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Audit of the Consulate General of Canada Minneapolis

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(January 2008)

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

An audit of the Political and Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA), International Business Development (IBD) and Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Minneapolis from January 22 to 25, 2007. Minneapolis was last audited in September 2000.

The Mission is *** managed by the Head of Mission (HOM) *** has increased the Mission’s profile throughout the local community. The HOM has a *** management style and provides support and input to all program areas. Furthermore, *** have fostered a *** working environment. As a result, some complex working arrangements which would have been challenging in another environment have been successful in Minneapolis.

The PERPA Program is delivered by two Canada-based officers and two Locally-engaged officers. It is a small and *** managed program that deals with all of the high profile and volatile issues associated with the Canada-USA relationship, in addition to some that are unique to the region. Plans and activities are solidly linked from the strategic to individual operational levels

The IBD Program has undergone a period of transition with six of the eight staff members having joined the team ***. This has allowed the Senior Trade Commissioner to build a *** new team to execute a business plan which identifies key priority sectors. There is a risk that some of this momentum may be lost when the Senior Trade Commissioner leaves the Mission ***. The use of hospitality funds could be improved within the Section through the implementation of a more strategic approach which clearly links hospitality to program objectives.

The Mission has a *** relationship with the two honorary consuls in Iowa and Nebraska, which is further strengthened by their participation in the IBD Section’s weekly meetings. Specific business plans have been developed for each honorary consul that require the approval of expenses in advance. This approach provides a sound control framework for the effective management of honorary consuls and is a practice which should be implemented at missions throughout the United States.

Overall management of the Consular Program is provided by the Senior Trade Commissioner, who plays an *** role in the Section. An *** Consular Officer oversees the daily consular operations and provides *** service to clients. Workload management may be an issue going forward, as passport inquiries are expected to increase with the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. In addition, at the time of the audit there was no backup consular resource.

While the departure of the *** Mission Administrative Officer (MAO) was challenging for the Administration Section, the transition was well managed and client satisfaction has remained ***. The new MAO had been in the position for ***. The MAO is refining many of the Section’s processes and control structures which will provide the Mission with a more consistent management approach. *** in the Section is a concern, with no back-up identified for the Accountant or Locally-engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP). The Mission’s filing system also requires improvement, as a number of files could not be located during the audit. While the turnover of the MAO position and Chancery renovation partially explain these difficulties, it is important that the Mission take the necessary steps to correct this situation.

A total of 36 audit recommendations are raised in the report; 32 are addressed to the missions and four 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 36 recommendations, management has stated that 22 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 14 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 Political and Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA), the International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs.

The audit objectives were to:

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

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

During the audit, audit issues and lines of enquiry were further refined from information gathered through interviews with the Head of Mission (HOM) and Program Managers, a meeting with the LES Committee, individual interviews with staff, and results of other documentation reviewed. The level of audit work was therefore based on issues and information identified and gathered at all levels, HQ, mission management, and mission operations.

Table 1: Mission Resources Fact Sheet of Physical Resources
Physical Resources
AssetsCrown OwnedCrown LeasedPrivate Lease
Chancery1--
Official Residence-1-
Staff Quarters--5
Plot of Land---
Vehicles-2-

Table 2: Mission Resources Fact Sheet Financials
Budgets
Total$2,763,268
Operating (N001)$1,211,112
Capital (N005)$27,640
CBS Salaries (N011) including overtime$379,100
LES Salaries (N012)$1,145,416

Organization Chart

Organization Chart

Mission Management

1.1. Overview

1.1.1 The Canadian Consulate General in Minneapolis is a small mission, with six Canada Based Staff (CBS) and 15 Locally Engaged Staff (LES). Due to the Mission’s geographic location and territory of responsibility, it is involved in border security and Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) issues. Other important files include environmental, agricultural and water transfer issues.

1.1.2 The Audit Team found the Mission to be operating *** under the leadership of the Head of Mission (HOM). Plans and activities are solidly linked from the strategic to individual operational levels. Priorities are established on a regional basis for the Mission’s five-state territory, with specific issue areas established for each state. Inter and intra-program communication and collaboration is seamless and ongoing, and similar relationships are maintained with the Embassy in Washington, sister missions in the US, partner departments, Headquarters, and provincial governments (primarily Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario).

1.1.3 The Mission’s approach to communication was found to be effective at both the strategic and grass-roots level. All programs play an active role in contributing to an environment which values communication of both a formal and informal nature. A good balance has been found between the effective use of the Committee on Mission Management (CMM) and cross-functional working groups on specific issues.

1.1.4 The Departure of the Senior Trade Commissioner (STC), ***, gives cause for some concern, as the STC is currently the Mission’s only *** DFAIT resource with the rest of the CBS positions being staffed through the Enhance Representation Initiative (ERI) process. While the staffing process has resulted in a team of *** officers who take an *** approach to their work, a strategic approach to staffing the Mission should be employed to ensure that someone in the management team has previous experience with DFAIT policies. This is particularly important as the STC also serves as the Consular Program Manager.

