An audit of the General Relations (GR), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Santo Domingo during the period of March 12 to 16, 2007. The previous audit of the Mission took place in November 2000.
The Mission has grown substantially from its former status as a micro-mission to its current size of four Canada-based and 14 Locally-engaged Staff (LES). The mandate of the Mission is largely International Business Development and providing Consular services to Canadians. The Mission’s rapid growth has coincided with insufficient resources and frequent turnover in the Head of Mission (HOM) position. As a result, the current management team is working hard to build its networks and implement frameworks generally found in similarly sized missions. During this period it will be important for Headquarters (HQ) to provide timely and appropriate support so that the platform for program delivery can be secured and increased focus placed on strategic priorities.
The General Relations Program is led by the HOM and consists of one full-time LE-07 resource, but is under increasing pressure as demands grow. Operations within the Program need to be more formalized to ensure that only priority activities are undertaken. There is also a need to review resource levels and give consideration to the creation of a senior LES political reporting position to allow the HOM to focus on strategic matters and representational duties. This will be important as the Program works to increase Canadian visibility, support Canada’s efforts in Haiti and will soon take responsibility for the Canada Fund. It will also ease the pressures of increased reporting demands related to the recently announced free trade negotiations and growing security concerns (drug and people smuggling).
The Dominican Republic is Canada’s third largest trading partner in the Caribbean and is a top investment destination with significant Canadian investments in a number of major industries. The market is challenging and most of the Program’s efforts go towards troubleshooting. A tighter focus and a results-based orientation would benefit the Program. With increasing demands, the result of growing potential and the upcoming Free Trade Agreement (FTA), resources will need to be reexamined. There is potential to better utilize the Program Assistant position.
The Consular Program is functioning very well despite the pressures of an increasing workload, with most Consular cases located in regions several hours from Santo Domingo. While there is presently an Honorary Consul in Puerto Plata, there is no representation in Punta Cana, the destination for approximately 60% of Canadian visitors to the Dominican Republic. The operations of the Consular Section are also affected by administrative challenges, with the Deputy Management and Consular Officer (DMCO), whose position should be dedicated 100% to Consular work, spending a lot of time on administration. The Locally-engaged Staff are working overtime to compensate, but a long-term solution must be identified.
The Administration Program faces significant challenges in the coming years. It lacks the necessary capacity to properly support the Mission’s programs, and does not have core processes and controls in place. In addition, the most pressing issue is the deteriorating state of the Chancery. The current Chancery is not functional, *** and has serious health and safety issues. Its immediate replacement is needed and should be prioritized to ensure the health and well being of staff. To address the numerous recommendations made in this report, the Mission will require a temporary duty Management and Consular Officer (MCO). To maintain the progress, an assistant position should be created to support the MCO and handle routine tasks, allowing the MCO time to place increased focus on planning, coordination and supervision.
A total of 47 audit recommendations are raised in the report; 40 are addressed to the Mission and seven 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 47 recommendations, management has stated that 25 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 22 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.
The scope of the Audit included a review of Mission Management and the General Relations (GR), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs.
The audit objectives were to:
The focus and extent of on-site work was based on an assessment of materiality and related risk. This was done through communication with Headquarters (HQ) bureaux, including briefings by line management and the functional bureaux, review of relevant HQ and mission documentation, 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 (PMs), meeting with the Locally-engaged Staff 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.
|Assets||Crown Leased||Crown Owned|
|Financial Information 2006/07|
|Operating Budget (N001)||$1,005,206|
|Capital Budget (N005)||$25,780|
|CBS Salary Budget (N011)||$270,250|
|LES Salary Budget (N012)||$471,162|
1.1.1 The Embassy in Santo Domingo is a small Mission with four Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 14 Locally-engaged Staff. While not normally considered large or complicated, the Mission has grown substantially from its status as a micro mission only two years ago. The mandate of the Mission is largely International Business Development and providing Consular services to Canadians in the Dominican Republic (over 600,000 visitors annually). The Mission is expanding in importance with the upcoming negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and transnational and security issues arising from its close proximity to Haiti.
1.1.2 In addition to needing to create the systems and procedures required to support larger programs, the Mission has gone through a very difficult period of transition and sometimes abrupt staff turnover. During the past two years, the Head of Mission (HOM) has changed on two occasions, in one case recalled unexpectedly leaving the Mission without a HOM for four months.
1.1.3 During this four month period, *** and a HQ mandated restriction on hiring a replacement for an undetermined period of time. *** until more information was able to be released to staff to clarify the situation. With no accountant, the Administration Section was left with only two indeterminate employees, the Management and Consular Officer and a Property Assistant, for the period from October 2006 to the time of the Audit field work in March 2007. This period was not quiet, as the Mission also received a Security Inspection from the Security and Intelligence Bureau (ISD), a follow-up visit from the mission in San Jose to implement a temporary Hub and Spoke financial agreement, the arrival of a new HOM, and finally the Audit. The vacancy in the accountant position leaves the Administration Team at a significant disadvantage, with repercussions for the entire Mission. With the support of Financial Management Services (SMFF), the Mission should proceed with the hiring of a qualified accountant as soon as possible.
1.1.4 In addition to the above mentioned issues, the Mission is poorly accommodated, with a Chancery that is not functional, ***, and a number of Health and Safety concerns as have been confirmed by the Health and Welfare Regional Medical Officer. These issues are outlined further in section 5.3 of this report. The Mission also suffers from insufficient Information Technology (IT) infrastructure and has not been provided with adequate bandwidth to operate departmental systems. As a result, International Business Development (IBD) Section has been unable to use TRIO and Mission staff experience significant delays when accessing COSMOS. A plan is now in place to increase the Mission’s bandwidth from 96K to 384K. Pending the relocation of the Chancery and finding a manner to address the myriad of Administrative issues and challenges, the Mission is at great risk in not being able to accomplish its strategic priorities.
1.1.5 Prior to the Audit field work, performance appraisals were completed for all employees on the old style appraisal form, which has been replaced corporately by the Performance Management Program (PMP). It was noted that a reviewing officer had not signed off on seven of the completed appraisals and a number of appraisals were for a multiple year period. The Mission has not yet rolled out PMP, and will need to proceed with a full roll-out.
1.1.6 As a small mission, the Committee on Mission Management (CMM) serves in place of committees which are typically found at larger missions, with a few exceptions. For example, the CMM members act as the Contract Review Board (CRB), Classification Committee, and Housing Committee. The MCO acts as the health and safety representative. There is an LES Committee, which meets with the MCO on an ad-hoc basis. As a best practice the HOM (and the MCO) should meet with the Committee on a regular basis, quarterly for example, to ensure that both sides remain current on issues and concerns.
1.1.7 Hospitality diaries were reviewed for all DFAIT programs. While appropriate documentation was on file to support the expenditure, the completion of hospitality diaries could better demonstrate that value for money is being achieved. To better show the link between the hospitality activity and strategic objectives, the purpose, objective and evaluation of events, and the potential for follow-up resulting from the event must be clearly indicated. Mission management is responsible for ensuring that diaries are completed in such a way as to demonstrate that hospitality funds were used in pursuit of a program objective.
