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Audit of the Canadian High Commission, Yaounde

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(January 2008)

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

An audit of the General Relations (GR), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration programs was conducted in Yaoundé from December 6th to 12th, 2006. The Mission was last audited in February 1999.

Until July 1, 2006, the Embassy in Yaoundé was accredited to Cameroon, Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR). When the Embassy in Gabon was closed on June 30th, 2006, the Mission's territory doubled and it now covers six countries. Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Sao Tomé Principe were added to its area of accreditation. With the exception of one country, Congo, these countries are members of CEMAC (Central African Economic and Monetary Community).

In order to manage the Mission's regional responsibilities ***, the Head of Mission (HOM), in collaboration with the Committee on Mission Management (CMM), is working towards a regional approach for promoting Canadian interests in the Mission's countries of accreditation. This approach requires prioritizing Canada's interests in the territory, along with services provided to Canadians and Canadian companies. These priorities will need to be well clarified in the upcoming country strategy exercise, with input and buy-in from Headquarters, to ensure that expectations are reasonable given the limited resources available to the Mission and the challenges of regional accreditation. It should be noted that no additional personnel were added to the Mission's complement of staff in order to accommodate the increase in territory, and this has a direct impact on what some sections can accomplish, especially the GR Section.

Staff in the General Relations Program are currently facing a workload which is not sustainable in the long term with the present staff levels and depth of coverage. The establishment of tighter regional priorities will help, along with an assessment and re-distribution of workload and individual responsibilities, in order to maximize the time and value added to the activities of each of the Program's officers. The option to repatriate the Mission's Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) visa program to the CIC office in Abidjan should be considered and this additional duty removed from the GR Program Manager's portfolio.

The International Business Development Program has a good understanding of the risks and business opportunities in the region (double taxation agreements, investment protection, stability, corruption) and is thus able to provide information and advice to exporters, and to a lesser degree, to Canadian investors. The Program would benefit from a more active and formalized support structure through the regional Trade Commissioner in Lagos, who should be able to provide assistance with regional strategies as well as specific sectoral expertise, particularly in the hydro-carbon sector.

The Consular Program is assisted by Honorary Consulates in Douala (Cameroon), Chad and Gabon. The recent and unexpected departure of the Honorary Consul in Gabon has necessitated the search for a replacement. A candidate for a fourth Honorary Consul, to be established in Equatorial Guinea, has been selected and is in the final stages of the approval process. In general, the Consular Program functions well, but requires the implementation of several additional controls to ensure the security of passport stock and consular revenues.

The Administration Program, headed by the recently arrived Management and Consular Affairs Officer (MCO), has a large number of issues to be addressed. Many of the problems have arisen from long-standing administrative and management practices that are inefficient and do not comply with departmental policies. Particular and immediate focus should be given to the financial operations of the Mission where a combination of control weaknesses and training gaps have led to behaviours that increase the level of financial risk for fraud and malfeasance.

A total of 80 recommendations were made in the audit report, of which 76 were addressed to the Mission, and four to Headquarters (HQ). Management responded to each recommendation, indicating action or decisions already taken, and future action. Management stated that 65 of the 80 recommendations had been implemented, With respect to the other 15, management noted initiatives under way or planned future action.

Scope, Objectives, Mission Resources

Audit Scope and Objectives

The scope of the audit included a review of Mission Management and the General Relations (GR), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration programs.

The audit objectives were to:

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

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

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

Mission Resources Fact Sheet

Table 1: Mission Resources Fact Sheet of Physical Resources
Physical Resources
AssetsCrown LeasedCrown Owned
Chancery1-
Official Residence1-
Staff Quarters4-
Vehicles-4

Table 2: Financial Information 2006/07
Financial Information 2006/07
Total$1,716,161
Operating Budget (N001)$815,176
Capital Budget (N005)$99,200
CBS Budget (N011)$348,200
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$453,585

Organization Chart

Organization Chart

Mission Management

Overview

1.1 The High Commission in Yaoundé is a small mission with five Canada-Based staff (CBS) and 18 locally-engaged staff (LES). In July 2006, three countries of accreditation (Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tomé Principe) were added, bringing the Mission's territory of responsibility to six countries in total (the others being Cameroon, Chad and the Central African Republic).

1.2 While there was a modest increase in travel and hospitality budgets to accommodate the additional responsibilities, no new positions have been added. As part of the Country Strategy exercise for fiscal year 2007-2008, the Mission intends to request a number of new positions to accommodate the increased workload, primarily in the GR and IBD sections. Given lack of funding for positions available worldwide, the Mission should also carefully examine ways to prioritize its work further, based on current staffing levels.

Regional Strategy

1.3 Given the large territory of accreditation, the Mission has developed a regional strategic plan for 2006-2009. This plan is based on the need to protect and promote Canadian interests throughout the territory, recognizing that the Mission's resources are stretched very thin. The plan identifies three broad goals: (i) regional stability; (ii) prosperity; and (iii) generation of mutual benefits. These ideas and considerations will be re-examined and refined as part of the preparation of the 2007 country strategy, which is to take place in January 2007.

1.4 Building upon the need to assess and prioritize issues on a regional basis, it follows that Program Managers will need to prioritize their workload, and that of their staff, to meet the critical objectives as determined through the Country Strategy exercise. The Mission management team will need to support the realignment of resources and efforts on priority issues and discontinue non-priority tasks.

1.5 The Mission operates in an integrated fashion. Sectoral planning and activities are prepared collaboratively across programs and are incorporated into the Mission's workplan. The CMM discusses not only event planning and current affairs, but also questions of substance. The next country strategy planning exercise (January 2007) will be vital to the Mission's operations as it incorporates an overall approach to the entire region of accreditation.

Recommendation to the Mission

1.6 The Mission should clearly establish priorities, goals and planned activities for each of its countries of accreditation.

Mission Action and Timeframe

1.6 Recommendation implemented. In order to set clear Mission priorities and communicate them, the management team developed a regional strategic plan, which was distributed and discussed at the first interdepartmental meeting on Cameroon, organized by DFAIT and held in Ottawa on January 26, 2007. The plan includes sectoral and geographic priorities, and was the basis for the development of the 2007-2008 country strategy.

Communication and Morale

1.7 Good communication exists at the management level. Aside from the weekly CMM, the HOM also meets individually with Program Managers on a weekly basis to discuss program-specific issues. Communication and collaboration between DFAIT and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) staff *** and, under the HOM's guidance, the Mission is making a concerted effort to approach issues using a whole-of-government approach. Despite the increased workload, morale among Mission staff is generally good, ***.

Administrative practices

1.8 A major challenge for the Mission management team will be to evaluate current ad hoc administrative practices that, through the years, have been allowed to diverge from accepted departmental practices and policies. With the recent arrival of the new HOM and MCO, this is a good opportunity to review practices with a fresh eye, and make changes. Financial operations and human resources should be the starting point for Mission management's review. Given the current state of the Mission's finances, the lack of controls in day-to-day operations, and the training gaps that exist, assistance will be required from HQ and the Corporate Finance, Planning and Systems Bureau (SMD) to address *** and ensure the sustainability of changes implemented. Given the current workload of the MCO and the time required to make the many changes necessary for the *** running of the Administration Program, the Mission Management team will need to prioritize tasks and Audit recommendations based on risk, and request assistance or temporary personnel from Headquarters where required.

Recommendation to the Mission

1.9 Mission Management should create and implement a prioritized and comprehensive plan based on recommendations made in this report, in consultation with HQ (SMD).

Mission Action and Timeframe

1.9 Recommendation implemented. The plan has been developed and its implementation should be completed by the end of 2007-2008. HQ participated in its development and made temporary expert help available to the Mission for the execution of the activities specified in the plan.

Recommendation to SMD

1.10 In order to address the high-risk control weaknesses and staff training deficiencies in the Mission's Finance Section, SMD should send a team to the Mission to assist in restructuring its financial operations and implementing standardized and acceptable practices.