Values and Ethics

1.1.5 During the course of the audit, the Deputy Inspector General made presentations to Mission staff concerning values and ethics. During the presentations Mission management was encouraged to be vigilant in fostering open communication with all staff, including LES, in order to ensure that any ethical dilemmas or potential harassment situations are reported at the outset before issues escalate. As a best practice, the Mission should incorporate a value and ethics session each fall as part of their rotation process, so all staff (new and old) can be updated on policies and procedures.

Recommendation for the Mission

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

Mission Action and Timeframe

1.1.6 Mission management agrees. Values and Ethics have been regularly discussed among managers and staff in the regular course of business. We will formally reinforce the importance of values and ethics on an annual basis (generally in the autumn). This will be incorporated into our next all-staff meeting scheduled for January 2008.

Political and Economic Relations and Public Affairs

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The Political and Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA) Program is managed by a CBS Officer seconded from Industry Canada. He is assisted by a CBS Officer seconded from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) whose primary responsibility is agricultural policy and advocacy. Two LES Officers specialize in public affairs and political/economic advocacy respectively, and all are supported by an LES Assistant who provides a range of services including research, legislative tracking, media monitoring and event planning and participation. The Public Affairs Officer *** at the time of the audit, and her duties were being carried out by a temporary duty communications officer *** from the Western Economic Diversification, Saskatoon Office.

2.1.2 The Program is *** managed. Plans and activities are *** linked from the strategic to individual operational levels. Priorities are established on a regional basis for the Mission’s five-state territory, with specific issue areas established for each state. Inter- and intra-program communication and collaboration is seamless and ongoing, and similar relationships are maintained with the Embassy in Washington, sister missions in the US, partner departments, Headquarters, and provincial governments (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario).

2.1.3 Owing to their importance and urgency, issues for North Dakota have been combined into a specific strategy initiative in order to enhance their profile. The transfer of responsibility for three states to Denver (from Minneapolis’s original eight-state territory), as part of the initial ERI re-arrangement, has greatly enhanced the Mission’s ability to focus on regional priorities. Agricultural, rural border, inter-basin water transfer, energy, Great Lakes and environmental files dominate the issue horizon. Arctic Refuge, for example, is a Mission issue since some of the US decision makers with strong interests around this issue and conservation issues are within the Mission’s territory. The Mission oversees honorary consuls in Iowa and Nebraska, and a third one is in the process of being established in North Dakota. The Mission actively participates in three strategic networks: border (North Dakota, Minnesota), Great Lakes (Lake Superior), and energy (gas, electricity).

2.2 Workload Considerations

2.2.1 The PERPA Program in Minneapolis is a small unit that is dealing with all of the high profile issues associated with the Canada/USA relationship, in addition to a few that are unique to the region. The adequacy of the resource levels was raised during the audit as a consequence of the aforementioned challenges. However, with the addition of an agriculture specialist position which now handles agricultural advocacy, the Section is adequately resourced. Should the workload grow significantly in the coming years, the Section will require additional resources.

2.2.2 Over the past year, the Mission has *** used temporary duty assignments to relive workload pressures and groom employees for potential ERI secondments. Two temporary duty assignments took place over the past year between the Mission and AAFC, and a third one is being arranged for the coming year. The two assignments were for six and ten weeks respectively and involved agriculture specialists from Ottawa and the Manitoba Regional Office. The Mission profited from the officers’ expertise and efforts, and the officers experienced agriculture advocacy in the US environment, in addition to working in a Canadian mission. An upcoming temporary duty may involve an AAFC resource and their work may focus on any or all of the Sections priorities (agriculture, border and environmental advocacy).

2.3 Orientation and Continuity

2.3.1 In their assignment reports, *** indicated that improved orientation to working in the US environment should be provided well in advance. *** timely and relevant preparatory material was required, in order to draw maximum advantage from the assignment. This comment was echoed by other officers recruited externally to the Department (non-Foreign Service (FS)) as part of the ERI staffing process.

2.3.2. During the course of their postings, both seconded officers ***, as is normal for any assignment abroad. It is important that their successors be able to maintain this *** with minimum handover disruption. As they are officers from departments outside of DFAIT, the transition process may not be as straightforward as an internal handover between DFAIT officers with previous assignments abroad. Established handover procedures, including handover logs, will need to be observed. Orientation time at the Mission should be minimized.

Mission Comment

Mission indicated that it believes HQ does a very good job in its orientation. The challenge is that with a number of employees from a number of different departments, each bring some knowledge and experience particular to their home departments regulations, policies and interpretations. There is perhaps an opportunity to focus and/or spend more time on some regulations, e.g. Foreign Service Directives (FSDs), hospitality, budgeting (transferring money between salary and operating) and contracting. Some of this training could and should be made available at the Mission. Another suggestion might be to bring in experienced ERI staff (seconded from other departments) to discuss their experience and transition with potential new ERI seconded employees from outside the Department. It may also be useful to assign a peer "mentor" of a DFAIT officer to those being seconded during the first few months of a new posting.