1.1.8 As a best practice, missions 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. 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.
1.1.9 The Mission, in consultation with SMFF, should proceed with the hiring of a qualified accountant as soon as possible.
1.1.10 PMP should be implemented and integrated into all Mission programs.
1.1.11 The Mission should ensure that hospitality diaries are properly completed and demonstrate linkages to program objectives.
1.1.12 A meeting structure should be developed to formalize interaction between the LES Committee and Mission Management. The Committee should also meet with the HOM at least twice annually. Agendas should be established and minutes maintained and distributed.
1.1.13 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.
1.1.9 As per Mission’s request, the Mission was visited by Financial Management Services (for two weeks) to assist with the finances and the hiring of an Accountant. On the week of October 29, 2007, the Mission proceeded with interviews and has now hired an Accountant and the employee is slated to begin work ***. Due to the circumstances such as gaps created following one year of operation without an accountant, there is a great need for training and development. Mission has proposed a training plan to HQ and is awaiting a reply.
1.1.10 PMP implemented at CBS level. Mission staff received training via teleconference on November 21, 2007 and Mission managers now providing guidance to their employees in order to complete PMPs. The majority of employees are expected to have their portion of the review exercise completed by mid-December 2007 with all completed by mid-January 2008. This process is complicated by the fact that several of the employees *** do not speak or write English and the Administration Section is shorthanded (the new Accountant still undergoing training; Property Assistant position unfilled; no Administration Assistant).
1.1.11 Strategic use of hospitality funding at the Mission ensures that funds are used to further Canadian priorities. Review of hospitality diaries has been completed (April 2007). Based on the information received from the Audit Team, the former MCO gave instructions to Program Managers as well as their assistants in the case of HOM/IBD Program Manager regarding the proper information to be included in the forms. HOM Assistant was given additional instruction by MCO and auditors, as well as HOM. Planned hospitality expenditures reduced with recent cuts.
1.1.12 The LES Committee was advised that meetings should be scheduled with regular frequency (for example quarterly) with additional meetings to discuss issues that may arise of a more urgent nature. Meetings with MCO/HOM would then follow with the same frequency (quarterly). Since the Audit there have been no less than four meetings between LES Committee and MCO and/or HOM as several issues have been discussed. Agendas have been created with the responsibility for minutes on the LES reporter. Meetings of all staff - chaired by HOM - are held every two weeks; LES issues are discussed at these meetings.
1.1.13 Since the HOM’s arrival, this has been a priority with all CBS and LES receiving the Values and Ethics booklets. Given past and current Mission context, the Mission has had many discussions on this topic. There is a general understanding of zero tolerance. Reminders regarding values and ethics are scheduled to be sent out at the onset of the holiday season to highlight regulations regarding the receipt of gifts.
2.1.1 The General Relations (GR) Program in Santo Domingo is comprised of the HOM and one full-time LES Political Affairs and Communications Officer (LE-07). The Program is managed by the HOM, who undertakes the bulk of political reporting with assistance from the LES Officer. The HOM is also actively involved in increasing Canada’s visibility in the Dominican community and does not always have the capacity for the increasing demands on the GR Program. The HOM Assistant (LE-06) also supports GR activities as required. The efforts of the Program also benefit from the synergies developed by working with two contract positions charged with delivering the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI).
2.1.2 Current events in the Dominican Republic provide significant reporting opportunities for the Program, including the upcoming election, issues surrounding preliminary FTA discussions, as well as transnational crime and security topics. There is a strong potential for partnerships and alliance building at all levels; agency to agency, (such as health, education), police force and military cooperation, and even alumni networks of influential Dominicans educated in Canada. The political agenda will likely continue to lead the commercial agenda and Canada needs to ensure it can properly leverage political and public affairs activities.
2.1.3 The Program has objectives related to increasing Canadian visibility, reporting timely on strategic issues, and alliance building. With limited resources and an increasing workload, the Program cannot adequately address all of these pressing demands. In this light, the reporting agreement that the Mission has established with HQ should be reviewed.
2.1.4 In order for the Government to achieve its objectives the Department needs to consider more effectively resourcing the Program. Consideration should be given to the creation of an LE-09 reporting position to alleviate some of the pressures currently placed on the HOM. This would then allow for the current LE-07 position to be re-profiled to focus on Public Affairs. Not only could the position be responsible for media relations, but it could also assist the Mission in increasing its visibility in the community by building alliances amongst alumni who studied in Canada and influential community members. In addition, it could conduct academic and cultural relations activities that could be leveraged by the Programs to support Mission objectives.
2.1.5 The HOM Assistant’s (LE-06) job package should also be adjusted to provide more administrative support to a larger GR Program.
2.1.6 Given new and emerging issues, RLD should review the Program’s reporting agreement.
2.1.6 The Country Strategy process and its periodic review and assessment, provides the context for the Mission and Geographic Bureau to discuss and agree on the priorities and objectives of the Mission. Further to Recommendation 2.1.6, this year's annual Country Strategy process will be used as an opportunity to review and address reporting requirements of the Mission.
2.1.7 In line with growing demands, the Mission should develop a business case to more effectively resource the GR Program, including:
2.1.7 Mission has not made a business case for this position since the Country Strategy is no longer a resource allocation mechanism and the channels for creating new positions are unclear. HQ has discouraged extra expenditures. HOM’s first priority is to support the struggling Administration Program (with an Administration Assistant which has not yet been approved by HQ) and Consular Program (with additional Honorary Consul) as well as new hires into the Accountant and Property Assistant positions. The HOM Assistant and LES Officer are now engaged in providing research support and very limited drafting. The LES Officer will undergo additional training in Ottawa, November-December, 2007. CIDA contractors continue to provide invaluable insight and service. The newly arrived IBD Program Manager will take on some economic reporting functions, time permitting. HQ support anticipated for FTA negotiations is not yet forthcoming.
2.2.1 The Performance Management Program had not been implemented and annual appraisals have been completed sporadically in the GR Program. The arrival of a new HOM is a good opportunity to introduce and implement PMP for GR activities. (see recommendation 5.2.13).
2.2.2 There is strong potential to advance Canada’s foreign policy objectives relating to Haiti via activities in the Dominican Republic. It is thus important for the two GR Programs to have regular contact. This could be achieved by participating in joint projects, scheduled conference calls, sharing minutes of team meetings, and consistently copying each other on reporting.
2.2.3 The Mission feels that it does not receive enough feedback on its efforts from HQ. The Geographic Bureau (RLC) needs to better engage the Mission. The Geographic should have bi-weekly conference calls with the Mission to increase the levels of communication and feedback.
2.2.4 As the Mission expands its efforts to regain visibility and influence in the Dominican Republic, the Public Affairs Officer should work with all Mission programs, and HQ, to develop a key themes and common messaging document. This document should be used by all staff, from the HOM down, to enunciate and advocate Canada’s foreign policy objectives and the Mission’s priorities. It is important that these talking points reflect the priority topics of all programs.