SMD Action and Timeframe

1.10 An SMD financial management team visited the Mission in Yaoundé from May 7 to 17, 2007. During the two weeks, the team conducted a thorough review of the financial management practices followed at the Mission, and stated its opinion on the risks and the controls in place. The administrative staff were then given training in areas identified by staff in Yaoundé and the SMD team.

Reorganization of the financial function was also discussed in detail with Mission management. A work plan was then developed, setting out the changes agreed on and the deadlines for implementation. Follow-up action was taken with the Mission in October 2007.

General Relations Program

Overview

2.1 The General Relations Program (GR) consists of an FS-03 Program Manager and one LE Officer (LE-08). They are temporarily assisted by an emergency employee at the LE-05 level. With its present number of employees, the GR Program cannot cover all of its accreditation territory, even in a minimal way. As a result, the Section has not yet begun to assimilate the new countries of responsibility into the Program in a systematic fashion.

2.2 Despite these challenges, morale within the Program is *** and there is *** team spirit.

Program Management

2.3 In order to respond effectively to the challenges and opportunities within the large territory using the present complement of staff, the Program Manager should conduct a review of the current workload distribution. Responsibilities should be re-assigned with a view to a more effective allocation of duties based on priorities and a more efficient use of time. At present, the workload and responsibility structure is not appropriately shared between the CBS and LES, with the PM handling too large a portion of both GR reporting and administrative duties.

2.4 In addition to managing the Mission's GR Program, the PM delivers the visa program under the direction of the CIC office in Abidjan (ABDJN) and with the on-site support of one locally-engaged employee (LE-06). On average, this responsibility requires approximately one day per week. During busy periods, this function takes about 25-30 percent of his time. Aside from the time involved in managing the process, some visa refusals generate time-consuming complaints from clients to which the Program Manager has to respond.

2.5 The GR Program's budget (travel and hospitality) is insufficient for the amount of work to be accomplished. With current resources, the GR Program can make only occasional regional visits to its area of accreditation (one to Chad and one to Gabon in the last 12 months). It is thus difficult, if not impossible, to evaluate with precision the political environment in these countries or to anticipate how events will unfold. Should an emergency situation arise in Chad or the CAR, the Mission's human and financial resources would likely be insufficient to ensure the protection of Canadian interests.

Recommendations to the Mission

2.6 The Program Manager should delegate of some of the lower priority and more administrative responsibilities, particularly support activities related to the visa program. Increased reporting duties should be assigned to the LES officer, particularly in the area of internal policy.

2.7 The Mission should approach CIC/Abidjan for a formal discussion and decision on the possibility of repatriating the visa program to the CIC Office in Abidjan.

2.8 Travel and hospitality budgets should be reviewed in light of the new demands from increased country accreditations.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.6 Recommendation implemented. A meeting was held between the GR manager and the CIC manager in March 2007, and action was agreed on to reduce the time devoted to the visa program by the former. For example: it was agreed to delegate research requests from CIC investigators to the CIC program assistant, and refer applicants' complaints directly to Abidjan. Follow-up required. The actual implementation of these changes nevertheless remains difficult, and a significant portion of the GR manager's time is still consumed by the CIC program. More reporting duties are now assigned to the LES officer, particularly in the area of internal policy.

2.7 Recommendation implemented. Formal discussions took place in March 2007, and the conclusion was that this option was not advisable for the time being. Adjustments have been made to facilitate procedures. Follow-up required. The GR manager has since noted breakdowns, despite the new arrangements adopted in March 2007. Further discussions based on the lessons learned since then, and workload statistics, will be held with the CIC manager to reassess the repatriation proposal or discuss other ways of improving procedures.

2.8 Recommendation implemented, but decision pending by HQ. The Mission suggested a zero-base budget exercise to HQ (RSA, RSR), in order to determine the minimum budget base needed for Mission operations.

Strategy and Priorities

2.9 The Program has prioritized governance, given the vulnerability of Cameroon and other countries of accreditation ***. Accordingly, the GR Program is focussing on activities that will be most influential in the governance sector. The Mission is taking advantage of the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives from the CIDA Program by making the Fund a mechanism for promoting human rights, democracy and governance as well as development.

Recommendation to the Mission

2.10 The GR Program should adopt a proactive strategy for promoting good governance and combatting corruption. The strategy should include initiatives that promote integrity and a sense of ethics.

Mission Action and Timeframe

2.10 Recommendation implemented. Given Canada's special place as a leader within the Commonwealth, the GR program has adopted a proactive strategy particularly with regard to the electoral process, with the Commonwealth as the cornerstone of the strategy, and to combatting corruption, especially through Canada's deep involvement in the multilateral project dubbed "CHOC", for Changing Habits, Opposing Corruption, which is coordinated by the UNDP. Combatting corruption and promoting integrity and ethics are constant crosscutting themes in all Mission strategies in general, and the GR program in particular.

Operations

2.11 The LES Officer reports on the domestic situation in Cameroon and, when necessary, helps with monitoring priority international issues, including the situation in Chad. ***. The Program Manager endeavours to cover all priority issues and respond quickly and effectively to requests from HQ. However, it is difficult for the Program to tend to all the various issues in the region. Under current circumstances, reporting from the Mission must focus on crucial current issues. The HOM should be included and kept up to date on all reporting.

2.12 At the time of the Audit, much of the GR Program's time was devoted to monitoring and reporting on the volatile situation in Chad. The Program encountered difficulty in gathering information because of challenges in travelling to the region which limit the ability to make contacts and obtain first-hand knowledge.

2.13 The GR Program indicates that press coverage of Canada is good, particularly in the print media, and that articles are generally accurate and often positive. However, the Program is not conducting any assessments that would allow it to make a clearer assessment of the visibility of Canada (or of the Mission) in the Cameroonian press and media. The LES Public Affairs Officer should set up a systematic plan for making contact with the press and media throughout the territory of accreditation.

2.14 At the request of the Mission and given the workload and limited resources within the GR Section, the West and Central Africa Division (RFO) has agreed to assist the Mission on a temporary basis with a temporary duty officer. The prevailing situation in Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) calls for a review of the current level of resources within the GR Section. The Mission should prepare a business case for a junior political position.

Recommendation to the Mission

2.15 The Mission should prepare a business case for an additional junior political position for submission to RFO.

Mission Action and Timeframe

2.15 Recommendation implemented, but decision pending by HQ. The Mission prepared a business case, which was forwarded to HQ (RFO) on January 15, 2007 (section F of the 2007-2008 country strategy). The business case justifies two additional positions for the GR program: one Canadian officer and one LES support position.

International Business Development Program

Overview

3.1 The IBD Program consists of two LES (LE-09 and LE-07) as well as an administrative assistant who was hired through an emergency employment agreement which will expire at the end of March 2007. This assistance has enabled the two local officers to focus their attention on providing the six core services and to begin planning the integration of their new countries of responsibility.

3.2 The Section's programs and activities reflect a focus on the region's priority sectors: energy (especially hydrocarbons), mining, lumber and construction, and agri-food. Its initial reaction to the Mission's enlarged territory of accreditation was to divide the countries and sectors, with the LE-09 Trade Commissioner responsible for Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the energy sector in Cameroon and the LE-07 Trade Commissioner responsible for Chad, the CAR, Sao Tomé and the construction and agri-food sectors in Cameroon.

3.3 Since Chad and the CAR are difficult to travel to and will remain marginal with respect to trade as long as the instability persists, the division of responsibilities between the two officers should be adjusted, with the LE-07 Officer taking on temporary responsibility for Gabon.

Recommendation to the Mission

3.4 The LE-07 Trade Commissioner should assume temporary responsibility for covering IBD in Gabon until the situation stabilizes in Chad and the CAR.

Mission Action and Timeframe

3.4 Recommendation implemented. Since January 2007, the LE-07 Trade Commissioner has been covering Gabon as recommended, until the situation stabilizes in Chad and the CAR. Accordingly, he has already completed a four-day liaison, familiarization and reconnaissance mission, which took place in February 2007.

Moreover, within a sectoral approach, the LE-07 Trade Commissioner is responsible for development and follow-up in the agri-food, construction, environment and health sectors.

