Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
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Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

Inspection of the Canadian High Commission Singapore

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(July 2008)

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

An inspection of the General Relations (GR), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Singapore from April 21 to 29, 2008. The Mission was last audited in May-June 2001. The High Commission in Singapore is a medium-sized mission with 18 Canada-based staff (CBS) and 53 Locally-engaged staff (LES). Overall, the Mission is operating ***, with *** planning and *** communication. Eighteen months ago the Mission conducted a survey of the LES regarding their views on working conditions and a number of issues were raised that the Mission has been addressing with the assistance of Headquarters (HQ). A short-term challenge for the team will be the rotation this summer of the Head of Mission and four of five Program Managers.

The GR Program's priorities and reporting flow from the Country Strategy objectives. The primary concern of the Program is the elimination of the CBS GR Assistant position, which will impact both Program and Mission operations. The Inspection Team supports the Program's request for an LES Assistant to offset this loss. There is also a need to restructure and refocus the Public Affairs Officer's role to the new strategic advocacy fund process. This may become an issue that other missions will also need to address.

The IBD Program is *** managed and is providing a *** level of service to its clients. In addition to it's country specific role, Singapore also plays a regional role with regional officers and being the venue for three large scale trade shows with regional reach in South East Asia. The Senior Trade Commissioner is reinforcing the use of TRIO, an area which requires continuing attention. There is also a need to revisit organizational structure and develop proactive workplans focussed on priority sectors. These workplans will help define and operationalize the key objectives of integrative trade, including investment, science and technology, and global value chains.

The Consular Program *** has been working toward having staff complete the mandatory passport training. There is a need for either the Management Consular Officer (MCO) or the Deputy MCO (DMCO) to view original documentation for all passport applications and to authorize entitlement. The Program would also benefit from the installation of a cash register in order to strengthen the revenue receipt process.

The Administration Program is running well and providing a *** level of support to Mission programs. As the hub mission to Bandar Seri Begawan, the Mission should institute regular on-site visits to the spoke to review systems and processes and ensure key controls are exercised. There is a need to resolve the funding for the Regional Economic Counsellor's travel as the annual $15,000 expense is being provided from Singapore's reference level.

A total of 62 inspection recommendations are raised in the report; 53 are addressed to the Mission and nine are addressed to Headquarters. Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the 62 recommendations, management has stated that 28 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 34 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The High Commission in Singapore is a medium-sized mission with 18 Canada-based staff (CBS) and 53 Locally-engaged staff (LES). Partner departments at the Mission include Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) (including Overseas Medical Services and Migration Integrity), Agriculture Canada and Public Safety Canada. The Mission also provides some administrative services to an LES Officer that Canada supplies to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

1.1.2 Staffing changes in the summer of 2008 will include the addition of a CBS Trade Commissioner, the transfer of the Export Development Canada (EDC) unit from Kuala Lumpur, and the loss of the CBS General Relations (GR) Assistant. The following fiscal year (2009-2010) is expected to result in the transfer of six CIC staff from Singapore to Dhaka, once the new chancery construction project is complete.

1.1.3 Overall, Mission planning and communication have resulted in a *** functioning High Commission. Challenges facing the Mission include:

  • The level of Singaporean representation in Canada given there is currently a non-resident High Commissioner (with only a Consulate in Vancouver);
  • Growing demands from partner departments that view Singapore as a regional hub for operations; and,
  • A growing defence relationship, with the Defence Attaché only able to visit from Thailand four times per year.

1.1.4 The summer of 2008 will see the changeover of the Head of Mission (HOM) and four of the five program managers (PMs), impacting the corporate memory of the management team. To compensate, the Mission plans to have the Deputy Management Consular Officer (DMCO) attend the Committee on Mission Management (CMM) meetings to provide continuity with the new management team. The CMM meets weekly with minutes distributed to the CBS and other interested parties in the region and in Headquarters (HQ). The HOM also meets twice per year with CBS dependents. Significant issues are discussed in all-staff meetings, with regular communication via email.

1.1.5 The LES Committee meets with both the Management Consular Officer (MCO) and the Head of Mission upon request and this is deemed to be sufficient by both parties. Given the new incoming management team and implementation of the departmental reorganization, the Mission should schedule regular meetings with the Committee as well as all-staff town-halls to ensure all parties remain current on issues and concerns.

1.1.6 When the Inspection Team met with the LES Committee, the primary concern was a review of the retirement age and medical/dental benefits provided to LES. The Mission has been informed that the next benefit review is scheduled for 2010. The management team have been proactive in its dealings with the LES, as approximately 18 months ago it conducted a survey of the LES to determine their views on working conditions at the Mission. From this exercise a number of issues were raised that the Mission has been addressing internally and with the assistance of HQ.

1.1.7 As well as the above mentioned CMM and LES committees, the Mission also has in place a Contract Review Board (CRB) as well as Classification, Housing and Occupational Health and Safety committees. The Mission has also identified an Official Language Co-ordinator. The MCO is currently acting as the de-facto Training Co-ordinator. The Mission should officially appoint one, but not necessarily from within the Administration Program. The Training Co-ordinator should co-ordinate the development of the mission-wide training plan.

Recommendations to the Mission

1.1.8 The DMCO should attend CMM meetings until the new management team is integrated into the Mission.

1.1.9 Mission management should schedule regular meetings with the LES Committee.

1.1.10 The Mission should appoint a Training Co-ordinator.

1.1.11 The Mission should develop a mission-wide training plan particularly given the new budget structure.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.1.8 DMCO is now attending CMM Meetings. Effective May 2008.

1.1.9 After discussions with the chairperson of the LES Committee it was agreed to schedule meetings with the committee every two months. However, this will be reviewed again once the new HOM arrives. Effective June 2008.

1.1.10 A Training Co-ordinator will be appointed once the new Mission management team arrives. To be completed, September 2008.

1.1.11 Mission-wide training plan will be developed when the new HOM and program managers for the GR, International Business Development (IBD) and MCO programs arrive in summer 2008. To be completed, September 2008.

Recommendation to the Asia South and Pacific Bureau (RAD)

1.1.12 RAD should engage the Department of National Defence (DND) to determine if increased travel funding could be made available to the Defence Attaché in Thailand to more effectively leverage the growing relationship with Singapore.

RAD Action and Timeframe

1.1.12 RAD believes that the HOM and Defence Attaché in Thailand are best placed to agree on a joint recommendation to DND for consideration and a decision in this regard.

1.2 Head of Mission's Office

1.2.1 With the elimination of the CBS GR Assistant position, the Mission will become a one-CBS Assistant post (AS-02 HOM Assistant). The Mission is exploring ways to redistribute tasks, such as diplomatic bag runs and communications. The Mission will need to continue to monitor the situation and make further adjustments following the arrival of the new management team.

1.2.2 The Mission currently has two vacant positions at the Official Residence (OR), a servant-junior maid position and a gardener (½ full-time equivalent (FTE)) position. It has been contracting an individual to provide full-time gardening and maintenance needs at the OR, however, this arrangement could eventually create an employer-employee relationship. The Laundress-Senior Maid has also been working approximately one hour of overtime per day. With the arrival of the new HOM in the summer of 2008, the Mission needs to assess support requirements at the OR to determine the appropriate organizational structure and proceed with any staffing processes.