2.2.5 The Program has taken the lead on a Mission outreach calendar. This helps ensure that local contacts are approached strategically and not contacted numerous times by different Mission staff. It also helps coordinate the overall activities of the Mission’s programs so synergies can be explored. The Mission should ultimately explore a common client relationship management (CRM) system.
2.2.6 RLC should improve communications with the Mission to provide better direction setting and feedback; as well as to collect Mission’s perspectives and hear concerns. The Geographic should have regular conference calls with its missions.
2.2.6 The Country Strategy process, and its periodic review and assessment, provides the context for the Mission and the Geographic Bureau to discuss and agree on the priorities and objectives of the Mission. The HOM mandate letter and Performance Management Agreement (PMA) process are also key tools to provide guidance and feedback to HOM. Further to recommendation 2.2.6, RLC has established a weekly conference call with the Mission to discuss upcoming issues, both at the Mission and at HQ. In addition, RLD holds regular conference calls with all heads of missions in the region.
2.2.7 The GR Program should work with its counterpart in Haiti to advance issues that are of concern to both countries. This could be accomplished through regular consultation and better integration of projects.
2.2.8 The GR Program should take the lead on developing a communications strategy and common messaging document for the Mission.
2.2.9 In addition to promoting the use of the Mission-wide outreach calendar by all staff, the Mission should work with HQ to explore a common client relationship management solution.
2.2.7 Great strides have been taken in this area. The first meeting of the two HOMs (Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince) was held in May 2007, with a second scheduled in November 2007. Reporting is shared as are briefs. The DMCO participated in the Haiti wardens meeting. The MCOs share information on a regular basis. Our Trade Officer provided support to Port-au-Prince for a trade fair. Planning is underway for a joint launching of a CIDA trilateral project. Planning for joint CFLI and GR projects are well advanced. Continued work will be undertaken.
2.2.8 The GR Program is now providing consolidated communications lines as required. Informal communications strategy based on Americas/Country Strategy is in place with good results in the host country. Canada is seen once again as high profile, a high value partner and is using this asset to move ahead on key priorities.
2.2.9 A Mission-wide calendar is in place managed by the GR Section. TRIO, which is the IBD CRM, was rolled out at the Mission in mid-October 2007. The Mission requested that the HOM Assistant be included in the training in order to piggyback on an established system but this request was denied. CRM solutions may now be possible with increased bandwidth and TRIO in place but the Mission will require support from HQ to find what other systems exist, etc.
2.3.1 The CFLI contractors work on projects and initiatives that are aligned with what are ideal complimentary priorities for the GR Program, such as capacity building and technical assistance. These also have the potential to support activities of the International Business Development Program. Ultimately, the Canada Fund will be transferred from CIDA to DFAIT and these synergies will need to be embedded with the current activities and reporting of the GR Program. A transition plan will also need to be developed to ensure continuity.
2.3.2 As CIDA seeks to terminate funding for the CFLI contractors, the Mission should explore the creation of an LE-09 position. This would give the Program a resource dedicated to reporting which will increase as FTA negotiations commence, the political regime changes, and HQ takes a greater interest in transnational crime and security issues, as well as reporting on and supporting Dominican Republic links to aid in the stabilization of and nation-building in Haiti. This position would manage the eventual handover of the CFLI.
3.1.1 The Dominican Republic is Canada’s third largest export market in the Caribbean following Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago, well ahead of other countries in the region and most of the Central American states. In addition, the Dominican Republic is one of the top Canadian investment destinations in Latin America, with prominent investments in the mining, tourism, textile, and infrastructure sectors. The country is well developed and exhibits significant economic potential for Canada, with a predicted growth of 7% in 2007, and is a priority market for Export Development Canada (EDC) in the region. The Dominican Republic is attempting to position itself as a regional commercial hub through trade liberalization, restructuring of the customs and port procedures, and encouraging investment in marine logistics infrastructure. With the growth of Free Trade Zones, it is also becoming a regional manufacturing centre for many companies targeting North and South America.
3.1.2 The resident International Business Development (IBD) Program is delivered by a CBS Senior Trade Commissioner (FS-03), supported by a team of two LES Trade Commissioners and one LES Assistant. The Program estimates they spend 30% of their time on export promotion, 25% on investment services, 25% on trade policy and market access issues, and 10% on science and technology issues. The remaining 10% is spent on other issues not always directly related to the Program.
3.2.1 Overall, the Program is *** managed and officers in the Section work *** together. There are opportunities, however, for management to be more strategic in nature and establish a vision for the Program. In this light, consistent priorities should be set which take into account the various view points of the team. There is also an opportunity to provide increased coaching to staff, and a greater challenge and feedback function within the Team.
3.2.2 The Program is small and there are opportunities for the officers to work together more collaboratively. Each officer and the PM tend to work on files independently, giving the impression that the Program is stove-piped. While regular informal communication occurs between team members, there are no formal team meetings and minutes are not kept nor are records of decisions circulated. There is a need for the PM to hold regular structured Program meetings to discuss planning and ongoing operations.
3.2.3 The Program and its staff would also benefit from a meeting to discuss priorities, strengths, weaknesses and the need for more coaching within the Program. An action plan should be created where appropriate to address any issues identified.
3.2.4 Annual appraisals are regularly completed but the Performance Management Program has not been implemented. The old appraisal system is still being used, partially because of poor IT infrastructure. Although general responsibilities and objectives have been set for each Trade Commissioner, individual work plans for each priority sector need to be established. Such plans, with a focus on establishing objectives, activities and expected results, would assist the Trade Commissioners in better achieving targets and improving performance management.
3.2.5 The Program should institute regular meetings to better coordinate activities and share information.
3.2.6 The PM should meet with the team to discuss strengths and weakness and produce an action plan to address the needs of the team where appropriate. The PM should also engage in additional coaching of IBD staff.
3.2.7 The PMP should be rolled out and individual work plans developed for each priority sector that link the PMP to the IBD plan and give a clear indication of activities and expected results.
3.2.5 Regular meetings have been held with the entire trade team since the new Program Manager (PM) arrived ***.
3.2.6 The PM met with the team members individually to assess strengths and weaknesses. An action plan is being developed to remedy shortcomings and more effectively use and direct existing strengths. Mid-January 2008 is the target date to meet and discuss the PMP and the action plan will be formulated from those meetings.
3.2.7 The PMP was discussed with the IBD team. A message from the PM on October 25, 2007 requested each employee in the Section to take the on-line training and prepare a preliminary draft of objectives to be reached, along with expected outcomes. Training was provided November 21, 2007. Mid-January 2008 is the target date to meet and discuss the PMP.
In order to ensure the success of this exercise and fairness between officers, approval from Headquarters to reclassify one of the trade officer positions to an LE-09 level (which was requested over two years ago) is required and essential. Mission has been informed that the Country Strategy is no longer the vehicle for this type of request and that it will be considered at a later date. Mission was in contact with HQ regarding this issue in December 2007.