Program Management

3.5 The Program works *** with other Mission sections and is involved in the overall planning and country strategy process. The LE-09 Trade Commissioner is a member of the CMM. While the Program benefits from ongoing *** dialogue with the HQ division (WOLA), it nevertheless feels a certain lack of strategic direction from HQ concerning its priority sectors.

3.6 The Program manages its files ***, although for lack of resources, it tends to be more reactive than proactive. In order to respond to the challenges and opportunities in its territory, the Program, supported by the HOM, believes that an LES Administrative Assistant position should be added to its complement.

3.7 The IBD Program in Yaoundé will soon be part of a sub-regional network, headed by a regional Trade Commissioner based in Lagos. Implementation of this Program's regionalisation has not yet begun. It is anticipated that the network would provide additional sectoral expertise (particularly in the area of hydrocarbons), initiate strategies and implement regional or pan-African projects, opening doors to additional funding and leading committees on subjects of interest for the region.

Recommendations to the Mission

3.8 A business case for the addition of an LES Assistant position should be prepared for HQ's review and response.

3.9 The Program should clearly define priorities and actions for each of its countries of accreditation, taking into account any anticipated support from the proposed sub-regional network.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.8 Recommendation implemented, but decision pending by HQ. The Mission prepared a business case, which was forwarded to HQ (RFO) on January 15, 2007 (section F of the 2007-2008 country strategy). The business case justifies one additional LES support position for the IBD Program.

3.9 Recommendation implemented. The Mission's 2007/2008 strategic business plan clearly identifies priorities and action for each country of accreditation, and for the sub-region (CEMAC) as a whole. The program goals are geared to the resources available.

Operations

3.10 The IBD Program is making good use of WIN Export; however, there is some concern that opportunities may be missed and visibility may be decreased since Yaoundé is not currently slated to be upgraded to the new TRIO system.

3.11 The Program has a travel budget of $12,000, a hospitality budget of $3,000 and Client Service Funds (CSF) of $6,300 for Cameroon and $5,000 for Gabon. The cost of a one-week visit to Chad or the CAR is approximately $3,000. Given the recent increase in territorial IBD responsibilities, the Program currently does not have the financial resources to establish professional relationships with private companies and government authorities in the countries of accreditation.

Recommendation to HQ (WOS)

3.12 HQ should work with the Mission to determine an appropriate adjustment to the IBD travel, hospitality and CSF budgets given the recent increase in territorial responsibilities.

HQ Action and Timeframe

3.12 The CSF levels have been adjusted for this year (2007-2008) to reflect the Mission's additional territorial responsibilities, increasing from $5,000 to $15 000, which should be ample for the implementation of the IBD program. Since the Mission's travel budget has not been increased to cover the additional countries of accreditation, the cost of authorized travel will have to be absorbed by CSF.

Consular Program

Overview

4.1 The Consular Program is under the direction of the MCO (AS-05) with services provided by an LE-07 Consular Officer. Upon her arrival ***, the MCO immediately sought to build a close working relationship with the Consular Officer and instituted weekly meetings to discuss workload, priorities and consular cases requiring particular attention. The Consular Program is supported by an Honorary Consul (HonCon) in Douala (Cameroon) and Chad, as well as 22 wardens throughout the countries of accreditation. The Mission is currently looking for a replacement for the HonCon in Libreville, Gabon. Consular Contingency Plans (ConPlans) are up to date for Cameroon and Chad, while the ConPlans for the remainder of the Mission's territory are due for review and updating.

Recommendation to the Mission

4.2 ConPlans for Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tomé Principe and the CAR should be updated and filed with Emergency Services (CNE).

Mission Action and Timeframe

4.2 Recommendation being implemented. ConPlans for all countries of accreditation will be updated in accordance with the annual cycle and filed with CNE in October 2007.

Consular Services

4.3 On June 30, 2006, the Mission assumed responsibility for the provision of consular services to Canadians in three additional countries, with no increase in financial or human resources. This has placed considerable pressure on the Consular Program, particularly in consideration of the remote locations and poor communication infrastructure which affect the amount of time required to resolve a consular case. Of particular concern is the fact that the Mission does not have anyone trained to act as back-up for the Consular Officer. Mission staff are already tasked to capacity and finding someone may prove to be difficult, but efforts must be made to ensure the availability of suitable back-up resources.

4.4 The number of consular cases have increased significantly in the past two years as regional security deteriorates and Canadians increasingly seek intervention by or support from the High Commission. The Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) system indicates that there are approximately 663 registered Canadians across all six countries of accreditation. The level of client satisfaction is unknown, since, at the time of the Audit, the Mission had not received nor had it solicited any feedback regarding the quality of services provided to Canadians. First and foremost, clients should be made aware of the Department's consular service standards, which should be openly displayed in the client waiting area. They should also be encouraged to complete client survey forms, a potentially valuable tool for continuous improvement. The Consular Officer received training in Canada in 2002 and is fully bilingual, as is the MCO.

4.5 onsular fees are collected by the Consular Officer, who transfers the funds on a monthly basis to the accounting section. On-site review of the consular receipt logs and associated files revealed that these were disorganized and lacked an adequate audit trail. As a result, it was impossible to reconcile the revenues with services rendered. Segregation of duties was also found to be inadequate: the Consular Officer is solely responsible for the provision of services, receipt of monies, issuance of official receipts, monthly reconciliation and transfer of funds to Finance. The Consular Officer also had control of the notary wet stamp, which exposes the Mission to the risk of inappropriate review and approval of consular documents. The MCO should review all revenue processes and ensure adequate internal controls are instituted, including securing the notary stamp. In compliance with established procedures, consular revenues should also be transferred to the accounting section at least weekly, or when revenues collected exceed $500.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.6 The Mission should clearly display consular service standards in the client waiting area and make client survey forms readily available.

4.7 The Mission should develop a strategy for replacing the Consular Officer during both short and long-term absences.

4.8 The MCO should review all revenue procedures and implement adequate internal controls, including:

  • securing control of the notary stamp; and,
  • transferring consular revenues to the accounting section, at a minimum, on a weekly basis or when revenues collected exceed $500.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.6 Recommendation implemented. Consular service standards are displayed in the waiting area. Client survey forms are available in the waiting area.

4.7 Recommendation implemented. The receptionist received two weeks of training on the duties of the Consular Officer and can serve as a replacement when this officer is absent. Follow-up required:There are plans for the receptionist to take the training recently required for processing passport files in PMP within the prescribed timeframe.

4.8 Recommendation implemented. The Consul keeps the notary stamp. Consular revenues are transferred on a weekly basis to Accounting, or when they total a maximum of $500.

Passports

4.9 The inventory of temporary and emergency passports is securely stored *** and books are issued to the Consular Officer on a need-only basis. A working stock of emergency passports (EP) is also held ***. Reconciliation of the emergency passports held by the Mission *** indicated inadequate controls and a need for improved reconciliation processes. ***. The Mission should repatriate the EPs ***.

4.10 The Mission has experienced some difficulty meeting the passport services standards, especially for requests received from Honorary Consulates. Generally, HonCons delegate the receipt and review of passport requests to administrative assistants who then forward applications and supporting documents to the Mission for processing. However, administrative assistants do not receive any training in the screening of passport applications and, as a result, the Mission frequently receives incomplete and/or non-conforming applications. The Mission must then contact the applicants to obtain the necessary information (which can be difficult in many of the remote regions). To alleviate this situation, the Mission proposes to conduct regional training for administrative assistants working for HonCons. The administrative assistant for the HonCon in Douala recently attended a Consular course at HQ.

4.11 A letter of agreement has been issued to both Honorary Consuls, serving to confirm their roles and responsibilities. It was noted, however, that the letters of agreement do not stipulate whether the HonCons have been delegated the authority to issue EPs. It is our understanding that in both cases, the HonCons have been delegated this authority, however, there were no documents to this effect on file. Passport Canada, in partnership with Consular Affairs Bureau (CND), should ensure that the delegated authority to issue EPs is clearly documented and included in all future letters of agreement.

4.12 All passport applications are reviewed and approved by the MCO.

Recommendations for the Mission

4.13 The Mission should require HonCons to submit monthly confirmations of their passport inventory as part of the monthly passport inventory reconciliation process.