Recommendations to the Mission

1.2.3 The Mission should formalize the distribution of tasks for the HOM Assistant and other staff resulting from the elimination of the CBS GR Assistant position.

1.2.4 The Mission should review staffing requirements and organizational structure at the OR. If changes to the structure are needed the Mission should consult with the Asia South and Pacific Bureau and Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD).

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.2.3 The Mission has already put in place a distribution of tasks to compensate for the loss of one CBS Assistant. These tasks deal mainly with the diplomatic courier meets and ***-custodial duties. A further review will take place after the new management team arrives at Mission. To be completed, September 2008.

1.2.4 The staffing requirements and organizational structure at the OR will be reviewed after the arrival of the new Head of Mission. To be completed, September 2008.

General Relations Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 Political and Public Affairs activities are currently delivered by an FS-03 Program Manager, an LE-09 Public Affairs Officer and an AS-01 Program Assistant. Economic reporting for the Mission is covered by an FS-03 Officer, also located in Singapore. Though the position reports to the Senior Trade Commissioner (STC), there is *** cooperation with the GR PM.

2.1.2 The CBS Assistant position will be eliminated in the summer of 2008, leaving the Program without administrative support. A business case for the creation of an LE-05 Program Assistant position was submitted In April 2008. The position will support both the GR Program and the Economic Officer, who will lose access to an IBD Assistant when the new Trade Commissioner arrives. The Inspection Team supports the request for this position, as it will provide continuity and local knowledge to the Program and the Mission as well as administrative support.

2.1.3 The Program's planning process begins with the Country Strategy. Those objectives cascade down to staff Performance Management Plans (PMP) and tools such as the reporting agreement and the Post Initiative Fund (PIF). Reporting was found to be ***. With the decrease in public diplomacy funding (decreased to $8,000 in fiscal year 2007-2008) and the uncertainty of accessing future funding sources, the Mission has begun to move away from cultural programming and is leveraging events to highlight government priorities. With limited financial resources, the Mission has identified the need to restructure the Public Affairs Officer's role within the Program.

2.1.4 With the development of a new strategic advocacy fund, missions will be required to submit business cases to access funds for specific initiatives. Missions will need to revisit the requirements for public affairs positions as annual funding is no longer guaranteed. Some staff have been hired for a specific set of skills and may need training to develop in new directions (such as political reporting). HQ will need to monitor this situation to determine if a global strategy will be needed for the evolution of the public affairs role.

2.1.5 From July 2007 to June 2008, Singapore is chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and will assume the APEC chairmanship in November 2008, before hosting the summit in 2009. While these events should increase the number of high level visits to Singapore, the Mission noted that in the past the limited number of these visits as well as some cancellations have had a negative impact on Canada's profile.

2.1.6 The PM holds weekly Program meetings following the CMM ***. With the creation of the new Common Services Platform and the new division of mission budgets, the GR Program will need to review its projected needs for operational purposes in order to submit its budget requirements. Given the uncertain nature of public diplomacy funding, the Mission will need to ensure that the appropriate funding is allocated to fulfill the Program's mandate.

2.1.7 The PM and the Public Affairs Officer made a presentation at the IBD retreat to clarify the role of public affairs. As a next step the Program should look to create a reference document that specifies how the Section can serve other programs. The Section, in consultation with the other programs, should identify a key messages document that targets specific priorities. This could be used by all staff during meetings, events and outreach activities.

Recommendations to the Mission

2.1.8 The Mission should review and update the Public Affairs Officer's role.

2.1.9 The Mission should establish a budget for the GR Program so that its operational needs can be met.

2.1.10 The Program should create and distribute a reference document outlining the role of Public Affairs.

2.1.11 The Program, in consultation with other programs, should develop key messages reference document to distribute to all staff.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.1.8 Ongoing revision of the role and responsibilities. Recommendation will be made to incoming PM in favour of Public Affairs Officer's participation in November 2008 training in Ottawa. To be completed, August 2008.

2.1.9 A proposed budget for GR Program was sent to MCO on May 5, 2008.

2.1.10 Draft reference document in preparation and will be completed by end of June 2008. To be finalized after Public Affairs Officer has had a chance to discuss with incoming PM after her arrival. To be completed, September 2008.

2.1.11 Reference document should be developed once all incoming program managers and Head of Mission have had a chance to familiarize themselves with their programs, likely towards the end of the year. To be completed, November 2008.

Recommendation to RAD

2.1.12 RAD should ensure that the GR Program and the Regional Economic Officer are provided with sufficient administrative support following the removal of the CBS Assistant position in summer 2008.

RAD Action and Timeframe

2.1.12 RAD has placed an LE-05 Administrative Assistant on the list of priority deployments that will be considered in the context of the representation abroad strategy. RAD is following up with its Area Management Office to explore the possibility of providing branch funding to cover emergency employment between the time of the departure of the CBS Assistant and creation of a new LES Administrative Assistant.

International Business Development Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The International Business Development (IBD) Program in Singapore is lead by an EX-01 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) who directly supervises an FS-01 Trade Commissioner (TC), three LE-09 TCs and three LE-05 TC Assistants (TCAs). The STC also has administrative oversight responsibilities for two Southeast Asia regional officers (Economic and Agri-food) and one agricultural TCA. With the exception of the regional agriculture TCA, all positions report to the STC. The Program will be receiving an additional CBS position (FS-03) this summer under the Global Commerce Strategy, with an intended focus on new media and investment activities. It should also be noted that the Export Development Canada representative in Kuala Lumpur is moving to Singapore in summer 2008.

3.1.2 Program activities were estimated at 65% trade promotion, 10% Canadian Direct Investment Abroad (CDIA), 10% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and 15% on Science and Technology (S T). The Program's 2007-2008 budget encompassed $19,400 for hospitality, $15,000 for travel and a Client Service Fund (CSF) allocation of approximately $57,000 (2007-2008).

3.1.3 Singapore has one of the most pro-business and liberalized economies in the world. It has a dynamic and innovative economy and is a hub of finance, transportation, education, life sciences and high-technology research and development (R D). Singapore has attracted investments from a large number of foreign companies, including approximately 80 from Canada. Investment in Canada, however, remains minimal. Singapore is positioning itself as a business gateway into the Asian region, which is reflective of the way Canadian business see the market.

3.1.4 Total bilateral trade with Singapore reached $2.4 billion in 2007, with exports increasing 23% and imports from Singapore increasing 51%. Stocks of CDIA in Singapore were $4 billion in 2006, making it the third largest market for Canadian investment in all of Asia, following Japan and Hong Kong. FDI from Singapore was $41 million in 2006, a decline from a high of $356 million in 1995.