Recommendations for US Enhanced Representation Initiative Secretariat (NER)

2.3.3 In consultation with the Assignment and Pool Management Division (HFP) and Services Centre (SERV)/Foreign Service Directives, Policy and Administration Division (HEF), the timing and content of orientation provided to seconded and temporary duty officers who are recruited externally to the Department, should be improved to better prepare them for working in their specialties in the US.

2.3.4 ERI officers should be replaced at the end of their assignments through a timely and smooth process, so that continuity and momentum on files are maintained.

NER Actions and Timeframes

2.3.3 In the past two years, the ERI Secretariat, in consultation with DFAIT training and Human Resources (HR) divisions, has put in place a fully integrated HR program which provides greater opportunity for professional training and development with the goal of preparing officers for US assignments.

Since the 2005 posting cycle: Every attempt has been made to assess individual training needs through collaboration with the candidate, the mission and relevant HQ divisions. Every effort has been made to enroll ERI partner department candidates in appropriate pre-posting training in a timely manner. Operational requirements in the employees' home departments can sometimes impede taking full advantage of training opportunities. Since 2004, ERI's HR program has supported three candidates who have been assigned to the Mission.

In future:
The next ERI posting cycle begins in September 2007. Pool candidates chosen for future US assignments should be given priority for temporary duty assignments both at US missions and at DFAIT HQ. The ERI temporary duty (TD) program is considered important by ERI partners and is a successful and widely used program. All ERI partner departments will be contacted through their ERI HR Committee representatives to ensure that pool candidates are given opportunities for TD assignments.

Funds that have been set aside for additional developmental training could be utilized in an attempt to properly acclimatise non-DFAIT employees to life outside of Canada from both a work and lifestyle perspective as well as to educate them on the challenges and rewards of a US posting. (For immediate action.)

2.3.4 The ERI Secretariat in consultation with DFAIT HR divisions, ERI partners and the Mission identifies upcoming position openings and begins its planning and candidate selection process in the fall of the previous year in order to ensure an orderly transition. (Ongoing)

2.4 Budget Monitoring

2.4.1 The Program’s budgets are maintained by the Accountant and expenditures are posted as they occur in spreadsheet format on the Mission’s I:/ Drive. Thus, the current budget position is continuously available for monitoring by the Program Manager(s). However, it would also be advisable for the PERPA Assistant to have access to the budget data in IMS. She will require a read-only IMS account as well as basic IMS training.

Recommendation for the Mission

2.4.3 The PERPA Assistant should be provided with an IMS read-only account, together with the requisite training.

Mission Action and Timeframe

2.4.3 Mission management agrees. The PERPA Assistant has been provided with an IMS read-only account, together with the requisite training.

International Business Development Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The International Business Development Program is led by a CBS Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner (FS-04). In addition to the Senior Trade Commissioner (STC), there is an FS-03 Investment Trade Commissioner, an FS-03 Technology Partnering Officer, three LES Trade Commissioners (LE-09), and two Trade Commissioner Assistants (1 x LE-06, 1 x LE-05).

3.1.2 The Program has gone through a period of transition with six of the eight staff members having joined the team ***. This has allowed for significant flexibility in the operation of the Program and has enabled the STC to experiment with an initiative aimed at increasing outcalls throughout the five states within the Program’s territory.

3.1.3 Due to the recent staff turn-over, the STC has spent considerable time at the operational level and has focussed on developing a detailed business plan. ***. The significant turn-over, combined with the relatively recent launch of a number of initiatives, mean that it is too early to effectively measure the results of the new direction of the Program.

3.2 Strategy

3.2.1 The Program has a *** developed business plan that was formulated as a result of a team effort. The business plan *** identifies a number of priority sectors such as technology, manufacturing and agri-food. The Program has also addressed the need to increase outreach throughout the entire region and is taking innovative approaches to investment and technology development.

3.2.2 The Program works closely with its partners, internal to the Mission as well as in a wider network. Not only do they work hand in hand with the PERPA Program, but they also work closely with partner departments such as Western Economic Diversification, AAFC, Industry Canada, regional offices, and regional trade networks. In particular, the Program works closely with the governments of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Provincial agencies provide strong support to the Program.

3.3 Operations

3.3.1 The IBD Program is resourced relative to those of other similar sized programs with ERI funding of $106,900, Client Service Fund (CSF) of $47,000, travel of $36,000 and hospitality of $15,000.

3.3.2 The Section has sufficient resources to pilot new and innovative ideas. The Mission is unique in that it has a number of specialist positions for high priority files (investment, innovation, outreach and agriculture advocacy). The current structure works ***, evidenced by the *** degree of cooperation and information-sharing among staff. However, the narrow focus of these positions could potentially lead to some fragmentation of the Program. Three of the specialist positions are funded through ERI (two in the IBD Program – Investment and Innovation, and one in the PERPA Program – Agriculture Advocacy). When these specialist positions sunset it should be determined if all three positions will be maintained.