3.3.1 The Dominican Republic is a challenging and difficult market for Canadian companies. Business and government activities ***. As a result, the IBD Program spends a significant amount of time troubleshooting for its clients. This does not leave a lot of time for strategic planning and, as a result, the Program appears to be reactive in nature. Given the expanding number of opportunities across a wide range of sectors and the Program’s limited resources, planning needs to become more strategic. Staff are being pulled in many directions and there is a need to reduce the potential for burnout. More focussed efforts will also help contribute to greater success of the Program.
3.3.2 There are opportunities within the Program to better align activities with the priorities identified in the IBD Plan. The Program’s IBD Plan should also incorporate an increased focus on results, moving away from reporting on activities. High-level plans are easier to manage and will have a clearer connection to the Program’s strategy. Parts of the plan already achieve this and should be replicated throughout the rest of the document. Details at the activity level could be entered into the individual officer’s PMP.
3.3.3 Continuing the need to focus, the Program should reduce its priority sectors to three or four, from the current seven. A number of reactive, non-priority sectors should also be dropped from the InfoExport list of officer responsibilities, so as not to solicit non-priority inquiries. The Program should seek to market only the priorities that they have set in their plan. Opportunities that exist in other sectors should be treated as non-priorities, or tweaked so they contribute to helping the Program achieve its strategic objectives (i.e. environmental solutions companies seeking to export to the Dominican Republic could be directed to the Mining industry, which the post has identified as a strategic priority).
3.3.4 The Program should develop a more focussed IBD strategy that reinforces priorities, takes into consideration the resources available, and is results oriented.
3.3.5 The Program should become more focussed by decreasing its number of sectors currently identified as high-priority.
3.3.4 An excellent opportunity to attend to this will be the implementation of the PMP, an exercise that is currently underway and that will lead to a strategy focussed on a more limited number of priority sectors. This recommendation will be completed with the implementation of the PMP (see response 3.2.7). Mid-January 2008 is the target date to meet and discuss the PMP.
3.3.5 This matter will be discussed with the actual implementation of the PMP. Mid-January 2008 is the target date to meet and discuss the PMP. While not yet formalized the number of priority sectors will likely be four with two for each officer. The PM will assume responsibility for the mining sector and investments. That being said, the recently announced launch of negotiations for the signing of a free-trade agreement (FTA) between Canada and the Dominican Republic and the intense monitoring that will be required will considerably increase the Section’s workload. To that end, the Mission is counting on the support of Headquarters to grant new resources to help meet this significant increase.
3.4.1 The Program has adequate financial resources for its current staff complement. For FY 2006/07 the Program had a budget of $8,800 for hospitality and $17,500 for the Client Service Fund (CSF), with travel funded by the Mission budget. The hospitality and CSF numbers appear low, when compared with equivalent programs elsewhere in the region. Neighbouring IBD programs in markets of similar and smaller sizes, except for Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, have a similar number of Officer and Assistant positions. However, with increasing demands on the Program, significant future potential to still be exploited, and upcoming FTA negotiations, resources and budgets may need to be increased.
3.4.2 The upcoming announcement to commence FTA negotiations between Canada and the Dominican Republic will add a new dimension to the Program’s activities. The Program is not *** to support these activities, either in terms of ***. The increased expectations on the Program will require a corresponding increase in resources. For continuity purposes alone it would be best to have an LES officer that could support the negotiating team and, once the agreement is concluded, support the implementation and monitoring phases. Once this final phase is well underway, this additional LES position would likely have capacity to pick up responsibility for a priority sector, further helping to alleviate an already busy program.
3.4.3 The Program is generally not using the Trade Commissioner Assistant position to its full potential. This position previously supported all officers across the Program and worked closely with them on their project files. Since the addition of a CBS Program Manager (PM), however, the Assistant’s role has transformed to more directly support the PM by performing routine administrative, clerical and logistical tasks. There are opportunities where this position could add more value in assisting the officers with their priority sectors by doing research, assisting with correspondence and other value-added tasks. In addition, the Assistant position could be used to handle some of the lower-priority inquiries regarding more reactive sectors.
3.4.4 It is also important to recognize the additional strain that will be put on the Assistant as the Program grows. Originally the Program had two officers and one assistant position. The current complement is three Officers and is expected to shortly become four. Continued growth should include plans for an additional assistant (LE-05) position to maintain a healthy ratio of officers to assistants.
3.4.5 Staff have been effectively tracking significant client interactions in WIN Exports. This remains an ongoing challenge for the IBD Program Manager. Given the good uptake by the local staff, and if the IT infrastructure issues are addressed, the Program should have an easy time migrating to TRIO, the new client relationship management application.
3.4.6 The Program undertakes a significant number of outcall and outreach activities, but the approach is not always strategic in nature and results are not measured or evaluated.
3.4.7 Hospitality funds are available and well utilized by the PM. IBD hospitality funds should be used strategically to gain market intelligence and cultivate networks of contacts in the territory. The LES Trade Commissioners are able to access the PM’s hospitality account; however, they do not currently have hospitality allocations of their own. In some cases, LES undertake functions but do not put in a claim for reimbursement. Each officer should be allocated a hospitality budget at the beginning of the fiscal year to develop a contact base with respect to their priority sectors.
3.4.8 The completion of hospitality diaries needs to be improved so that links to the Program’s strategic objectives, evaluations of events, and the potential follow-ups resulting from the events are clearly indicated. This is important in demonstrating that the hospitality funds are being well spent. As individual officers are given their own hospitality allocations, they should be coached on how to use the funds strategically as well as how to properly document and complete the hospitality diary forms.
3.4.9 WOL should review the staffing levels of the Program. In the short-term there is a need for another Officer position and potentially another Assistant position. This will become especially important in the lead up to the FTA negotiations commencing.
3.4.9 It should be noted that Santo Domingo was not identified in the Global Commerce Strategy Treasury Board submission as requiring additional resources. However, WOL is prepared to receive a full rationale from the Mission for these positions and submit to Global Operations and Chief Trade Commissioner (WMM) for consideration.
3.4.10 The Program Manager needs to increase input into WIN Exports to better track client interaction.
3.4.11 The Program Manager should allocate each officer his/her own hospitality budget and provide coaching on its strategic use.
3.4.12 Hospitality diaries need to be better completed to demonstrate value-for-money. The PM should coach officers on how to correctly complete their own diaries.
3.4.13 The Program Assistant job package should be reviewed to ensure the position is providing the appropriate value-added services to the Program.
3.4.10 The PM and other members of the Section are actively using the new TRIO software, which has been available in the Mission since mid-October 2007.
3.4.11 It should be mentioned that the Mission’s hospitality budget has not been increased since the creation of the new IBD PM position in 2004. Therefore, the very limited hospitality budget provided to the IBD Section will only allow for allocations on an ad-hoc basis. Mission has raised with RLC and the Mission Resource Management Division (RSR) the issue of lack of hospitality funding.
3.4.12 This point was discussed at one of the IBD division’s meetings. To that end, there will be active monitoring by the PM, given that there was no increase to hospitality monies upon the creation of the Trade Program Manager position; however, the hospitality budget is very limited and activities are severely constrained.