3.2 Program Management

3.2.1 The IBD Program is managed *** by an STC ***. The regional officers present in the Mission have been effectively incorporated into the Program, while respecting their regional nature. Weekly staff meetings are held to discuss operations and also serve as a vehicle to communicate important messages from the CMM. Informal communications are also effective and further support operations. Performance Management Plans (PMPs) were in place for staff. ***, with the exception of an issue that is currently being addressed by Mission management with the support of Headquarters.

3.2.2 The current program structure, with all but one employee reporting directly to the STC, is working, but is not sustainable over the long-term. The addition of another CBS this summer provides a valuable opportunity to provide oversight and management responsibilities to the junior CBS officers. In order to effectively delineate responsibilities and provide the appropriate level of support to TCs, the STC may need to revisit the current balance of responsibilities among assistants. This review should encompass the division of roles and responsibilities, including that of the assistant to the STC, and could serve as the basis for developing sub-teams.

3.2.3 While the STC is ***, with nine direct reports his time is limited. The change in reporting relationships should facilitate day-to-day management and team building through more regular and open dialogues with managers. This should also improve management's ability to identify and address issues in the early stages, potentially avoiding larger conflicts.

Recommendation to the Mission

3.2.4 Reporting relationships and administrative responsibilities should be modified to allow TCAs to be allocated to a CBS officer.

Mission Action and Timeframe

3.2.4 The organizational chart has been revamped to take into account the growth of the IBD Section and the need to establish clearer lines of reporting. The new structure has been announced and discussed with staff. Implementation will be completed in several steps: the first step will be over by the end of July 2008, with the second phase taking place in September 2008 when two new CBS positions are filled. A possible third step is contingent on the creation of LES support position for the Regional Economic Counsellor. To be completed, September 2008.

3.3 Operations

3.3.1 The Program's value-added activities are demonstrated through a quarterly "snapshot" report that indicates program efforts in areas such as events, success stories, visits, advocacy, and market reports. These reports are effective tools to track and report on the Program's activities, they also effectively feed into the results achieved portion of the IBD Plan.

3.3.2 Since the deployment of the Department's client relationship management system (TRIO) in March 2007, the STC has regularly reinforced the importance of properly using the tool. The STC's Assistant has been identified as the TRIO Super-user and has been helping to reinforce the use of TRIO. While this is the case, the usage of TRIO has been generally uneven and influenced significantly by the prevalence of trade shows. During the course of interviews, Trade Commissioners did acknowledge that more diligence is required in entering data in TRIO. As a next step in the process, the effective use of TRIO should be assessed during the annual performance management process.

3.3.3 The Program's travel and hospitality are sufficient for activities within the Mission's territory. The funds, however, are not sufficient to allow the Program to send staff for training in Canada. Hospitality funds have been allocated to officers and have generally been used in-line with the hospitality policy. The STC was reminded that under the policy only the HOM is allowed to use hospitality funds for one staff event per year. Work related activities, such as a planning retreat, should be funded out of the operational budget. There is also a need to revisit the rationale for joining the American Club, which the STC only used four times during the past year. While it does provide access to more reasonable catering facilities, this alone does not support retention.

3.3.4 Job descriptions are in place for LES and were recently updated. They effectively cover the responsibilities of staff, however the percentage allocation towards different aspects may need revision. Currently, job descriptions indicated approximately 75% of their time was devoted to the delivery of core services and 15% to event management. Interviews with staff, however, indicated that staff devote significantly more time to the latter.

Recommendations to the Mission

3.3.5 The Program should further integrate TRIO into the work of the Section and incorporate its effective use into PMP objectives.

3.3.6 The rationale for the STC's membership in the American Club should be evaluated and justified.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.3.5 TRIO objectives will be moved from responsibilities to objectives to emphasise their importance. They will remain within the STC's Performance Management Agreement (PMA). The TRIO Champion already promotes and reinforces best practices. Effective July 2008.

3.3.6 It is important to highlight that, while the STC's uses the American Club occasionally for hospitality, the High Commission uses the Club on regular occasions for large catering events. The team will reassess current justification for membership, in order to offer recommendations to the new management team (July 2008). In process.

3.4 Work Planing

3.4.1 The presence of large annual or biannual trade shows drives a significant portion of the work of the Section. These shows serve a valuable purpose and attract business people and TCs from around the region and constitute a source of new contacts for sectoral officers. While there is no specific program of outcalls in place, there are follow-up activities occurring. The frequency and scale of these events, however, can consume a significant portion of officer's time. Within this environment, there is a need to ensure that sufficient energy remains devoted to proactive objectives.

3.4.2 There is a need for officers to translate the high-level objectives stated in IBD Action Plans into actionable workplans. These workplans should articulate the who, what, when and why and include specific companies and individuals to meet. There should also be an indication of where HOM or STC involvement in outcalls is required. It will also be important for sector officers to work together with the TCs responsible for S T and investment, in to order to incorporate departmental priorities into their sector workplans.

Recommendation to the Mission

3.4.3 In conjunction with the STC, each officer should develop a workplan for their priority sector(s), including a program of outcalls to collect competitive intelligence and business leads. Working with the respective officers, the workplans should include S T and Investment components and specify where STC and HOM support or accompaniment is required.

Mission Action and Timeframe

3.4.3 Officers are drafting work plans for priority sectors, flowing from the IBD business plan. Plans include an outcall program, quantifiable deliverables and multi-functional components, and specify required support from functional colleagues, STC and HOM. Two out of five work plans are in place, with the three others being finalized by the end of July 2008.

3.5 Investment and Science and Technology

3.5.1 The Country Strategy indicates a focus on unlocking potential for Southeast Asia value chains, S T collaboration, strategic investment/partnerships and the Asia-Pacific Gateway. More effort, however, is needed to translate these general concepts into practical objectives. Such practical objectives in the areas of S T and investment would facilitate the development of targeted workplans. The STC sees potential to address this with the help of the new CBS position this summer. The development of a targeted outcall plan will lead to an increased knowledge of the local investment opportunities, given that Singapore is the seat of many multinationals and most large companies are foreign.

3.5.2 Singapore is a base for two of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world. The IBD Program was successful in initiating a major investment from one of these funds two years ago. The Regional Economic Counsellor recently completed an analytical report on these entities, however, the Department may need a more operational assessment. The Investment, Innovation and Sectors (IIT) Branch is currently working to develop a better understanding of how Canada can tap into this significant pool of capital.

Recommendation to the Mission

3.5.3 The Program should establish a plan for investment promotion to take advantage of the opportunities outlined in the Country Strategy and the IBD Plan.

Mission Action and Timeframe

3.5.3 The new CBS position will be responsible for setting up and implementing an active investment program starting in September 2008.

3.6 Regional Officers

3.6.1 The STC in Singapore provides oversight for two regional officers; one Agriculture and Agri-food and the other a Regional Economic Counsellor. In all cases, these regional officers must lead horizontally and exercise caution when tasking and working with officers under the supervision of various program managers. The current officers have *** managed this relationship,***.