3.3.3 In an effort to balance reporting relationships, the agricultural advocacy position reports to the PERPA Program Manager since advocacy is a core focus. Ideally this position would be part of the IBD Program in order to maximize partnering opportunities with the Agriculture Officer. However, the separation in reporting has not resulted in lost effectiveness. There is currently a *** level of synchronicity between the two Programs, which will need to be fostered during staff turn-over

3.3.4 Hospitality funds could be used more strategically in support of Program activities. These funds should be used in conjunction with an outcall strategy to gather market intelligence and cultivate networks in the territory. The STC will need to ensure that staff are appropriately coached on how to effectively plan and carry out strategic hospitality functions. The completion of hospitality diaries also needs to be improved so that links to the Program’s strategic objectives, the evaluation of the event, and the potential follow-up resulting from the event are clearly indicated. This is important in demonstrating value for money.

3.3.5 TRIO has been implemented at the Mission and is being used by most of the IBD Program staff. The STC has been proactive in ensuring that staff track client service interactions.

3.3.6 The Section has taken an innovative approach to the implementation of the Performance Management Plan (PMP) by using it as a tool for strategic planning within the entire unit. Through the development of clearly defined objectives and performance indicators, the STC has used the PMP as a starting point for the Section’s yearly work plan. By linking the PMP to the work plan, all members of the team have a clear idea of their role within the unit. This is an approach which ideally should be employed throughout the Mission.

3.3.7 The STC should consider creating two units within the Program consisting of one Trade Commissioner Assistant and three Trade Commissioners in each cluster. Each Trade Commissioner Assistant would be able to provide coverage for the officers in their assigned unit.

3.3.8 The Program has had significant turnover at the STC level in the past ten years. The current STC has built up a team with a new vision and the Section runs ***. With the STC’s departure, ***, the new STC will need to dedicate adequate time and resources to developing and maintaining team spirit. It should be noted that the STC, as the only DFAIT officer in the Mission also plays an integral role in communicating departmental policies to staff. The successor to this position will need to be chosen carefully.

Recommendations for the Mission

3.3.9 The Program should include an outreach/outcall strategy and hospitality plan in each portfolio work plan that identifies why contacts are being targeted and how they link to Program objectives.

3.3.10 Hospitality funds should be used more strategically to help gather policy/market intelligence and to further develop a network of contacts. The Program Manager should ensure that staff are coached on increasing their use of strategic hospitality and that diaries are established and completed correctly.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.3.9 Mission management agrees. A more comprehensive outreach/outcall and hospitality plan will be incorporated into each portfolio and will be more explicitly linked to reporting tools such as MARCUS as well as the client relationship management tool, TRIO. This will be added to the plans for 2007/08 by the beginning of the fourth quarter and will become a permanent planning component as of 2008/09.

3.3.10 Mission management agrees. Since the team is relatively new, officers would benefit from learning about how to use hospitality funds in strategic and plan-focussed ways. During the fourth quarter, the Mission will undertake specifically to review and increase hospitality usage and to consider specific strategies to ensure that hospitality objectives are being achieved. Additionally, the IBD Program Manager will focus on ensuring that hospitality resources are used strategically to help gather policy/market intelligence and to further develop a network of contacts. The notion of “demonstrating value for money” will be reinforced.

3.4 Best Practices

3.4.1 The Program developed an interesting innovation project that it has disseminated to other US missions. It was developed by the Program in cooperation with *** and is a strong example of cooperation with Canadian industry. It leveraged *** as a sourcing mechanism to identify Canadian companies that could potentially meet the innovation needs of ***.

3.4.2 The Mission has a strong relationship with its Honorary Consuls in Iowa and Nebraska. Business plans have been developed for the Honorary Consuls. The Mission covers a percentage of their office expenses each month, simplifying the management of the Honorary Consuls, while expenditures for hospitality and events are approved in advance. The Honorary Consuls participate in the weekly IBD Program meetings, ensuring that they are aware of the ongoing priorities and objectives of the Program.

Recommendation for the Mission

3.4.3 The Mission’s new methodologies and initiatives should be refined and documented as best practices to be shared with other programs via Horizons.

Mission Action and Timeframe

3.4.3 Mission management agrees. The Investment Officer has already capitalized on a number of opportunities to share with colleagues the approach and method in relation to the *** project. The Technology Partnering Officer has also shared information with his colleagues in this regard. A number of US missions are already employing the approach successfully with about half a dozen Fortune 500 companies. Additionally, during the temporary duty assignment of an NCT employee to the Mission, specific effort was devoted toward capturing the project approach and benefits on paper. During the fourth quarter, the Investment Officer will ensure that information about the *** project is posted to the Horizons website so that it can become a best practice for use by other missions.

Recommendation for North America Bureau (NAD)

3.4.4 The strong role taken by the Mission in managing its relationship with Honorary Consuls in Iowa and Nebraska should be used as an example for other missions in the US.

NAD Action and Timeframe

3.4.4 In consultation with the Mission, the Enhanced Representation Initiative in the USA (NED) to advise other supervising missions on best practices developed with respect to how the Mission has managed its roles and responsibilities and relationship with Honorary Consuls in Iowa and Nebraska, as well as incorporate information received as material for inclusion in the briefing book for next Honorary Consul Briefing Session (to be held in 2008, date to be determined). (For immediate action.).