3.4.13 Increased responsibilities have already been assigned to the Commercial Assistant, such as coordinating assistance from Canada’s private sector following tropical storm Noel. This recommendation will be implemented more officially when employee objectives and expected outcomes are established as part of the implementation of the PMP.
4.1.1 The Consular Program is managed by the Deputy Management and Consular Officer (DMCO), ***, under the direction of the MCO. The DMCO is supported by two LES Officers. Working relationships *** within the Section, with *** informal communication, and *** staff. Recent problems in the Administration Section are focussing the attention of the DMCO away from Consular work and towards administrative functions such as human resources. An ongoing challenge for the Section is the fact that most Canadian citizens are located in the north (Puerto Plata) and east (Punta Cana), both of which are hours away from Santo Domingo. With more than 600,000 Canadian tourists annually, and increasing, the Mission requires the assistance of the Puerto Plata Honorary Consul on a regular basis, while relying on tour operators to a great extent for consular cases in Punta Cana.
4.1.2 As a minimum, a proper resource level for the Consular work of the Mission is the current complement of a dedicated CBS and two LES Officers. The impact of the DMCO spending more time on Administration is being felt. Consular workload is increasing throughout the year, peaking during tourist season. Consular staff at the Mission are working at capacity. With the requirement for the DMCO to focus up to 70% of her time on administration, both LES are working significant overtime (approximately 10 hours per week). Other workload drivers include an increase in passport inquiries resulting from the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) and the impact of a poor IT infrastructure, such that it can take two to three minutes to change screens in COSMOS.
4.1.3 During the busy tourist season, the employee acting as the duty officer is extremely busy, with regular calls outside of working hours. To ease the burden on any particular employee, a rotation of the primary point of contact on the duty officer list should be considered during high season.
4.1.4 There is a long serving Honorary Consul in Puerto Plata, who also has a part time assistant. As most Canadians residing in the Dominican Republic are located in the northern area close to Puerto Plata, the Honorary Consul is quite busy. It was noted that the Honorary Consulate agreement has not been signed since 2003, and the Honorary Consul has not been receiving annual objectives or performance reviews.
4.1.5 A bigger challenge for the Mission at this time is serving clients in Punta Cana, which is the destination for approximately 60% of the tourist traffic. While the Mission maintains excellent relationships with tour operators, who typically provide a high level of assistance to Canadians in distress, the Mission is not always informed of ongoing cases. Should the direct intervention of Mission staff be required, this is logistically complicated as Punta Cana is approximately a five hour drive from Santo Domingo. Given the trend of increasing tourist traffic and workload, strong consideration should be given to the creation of an Honorary Consul in Punta Cana.
4.1.6 The primary contact on the duty officer list should be rotated during busy consular periods.
4.1.7 A business case should be prepared and submitted as part of the Country Strategy to the Consular Bureau (CND) and Geographic Bureau (RSD) for the creation of an Honorary Consul in Punta Cana.
4.1.8 The Mission should set objectives for the Honorary Consul annually.
4.1.9 The performance of the Honorary Consul should be reviewed annually by the HOM.
4.1.6 This issue has been discussed with Mission’s Consular Officers. The MCO will change the order of names listed in COSMOS (COMIP-Staff) either monthly or possibly bi-weekly depending on the number of cases reported outside of Mission work hours, which will be determined during 2007/2008 “high-season” (December-April). That said, Consular staff are already stretched and facing pressure given a projected increase in numbers of Canadian tourists travelling to the Dominican Republic (to note: Dominican Republic travel figures for 2007 include an estimated 600,000 Canadians - this number will increase for 2008).
4.1.7 Included as part of our Country Strategy for 2007/2008.
4.1.8 The performance of the Honorary Consul and what is required of the position has been discussed several times throughout the year both in formal written communications (email) as well as in oral communications. Mission is currently compiling criteria for evaluation and will provide Honorary Consul with a formal letter detailing job requirements to be effective for the upcoming fiscal year. We are currently seeking models from other missions and the Consular Bureau.
4.1.9 As a component of the letter described in Action 4.1.8, there would be criteria to evaluate performance. The Honorary Consul’s performance would then be evaluated by the HOM at the end of the fiscal year.
4.1.10 The Chancery deficiencies outlined in other sections of this report affect staff in the Consular Section. The existing workspace is insufficient, with the two Consular Officers sharing an office best suited to house one employee, with minimal space for necessary equipment, and little privacy for making phone calls or processing passport applications.
4.1.11 Curiously, access to the Consular booth is through the DMCO’s office. In order to serve clients in the booth, the Consular Officers would need to stand in the DMCO office, with no separation from the DMCO’s work area available. This makes use of the booth extremely disruptive to the DMCO, and as a result clients are served through the reception window, or in the reception area. Use of the Consular booth is made further impossible by the absence of a slot through which documents could be passed. If staff decided to use the booth, perhaps during absences of the DMCO, they would still need to direct clients to the reception to receive their documents. Given the limited use of the Consular booth, client feedback forms should also be placed in the lobby area.
4.1.12 Client feedback forms should be made available in the lobby area.
4.1.12 Following Audit Team’s visit, client feedback forms were placed in the reception area.
4.1.13 The revenue collection process was recently changed at the Mission so that consular revenue is now submitted to the ***. This process should be continued.
4.1.14 The Mission needs to explore opportunities to increase the number of Canadians registered in the Registry of Canadians Abroad (ROCA). There are currently only 730 Canadians registered out of estimated 8000 residents in the Dominican Republic. The current warden network consists of 19 districts, which is sufficient for the current number of registrants but will need to be expanded considerably should the Mission be successful in encouraging more Canadians to register.
4.1.15 The Consular Contingency Plan is up-to-date. A review of the plan indicated the need to better define the exact location of potential assembly points with GPS coordinates, establish evacuation centres, and a secondary point of service should the Chancery be rendered inaccessible. The *** should also be contacted to reaffirm the details of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Canadian and *** on cooperation during evacuation. As most Canadian citizens are in Punta Cana or Puerto Plata, more information should be gathered on emergency planning in these locations.
4.1.16 The Mission should develop a strategy to increase the number of Canadian citizens registered in ROCA.
4.1.17 The Consular Contingency Plan should be reviewed to ensure enough detail is available on assembly points, that evacuation centres are established, and a secondary point of service has been identified.
4.1.18 The Mission should contact the *** to reaffirm the details of the MOU on cooperation during evacuation.
4.1.16 Various strategies have been discussed to increase ROCA participation. ROCA form distribution has increased since the Audit Team’s visit as the Receptionist has been advised to distribute forms with passport applications. Consular Officers also include the on-line link to ROCA in responses to general inquiry questions made by email to the Mission. There is, however, concern among the Canadian community that ROCA information is shared amongst departments.
4.1.17 The Consular Contingency Plan is reviewed annually. All information, including assembly points and evacuation centres, will be verified at that time. This year’s annual review to be completed by December 2007. Aspects of the Contingency Plan were tested and reviewed during Hurricanes Dean and Noel which occurred recently.
4.1.18 Cooperation with the *** has been confirmed in meetings which related to hurricane planning and contingency planning throughout the year.