Regional Agriculture and Agri-food Counsellor

3.6.2 The Regional Agricultural and Agri-food (AAFC) Counsellor provides leadership and support to TCs in the region who have agriculture related priority sectors. While there is no formal mandate for the position, the Officer has brought a coordinated approach to the regional presence of AAFC. Through liaison with STCs at regional posts the Officer has *** for his role as a coach, mentor and team leader for agricultural resources in the region.

3.6.3 The regional approach does provide a benefit to TCs in the region, as the Officer in Singapore has the experience and understanding of Canadian Agriculture and Agri-food that facilitates the provision of advice on dealing with issues and interventions when necessary.

Recommendation to the World Markets - Asia and Americas Bureau (WMA)

3.6.4 WMA should liaise with AAFC to obtain a formal mandate statement regarding the roles and responsibilities of the Regional Agricultural Officer.

WMA Action and Timeframe

3.6.4 WMA is in contact with the returning Regional Agricultural Officer at AAFC, and is in the process of coordinating work on the mandate statement.

Regional Economic Counsellor

3.6.5 The Regional Economic Counsellor is resident in Singapore, but provides reporting for all of ASEAN. Direction and guidance for this and other economic reporting positions was provided in writing in December 2007 and via the ECOFIN Conference in March 2008. The Counsellor has *** translated the direction received into workplans by liaising with regional missions and leveraging the contents of the respective reporting contracts. The Geographic, the Mission and the Officer, however, noted a lack of clarity with regards to the position's mandate, role and reporting relationships at post.

3.6.6 There were also indications that more frequent and regular interaction with clients is needed to provide feedback on the quality and appropriateness of the reports. While officers should be expected to adapt to the local environments and identify items of interest, greater direction from HQ and clients may be needed to ensure mandates remain clear and activities meet the needs of clients. There is an opportunity for the Economic Policy Bureau (GED) to provide this leadership and coordination.

3.6.7 The inspection also identified two resource issues which need to be addressed; travel and administrative support. Both the Mission and the Geographic noted the position was unfunded for travel, currently $15,000 per year. This is important as the nature of the Officers responsibilities requires him to travel frequently. At present the travel is being funded by the Mission. Travel funds for this position should, however, be provided by GED.

3.6.8 With regards to administrative support, the Officer has been utilizing a portion of a TCA to help with general support and travel logistics. The arrival of a new CBS officer this summer, however, will change the support requirements of the IBD Program, potentially leaving the Officer without administrative support. Consideration is being given to allowing the Officer to utilize a portion of the GR Program's administrative support position. This remains unresolved, as the GR Program in Singapore is losing its CBS Assistant this summer, and arrangements for LES support have not yet been finalized.

3.6.9 During consultations with GED, it was noted that the Bureau was considering a proposal for another regional economic reporting position. It will be important that any such proposal take into consideration the full costs of the position, including travel, hospitality and administrative support.

Recommendations to GED

3.6.10 The funding for travel requirements for the Regional Economic Counsellor in Singapore should be provided by GED rather than from the Mission budget.

3.6.11 GED should ensure that the governance structure (mandate, roles and responsibilities, reporting relationships, etc.) surrounding the regional economic officer position in Singapore is communicated to the Mission.

GED Actions and Timeframes

3.6.10 GED has discussed with the Geographic and is of the opinion that travel funds for the Regional Economic Counsellor position should not come from Headquarters but that the Mission should budget accordingly.

3.6.11 GED will work with the Mission to clarify governance structure for the Regional Economic Counsellor. GED plans to have a note to discuss with the Mission in September 2008. In the meantime GED will discuss with the Ambassador-designate who will have a particular interest in the work of the Regional Economic Counsellor.

3.7 APEC Evaluations Officer

3.7.1 The Mission's organizational chart also includes an APEC Evaluations Officer, notionally reporting to the HOM, with side responsibilities to the Regional Economic Counsellor. The LES Officer is actually on "loan" to the APEC Secretariat as a part of Canada's contribution. The Inspection Team was unable to locate any Terms of Reference or similar document outlining the basis upon which the resource was provided. The individual serves the needs of the Secretariat and is currently working as the Director of Communications and Public Affairs. The Mission has not received any taskings with regards to the Officer as interactions are generally conducted by GED. The Mission's interaction with the Officer is generally limited to payroll, and the receipt of her annual appraisal and leave balances. As the position appears on the Mission's organizational chart and all salary and administrative aspects are conducted by Mission Administration, the Officer is an employee of the government of Canada. This could raise concerns as to the Department's liability if anything were to happen on the job. While a written agreement may exist, none was provided to the Inspection Team.

3.7.2 The Inspection Team expected more frequent and regular contact between the Mission and the Officer to be occurring. The Team recognizes, however, that the Officer's current role may not be advantageous from a reporting and intelligence perspective. As the Department is looking to increase its presence abroad, consideration will need to be given to whether or not the position on loan to the Secretariat remain LES, or be converted to a CBS position. Consideration must also be given to the role this officer plays in the organization and the way it is utilized by the Department to facilitate reporting and the furthering of Canadian objectives within APEC. There will also be a need to establish a system for monitoring activities and results, whether by HQ or through the Mission.

Recommendations to HLD

3.7.3 HLD should review the terms under which the LES APEC Evaluations Officer is loaned to the Secretariat, to ensure the arrangement adheres to the LES employment terms and regulations.

HLD Action and Timeframe

3.7.3 HLD will review the terms under which the LES APEC Evaluations Officer was loaned to the Secretariat and will ensure that they adhere to the LES Employment regulations. Timeframe is end of August 2008.

Recommendation to GED

3.7.4 GED should revisit the arrangement under which the APEC Evaluations Officer is provided to the Secretariat as well as the role the position plays within the organization.

GED Action and Timeframe

3.7.4 GED is aware that the current arrangement is something of an anomaly which was initially undertaken some years ago to minimise expenses. As part of the DFAIT re-alignment exercise, GED hopes to turn this position into a proper secondment to the APEC Secretariat which is what all other APEC members do. There would, however, be resource implications to this move and such a transformation is unlikely to occur before the current incumbent's term expires ***.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is overseen by the MCO, while the day-to-day management of the Program is undertaken by the DMCO. The LES complement consists of an LE-08 Consular Officer, an LE-06 Consular Assistant, and back up support provided by the LE-04 Receptionist. This Program is *** managed and has *** staff.

4.1.2 Service standards, fee schedules, client feedback forms, Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) information procedures, and passport application forms are all available to clients in both official languages. Consular staff ensure that client feedback forms are distributed when services are provided and are encouraging clients to complete them.

4.1.3 The DMCO was provided passport training and was certified to authorize passport issuance. The MCO, LES Consular Officer, LES Consular Assistant, and the Receptionist have completed the 25 hour on-line training, however at the time of the inspection they had not yet completed the certification exam.

Recommendation to the Mission

4.1.4 The MCO, LES Consular Officer, LES Consular Assistant, and the Receptionist should arrange to take the Passport Management Program exam.

Mission Action and Timeframe

4.1.4 The MCO, LES Consular Officer, LES Consular Assistant and LES Receptionist/Telephonist undertook the passport evaluation on June 6, 2008.