4.14 The Mission should repatriate the emergency passports ***.

4.15 The Mission should seek approval for a conference of all administrative assistants working for its HonCons and should hold this conference at the earliest date possible.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.13 Recommendation implemented. ***.

4.14 In October 2007, emergency passports *** were repatriated.

4.15 Recommendation implemented, but decision pending by HQ. The Mission has included a conference of administrative assistants working for HonCons in its countries of accreditation in its 2007-2008 annual plan. The timing of the event will depend on the availability of human and financial resources.

Recommendation for Passport Canada and CND

4.16 Passport Canada, in partnership with CND, should ensure that the delegated authority to issue emergency passports is clearly documented and included in all future letters of agreement.

Passport Canada and CND Action and Timeframe

4.16 The authority of HonCons is clearly defined in chapter 7 of the Manual of Consular Instructions, and is consistent with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Passport Canada intends to introduce a new version of its emergency passport (EP) early in 2008. When EPs are distributed, clear instructions for custodial missions and HonCons will be issued. The instructions will be reinforced at consular training sessions.

Administration Program

5.1 Management of the Program

5.1.1 The Administration Program is headed by the MCO (AS-05), who manages a complement of eight LES. ***.

5.1.2 The newly-arrived HOM and MCO face a number of long-term challenges in the Administration Program. The MCO is heavily involved in day-to-day demands and has not been able to devote sufficient time to important management issues, such as financial forecasting, staffing permanent positions, holding staff meetings, and reviewing and modifying long-standing *** administrative practices. Given her current workload and the number of issues which need to be addressed, the MCO, with the collaboration of the CMM, will need to create a long-term action plan to implement the necessary changes to the Program's current practices.

5.1.3 Given the augmented workload following the accreditation of three additional countries in July 2006, the MCO believes there is a need to increase the number of staff in the Administration Program in order to take on the extra duties. The Audit Team supports the preparation of business cases requesting new administrative positions deemed necessary by the Mission and included in its Country Strategy exercise for the next fiscal year.

5.1.4 In general, performance appraisals were not up to date for 2005 and 2006 and supervisory responsibility in the Performance Management Program (PMP) had only recently been transferred from the previous to the new MCO. The Mission did not have a mechanism in place to follow up on outstanding appraisals, and this should be implemented to ensure employees receive timely annual appraisals. Supervisors should be accountable for the preparation of appraisals for employees under their responsibility: for example, the LES Property Officer for the two drivers reporting to him, according to the Mission's organization chart.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.5 The MCO, in collaboration with the CMM, should prepare a priority-based action plan to address issues identified by both the Audit Report and the Mission's own review of its internal administrative practices.

5.1.6 The Program should prepare business cases for the positions it deems necessary to accommodate the increased workload from the three additional countries of accreditation, and submit them to the Mission Resource Management Division (RSR).

5.1.7 Appraisals should be completed for all LES and CBS at the Mission and a system put in place to monitor and follow up on outstanding appraisal reports.

5.1.8 The Property Officer should take over the supervisory function (including the appraisal process) for the employees under his responsibility.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.5 Recommendation implemented. The MCO has prepared an action plan in collaboration with the SMFF team to improve the Mission's internal administrative practices. Follow-up required. A report should be submitted to SMFF by the end of October 2007 on the implementation of the recommendations.

5.1.6 Recommendation implemented, but decision pending by HQ. The Mission prepared a business case, which was forwarded to HQ (RFO) on January 15, 2007 (section F of the 2007-2008 country strategy). The business case justifies one additional position for the Consular Program (Management Officer and Consular Assistant) and two additional positions for the Administration Program (an accountant and a driver, both LES).

5.1.7 Recommendation implemented. The MCO has reminded CMM members of the deadlines for appraisals, and the HOM follows up. All LES appraisals were completed on time, under supervision of the MCO. Appraisals for the Trade Program have been completed, and those for the Political Program are being finalized. They will be completed before the end of 2007.

5.1.8 Recommendation implemented. The Property Officer is supervising his subordinates, and prepares their appraisals.

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 The Human Resources function is managed by the MCO (AS-05) with the support of an Administrative Assistant and an Accounts Assistant (LE-06). The Administrative Assistant has financial and property/materiel duties and is the back-up for these two positions, in addition to her HR and administrative responsibilities.

5.2.2 HR documentation (staffing actions, personnel files and so on) was not organized in one location. Program staff were unable to produce documentation on staffing actions, re-classifications, grievances and harassment issues, and the personnel files were incomplete, particularly with respect to appraisals and EXT-208s. The absence of accessible HR corporate memory has rendered the new MCO's HR responsibilities very difficult. HR documentation should be gathered in a central location and files should be maintained for all staffing actions. The leave balance system was well organized and documented by the Administrative Assistant but requires routine review by the MCO to ensure adequate controls exist.

5.2.3 The use of emergency employees was not in accordance with departmental policy. The Audit Team examined five emergency employee hires, two of which were based on personal services contracts instead of the standard emergency employee letter template. Allowances such as transportation, bonuses and vacation leave were not being paid to emergency employees. In addition, two out of the three emergency employees hired under the standard letter had terms which exceeded the maximum limit of calendar days. Complete staffing files did not exist for these emergency hires. The MCO indicated that departmental hiring practices had been adhered to and the most appropriate candidates had been selected, but that documentation was not maintained on file. Staffing competitions were overdue for the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Assistant position and the Official Residence (OR) Cook; the use of emergency employment in these situations cannot be a long-term solution. The Mission should review the rules and regulations for emergency employment and correct *** the staffing actions of those affected. Competitions should be run to staff existing positions permanently.

Comment by Mission The Cook position had been vacant (and staffed on an emergency basis) since August 2006, ***. It was staffed on a term basis ***, and thus within the normal timeframe.

5.2.4 Several issues with respect to LES salary and benefits were identified during the audit:

  • Following the resignation of the OR Cook and in consultation with HLD, the Mission recently reviewed the pay of OR staff, which was significantly below market levels, and they received a 40-60% increase in their salary as a result of the review. Their salary scale had not been reviewed in 6 years and therefore this initiative was well received. Management should ensure that OR staff salaries are not overlooked in the future.
  • The salary for one LES was based on an expatriate salary scale. The Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD) should be consulted before using this salary scale for any future staffing actions.
  • As a carry-over from the previous administration, some confusion still existed over whether LES overtime could and should be claimed. While the current management team supports the use of overtime in approved situations, these conditions should be re-communicated and clarified to all staff.
  • The LES pension plan is a local scheme through Caisse Nationale de la Securité Sociale (CNSS). Retired employees were having difficulty in obtaining their pension pay-outs from CNSS and follow-up was time consuming and challenging for the Administrative Assistant. Given that the current Employee Handbook, dated 1997, is under revision, this would be an opportune time for the MCO to discuss this pension issue with HLD and examine other options.

5.2.6 Annual salary increments had been withheld in the past without appropriate documentation or advance notice. The process to grant annual increments (including advance notification deadlines, etc.) should be clarified and communicated to Program Managers and all staff. In collaboration with HLD, the Mission should proceed with retroactive salary payments for the employee whose increments were withheld without appropriate documentation.

5.2.7 Several of the basic committee and coordinator structures were not in place or not currently active, such as a Classification Committee, an Occupational Health and Safety Committee, an Official Languages Champion and a Mission Training Coordinator. According to departmental policy, these should be established and their mandates made clear to all staff. The list of Health and Safety Recommendations from the Labour Relations and Occupational Health and Safety Division (HSS) (November 2005) should be the first order of business for the OHS Committee.
Comment by Mission It is important to note that three out of five Canadians *** had left the Mission at the same time, and been replaced by newcomers. The governance structure of the Mission had been considerably disrupted by these changes, and it took some time to recover. The Training Coordinator should prepare a training plan in cooperation with Program Managers and the HOM.

5.2.8 The LES Committee was composed of three staff members representing a diverse range of interests and position levels. All issues raised with the Audit team had already been brought to the attention of the MCO, such as the LES pension and the case of increments withheld without appropriate documentation. It is recommended that the Committee meet with the MCO on a regular basis and with the HOM on a quarterly basis. Not only will this facilitate open dialogue, it will also ensure follow-up on the outstanding issues presented by the Committee.