4.1.19 A reconciliation of passport stock indicated no discrepancies. Despite the insufficient workspace available to staff in the Section, passport processing is handled in an efficient manner, with CBS exercising the entitlement function. There is good segregation of duties. As noted earlier passport related inquiries have been increasing under WHTI.
5.1.1 The Administration Program is managed by the MCO and supported a Property Assistant and a Receptionist. The Program also has an accountant position, which has been vacant since October 2006, ***. The recent growth from a micro to a small mission has exceeded the capacity of the small Administration Program to implement the required frameworks to facilitate operations. The wide range of responsibilities placed on the MCO, the growing demand for consular services and the challenges posed by an inadequate Chancery leave the Section stretched and under resourced.
5.1.2 The MCO is ***. In addition to administrative responsibilities, he is also the Consular Program Manager, the Mission Security Officer (MSO), and serves as the Mission contact for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Department of National Defence (DND), and Citizenship and Immigration (CIC). At the time of the field work, aside from the Receptionist, the only other indeterminate office employee in the section was the Property Assistant. The Accountant position had been vacant since October 2006 following a *** at the Mission. An emergency employee was hired to assist the Section until the Accountant position is restaffed.
5.1.3 The DMCO is ***, and although her position is identified as being dedicated to Consular work, has been spending up to 70% of her time assisting the MCO in tackling the numerous administrative challenges. This arrangement, while currently necessary, is not sustainable as the Consular Program is extremely active, and requires the full-time attention of a CBS officer. During the past few months, the Consular LES have worked regular overtime to compensate for this arrangement.
5.1.4 The Mission is currently in a state of administrative crisis, facing a number of short and longer term challenges, and lacking the necessary capacity to address all issues requiring attention. To move forward, challenges will need to be prioritized, and a logical and efficient plan will need to be developed which can both address critical infrastructural issues, and implement administrative procedures and structures. The Mission currently lacks basic administrative structures, which leads to significant loss of time in responding to routine inquiries. An example is LES leave balances, which should be maintained and tracked on an ongoing basis, but required a time consuming project by the DMCO to bring balances up to date.
5.1.5 While a number of recommendations are made in this report to comply with departmental policies and improve the administrative framework, an improvement in the physical resources infrastructure and increase in the administrative capacity of the Mission are required before real progress will be realized. To this end, a new chancery must be identified to address the health and safety, ***, and functionality deficiencies of the current site (outlined in more detail in the Physical Resources section of this report). This project should be treated as urgent and Mission operations should be moved to the new chancery in the shortest possible timeframe.
5.1.6 To address the majority of the recommendations in this report, the Mission will need assistance in the short term to make meaningful progress. The Administration Section simply does not have the necessary depth in all the functional areas that require urgent attention at their current staffing levels (an MCO, a Property Assistant, and an emergency employee). An experienced temporary duty (TD) MCO should be assigned to the Mission for at least a three month period to assist in developing the necessary controls and processes, particularly in HR and Finance. To ensure that any progress made is not lost, consideration should be given to providing the Section with an assistant so that the MCO can place proper attention on planning, coordination and supervision.
5.1.7 Provide the Mission with a suitable MCO temporary duty officer, for a TD of at least three months duration.
5.1.7 HFP will raise with Mission Resource Management Division (RSR) the funding issue for the MCO temporary duty officer and will proceed with TD as soon as funds available.
5.1.8 The Mission should develop a business case for the creation of an assistant for the Administration Section.
5.1.8 A business case for the creation of Administration Assistant has been included in the Country Strategy. The Mission has raised this need on various occasions. Subsequent events have proven the absolute necessity for the creation of this position. Latest message was sent by the HOM to Strategy and Services Bureau (RSD) on October 27, 2007. The Mission has not yet received a response.
5.2.1 Some HR functions have only recently started to be addressed through the addition of core processes and frameworks to ensure that routine transactions are processed in a timely fashion and appropriate records are maintained. There are no LES resources available to assist the MCOs with HR, particularly with the absence of a full time Accountant, and items such as the maintenance of basic records have slipped and require the attention of the CBS to up-date them on an ongoing basis. The DMCO has now been tasked with addressing a number of HR issues and is bringing a ***. She has begun to prepare documentation outlining processes both for employees and managers to demystify HR at the Mission. A lot of work remains to be completed, and the Mission will likely require assistance to address all the HR matters outlined in this report.
5.2.2 Of primary concern is the absence of appropriate file structures. Leave and overtime in particular had not been being tracked appropriately, with files in disarray and managers lacking the proper information to manage leave in their sections. A project to review these records was given to the DMCO, who has instituted electronic tracking. The results of her review identified employees who were in a deficit position for their leave credits. The Mission needs to develop a standard filing structure with separate employee files and position files. Reliability checks (RCs), while up to date, were not filed in a clear manner, with all files for all employees in one file in the Secure Zone (SZ).
5.2.3 There are four positions at the Mission for which the Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD) does not have any EXT208s on file. These positions were brought to the Mission’s attention, who indicated they would send the required paperwork to HLD. Similarly, as a result of EXT208s which were never sent to HLD, some positions in Peoplesoft appear as under-filled positions but are not in reality. These situations were also brought to the attention of the MCO for corrective action.
5.2.4 Position descriptions at the Mission are out of date and should be reviewed annually as part of the Performance Management Program process, when rolled out. Signed copies also should be placed on the HR files.
5.2.5 A review of classification actions could not be performed as documentation was not readily available (no position files). An interview with the MCO demonstrated knowledge of the classification process, but all relevant information for future classification actions should be placed on the position file. Similarly, a review of staffing actions could also not be undertaken as the required files were not able to be retrieved for review.
5.2.6 File structures should be developed, including separate employee and position files. Electronic leave and overtime tracking should be maintained on an ongoing basis.
5.2.7 Position descriptions should be reviewed annually by the manager and employee as part of the PMP objective setting process.
5.2.8 Proper documentation should be maintained on file for all classification actions.
5.2.9 Proper documentation should be maintained on file for all staffing actions.
5.2.6 Although filing has improved, the development of an overall filing system will be labour-extensive as files are not in good shape. The position of an Administrative Assistant would be key in supporting this exercise and this requirement has been raised with RSR and others in HQ. The Mission is considering hiring a contractor to develop a filing system. This would occur in conjunction with an MCO temporary duty assignment (request submitted October 2007).
5.2.7 Please see Action 1.1.10. Once PMP is implemented at the Mission, Mission Administration will insure that descriptions are reviewed annually.
5.2.8 Mission will act on this going forward. Having an Administration Assistant will be key in aiding the Mission to do so.
5.2.9 Mission will act on this going forward. Mission has just completed hiring of an Accountant and the proper file structure was initiated and maintained.
5.2.10 The Mission has not developed a comprehensive training plan. A number of concerns were raised by the Mission regarding specific training for which they feel the Department has not provided sufficient training options. These included improved Accountant training (the previous Accountant did not receive bank reconciliation training while in HQ) and the need for a targeted mid-career consular training course. Due to the IT issues at the Mission, the utility of on-line training options is currently limited.