4.1.5 The passport inventory, related documents, and supplies were physically counted and reconciled as part of the inspection. No variation in inventory levels was noted, however, the Mission should ensure that only a limited working supply of passport materials be retained outside the High Secure Zone (HSZ). Any materials taken from the supply stored in the HSZ should be signed out appropriately.

4.1.6 Currently, the majority of passport applications are only being seen by LES. CBS officers are requested to view documents only if LES members question authenticity or condition. Either the MCO or DMCO should approve applications after having viewed original documentation. ***. Further to Passport Canada's instructions, either the MCO or DMCO should be assuming the authorization function for passport entitlement.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.1.7 The Mission should ensure that only a limited working supply of passport materials is retained outside the HSZ. Any materials taken from the supply stored in the HSZ should be signed out appropriately.

4.1.8 The MCO or DMCO should physically review primary documents (birth certificate, citizenship card, etc.) as part of the application review process prior to authorizing passport issuance.

4.1.9 The MCO or DMCO should be providing the authorization function for passport entitlement.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.1.7 Action taken as recommended. Effective June 2008.

4.1.8 Action taken as recommended. Both MCO and/or DMCO are reviewing primary documents as part of the application review process prior to authorizing passport issuance. Effective June 2008.

4.1.9 Action taken as recommended. MCO or DMCO are now providing authorization function. Effective June 2008.

4.1.10 Consular staff are being tasked to process foreign visa application requests and diplomatic identification documents (I.D.) submissions to local government on behalf of CBS and their families. This function could be undertaken by another area within the Administration Program (for example, the Customs and General Services Assistant), reducing the workload on Consular/Passport staff.

Recommendation to the Mission

4.1.11 Processing of foreign visa applications and diplomatic I.D. requests should be undertaken by an area within the Administration Program.

Mission Action and Timeframe

4.1.11 Processing of foreign visa applications and diplomatic I.D. requests will be reviewed when the new MCO arrives. To be completed, September 2008.

4.1.12 Succession planning to deal with the eventual retirement of the LES Consular Officer (***) should be addressed and a schedule implemented to identify a qualified candidate and to provide the necessary hand-over and training.

Recommendation to the Mission

4.1.13 A plan to deal with the eventual retirement of the LES Consular Officer should be developed in order for the Mission to identify and train a qualified candidate for replacement.

Mission Action and Timeframe

4.1.13 Currently the LES Consular Assistant is being trained to take over the Consular Officer's position. A competition to staff her position will be held once the current Officer retires. Effective May 2008.

4.1.14 Presently, the Receptionist is receiving passport applications from clients along with the required payment for services. The Receptionist performs an initial screening of the application and reviews documents to ensure completeness prior to passing the application, documents and payment onto the Consular Assistant. The client is not, however provided with an official receipt until after the Consular Assistant has reviewed and verified the application. This places undo risk on both the Receptionist and the Consular Assistant in the event of any discrepancy occurring regarding amounts of cash being received as part of the service. The Mission should purchase a cash register in order to facilitate the receipt and processing of Consular and Passport revenues.

4.1.15 Revenues are currently being stored in a cash box ***. Using a cash register (which can be locked) will alleviate this risk and will allow for a receipt to be provided to the client as soon as monies are provided for payment of services.

4.1.16 The Consular Assistant transfers all revenues collected to the Finance Section ***. An official receipt is not provided until later ***. The Finance Section should issue an official receipt for deposits immediately upon receipt of cash from any source.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.1.17 The Mission should purchase a cash register in order to facilitate the receipt and processing of Consular and Passport revenues.

4.1.18 A receipt should be issued to the client as soon as monies are provided for services.

4.1.19 The Finance Section should issue an official receipt for deposits immediately upon receipt of cash from any source.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.1.17 Mission is currently sourcing local purchase of cash registers. To be completed, August 2008.

4.1.18 Receipts are now being issued on receipt of funds. Effective June 2008.

4.1.19 Finance Section is now issuing official receipts immediately upon receipt of cash from any source. Effective June 2008.

4.1.20 Consular staff are responsible for notarial services to clients. They use an electric typewriter to prepare documents for this purpose however the typewriter is not in good working condition. Consideration should be given to replacement of this unit in order for staff to have the necessary tools with which to do their work.

Recommendation to the Mission

4.1.21 A replacement electric typewriter should be purchased to replace the present unit which is defective.

Mission Action And Timeframe

4.1.21 The Mission is currently sourcing the replacement of electric typewriter locally. To be completed, July 2008.

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Administration Program is managed by the MCO (AS-06) assisted by the DMCO and 11 LES. The MCO and DMCO act as the Mission Security Officer (MSO) and Deputy MSO respectively. Overall the Program was found to be functioning *** and clients indicated that staff were ***.

Examples of good practices used by the Program include:

  • The comprehensive new CBS briefings and orientation packages;
  • The documented procedures for hiring emergency contractors; and,
  • The user-friendly hospitality spreadsheet.

5.1.2 Bi-weekly Administration Program meetings are held, including section heads and the two MCOs. While the DMCO is primarily responsible for the Consular Program and Property Section, the MCO meets daily with the DMCO to keep him abreast of the other functional areas and to provide mentoring for this first posting officer. The last few years were busy for the Mission with the Chancery construction in 2005 and the move in 2006. The move to the new premises last year provided the Program with an opportunity to review systems and procedures and take the opportunity to address items such as updating all job descriptions and other files.

5.1.3 The Mission is designated as a medical evacuation centre for CBS in the region, although as of January 2008 the Overseas Medical Services Section will no longer make hotel bookings and other logistical arrangements for staff coming to Singapore for medical needs. The LE-05 Program Assistant was given this new responsibility and the Program is examining the job package and workload to determine if some tasks should be redistributed. To date circumstances have prevented the Program Assistant from attending the Assistant to the Head of Program training held in HQ; this should be provided at the next opportunity. The Program may also wish to look at the human resource training provided by HQ given her role in the function.

5.1.4 As the hub mission, Singapore provides consular, administrative and security support to the spoke mission in Bandar Seri Begawan. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining responsibilities was reviewed and updated in March 2007. While the Mission has been providing training and has been in regular communication with the two newly hired LES staff in Bandar Seri Begawan tasked with consular and administration responsibilities, the Inspection Team's visit to Bandar Seri Begawan highlighted a need for regular on-site visits to the spoke to review systems and processes and ensure key controls are exercised. These visits should be in addition to visits to provide coverage during absences of the Bandar Seri Begawan HOM.

5.1.5 The Mission currently provides a shuttle run to transport CBS to and from the Chancery on workdays. There are good controls over reimbursement for this service however, it was unclear as to the rationale for its need. The usual reasons for creating such a policy are security concerns and inadequate transportation alternatives, neither of which are currently an issue. The Mission should consult with the Strategic Policy, Planning and Monitoring Division (AEF) regarding the appropriateness of retaining this practice.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.6 The Program should re-examine the job package of the Program Assistant.