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program of the Mission covers five states: Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The Program is delivered by an LE-08 Consular Officer (CO) who reports to the Program Manager (the STC). *** the STC has managed the Consular Program, *** involving himself in cases as required by offering support and guidance to the CO. Evidence of the *** working relationship was exhibited by the Program Manager (PM) continually involving the Consular Officer in PERPA meetings and activities which also have Consular considerations (e.g. WHTI). A number of positive client feedback forms indicated a *** level of satisfaction with the service being offered to Canadians. The Program *** balances service with the need to maintain key controls and operates within frameworks and guidelines.

4.1.2 The Mission does not accept passport applications, as Canadian citizens in the US are instructed to send their passport applications directly to Canada for processing. The passport entitlement function is only exercised by the Mission when a situation arises requiring the issuance of a temporary or emergency passport. However, these situations seldom arise, with the Mission only issuing two temporary passports in the past year. A review of the passport inventory at the Mission indicated no discrepancies.

4.1.3 A significant part of the workload of the Section is generated by consular cases ranging from the routine to the complex. There are currently more than 50 arrest and detention cases, most of which are located in Minnesota, making them logistically easier for the Mission to manage. COMIP statistics are maintained and input on a daily basis, and paper records and files are in good order. Workload is a growing concern as the CO is fully occupied and no backup has been identified to assist her during busy periods (such as the increase in inquiries resulting from WHTI) or to replace her during absences. The lack of a designated consular backup mirrors similar concerns for administrative functions such as Finance. There is currently a vacant Administrative Assistant position whose position description should be reviewed, prior to staffing, to include consular responsibilities. To further alleviate the workload on the CO and provide more depth in general, the Receptionist should be trained to deal with routine consular inquiries, such as requests for information.

Recommendations for the Mission

4.1.4 Consular responsibilities should be added to the position description of the vacant Administrative Assistant position.

4.1.5 The Receptionist should be trained and tasked with routine Consular duties.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.1.4 Mission management agrees. The Mission’s Receptionist position has been re-written to include 50 percent consular responsibilities. The new job description has been approved. A competition was held with a new incumbent *** who will work closely with the Consular Officer.

4.1.5 Mission management agrees. With the arrival of the new Receptionist, we will ensure that she is given the earliest opportunity for consular training. In the meantime she will work closely with the Consular Officer.

4.1.6 Contingency plans are in place for the Program’s territory, although it is a challenge to get Canadians to register with the Consulate General in a region where there is no perceived threat. Although more than 80,000 Canadian citizens are estimated to be residing in the region, only 24 were registered at the time of the audit field work. The Mission maintains good contacts, having on file each state’s contingency plan prepared by American authorities. The Mission has not yet filed its Pandemic Influenza Contingency Plan, but had hired an emergency employee to alleviate the COs workload, permitting the CO adequate time to prepare this plan.

4.1.7 The revenue collection process was examined and found to have proper controls. Amounts are small (approximately $15,000 annually), which has resulted in revenues being submitted to the Finance Section irregularly, sometimes as much as two months after being received by the Consular Section. To further strengthen controls, it is recommended that consular revenue be submitted ***. The process should also be modified to ensure that the Consular Program Manager signs off on the consular revenue reconciliation ***.

Recommendations for the Mission

4.1.8 Consular revenue should be submitted ***.

4.1.9 The Consular Program Manager should sign off on the consular revenue reconciliation prior to its submission ***.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.1.8 Mission management agrees that consular revenues should be submitted regularly with the Consular Program Manager signing off on the reconciliation before it is submitted ***. The Mission is now implementing the practice of depositing consular revenue ***.

4.1.9 Mission management agrees. This recommendation has been implemented see response 4.1.8.

4.1.10 Despite a recent renovation, the Chancery does not have a Consular booth for serving clients. As a result, the CO must serve clients in the open reception area. This raises two concerns. ***. Second, the privacy of clients is compromised in instances when other visitors are present in the reception area. A plan for a Consular booth has been developed, with construction to occur in the coming year. Until the construction of the booth is complete, service standards and fee schedules should be posted in the reception. After the booth is constructed, it should display the proper signage.

Recommendation for the Mission

4.1.11 Service standards and fee schedules should be displayed in the reception window.

Mission Action and Timeframe

4.1.11 Mission management agrees. The Consular Booth is complete and appropriate messages and service information has been displayed since September 2007.

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Administration Section is in a period of transition with the *** of the Mission Administration Officer (MAO). The new MAO has been in the position ***. Given the high level of responsibility inherent to the position, as well as the steep learning curve, it is important that the MAO receive Finance, Human Resources, and Physical Resources training as soon as possible. The Mission should request suitable training immediately, and the Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI) should prioritize this employee for inclusion in any appropriate HQ training given her job responsibilities. The HOM is interested and involved in administrative matters and brings *** oversight to administrative functions.