5.2.11 The Mission has excellent official languages capacity. In addition to the *** are trilingual (French, English, Spanish).
5.2.12 An LES Committee has been established but a more formal structure to their communication with Mission Management is needed. This would include predetermined regular meetings with the MCOs, and meeting with the HOM at least twice annually. All meetings should have agendas, and minutes should be taken and distributed to all staff. Having this formal structure should assist in ensuring continued dialogue on important issues. The LES Committee noted, in particular, a lack of follow-up on the part of Mission Management and HLD on the benefits review.
5.2.13 The last approved version of the Employee Handbook is dated 1995. HLD visited the Mission in 2004, and mentioned to staff that further review of benefits would be undertaken, particular in respect to medical insurance and social security. While there has been periodic discussion between the Mission and HLD on reviewing benefits, with the Handbook now twelve years old, it is time to undertake a comprehensive benefits survey.
5.2.14 HLD, with the assistance of the Mission, should undertake a comprehensive benefits review.
5.2.14 As part of the Global Strategy, for the next two years, HLD will, with the participation of a selected consulting firm, review all mission handbooks and develop a revised format. It will also ensure a process is put in place to maintain the handbooks’ content current. To this end, a first communication to missions was initiated on June 13, 2007 to request information on recent changes to local law as well as statistical information on the LES population. This information will be used as part of the handbook review. In 2007-2008, a consulting firm will be tasked with the review of benefits and the production of handbooks for 60+ selected countries. The project will be divided in two phases based on the geographic breakdown as per set criteria. Santo Domingo's Handbook is dated April 1995. The work is planned to take place in the second phase of the project, to be completed by the end of 2009. Once a contract is awarded, missions will be notified in advance as to when to expect the work to start. In addition to this first notice, HLD will periodically inform missions on the progress of the handbook review project using the HLD Communiqué which is published every three months. Meanwhile, a new user-friendly strategy to ensure that mission handbook updates occur and newly developed handbooks are kept current is being developed.
5.2.15 Salary records were reviewed and it was found that for ***, income tax, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Employment Insurance (EI) deductions were not being made. *** an exemption from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Income tax, CPP and EI needs to be deducted for all Canadian LES until they receive waivers and submit them to Administration.
5.2.16 Income tax, CPP and EI deductions should be made for all Canadian LES who have not received waivers.
5.2.16 Mission verified with the *** requested the waiver twice and is still waiting for a response. Due to the lack of an Accountant at the Mission, there has been no process in place for deductions. Mission has recently been in correspondence with HLD regarding this issue.
5.3.1 The MCO, assisted by a Property Assistant (LE-05) is responsible for the management of the Mission’s property portfolio. As the only indeterminate LES resource in the Administration Section at this time, the Property Assistant’s time is spent not only on Property issues but in assisting the MCO in dealing with a range of administrative issues that arise on a daily basis.
5.3.2 As outlined in the Mission Property Management Plan there is a pressing need to move to a new chancery building. The long list of *** safety issues, increasing space requirements for the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and IBD programs, dysfunctional and insufficient office space, on-going cooling system and mildew problems, as well as recent water quality problems, render the current Chancery unacceptable.
5.3.3 Following air quality concerns expressed by staff, the Health and Welfare Regional Medical Officer visited the Mission on January 31, 2006 and again on February 8, 2007 and concluded that the best option was to move to a new chancery. The Mission is currently in the process of formally testing and documenting the air quality as employees continue to suffer from sore throat, respiratory infection and chronic skin allergy symptoms that only occur during work hours. Staff also complained about cramped work space and the ventilation and air conditioning system which is unable to provide adequate air movement and temperature. A new system was installed but does not function properly as some rooms are too hot and others too cold. The medical reports also confirm the likely presence of moulds and fungi as well as numerous stained ceiling tiles. Recent water tests conducted by the Mission confirmed the presence of e-coli and of pseudomonas bacteria rendering the tap water unsafe, even for non-drinking purposes. The water is now tested regularly and treated with chlorine once a month. Added to all of this, are the frequent power outages and fluctuations and the need to run and maintain a power generator on a daily basis and to regularly replace the universal power supplies (UPS) in order to protect computer and communication equipment. Furthermore, even major capital investments would not provide the much needed additional office space, fix water and electrical problems, nor would it resolve health concerns.
5.3.4 SRD should immediately move the Chancery to a new and appropriate location which meets health and safety standards.
5.3.4 Alternate chancery locations have been short-listed following a visit by the Property Strategy Section (SRSK) and the Fit-up and Renovations Service (SRPA) in October 2007, with an anticipated move-in date planned for May 2009.
5.3.5 The Mission recently relocated the HOM to a less expensive and more suitable SQ. The Mission is saving $2,500 USD in rent per month and expects a reduction in electricity and maintenance cost as the new SQ does not have cathedral ceilings, making it easier to air condition. The configuration of the new SQ is also better suited for holding representational events.
5.3.6 The three other SQs are rented apartments located in well protected compounds. They are generally spacious, in good condition and well furnished. The Mission was in the process of relocating the MCO to a new SQ, due to repeated water flooding caused by broken water pipes located in the walls and ceilings. Repairs done by the landlord have not been effective in addressing these issues.
5.3.7 The Mission recently completed the inventories of SQs, but had yet to complete the Chancery distribution account and of the few items in storage. Occupancy agreements were recently signed by all CBS, however, two had been misplaced.
5.3.8 The Mission should complete the Chancery and storage distribution accounts and ensure that all occupancy agreements are on file.
5.3.8 Agreements for HOM and DMCO on file. Occupancy agreements are currently in process for the latest arrivals (IBD Program Manager and MCO) due to the absence of the Property Assistant. To be completed during the temporary duty MCO assignment.
5.3.9 The Mission currently has two vehicles, a 4X4 and a minivan. The minivan is experiencing transmission problems and will be replaced soon. The 4x4 is in good condition and is shared between programs as needed. Because of increasing program needs, Headquarters recently approved the purchase of a third vehicle, a sedan, but did not approve a position for an additional driver.
5.3.10 All outstanding vehicle operating reports were recently completed. The reports, however, do not calculate miles or kilometres per gallon in order to monitor vehicle performance and to ensure an appropriate control of fuel purchased.
5.3.11 The Mission should ensure that vehicle operating reports are completed on a monthly basis and include a calculation of miles or kilometres per gallon to monitor vehicle performance and to ensure an appropriate control of fuel purchased.
5.3.11 Mission has taken steps to comply. Unexpected departure of the Mission’s Property Assistant has made this difficult to implement. Mission Administration Section is currently reduced to MCO and Receptionist (DMCO concentrating mainly on Consular). Many systems related to Physical Resources need to be put in place. Mission will require support from HQ to do so and has requested temporary duty MCO assignment.