5.1.7 The Program should register the Program Assistant for program assistant and human resource training in HQ.

5.1.8 The Mission should schedule regular visits to Bandar Seri Begawan to ensure that MOU responsibilities are completed and provide guidance on process and systems and monitoring of key controls.

5.1.9 The Mission should consult with AEF regarding the appropriateness of retaining the shuttle run.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.6 The job package will be re-examined when the new MCO arrives. To be completed, September 2008.

5.1.7 The Program Assistant will be registered for training when the course is offered in February 2009.

5.1.8 The Mission is sending its LES Customs and General Services Assistant to Bandar Seri Begawan at end of June 2008 to provide assistance with the HOM's relocation process, customs issues, unclassified diplomatic bags as well as other related services. Mission will schedule future visits when new MCO arrives. To be completed, September 2008.

5.1.9 Mission has already provided a detailed cost analysis of the viability of continuing the shuttle run. This along with further substantiating information will be forwarded to AEF for continuation of the run once the new MCO arrives. To be completed, September 2008.

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 Human Resource management at the Mission is the responsibility of the MCO, assisted by the Program Assistant. The Mission also contracts a Community Co-ordinator. As with other missions, concerns were raised with the timing of the six month contract, as the Community Coordinator does not start early enough to effectively assist with the initial contacts with incoming CBS. The shorter timeframe has also made recruitment more difficult.

5.2.2 With the expanding expatriate population in Singapore, the Mission noted that securing spaces in quality schools is becoming a challenge. The Mission plans to continue to monitor the situation and report back to HQ should debentures be required.

5.2.3 Procedures have been developed for employees who service the public but do not have a working capacity in both official languages. Given the difficulty in recruiting French speaking LES, training for specific individuals should be part of the mission-wide training plan that is being developed. The Mission should also be aware of the need for key internal written communications to be conducted in both official languages.

5.2.4 The anticipated transfer of CIC positions to Dhaka, has lead to the filling of positions with emergency contractors as vacancies occur. The CIC Program has done so as it is problematic to hire longer term employees given the difficulty in establishing the final move date. The constant hiring and training of personnel (given time constraints for working at the Mission) is burdensome to both the Administration and CIC programs. While this is understandable in Singapore, given the context of the upcoming transfer of positions, these same challenges are also found elsewhere. As workload demands on CIC programs increase, many missions find they are understaffed to meet these demands. As the creation of FTE positions has associated overhead costs, an expedient solution is to use emergency employees. This however impacts the Administration and CIC programs given the continual need to recruit and train with the constant rotation of these employees.

5.2.5 The PMP process has been rolled out at the Mission and staff have completed their reviews. Overall filing is up-to-date, however there should be separate position files showing the progression of each position (though this information is available by searching through individuals' files). When the new HOM arrives in the summer of 2008, letters of offer should be signed by the HOM rather than the MCO as is currently done.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.6 A plan for the review and update of all staff job descriptions should be developed so that workload can be spread over several years.

5.2.7 French language training for key individuals should be included in the mission-wide training plan.

5.2.8 Key internal messages should be communicated in both official languages.

5.2.9 A separate file for each position should be kept to track the progression of the position.

5.2.10 Letters of offer to new employees should be signed by the HOM rather than the MCO.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.6 LES job descriptions have already been updated and workload re-allocated as required within the Management and Consular Programs. However, the Program recognises the need to continue with this exercise therefore will continue to review the workloads and make adjustments as required. Ongoing, December 2008.

5.2.7 French language training for key individuals will be included in the mission-wide training plan. To be completed, October 2008.

5.2.8 Mission will action as required. Effective June 2008.

5.2.9 Separate position files are now being created. Completion date October 2008.

5.2.10 All letters of offer are now and will continue to be signed by the HOM. Effective June 2008.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The day-to-day activities of the Property, Maintenance and Materiel Services Section are managed by the DMCO who provides *** leadership and guidance to Section staff. Clear policies and guidelines are in place to ensure a *** level of service is delivered to its clients. The Section manages a Crown-leased Chancery, a Crown-leased Official Residence, six Crown-owned Staff Quarters (SQs), as well as 11 Crown-leased SQs. Lease costs for the Mission account for approximately 70% of the overall Mission's operational budget. While the Program is considered to be *** managed, there are a number of compliance issues that should be addressed to ensure adherence to regulations and procedures.

5.3.2 Occupancy agreements and inventories for the OR and all SQs are up to date. The Mission should ensure that the HOM continues to sign all occupancy agreements as the senior officer of the Mission as there were a few on file which were signed off by the DMCO.

5.3.3 There is a formal system in place for the Mission to recover a specific percentage of consumable items, purchased on behalf of the OR (25%), which are for the personal use of the HOM and his family. A second internet line is provided at the OR and is paid for by the Mission as it is required ***.

5.3.4 The Mission has a long range capital acquisition plan in place for the replacement of major electrical equipment/appliances and furnishings for the Chancery, OR, and SQs. SQs that were visited are considered to be well maintained and of appropriate size for family configurations.

5.3.5 The OR is well maintained by the Mission however there are a few repair and maintenance issues that should be addressed prior to the change of occupant which will occur this summer. The landlord should be requested to undertake these repairs as part of his obligations under the terms and conditions of the existing lease.

5.3.6 The Materiel Section is providing third country purchase assistance on behalf of the missions located in Islamabad, New Delhi, and Dhaka. These services consume approximately 10% of the Materiel Assistant's time, however, they are not interfering with service to Mission clients.

5.3.7 The inventory of assets for the Chancery has not been undertaken since the move to the new Chancery in 2006. The Mission should arrange to complete this distribution account inventory record. The MCO or DMCO should sign off on the common service areas of this inventory in order to assume custodial responsibility.

5.3.8 The Mission maintains a stationary and supply storage facility within the Chancery although there is no formal inventory of stock on hand, nor is there a record of issuance. The Mission should arrange to verify supplies on hand and to update this list as supplies are either consumed or replenished.

5.3.9 While inventories of furnishings and equipment are maintained for the OR and SQs, the Mission is not currently using Materiel Transfer Vouchers when there is any movement/replacement of assets once the initial inventory has been signed off. The distribution account holder must sign for all transfers (in and out) in order to accept responsibility. The Mission should be encouraged to purchase and implement an electronic assets management program to provide real-time information regarding location and value of assets on hand, as well as assist in long-range acquisition planning.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.10 The Mission should ensure that the HOM signs occupancy agreements for all staff as the senior officer of the Mission.

5.3.11 The Mission should arrange to complete the distribution account inventory record for the Chancery as soon as possible. The MCO or DMCO should sign off on the common service areas of this inventory in order to assume custodial responsibility.

5.3.12 The Mission should arrange to verify stationary supplies on hand and to update this list as supplies are either consumed or replenished.

5.3.13 The Mission should ensure that Materiel Transfer Vouchers (EXT 182) are completed when there is any movement of assets once the initial inventory has been signed by the distribution account holder.

5.3.14 The Mission should investigate the implementation of an electronic assets management program.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.10 All occupancy agreements will be signed by the HOM. Effective June 2008.