5.2.9 Many CBS indicated that their arrival at the Mission was difficult because of the absence of basic local information about daily life in Yaounde, particularly with regard to recommended security precautions. Given the workload of the MCO, it is recommended that SERV be approached in the new fiscal year for funding for a Community Coordinator on a service contract to assist with incoming and outgoing Canadian staff during the posting season and to ensure that adequate information is available.

5.2.10 The MCO indicated that she required further training in various elements of the Administration portfolio (HR, IMS/Finance, Infobank/IT, etc.). During the standard formative training year designed for new MCOs, she was absent for approximately three months on a temporary duty assignment and therefore did not receive all the basic training. She believes that HR was one of these training omissions. As part of the Mission-wide training plan exercise, the MCO should contact the Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI) to arrange for training in HR and other areas where training deficiencies exist.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.12 All HR documentation should be retained in a central location. Staffing-related documentation and personnel files should be kept in a locked and secure location.

5.2.13 The MCO should conduct routine verifications of the leave balance system to ensure adequate control of the system.

5.2.14 The Mission should proceed with competitions to staff the CIC Assistant position and the OR Cook position to avoid over-extensions on emergency employment contracts. All staffing actions - classifications, harassment, grievances, dismissals, hires, etc. - should have supporting documentation.

5.2.15 Mission management should ensure that OR staff salaries are reviewed on an annual basis.

5.2.16 HLD should be consulted before any future use of the expatriate salary scale for new employees.

5.2.17 The MCO should communicate to all staff the use and conditions of overtime.

5.2.18 The MCO should consult HLD with regard to the current problems in pension payment from CNSS.

5.2.19 The increment system (advance notification deadlines, etc.) should be clarified and communicated to Program Managers and all staff to ensure future compliance. In conjunction with HLD, retroactive salary payments should be made to the employees whose increments were withheld without appropriate documentation.

5.2.20 The following committees and coordination functions should be set up or reactivated: Classification Committee, Occupational Health and Safety Committee, Official Languages Champion and Mission Training Coordinator. HSS's list of health and safety recommendations of November 2005 should be implemented by the OHS Committee, and the training coordinator should work with the program managers and the HOM to develop a training plan.

5.2.21 The MCO and HOM should meet with the LES Committee on a regular basis (once per quarter is the norm).

5.2.22 The Mission should approach Services Centre (SERV) regarding funding for a Community Coordinator contract in the 2007 posting season.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.12 Recommendation implemented. HR documentation is kept in a central, secure location. For every position, there is a position file and an employee file.

5.2.13 Recommendation implemented. The MCO conducts routine verifications of the leave balance system.

5.2.14 Recommendation implemented. The CIC Assistant and OR Cook positions have been staffed in accordance with the LES hiring regulations. Supporting documentation for the staffing process is on file.

5.2.15 Recommendation implemented. In cooperation with HLD, the Mission conducts an annual pay review for office and other staff.

5.2.16 Recommendation implemented. HLD is consulted when new employees are hired. One employee at the Mission is currently being paid in accordance with the expatriate salary scale.

5.2.17 Recommendation implemented. As stated in the service standards, overtime must be pre-authorized by the responsible manager, and employees are familiar with the rule. Managers have been informed concerning the rational use of overtime in accordance with the budget provided.

5.2.18 Recommendation implemented. A pay review is now under way with various indicators in order to determine, with HLD, the benefits of paying contributions to CNSS for employers and employees.

5.2.19 Recommendation implemented. The employees whose pay increases were withheld without justification have received retroactive payments, authorized by HLD. The Mission's service standards clearly define the advance notification deadlines for employees' annual statutory increases.

5.2.20 Recommendation being implemented. The OHS and Classification committees are operational, as set out in the Mission's service standards; the Training Coordinator and the Official Languages Champion have been appointed. The OHS Committee has implemented HSS recommendations, and it meets regularly to consider OHS issues. The newly appointed Training Coordinator is to develop a training plan for fiscal 2008-2009.

5.2.21 Recommendation being implemented. The first meeting for the HOM and the MCO with the LES Committee is scheduled for January 2008. The Mission's service standards call for such meetings to be held quarterly, or as required.

5.2.22 Not applicable. The Mission is not eligible for such funding, because it does not have the required minimum of six Canadian employees.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 Interviews with staff and a limited review of the documentation on physical assets show that the physical resources in Yaounde are generally well managed, with sound controls in place. The quality of services provided by the Section was not assessed during the inspection. Since the MCO's arrival, she has relied heavily upon the Property Officer (LE-07) and his knowledge and experience.

5.3.2 Mission property management files were found to be well maintained. The documentation was in order, but a physical review of the inventory of assets of the Mission and the warehouse was not conducted, for lack of time. Its accuracy was therefore not checked. Lease agreements and occupancy agreements were signed and on file. CBS staff were, by and large, satisfied with their staff quarters (SQ).

5.3.3 Mission management and the Security Operations and Personal Safety Division (ISR) expressed concerns ***. The Chancery is currently operating at maximum capacity and does not have the space required to accommodate imminent future growth. ***, the Mission should initiate an assessment of current market conditions and pursue options for a new chancery that will meet security and operational needs.

5.3.4 In the spring of 2006, the Mission signed a four-year lease agreement for a residence that required extensive upgrades and repairs in order to meet departmental standards. An agreement was signed with the owner who agreed to complete a list of stated repairs provided he received a $57,000 prepayment of rent to enable him to cover renovation costs, an amount equal to 2 years rent. The Mission obtained approval from HQ and a clause to this effect was added to the lease agreement. The Mission was not satisfied with the progress of the renovations and, subsequently, undertook the management of these repairs. As noted in the Finance section of this report, accounting records of the advances given to the owner and the expenses incurred on behalf of the owner were inadequately maintained.

5.3.5 At the request of the CBS who was assigned to this Staff Quarter (SQ), a number of upgrades beyond the owner's initial agreement were made at the Mission's expense (kitchen cabinets, bathroom, ceramics). As this is not a Crown-owned property, the Mission should limit upgrades beyond those negotiated in the lease with the owner. Any additional upgrades should be minimal, reasonable and justified.

5.3.6 The Audit Team conducted a site visit to a number of SQs and found that most residences were adequate and the residents generally satisfied. There were concerns, however, about the poor condition of one SQ (PR3210054) where a significant amount of mould was growing in the basement. The current resident is scheduled to leave the Mission *** and, as such, the Audit Team recommends that the Mission terminate this lease as soon as possible and seek more appropriate accommodations for future employees. The MCO and HOM noted that current market conditions reflect a steady increase in property value and that it may be advantageous for the Mission to secure a more balanced inventory of CBS residences, through a combination of leased and owned properties.

5.3.7 While the Official Residence (OR) is suitable for the needs of the current HOM, it lacks a private area large enough to accommodate a family with children. This OR could represent a challenge if the next HOM is accompanied by family.

5.3.8 The Property Officer maintains detailed records of all activities in the property management section, including chancery and SQ maintenance/repairs, service contracts, use of vehicles and gas coupons. Review of these records revealed that the Property Section makes efficient and effective use of Mission resources. A routine maintenance visit by the Property Maintenance and Operations Section (SRSF) in 2002 also concluded that property management systems were in place, functioning smoothly and were well maintained.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.9 The Mission, in partnership with SRD (the Physical Resources Bureau), should assess market conditions and, where favourable, consider options for a new chancery.

5.3.10 The Mission should institute appropriate controls to ensure all clauses under lease agreements are honoured.

5.3.11 The Mission should terminate the lease agreement for SQ PR3210054 upon departure of the current occupant this summer.

5.3.12 The Mission should obtain approval and concurrence from SRD to explore the possibility of purchasing staff quarters.