5.1.2 Given the small size and limited resources of the Mission, no official back-up has been named for the MAO, who is responsible for managing all administrative functions, but largely delivers the Human Resources and Physical Resources functions. Even more concerning is the fact that the Accountant is the only employee trained in IMS. During absences of the Accountant, the Mission is unable to process payments. Similarly, there is no backup for the Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP), or the Consular Officer (as outlined in section 4.1.3 of this report). At the time of the field work, there was a vacant Administrative Assistant position. Prior to staffing this position, its duties should be reviewed to ensure that the incumbent can act as a backup for the MAO, CO and/or LEITP. The ability to work in IMS should also be made a requirement of the position. Overall, the Mission should strive to improve its ability to provide a backup resources for key positions.

5.1.3 One area for improvement is the Mission’s filing system. During the audit, Mission staff had difficulty locating a number of files, specifically those pertaining to staffing and hospitality. While the turnover of the MAO position and Chancery renovation partially explain the difficulties encountered in locating files, it is important that the Mission take the necessary steps to ensure that files are complete across all functions. Specific recommendations are made later in this report to assist the Mission in developing a suitable filing structure.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.1.4 Training for the MAO in Finance, Human Resources and Physical Resources should be provided as soon as possible.

5.1.5 The position description of the vacant Administrative Assistant position should be reviewed to ensure its duties include backing up the various functions in the Administration Section.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.4 Mission management agrees. We are reviewing opportunities for the fall of 2007 and early winter 2008.

5.1.5 Mission Management agrees that some back-up duties of some of the functions in the Administration Section be added to the Administration Assistant position. The vacant Administration Assistant job description has been revised to include some back-up duties and is now staffed. We will review additional IMS training for the Administrative Assistant position as backup for basic functions in finance (we would note that the MAO was able to process payments during the month long vacation recently taken by the Mission's Accountant). We do not feel it is necessary to have additional resources taxed as IT backup (in our experience we have worked very closely with HQ and the Washington mission's Information Technology Section when necessary).

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 While Human Resources management is largely the responsibility of all managers, the Administration Section, through the MAO, is responsible for providing guidance to managers, maintaining the appropriate records, and bringing uniformity to processes. In general, HR practices at the Mission are sound, however, the Audit Team identified a need for more rigour in performance review and development, as well as in ensuring a complete filing structure.

5.2.2 During the field work, some difficulties were experienced in locating files, particularly those pertaining to staffing actions. While this can be partially explained by the *** of the MAO as well as the disruptive renovation project during which files were moved on numerous occasions, the Mission must ensure that proper documentation is maintained for all staffing actions. Files must demonstrate the staffing process through all phases (preparatory, recruitment, selection, and appointment). In one particular case, no documentation could be located to indicate that a staffing action had taken place. Other HR filing should also be improved, including creating separate employee and position files, and having signed copies of position descriptions on file for all employees.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.2.3 Staffing action files must demonstrate that all phases of the staffing process (preparatory, recruitment, selection, and appointment) have been properly completed.

5.2.4 HR files should include separate employee and position files.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.3 Mission management agrees. The MAO has been updating past staffing files to ensure they are as complete as possible; review and update completed October 2007. All staffing actions undertaken since February 2007 clearly demonstrate that all phases have been properly completed.

5.2.4 Mission management agrees. Separation of existing employee and position files completed October 2007. All new HR files created since February 2007 include separate employees and position files.

5.2.5 The Performance Management Program (PMP) has not yet been rolled out in all sections. In addition, not all sections completed performance appraisals for the previous year. While a Mission Training Plan has not yet been developed, from discussions with staff it was clear that training is important to the management team, with almost all staff having undertaken some form of training in recent years. It is recommended that training be formalized in a plan, taking into account manager and employee feedback from PMPs. To this end, the Mission has a plan to appoint a training coordinator and establish a training budget in the coming year.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.2.6 Rollout of the PMP should be completed in all remaining sections.

5.2.7 A training plan should be developed and a training budget identified.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.2.6 Mission management agrees. The Mission is in the process of implementing PMP and aim to complete all PMP assessments by February 1, 2008. Tighter timelines will be implemented for future years.

5.2.7 The Mission has promoted training and development among all employees during 2006-2007, all employees received some form of training and development. Mission management agrees to ensure that a training plain is incorporated in every employee’s PMP for 2007-2008. A training budget has been established for 2007-2008.

5.2.8 The Mission now has 21 staff, and as such is required to have an Occupational Health and Safety Committee (OHSC), as opposed to an occupational health and safety representative as required for missions with less than 20 staff. The MAO plans to develop an OHSC in the upcoming months as required by Federal labour law.

Recommendation for the Mission

5.2.9 An OHSC should be established.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.2.9 Mission management agrees. The Occupational Health Safety Committee was established in March 2007, with four members. One meeting has taken place to date and the next one is scheduled for January 2008. We are aiming to hold meetings at quarterly intervals.