5.3.11 The inventory of the Chancery furniture and furnishings is currently underway. To be completed, October 2008.

5.3.12 Mission's stationery supplies will be verified once summer rotation is completed. To be completed, October 2008.

5.3.13 Mission Transfer Vouchers (EXT 182) are now being completed. Effective June 2008.

5.3.14 Mission will implement the electronic assets management program as soon as current testing at HQ is completed. Expected September 2008.

5.3.15 Vehicle logs are being maintained for the four official vehicles within the Mission fleet. However, a monthly reconciliation of gas purchases and mileage driven was not completed. The DMCO should complete such reconciliations in order to attest to the validity of information and to ensure that vehicles are being serviced to achieve maximum performance and fuel efficiency.

Recommendation to the Mission

5.3.16 A monthly verification and reconciliation of fuel consumption and vehicle mileage rates should be undertaken by the DMCO.

Mission Action And Timeframe

5.3.16 DMCO is now doing monthly reconciliations of gas purchases against mileage rates. Effective June 2008.

5.3.17 Crown assets disposal sales are conducted on a regular basis by the Mission. Goods are sold through a silent auction. Foreign embassies, businesses, and Mission staff are invited to participate in these sales. There have been occasions where administrative staff directly involved in the original purchase or the disposal process have been allowed to purchase surplus assets. All efforts should be taken by the Mission to ensure that guidelines regarding the disposal of crown assets are adhered to in order to eliminate any possible conflict of interest in this regard.

5.3.18 Upon further review of Crown asset disposal files, it was discovered that the DMCO has been signing off as authority for donations of surplus assets to charitable organizations. The HOM is the only person at the Mission who has authority to sign for donation of surplus assets, limited to assets with an original value of less than $200. Any assets which are being considered for donation with an original value over $200 must receive the Physical Resources Bureau (ARD) approval. Copies of donation documentation should be forwarded to ARD for their files.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.19 The Mission should ensure that guidelines regarding the disposal of Crown assets are strictly applied in order to eliminate any possible conflict of interest.

5.3.20 The HOM should sign off on any surplus assets being donated to charitable organizations which are valued below $200. The Mission should seek prior authority from ARD when such assets are valued in excess of $200. Copies of donation documentation should be forwarded to ARD for their files.

Mission Actions And Timeframes

5.3.19 Mission will ensure that guidelines regarding the disposal of crown assets are strictly applied in future.

5.3.20 In future HOM will sign off on all surplus assets which are being donated to charitable organizations and which are valued below $200. Mission will also seek prior authority from ARD for items over $200. Effective June 2008.

5.3.21 The Mission has an active Housing Committee in place. All recommendations are well documented and are sent to the HOM for approval. Although the Housing Committee is formed on a voluntary basis, the HOM should formally appoint the Chairperson for this committee in writing.

Recommendation to the Mission

5.3.22 The HOM should formally appoint the Chairperson of the Housing Committee and advise this person in writing.

Mission Action And Timeframe

5.3.22 HOM has formally appointed the Chairperson of the Housing Committee and the individual has been informed in writing. Effective June 2008.

5.3.23 Presently, all requests for maintenance are being submitted to the Property Assistant in e-mail format. The Property Assistant then converts these requests to a work order form manually. While Headquarters is pursuing the possible rollout of a corporate service request system, the Mission is encouraged to implement an electronic service order request system in order to streamline this process should there be delays with the corporate rollout.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The MCO (as the Mission Financial Officer (MFO)) manages the Finance function in the Mission with the assistance of an LE-07 Senior Accountant, an LE-05 Accountant and an LE-04 Assistant Accountant. The Section also processes the accounts for Bandar Seri Begawan.

5.4.2 Appropriate processes and controls are in place as evidenced by:

  • Proper exercising of signing authorities;
  • Sufficient segregation of duties;
  • Up-to-date bank reconciliations reviewed by management;
  • Routine monitoring and distribution of budgets to program managers;
  • Effective controls over the receipt and payment of funds; and,
  • Well organized files.

5.4.3 The Program has been monitoring its reference levels closely given the high costs (particularly property rentals) of operating in Singapore. With a new budgeting process and limited instruction from HQ to-date, (separating common services and program budgets), the Mission wants to clarify with HQ the following in order to be able to appropriately separate the reference level:

  • If the reference level top-up from fiscal year 2007-2008 is permanent;
  • The need to be compensated for rental costs for new staff quarters following the sale of the owned staff quarters in 2004 and 2007;
  • The need to be compensated for the new IBD CBS position and the transfer of the EDC CBS position and LES position;
  • The need to adjust for the elimination of the CBS GR Assistant position;
  • The need to be compensated for the creation of the LES GR assistant should the business case be accepted; and
  • The need to be compensated for the Economic Counsellor's travel expenses (approximately $15,000 annually being used from the Mission's reference level).

5.4.4 As of April 2008, the Mission is now using the purchase order function of the Materiel Management (MM) module of IMS. Given that the Mission does purchasing for other missions in the region, the Section is clarifying with HQ the process for who does the purchase order. The Mission needs to claim receipt in order to pay the invoice but how does the ordering mission indicate receipt when the goods arrive there.

5.4.5 In the pre-inspection briefing with Financial Operations-International (SMFF), it was noted that LES with designated signing authority do not have access to training on this responsibility from the Canada Public Service School. Given the importance of this function, the Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI) should develop training for LES designated with section 32, 33 and 34 signing authority. As noted in other reports, the accountants expressed a desire for more mid-career “training” such as regional conferences to discuss procedures, best practices, etc.

Recommendation to CFSI

5.4.6 CFSI should develop training for LES designated with section 32, 33 and 34 signing authority.

CFSI Action and Timeframe

5.4.6 DFAIT Financial Management Signing Authorities Chart online course currently exists. As soon as the new chart has been approved Centre for Corporate Services Learning (CFSS) will be updating this course. Prior to that if information is provided, this product can be adapted by including information on what is deemed missing and have it ready to launch by the end of September 2008.

5.4.7 While processes and procedures within the Section are appropriate, improvements could be made by implementing the following recommendations.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.4.8 To provide additional control to the bank reconciliation process, the original bank statement should be delivered to and opened by the MCO or DMCO directly.

5.4.9 To improve the process regarding petty cash, the MCO or DMCO should conduct periodic spot checks on petty cash accounts.

5.4.10 To simplify the process of paying meal allowances to the OR staff, it should be paid directly to them rather than through the HOM.

5.4.11 While signing authorities are being exercised, the process for obtaining section 33 and 34 signatures can be cumbersome as at times the Section is obtaining a second set of signatures which duplicates effort and dilutes accountability. The Program should examine ways to streamline its section 33 and 34 signing process.

5.4.12 While the CRB is in place and operating effectively, it meets virtually. Occasional meetings should be held by members to ensure that all follow the process consistently, to discuss trends, etc.

5.4.13 The Finance Section should immediately issue official receipts to individual submitting Consular or CIC revenue rather than verifying transactional detail and issuing the official receipt later.

