission operations.
|Assets||Crown Owned||Crown Leased|
|1 32 SQs are managed on behalf of CMC at NATO - program due to sunset summer 2008.|
2 One vehicle is designated for the use of Ambassador to the European Union.
3 One OR is for BREU
4 One Chancery is for BREU
|2007/08 Reference Levels|
|Operating Budget (N001)||$6,282,551|
|Capital Budget (N005)||259,582|
|CBS Salary Budget (N011)||916,230|
|CBS Overtime Budget (N011)||14,500|
|LES Salary Budget (N012)||2,890,734|