5.2.10 The issue of revised income statements to LES has ***. In 2006, it was discovered that a number of benefits received by LES were deemed taxable by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These included social security rebate payments, taxable portions of employer paid education benefits, taxable portions of group life insurance premiums, and taxable portions of benefits such as housing, meals, parking and commuting. Revised income statements were issued for the 2003-2005 period. While LES recognized that Mission management is not responsible for this matter, it remains extremely contentious for LES throughout the US.

5.2.11 The last approved LES Handbook dates back to February 1994 and needs to be updated to ensure that the Mission is properly positioned in the marketplace and complying with local labour law from a benefits standpoint. It must also encompass some recent policy innovations, such as flex-time. In addition, the flex-time policy should be reviewed by the CMM to ensure that key sectors, such as the Reception, remain staffed at all times during public office hours.

Recommendation for Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD)

5.2.12 A comprehensive benefits review should be undertaken in collaboration with the Mission.

HLD Action and Timeframe

5.2.12 An request for proposal (RFP) for the review of employee compensation package for LES in the US is underway. The final statement of work is completed. As soon as the evaluation criteria is finalized the RFP will be posted on MERX (an electronic tendering service).

A target date of April 2008 has been set for the completion of all US handbooks. This will include one main Handbook which streamlines benefits for all US missions as well as individual mission handbooks that take into account mission specific benefits i.e. transportation allowances

Recommendation for the Mission

5.2.13 The flex-time policy should be reviewed to ensure that it adequately accounts for key sectors which must respect regular Mission working hours for operational reasons.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.2.13 Mission management has regularly reviewed the flex-time arrangements at the Mission and has made adjustments as necessary. We will continue to review the arrangements to ensure optimal client service.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 Physical Resources issues are generally handled by the MAO. The Staff Quarters (SQs) are privately leased, thereby removing the need for Mission involvement in their selection, maintenance, and furnishing. Most of the workload is thereby generated by maintaining the Official Residence (OR), which is Crown-owned, and the Chancery, which is Crown-leased and was recently renovated. Given the fact that the MAO is responsible for the day-to-day delivery of services, she should be prioritized for training in physical resource management as soon as possible (see recommendation 5.1.4).

5.3.2 As previously mentioned, all SQs are privately leased at the Mission. A visit of SQs by the Audit Team found them to be of a reasonable size and configuration. In general, staff reported that they were happy with the private leasing arrangement, which appears to work very well for smaller family configurations that can be housed in condominiums or townhouses. Larger family configurations have found it more difficult to find suitable housing, but enjoy the flexibility of selecting their own accommodations. At this time, it is unnecessary for the Mission to acquire any Crown-owned SQs.

5.3.3 The OR was also visited and found to be appropriate and functional. The Audit Team noticed an apparent leakage issue in the second floor bedrooms, which was being followed up by the Administration Section. Otherwise, the property is extremely well maintained. The distribution account and occupancy agreement need to be completed and signed by the HOM.

5.3.4 The Chancery had recently undergone a complete renovation, resulting in a well appointed and extremely functional office layout. Some outstanding issues remain, such as the installation ***, but overall the project was successful. The need for a Consular booth was not identified until after the renovation, however, a plan has now been established for an additional renovation of the reception area to provide a *** private space for serving clients.

5.3.5 Given the investment in the OR and Chancery, annual inspections need to be performed by the MAO to feed into the property workplan. One other procedural finding is the requirement for the HOM to approve disposals by signing off on the disposal report form (EXT369).

Recommendations for the Mission

5.3.6 The MAO should perform annual inspections of the OR and Chancery.

5.3.7 Disposals should be approved by the HOM as per departmental policy.

5.3.8 The Occupancy Agreement and distribution account need to be signed by the HOM.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.6 Mission management agrees. The MAO is scheduling an overall Building Condition Report of the OR for spring 2008 and subsequently will be performing an annual inspection of the OR and Chancery. A complete renovation of the Chancery was completed in the fall of 2006.

5.3.7 Mission management agrees. All future disposals will be approved by the HOM.

5.3.8 The MAO and HOM are reviewing the necessary documents and signatures will be obtained as appropriate.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The Finance Section is staffed by an Accountant (LE-07), who reports to the MAO (also the Mission Financial Officer (MFO)). The Accountant provides *** service to Mission programs, maintaining consumption reports on the shared drive, which are continuously updated after every payment run and accessible to Program Managers as required. While the Mission receives a small amount of revenue (approximately. $15,000 in Consular revenue annually), there is a large amount of program funding which needs to be managed and controlled.

5.4.2 As previously mentioned, the primary concern of the Audit Team was the absence of a backup to the Accountant. The Accountant has operated without a backup for several years, having to carefully plan his work so that his absences coincided with low volume accounting periods. This practice cannot continue. It only works under the assumption that any absences of the Accountant are pre-planned and short term. To protect the Mission and ensure the continuity of accounting operations, the vacant Administrative Assistant position should be identified as the Accountant’s backup (see recommendation 5.1.5). The MAO should also receive IMS training so that she is appropriately equipped for her oversight role.