5.3.13 For future SQ lease acquisitions, the Mission should evaluate the extent of upgrades necessary as well as the portion that can be built into the lease agreement. This should be one of the key considerations before the Mission enters into any contractual negotiations with potential landlords.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.9 Recommendation implemented, but decision pending by HQ. The Mission has already identified certain opportunities in the local market, which have been communicated to SRD. The Mission has provided SRD with all the necessary information for a study of the chancery space. Follow-up required. SRD should make recommendations to the Mission for subsequent action.

5.3.10 Recommendation implemented. The Property Officer should have any further requests concerning properties approved by the MCO. All work that is the responsibility of the landlord is set out in writing so that the Mission obtains a written commitment to pay from the landlord before work begins.

5.3.11 Recommendation implemented. The Mission has acquired a new SQ to replace SQ PR3210054, the lease on which expired on July 31, 2007, and was not renewed.

5.3.12 The question was raised during the recent visit by SRSK (the Property Strategy Section). As a result of the discussion, the Mission is not considering the acquisition of property in the short term.

5.3.13 Recommendation implemented. The Mission is systematically evaluating the extent of upgrades necessary in connection with a new SQ lease. The housing committee makes recommendations on the basis of all the established criteria, including the cost of upgrades, and the HOM approves the committee's recommendations in full knowledge of the facts.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 For the 2006-2007 fiscal year, the Mission's budget was $5.3 million, of which $2.0 related to Mission operations and $3.3 funded OGD operations. There are a number of issues in the Finance Section which need to be addressed in order to ensure that financial resources are managed appropriately and the risk of fraud is reduced. Though an in-depth financial review was not possible in the two days available to audit the Section, a review of key controls and procedures was performed. Overall, the Mission was handling too much cash, had overly-complicated accounting procedures, and staff required further financial training. Each of these deficiencies increases the risk of fraud, though it should be noted that none was detected during the audit. Given the high risk rating the Financial Management Services Division (SMFF) has already assigned to the Mission, it is important that these issues are addressed in a timely fashion to protect the Department's financial resources as well as the Mission's staff.

Program Management

5.4.2 The Section is managed by the MCO, with day-to-day operations performed by the Accountant (LE-06). Without service standards, respected hours of service, or written procedures/policies in place at the Mission, a common comment from staff *** was that “everything is an emergency”. In addition, a review of a sample of financial documentation revealed that not all required information was on file. By ensuring that policies and procedures are in place and communicated to all staff, the urgency of requests would be reduced and staff would be aware of the documentation required to have payments properly approved and processed.

5.4.3 Based on the audit observations related to budgeting, monitoring of transactions, inputting in IMS, and implementing internal controls, further financial training is necessary for staff. The Accountant last took the “IMS for Accountants” course in Canada ten years ago, and the back-up for the Accountant, the Administrative Assistant, has never received any formal financial training. The MCO also indicated that she would have benefitted from further training as part of the overall MCO program. Currently, the only financial training available for MCOs is as part of their pre-posting courses. A periodic training and certification process for MCOs is necessary to ensure they are up-to-date on current financial management practices and changes in financial systems. This type of training would be useful for the MCO to improve and maintain her skills and knowledge.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.4 The Mission should create a service standards document, reflective of the Departmental Service Standards MOU (memorandum of understanding) document, and distribute it to all staff.

5.4.5 The Mission should document procedures for processing payments, petty cash transactions, travel claims, etc., and communicate these procedures to all Mission staff. The Mission should contact SMFF/SMO (Financial Management and Accountability Policy Division) for advice on specific procedures.

5.4.6 Hours of client service in the Finance Section should be communicated and enforced.

5.4.7 The Administrative Assistant should take the “IMS for Accountants and Assistant Accountants” course. The Accountant should take this course as financial refresher training.

5.4.8 The MCO and Accountant should contact SMFF for advice on any issues for which they have not had sufficient experience or training.

Recommendation to Corporate Finance, Planning and Systems Bureau (SMD)

5.4.9 In conjunction with CFSI, SMD should develop mandatory financial refresher training, to be given on a regular basis to the MCO community.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.4 Recommendation implemented. The Mission's service standards document has been revised and approved by the CMM, and has been in use since July 1, 2007. In addition, a document setting out local administrative practices was developed, and approved by the CMM in October 2007.

5.4.5 Recommendation implemented. A document setting out local administrative practices at the Mission was developed by the MCO and completed, approved and distributed in October 2007.

5.4.6 Recommendation implemented. The hours of client service in the Finance Section have been communicated to all staff, and are being enforced.

5.4.7 Recommendation implemented. Make-up training was provided to the Administrative Assistant and the Accountant when the SMFF team visited.

Decision pending by HQ. The Mission is agreeable to sending its financial staff for IMS training in French. This will depend on the course schedule, operational requirements and budget availability at the Mission. The Mission would recommend organizing a regional course for Africa, with the provision of reasonable advance notice.

5.4.8 The Mission notes this recommendation.

Recommendation to SMD

5.4.9 SMD should develop, in conjunction with the Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI), a mandatory financial refresher training for MCOs, to be given on a regular basis to the MCO community.

SMD Action and Timeframe

5.4.9 SMD has had several meetings with the (CFSI) team to discuss financial aspects, and the training needed for sound management of public funds. SMD is participating actively in the training of MCOs and accountants in the missions. CFSI has retained a consultant to improve financial management, and SMD will be taking part in this new initiative.

Budgeting and Monitoring

5.4.10 Since their arrival ***, both the MCO and HOM have had concerns about the accuracy of the Mission's budget and the related commitments in IMS. Of the three FINSTAT budgetary reports reviewed, the month of October 2006 had $56,200 CAD of rent for SQs in the “planned expenditures” column, which had already been paid and included in the “expenditures” column. This distorted the budgetary picture for the month and resulted in a free balance reported of -$53,200 instead of the correct $3000. In addition, the Accountant stated she is juggling commitments at the end of each month in order to make payments from the system. The rationale for some of the commitments is unclear to both the Accountant and the MCO, making it difficult to assess whether the current level of funding is adequate for Mission operations. Given the short time frame before the year-end, the simplest way to resolve this issue is to de-commit all funds, and re-forecast the planned expenditures in IMS to fiscal year-end. For future budgetary planning exercises, Mission Management, not just the MCO, should be involved in the development, approval, and ongoing monitoring of the budget as part of regular CMM meetings.

5.4.11 Monitoring of financial activity, including commitments, needs to occur on a more in-depth basis as both a corrective and preventative control. The MCO indicated that she would like to perform more monitoring, but cited a lack of training as the key reason why it was not currently at the desired level.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.12 The MCO and Accountant should de-commit all commitments for the remainder of the fiscal year. New commitments should be created based on planned expenditures.

5.4.13 As part of the monthly FINSTAT review process, the MCO should review changes to commitments in IMS. The Accountant should seek approval for and advise the MCO of any changes which need to be made to commitments in the system.

5.4.14 The MCO should seek advice from RSR on the FINSTAT process.

5.4.15 The MCO should review the assets and liabilities report monthly, and investigate any continuing or unreasonable account balances.

5.4.16 The MCO should review SA documents on a monthly basis.

5.4.17 The MCO should perform spot checks of financial transactions.

5.4.18 The CMM should actively participate in the budgetary process.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.12 Recommendation implemented for fiscal 2006-2007.

5.4.13 Recommendation implemented. The Mission committed funds using -RS reserve funds and -CO financial commitments. The Accountant is not to make changes in plans without prior authorization from the MCO.

5.4.14 The Mission notes this recommendation. We receive regular advice from RSR, on the same basis as other missions. Since FINSTAT has itself been the subject of a number of improvements by RSR, new information and instructions about the process are sent regularly to the missions.

5.4.15 Recommendation implemented. The assets and liabilities report is reviewed monthly by the MCO.

5.4.16 Recommendation implemented . The MCO reviews SA documents monthly.

5.4.17 Recommendation implemented. The MCO performs spot checks.

5.4.18 Recommendation implemented. Budgeting and monitoring are discussed regularly by the CMM.

Bank Account and Cash Management

5.4.19 Careful management and safeguarding of a Mission's financial resources is always important; but given the high level of risk ***, Mission Management needs to exercise increased awareness and control. Currently, the Accountant is the primary contact with the bank and the MCO has yet to develop a relationship with the account manager for the Mission's bank accounts. Though signed by account signatories, cheques are also ordered by the Accountant, ***. When the MCO is not personally involved in the banking operations of the Mission, the risk of fraud increases. The MCO should immediately contact the bank and ensure that officials deal only with her or the HOM.