5.4.1 The Mission has been without an Accountant since October 2006 and there are no plans to hire a new Accountant until the summer of 2007. ***. From October to the end of December 2006, the Mission did not record expenses and revenues in IMS nor did it maintain independent budget control to effectively manage finances. The decision to implement a Hub and Spoke relationship with the mission in San José became effective in December 2006, with San José beginning to input the backlog of unrecorded transactions into IMS in January 2007. Recently, San José noted and advised the Mission that some rent payments totalling $50,000 which the Mission had paid to the vendors had not been sent to them for input into IMS. The issuance of payments prior to IMS input further weakens internal control and increases the possibility of not recording transactions in the financial system, especially when bank reconciliations are not being completed on time.
5.4.2 Because of this unusual situation, budget reports produced by IMS are unreliable and the Mission cannot plan future expenditures properly. A considerable amount of supplementary accounting work needs to be done to redress the situation and places an additional burden on the Mission who has insufficient capacity to resolve the situation. The Mission will need help from the Financial Services Bureau (SMFF) and San José to hire and train a new Accountant as soon as possible. SMFF is in the process of correcting and completing outstanding bank reconciliations for the Peso and USD bank accounts. To regain financial and budget control, the Mission needs to record transactions in IMS prior to issuing payments and to hire a full time Accountant. It should also file expenditures by bank account instead of by payment type, to facilitate the review and approval process by the HOM of the monthly accounts.
5.4.3 To facilitate the transmission of financial information to San Jose, the Mission hired a temporary administrative assistant who is responsible for the preparation of suppliers’ cheques, LES payroll, USD payments, preparing bank deposits and filing of documents.
5.4.4 The Mission is in the process of correcting a number of internal control weaknesses which were previously identified. To date the Mission has improved the control over blank cheques, use of official receipts, USD bank transfers for rent payments and bank signing authorities. The following control weaknesses, however, remain outstanding:
5.4.5 To help the Mission regain and maintain control of its finances, consideration should be given to hiring an Accountant before next summer and providing temporary help to the Mission. Without an Accountant, there is a risk that the implementation of financial controls will be delayed and budget control jeopardized for some time. SMFF should be involved in the recruitment process by providing the Mission with a statement of qualification as well as a written test and questions to evaluate candidates. SMFF may also wish to participate in the hiring process to ensure the selection of a suitably qualified individual.
5.4.6 It was also noted that monthly accounts had not been presented to the HOM for approval since August 2006. Even though it is not possible to present the HOM with a full set of accounts until all bank reconciliations are properly completed and needed corrections made, it is possible to present a reduced package including payments made by bank account, revenues received and deposited, transfers of funds, as well as bank statements for each account, and an explanation of any unusual transactions. This modified package will at least provide the HOM with an overview of the Mission’s financial activities and improve internal control.
5.4.7 The Mission should prepare a plan to correct the outstanding financial weaknesses. The plan should identify who is responsible for redressing each weakness and provide an expected date of completion. The HOM should monitor the plan on a monthly basis.
5.4.8 The Mission with the help of San José should develop and implement procedures to facilitate the recording of expenditures in IMS before issuing payments.
5.4.9 The HOM should regularly receive, review and approve monthly accounts.
5.4.7 Mission ended last fiscal year within budget despite of absence of the Accountant and ambiguity of budget details for the better part of the year. Finances have been addressed as a first priority by the new MCO. However, Mission currently lacks three essential positions: Accountant, Property Assistant and Administrative Assistant. Mission requested and partly paid for a temporary duty from SMFF. The visit was successful and the Mission is now in better control of the finances. The Mission has just now hired an Accountant. Please note that presently, IMS input is still done in San José. The Mission is not yet receiving bank reconciliations.
Continued training and monitoring with the addition of new hires with support from HQ is required.
5.4.8 Mission is working closely with San José to facilitate recording of expenditures with support of contractor who faxes materials and prepares documents.
5.4.9 Mission has not received bank reconciliations as prepared by SMFF. Once Accountant is in place, Mission will proceed with this action.
5.4.11 The Property Assistant is responsible for obtaining bids and ensuring that value for money is obtained once the contract is approved. The information obtained is then shared by e-mail with the other members of the Contract Review Board (CRB). It was noted that the CRB does not use a managerial checklist to ensure compliance with contracting regulations nor does it maintain formal minutes of decisions taken as contracts are usually approved by e-mail.
5.4.12 The Contract Review Board should use a managerial checklist to ensure compliance with contracting regulations and maintain minutes of contracting decisions taken.
5.4.12 CRB was set up (all CBS are members of the committee). Minutes were taken. CRB will now work with managerial checklist. Mission will continue to monitor all future contracts carefully. Valuable support was recently received (October 2007) by Property Maintenance and Operations Section (SRSF), in a special visit after the Chancery caught fire.
5.5.1 Due to the Mission’s size, there is no Information Technology Professional (ITP) on site. The Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) responsible for the Mission is located in Port-au-Prince, and has made regular visits to Santo Domingo since ***. When he requires assistance from the Mission he calls on the HOM Assistant who serves as the SIGNET Support Administrator (SSA), or one of the MCOs, depending on the problem.
5.5.2 The Mission has been struggling from an IT perspective for a few years. The growth in staff did not coincide with a commensurate increase in the IT infrastructure and the Mission has been unable to effectively use some applications and tools. Testing done during the Audit field work indicated very slow Intranet and Internet access (30-60 seconds), COSMOS (two to three minutes to change screens), and IMS (delays approaching five minutes). The IBD Section was unable to use TRIO, and most online training tools could not be practically used. From debriefings with SXEC (Client Relations), following the Audit field work, the Audit Team was informed of a planned bandwidth upgrade from 96K to 384K, which should address most of the IT delays.
5.5.3 The Mission currently has two MITNET lines. This is insufficient in the current context, particularly given the high consular workload, which necessitates a higher than average level of communication with HQ. SXEC should contact the Mission to discuss what would be a suitable number of MITNET lines and proceed with an appropriate upgrade.
5.5.4 SXEC should increase the number of MITNET lines available to the Mission, as appropriate.
5.5.4 As of April 5, 2007, the Mission has four MITNET lines available. Four lines is the maximum possible under the current MITNET bandwidth of 384K.
5.5.5 There is a need for another form of secondary communications at the Mission to support Consular contingency planning in the event of a hurricane. The Mission has one (PSAT) satellite unit, permanently ***, but doesn’t have a mobile alternative to allow staff members to maintain communication with each other and HQ in the event the *** and the mobile phone network is unavailable. A second PSAT unit is with the Honorary Consul in Puerto Plata but is not tested on a regular basis.
5.5.6 The Mission should liaise with HQ to identify a mobile form of secondary communication which could be used in the event of an emergency.
5.5.7 Both PSAT units should be tested on a regular basis.
5.5.6 Former Property Assistant was looking into this. This is to be addressed by the temporary duty MCO assignment. Mission will also discuss this issue with Regional Security Abroad (ISRA) during the planned December 2007 visit.
5.5.7 The unit in the Chancery was tested in October 2007 (functioning well). Mission requested the Honorary Consul in Puerto Plata to test unit in December 2007. An additional PSAT is required for the HOM SQ as alternate point of operations in time of crisis and the request will be made during the temporary duty MCO assignment