5.4.3 With only one staff member in the Finance Section, it is not surprising that there is limited segregation of duties. The Accountant receives invoices, inputs documents, runs the payment run, orders cheques and receives the original bank statement. Until other staff members receive IMS training it is recommended that the MAO receive the original bank statement. As the banking agreement could not be located (the bank account was established decades ago), this is a good opportunity for the MAO to develop a relationship with the bank while reviewing the current banking charges. The MAO should initiate the ordering of all cheques and be responsible for their receipt and storage. The Accountant is also designated as Deputy Mission Financial Officer (DMFO) with Section 32, 33 and 34 signing authority up to $5,000. While a review of Mission accounts indicated that the Accountant did not exercise his signing authorities, it is nonetheless recommended that the DMFO designation be removed.

5.4.4 A review of hospitality found that claims were properly supported, but value for money was not always demonstrated with thorough explanations of the purpose, objective and evaluation of events. Since September 2006, the Mission has instituted the practice of keeping all original hospitality diaries with Mission accounts. Diaries from before September 2006 remain with the officers and in some instances could not be located. All original hospitality diaries should be consolidated in the Finance Section.

5.4.5 A review of files indicated that improvements are required in the Mission’s contracting process. In certain cases there was insufficient evidence of bidders and rationale for vendor selection, including a record of the Contract Review Board (CRB) decision. Managerial checklists were not always completed and a contract register was not maintained by the Administration Section. The Mission staff have not yet been trained in the Material Management (MM) Module of IMS, but should be trained as soon as possible so that contracts may be entered in the MM Module. Finally, it is recommended that the current threshold for CRB review be reduced from $10,000 to $5,000.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.4.6 The MAO should be provided with IMS training as soon as possible.

5.4.7 The original bank statement should be received by the MAO.

5.4.8 The MAO should initiate the ordering of all cheques, copying the HOM, and be responsible for their receipt and storage.

5.4.9 The MAO should negotiate a new banking agreement to accurately reflect the Mission’s current requirements.

5.4.10 Signing authority should be removed from the Accountant’s role.

5.4.11 All original hospitality diaries, including those from past years, should be maintained with the Finance Section.

5.4.12 Contracting files should include bids received, a record of CRB decision, and completed managerial checklists.

5.4.13 A contract register should be established.

5.4.14 The threshold for CRB review should be decreased to $5,000.

5.4.15 Administration staff should receive MM Module training.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.6 Mission management agrees. The MAO will take the online IMS tutorial by winter 2007-08 and is pursuing training opportunities in Ottawa during this fiscal year.

5.4.7 Mission management agrees. The original bank statement is now being received by the MAO.

5.4.8 Mission management agrees. The MAO has initiated the ordering of checks, copying the HOM, and is responsible for their receipt and storage.

5.4.9 The MAO met the bank representative in October 2007 to review our banking agreement and we are satisfied with the current banking agreement.

5.4.10 Mission management agrees. The Mission’s CMM reviewed all Mission signing authorities and have agreed to discontinue the Accountant’s Section 33 authority. New signing cards will be completed by January 2008.

5.4.11 All hospitality diaries are now in the Missions Finance Section.

5.4.12 Mission management agrees. Although all contracting regulations have been followed, the recent renovation and retirement of the Mission’s long serving MAO did result in some house-keeping challenges. This recommendation has been implemented.

5.4.13 Mission management agrees. A register will be established for the 2007-2008 fiscal year.

5.4.14 The Mission has established the threshold figure of $5,000 for the required approval of contracts by the Contract Review Board.

5.4.15 Mission management agrees. We are reviewing the opportunities for MM Module training in IMS. However, given the heavy training required for our new MAO and our new administrative assistant, this will likely not be completed until the end of this fiscal year.

5.5 Information Technology (IT)

5.5.1 The IT Section is staffed by a Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP) (LE-08). The LEITP *** has developed a workplan to clearly define expected outputs and plan activities.

5.5.2 The IT workload is dictated by the demands of the Mission. Given that this is a small Mission, the LEITP can be involved in some activities which are traditionally outside of the purview of IT. Both the LEITP and Mission management have been proactive in finding such opportunities, an example of which is the LEITP’s involvement in coordinating with the Emergency and Pandemic Preparedness Committee. The Mission will need to develop a training plan in the coming year, and the LEITP should be involved in the IT component of this plan.

5.5.3 As previously mentioned in this report, a backup to the LEITP has not been identified and trained. The MAO tries to fill this role, but it is likely unreasonable to expect her have the necessary time to commit to user support given her other management responsibilities. When staffed, the currently vacant Administrative Assistant position is the logical choice to provide support during absences of the LEITP (see recommendation 5.1.5).

Recommendation for the Mission

5.5.4 A backup LEITP should be identified and provided with the appropriate training.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.5.4 Given our limited resources, the recent changes in staff and the highly technical nature of IT, we do not believe this is necessary nor realistic at this time. IT is largely centralized with significant support available from both Ottawa and the mission in Washington. Experience has shown that this is currently sufficient. We will continue to monitor and assess the risks and respond accordingly.


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Date Modified:
2012-10-17