5.4.14 The Mission should ensure staff track long distance calls made so that official calls can be approved by managers.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.8 Original bank statements are now being opened by MCO or DMCO. Effective June 2008.

5.4.9 MCO or DMCO will conduct spot checks of all Petty Cash Accounts. Effective June 2008.

5.4.10 OR staff are now being paid directly. Effective June 2008.

5.4.11 The Program is currently examining ways to streamline its section 33 and 34 signing process. This will be reviewed again once the new MCO arrives. To be completed, September 2008.

5.4.12 The CRB has met to review contracts and will continue to do so as required. Effective June 2008.

5.4.13 The Finance Section is now issuing Official Receipts when funds are submitted by the CIC and Consular sections. Effective June 2008.

5.4.14 The Mission has introduced a tracking system in order to track long distance calls which requires program managers to approve all official calls. Effective May 2008.

Recommendation to SMFF

5.4.15 SMFF should provide an update to missions on the status of the reclassification of mission accounting staff.

SMFF Action and Timeframe

5.4.15 SMFF have completed the benchmark for all LES Accountant classification levels on April 16, 2008 and a message was sent by the Corporate Finance, Planning and Systems Bureau (SMD) to all mission accountants explaining that HLD was reviewing the benchmark. On May 8, 2008 HLD sent the LES Accountant benchmarks to a few missions for their comments. Comments from the missions were submitted to SMFF on June 24, 2008 and changes required to the benchmarks will be completed on July 15, 2008 and sent to HLD. HLD will form review committees that will be tasked to classify them. These committees will be composed of members of HLD and Financial Operations, Domestic and International (SMF) and mission representatives. The completion date for this exercise will be communicated to the missions and should be completed by the fall of 2008.

5.5 Information Technology (IT)

5.5.1 Information Technology at the Mission is provided by a LE-07 Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP) and a LE-09 LEITP (who supports Bandar Seri Begawan and assists with Phnom Phenh), with general oversight provided by the MCO. Regional support is provided by a Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) in Kuala Lumpur. The Mission also houses the Client Support Regional Manager (CSRM) for Asia (CS-04) however these duties do not include the day-to-day management and delivery of the IT function.

5.5.2 The IT Section has developed a workplan for fiscal year 2008-2009. The team documents uncommon repair or special procedures in a “Tips and Tricks” binder as a reference and learning tool. To aid users the team also maintains a list of quick solutions for common problems that all staff can access on the shared drive. The Mission noted that the monthly conference call with all Information Technology Professionals (ITPs) in the region works very well for information sharing

5.5.3 The Mission has been investigating the use of a software for workorder processing. As HQ has been working to standardize a departmental version, expected to be rolled out in the spring 2008, the Mission has been requested to wait until certification is complete.

5.5.4 In the past the Mission had a Information Management (IM)/IT Committee but it was disbanded. It would be useful to recreate this Committee in order to examine IM/IT requirements such as the clean up of the shared drive and use of InfoBank. Currently only a few staff are using the InfoBank system and there is a planned upgrade next fiscal year. It would also bring visibility to the IT Section and the services it offers.

5.5.5 The new Chancery does not have a training room, but with the transfer of some of the CIC positions (likely next fiscal year), there could be space available to create one. This would allow the Mission to identify training needs that could be met internally.

5.5.6 The Section maintains inventories of assets and conducts back-ups as required. However, some back-up tapes are being stored ***. Ideally these should be stored ***. The Mission should obtain a fire-proof safe for these tapes and find another location for their storage.

5.5.7 With the Mission soon to become a one-CBS Assistant post the Mission will be discussing the following concerns with HQ:

  • That staff being assigned with secure communications duties receive training prior to arrival, particularly in missions without in-house FSITPs;
  • The increased frequency of FSITP visits that may required; and
  • If it would be possible for “technical” bags for Bandar Seri Begawan to be shipped to Kuala Lumpur for onward transmission with the FSITP when he visits the mission rather than through Singapore. This would allow the FSITP to verify the equipment first and reduce pressure on Singapore to do extra bag runs.
Recommendations to the Mission

5.5.8 The Mission should reinstitute the IM/IT Committee.

5.5.9 The Mission should consider the creation of a training room.

5.5.10 The Mission should obtain a fireproof safe in which to store back-up tapes ***.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.11 The IM/IT Committee will be reinstituted on the arrival of the new MCO. To be completed, August 2008.

5.5.9 Mission will look at the feasibility of creating an IT training room once the Dhaka move takes place. However, the Mission is sceptical of the utility of a training facility as the one in another regional mission is not well used.

5.5.10 The acquisition of a fire proof safe to store back-up tapes is being investigated. To be completed, October 2008.


5.5.14 The summer of 2008 will see the deletion of the CSRM position in New Delhi and the transfer of responsibilities to other CSRMs. As a result, Singapore's CSRM will be responsible for 54 ITPs from Afghanistan to New Zealand, which covers 8 ½ time zones. Given that two departmental priorities, China and India (both where representation is growing), will now be part of the Asia territory the new workload demands for the CSRM will need to be monitored. Once the transfer and the new posting cycle are completed the CSRM will be reviewing the regional coverage within the territory. This will impact some missions who will need to adapt to the reality that an FSITP located at their mission is not their own.

5.5.15 The CSRM highlighted the following areas of concern for consideration by HQ:

  • No training program for staff designated SIGNET Support Assistants (SSAs);
  • That CRSMs should be able to provide third party input to ITPs' PMPs before been submitted to the reviewing officer
  • What role should a CSRM play in their home mission (ie could they be assigned duties such as Deputy MSO);
  • That despite the amalgamation of CS and EL staff into FSITPs, given position eliminations and workload pressures some FSITPs end up focussing on EL work and leave SIGNET work to LEITPs and as a result are no longer up-to-date on SIGNET issues; and
  • That given the number of systems and only eight weeks of training, some former CSs do not get consistent exposure to MITNET to feel comfortable with certain duties and so there may be a reliance on HQ or regional experts.

Appendix A: Audit Scope and Objectives

The scope of the inspection included a review of Mission management and the General Relations, International Business Development, Consular and Administration programs.

The inspection objectives were to:

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

The focus and extent of on-site work was based on an assessment of materiality and related risk. This was done through communication with 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 inspection, inspection issues and lines of enquiry were further refined from information gathered through interviews with the HOM and program managers, a meeting with the LES Committee, individual interviews with staff, and results of other documentation reviewed. The level of inspection work was therefore based on issues and information identified and gathered at all levels, HQ, Mission management and Mission operations.

Appendix B: Mission Resources Fact Sheet

Table 1: Mission Resources Fact Sheet of Physical Resources
Physical Resources
AssetsCrown OwnedCrown Leased
Official Residence1-
Staff Quarters116

Table 2: Mission Resources Fact Sheet for Financial Information
Financial Information 2007-2008
Operating Budget (N001)$ 2,951,671
Capital Budget (N005)$ 99,680
CBS Salary Budget (N011)$ 830,333
LES Salary Budget (N012)$ 2,226,971

Appendix C: Organization Chart

Organization Chart

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