5.4.20 Though the original contract with the Mission's bank was not on file, the MCO and the Accountant explained a special arrangement the Mission has in place to cash cheques. By issuing a cheque payable to the High Commission with the vendor's name in bracket, i.e. “H.C. (Vendor)”, authorized Mission staff are able to cash vendor cheques at the bank. This facilitates cash payments to vendors who do not have bank accounts. In the month of October 2006, 36 of a total 92 cheques were made payable to the High Commission. ***. Official receipts were signed upon transfer of the cash between staff. This system allows the Mission to pay its vendors, but creates a number of inefficiencies and puts both financial assets and employees at risk.

5.4.21 Members of the Audit Team met with officials from two other Missions in Yaoundé, who noted that their Missions operated almost exclusively using cheques. These Missions issued cheques endorsable only by the payee, and dealt with banks that allowed vendors to cash cheques themselves, even if they did not have a bank account. This practice reduces the risk of handling large amounts of cash, as well as the time needed to count, distribute, and control the cash. Discussions should take place between the Mission and its bank to clarify what services the Mission is entitled to under the current agreement and what services are available. The Mission should then determine the banking features it requires for its bank account with a view to decreasing cash handling. If required conditions cannot be met by the current bank, other banking options should be explored.

5.4.22 CIC revenues received by the Mission in the previous fiscal year totaled $184,000. Canadian Missions in other countries have been able to reduce the amount of immigration-related cash received by having clients deposit immigration fees directly into the Mission's bank account. The feasibility and desirability of this practice should be considered by the Mission, in consultation with SMFF and CIC.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.23 The MCO should immediately inform the bank that she will be their primary contact at the Mission. The MCO should also use this opportunity to enquire whether options are available to reduce the amount of cash the Mission is currently handling. If the bank is unable to provide an acceptable solution, a survey of other reputable banks in the city should begin. The Mission should keep SMFF involved throughout the process.

5.4.24 A copy of the Mission's contract for banking services should be retrieved from the bank and verified to ensure that all services contracted are being provided.

5.4.25 The Mission, in consultation with SMFF and CIC, should explore the feasibility of immigration fee direct deposit.

5.4.26 ***. Only a working stock should remain with the Accountant.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.23 Recommendation implemented. The financial institutions the Mission deals with have been informed in writing that the MCO is their primary contact, and all correspondence is to be addressed to her.

Under way. A comparative study of the various financial institutions and the services they offer, and the banks used by diplomatic and international organisations and their level of satisfaction, is now under way in order to determine which bank can respond best to the Mission's needs. The results of the study will be discussed with SMFF, and a recommendation will then be made for a possible change of financial institution.

5.4.24 Recommendation implemented. The Mission has determined that there was no contract for banking services with SGBC. The bank has provided the SMFF team with a folder describing the services available to business clients. The services received are consistent with those offered to business clients.

5.4.25 Recommendation being implemented. The Mission has opened an account in the IMS, and provided the requested information to SMFF. The Accountant attended a training session in October 2007 on the deposit process offered by the Immigration Section in Abidjan. The Mission plans to set up direct deposit for immigration fees when a recommendation has been made concerning the change of financial institution.

5.4.26 Recommendation implemented. ***.

Controls

5.4.27 The physical security of cash at the Mission needs to be improved. In addition to the full stock of blank cheques, cash for deposit is kept in the *** safe. ***. Access to the safe should be limited *** to protect the cash/cheques and all employees involved. Though generally counted, reconciled, and brought to the Finance Section ***.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.28 ***.

5.4.29 Access to the *** safe should be limited ***.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.28 Recommendation implemented. Immigration fees are deposited regularly.

5.4.29 Recommendation implemented. ***.

Expenditures and Revenues

5.4.30 In order to quickly respond to payment requests, cash received for deposit (i.e. Consular and Immigration revenue) is used to make some cash payments to vendors. Cheques are subsequently written to cover these payments, cashed at the bank and immediately placed in the deposit envelope. This allows the amount of cash eventually deposited to equal the amount of cash originally received by the Mission in revenue. The Accountant provides a detailed reconciliation and set of instructions ***, however this record is not maintained on file. The reconciliation for December 6, 2006, the most recent deposit and only example available, was reviewed and found to be accurate. This process requires a large amount of time and effort ***, and its complexity increases the risk of errors or problems occurring. Using cheques would simplify the process for all involved.

5.4.31 The Accountant and the Property Officer have each been issued a petty cash balance, ***. Both were verified and cash on hand was accurate as per the advance in IMS and petty cash vouchers, though documentation did not always adequately substantiate payments. Observations included an inadequate segregation of duties, missing or incomplete invoices, inconsistent use of petty cash vouchers, and payments for ongoing service arrangements without contracts, such as official vehicle maintenance and cleaning.

5.4.32 For both petty cash accounts, cash replenishment was consistently higher than the total value of the account. It was not clear why this was occurring or how the deficit in the petty cash was being funded. To avoid this situation, the petty cash balance should be monitored and replenished when it reaches a minimum as determined by the Mission. Furthermore, small amounts of cash received (i.e. for telephone reimbursement) were deposited directly into the Accountant's petty cash account, with unofficial receipts being issued for these amounts. This was tracked, but the revenue received should have been included in bank deposits, instead of using the petty cash as a de facto cash account.

5.4.33 Bank reconciliations from August to October 2006 were reviewed, with a sample of revenue and expenditure transactions examined from the October reconciliation. The following observations were noted:

  • LES salaries are coded to "bank fees" in IMS and on the bank reconciliation.
  • Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) payment forms (1281) are not fully completed (i.e. missing exchange rates, remaining balance for the project).
  • Two LES that receive cash payments instead of wire transfers were paid using the same cheque, payable to the "HC" without any identifying explanation. Receipt of cash was signed by employees, but the audit trail and procedures followed were not clear.
  • The HOM Assistant is consistently signing Section 34 though the good/service was received by another program (generally Administration). The MCO signs Section 33.
  • Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) officials are still listed on the bank specimen signature authority (EXT 1321) despite no longer having the authority to sign cheques.
  • The Mission is not using the Materiel Management Module in IMS to record contracts.
  • The Section is using Official Receipts for most expenditures, but for smaller amounts uses non-official receipts.

5.4.34 Expenditures relating to SQ3210060 have been entered in IMS in several different categories, however it is unclear whether the coding is appropriate in all cases, as noted in Section 5.3.4. A prepayment of two years rent of $57,422 was given to the landlord, disbursed in several payments based on approved work proposals, to enable him to perform some of the necessary repairs to the SQ. This has not been treated as a prepaid expense in IMS. The Mission also organized additional repair work, some of which is to be recovered from the landlord, the rest to be paid for solely by the Mission. A complete reconciliation of costs related to the SQ based on IMS reports, comments from interviews with the MCO and Property Officer, and the contract documentation available for the property did not yield clear results. The complexity of the arrangements to renovate the property, the lack of documentation, and the changeover in MCOs mid-project have led to this situation. The total costs for the non-recoverable and recoverable expenses, as coded in IMS, were $25,477 and $10,962 respectively. The Mission needs to have a clear understanding of its financial liabilities and appropriately record expenses and recoverables in IMS so that the budget reports accurately reflect the financial situation of the Mission.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.35 Cash payments to vendors should not be made using revenue received.

5.4.36 All financial documentation, including deposit reconciliations, should be kept on file to provide rationale for all transactions and a clear audit trail.

5.4.37 Ongoing service arrangements paid through petty cash should be formalized and contracts created.

5.4.38 Petty cash vouchers and original invoices should be on file for all transactions in the petty cash account.

5.4.39 Though segregating duties is difficult in a small office, the Mission should examine whether another individual can be responsible for the petty cash account currently held by the Accountant.

5.4.40 Petty cash accounts should be replenished before the balance reaches zero.

5.4.41 The Mission should seek training on and begin using the Material Management module in IMS.

5.4.42 The Accountant should ensure that the text field is used consistently in IMS, and that reports submitted to the MCO for review include this field.

5.4.43 LES salaries should be coded to the appropriate account in IMS.

5.4.44 Responsibilities related to signing authorities should be clearly explained to all staff concerned. Section 34 should be signed by the individual who can confirm receipt of goods.

5.4.45 Payments to multiple vendors or employees should not be made with one cheque.

5.4.46 All fields on the CIDA payment form should be completed. CFLI officials should be removed from the 1321 - Signing Authority for Bank Accounts form.

5.4.47 For SQ 3210060, the Mission should develop an accurate listing of costs incurred to date. Recoverable amounts should be confirmed in writing with the landlord. IMS should be updated to reflect this information.

5.4.48 Prepaid rent should be coded in IMS as per departmental guidelines.

5.4.49 Coding of expenditures should be clearly indicated to the Accountant.

5.4.50 The Mission should discontinue its use of non-official receipts and use Official Receipts exclusively for all funds received.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.35 Recommendation implemented. Cash payments to suppliers are made only from the petty cash. The Mission tries to minimize the number of suppliers requiring payment in cash or HC cheques where the amount exceeds the maximum for the petty cash. Revenue received is deposited in the Mission's bank account.

5.4.36 The Mission notes this recommendation.

5.4.37 Recommendation being implemented. The Mission is looking into the possibility of eliminating formal arrangements, and obtaining the same services from official suppliers. Local administrative practices document existing agreements in detail.

5.4.38 The Mission notes this recommendation.

5.4.39 Recommendation implemented. The petty cash account has been transferred ***, who was trained in petty cash management during the visit by the SMFF team.

5.4.40 Recommendation implemented. The petty cash is replenished regularly, so as not to affect Mission operations.

5.4.41 Training on the IMS Material Management module will be provided by HQ in the fall. The mission will comply with the schedule submitted by HQ for use of the IMS Material Management module.

5.4.42 Recommendation implemented. The Accountant is using the IMS text field correctly.

5.4.43 Recommendation implemented. LES salaries are being coded in accordance with standard procedure.

5.4.44 Recommendation implemented. Staff with signing authority under sections 32, 33 and 34 of the Financial Administration Act have passed the signing authority test. It was agreed with the audit team that as a rule, the MCO would sign under section 34, and authorized managers would sign under section 33.

5.4.45 Recommendation implemented. Payments are made by one HC cheque per supplier. The Mission is trying to make a significant reduction in the number of suppliers requiring payment in cash by HC cheque.

5.4.46 Recommendation implemented. The Mission is completing all fields on the CIDA payment form. CFLI officials no longer have bank account signing authority.

5.4.47 Recommendation implemented. A letter of agreement has been signed by the landlord and the A/Chargé d'Affaires setting out all the conditions for the work to be done before it begins. The landlord has repeatedly undertaken, in writing and verbally, to reimburse the cost of the work, but so far without keeping those commitments. All expenditure on SQ3210060 has been recorded in the IMS and claimed from the landlord. If the landlord fails to reimburse, provision has been made for the Mission to recover all costs through deductions from the rent.

5.4.48 Recommendation implemented. During SMFF's visit, the Accountant was trained on coding rent advances in the IMS in accordance with departmental guidelines.

5.4.49 Recommendation implemented. During SMFF's visit, the Accountant was trained on expenditure codes.

5.4.50 Recommendation implemented. The Mission uses official receipts exclusively for all funds received.

5.5 Information Technology (IT)

5.5.1 Information Management and Information Technology operations are carried out by the Mission's Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP) (LE-07), under the direction of the MCO. ***.

5.5.2 The LEITP is supported by the Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) in Abidjan (ABDJN) and the Client Support Regional Manager (CSRM) in Nairobi (NROBI). ***. He has not received a visit from the CSRM since joining the Mission four years ago. He would welcome cyclical visits and proposed the idea of an organized regional sharing plan with other LEITPs and FSITPs to foster best practices and trouble shooting in the local environment. During the LEITP's absences, the MCO provides IT assistance with consultation from the FSITP in ABDJN and the CSRM in NROBI. This approach seems to be working well.

5.5.3 While no specific IT training plan exists, the LEITP has shown initiative in finding ways to share learning opportunities. After dealing with individual clients on specific requests or questions, the LEITP follows up with a written response which he sends to all staff members so that all can profit from the information.

5.5.4 The use of Infobank and the I/:drive was not consistent across Mission staff, nor within certain programs. Lack of training in Infobank is one reason cited for its under-use, along with the fact that OGDs are not required to use this system so it is not seen as a fully inclusive filing or sharing tool. This negatively impacted knowledge sharing at the Mission. For example, critical consular documents were filed in Infobank (the after-hours duty manual and emergency planning documents) without the knowledge that not all CBS (including the MCO) knew how to access the files within this database. The Mission needs to establish a method of sharing information that is endorsed by all staff.

5.5.5 The LEITP was not aware of any business continuity planning nor any requirement for internet access at an off-site location to facilitate a back-up means of communication should an emergency arise. The LEITP should be brought into the Mission preparedness planning process to ensure that adequate secondary communications exist. The MCO should train the LEITP on the use of the PSAT and ensure that the Deputy Mission Security Officer (MSO) also knows where to locate and how to use the satellite phone.

5.5.6 The second copy of the server back-up tapes was kept ***. The second copy of the backup tapes should be kept in the ***.

5.5.7 Based on a tour of the Mission's storage facility, a number of obsolete computers and IT equipment were found to be taking up valuable space. The LEITP should, in consultation with the MCO and SRD, dispose of this obsolete equipment as per departmental guidelines.

5.5.8 The LEITP works collaboratively with the MCO on purchase planning for consumables and minor IT items. These purchases are planned in advance and bulk ordered based on previous period consumption and are an effective means of avoiding unexpected consumable shortages. This collaborative planning process should be fostered and increased to include a budget allocation in April of each fiscal year for IT initiatives.

5.5.9 The LEITP was not able to take his two IM/IT courses at headquarters in his first language of French, nor was the Instructor able to handle questions in both official languages. As a result, the training was not as effective as it could have been. Training manuals were provided in English only. In accordance with forecasted demand from missions and HQ personnel, SXMT (Training) should ensure that an adequate number of IM/IT courses are provided in both official languages.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.5.10 The Mission should establish a method of sharing information (e.g. : Infobank or the I/:drive) and ensure that it is endorsed by and available to all staff.

5.5.11 The LEITP should participate in business continuity planning to ensure that appropriate secondary communications exist in an alternate location should the chancery become inaccessible during an emergency.

5.5.12 Training should be provided to the LEITP (and the Deputy Mission Security Officer (DMSO) if required) on the use of the PSAT (Portable Satellite System) in case of emergency.

5.5.13 The second copy of the backup tapes should be kept in the vault.

5.5.14 Obsolete IT equipment should be disposed of as per departmental procedures.

5.5.15 The LEITP should be included in the April fiscal year budget forecasting process to ensure that adequate funds are committed for IT demands and to promote IT planning and initiatives.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.10 Recommendation implemented. Infobank and the I/:drive are used at the Mission. The Mission recommends more accessible training on Infobank for staff so that they can make full use of the system, which does not seem to generate unanimity within the Department.

5.5.11 Recommendation being implemented. By March 31, 2008, the Mission plans to set up an alternative workstation for emergency use at the OR.

5.5.12 Recommendation implemented. The Deputy Mission Security Officer has been trained on the use of the portable satellite telephone system. The Mission plans to acquire Thuraya satellite telephones that are more convenient in use.

5.5.13 Recommendation implemented. The second copy of the backup tapes is kept off site by a Canadian employee.

5.5.14 Recommendation implemented. The obsolete IT equipment has been auctioned off. Unsold items will be properly disposed of.

5.5.15 The LEITP will be included in the April fiscal year budget forecasting process to ensure that adequate funds are committed for IT demands and to promote IT planning and initiatives.


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Date Modified:
2012-10-18