An audit of the General Relations (GR), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Moscow from May 29 to June 6, 2007. The previous audit of these Programs took place in March 1998. The Mission is also accredited to Uzbekistan and Armenia.
The Embassy in Moscow is a large mission with 47 Canada-based staff (CBS) and 108 Locally-engaged staff (LES). Overall the Mission is functioning *** and is *** protecting and furthering Canada's interests in Russia. The closure of the Consulate in St. Petersburg in March 2007, however, has had an impact on workload by increasing the territory under the Mission's purview. As a result, the existing capacity to plan and conduct activities in these other regions will be insufficient. A further impediment to operations is the deteriorating condition and lack of adequate space and facilities in the Chancery. To date, the Department has not resolved the Chancery property issues. The pending long-term solutions have delayed necessary short-term actions further compounding the situation. The working environment in Moscow is difficult and, as such, a great deal of attention must also be paid to internal management challenges, communication and community building. This should be a focus for the Management Team. The structure of Mission Management should also be examined, as the EX-02 Deputy Head of Mission (DHOM) position's responsibilities were not clear ***. Given that senior level management already exists in the Administration (EX-01) and IBD (EX-02) programs, the need for a DHOM position should be revisited. By eliminating the DHOM position and reinstituting it as the EX-01 Head of General Relations, that Program would be allocated the appropriate seniority and the position would provide greater value to Mission operations.
The General Relations Program has returned to normal operations following the heavy workload of the Saint Petersburg G-8 summit in July 2006. The Program Manager has established a *** planning and performance measurement framework and has made *** progress in achieving the Mission's GR objectives. The return to normal operations and upcoming staff turnover of two CBS will provide a good opportunity to re-assess the current organizational structure of the section, including the reinstatement of the EX-01 Head of GR. Recommendations have been made to strengthen the capacity of the Section to advance Canada-Russia bilateral relations, increase collaboration with the IBD program and enhance Public Advocacy through improved use of the Mission web site to communicate activities in the Russian Federation.
The Global Partnership Section supports the Program Office located in Ottawa (IGX) in managing the ten year, $1 billion program. The majority of the Section's work deals with arranging logistics for official monitoring visits conducted by IGX officials from Ottawa. Therefore, it is recommended that IGX better align the mandate, roles and responsibilities of the section to the current employee complement to ensure that the Department is receiving value for money and to ensure that employees are obtaining the right experience and responsibilities for their classification.
The International Business Development Program is *** managed and *** active. Two-way trade has been increasing at a dramatic pace with Canadian exports jumping from $240 million in 2002 to $870 million in 2006 (StatsCan). As pressures and demands on the Program increase, attention to adequately resourcing the Program should be a priority for HQ over the coming years. At present, the Program has few assistants, no specialist positions, and is under-resourced compared to peer missions when it comes to human resources. These growing challenges have been exacerbated by an extremely large market territory and the closing of the Consulate General in St. Petersburg. As a priority market with significant potential, HQ should focus on developing a comprehensive Commercial strategy for Russia, as has been done for priority countries.
The Consular Program has *** established systems and procedures. An area requiring attention is the Program's revenue control process and a number of recommendations have been made to strengthen the related procedures. The Mission is responsible for issuing passports for Uzbekistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Service standards have recently been affected by the Russian authorities' decision to enforce the prohibition of identification documents crossing its borders unaccompanied. The Mission is working to re-organize its delivery mechanisms for passport applications and completed passports in order to address this issue. With the recent closure of the Consulate General in St. Petersburg, the Mission will be closely monitoring workload levels over the next year to determine if there is a need for an Honorary Consul in the country's north-west.
The Administration Program is functioning ***, despite the challenges and constraints it faces related to the poor condition of the Chancery ***. Most of the recommendations and observations made during the Audit focus on procedural aspects of operations, in an effort to improve control and efficiency. As the Program moves forward with these recommendations and its own initiatives, finding the right balance of implementing improvements and managing the pace of change for staff and clients will be essential. Improving communication of administrative policies and procedures will be an important step to improving service levels and dealing with client expectations. As the level of services required and provided is adjusted in relation to changes in the local environment, the number of resources, both CBS and LES, in the Program will accordingly need to be examined.
A total of 80 audit recommendations are raised in the report; 74 are addressed to the Mission and six are addressed to Headquarters (HQ). Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the 80 recommendations, management has stated that 47 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 33 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.
The scope of the Audit included a review of Mission Management and the General Relations (GR), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs.
The audit objectives were to:
The focus and extent of on-site work was based on an assessment of materiality and related risk. This was done through communication with Headquarters (HQ) bureaux, including briefings by line management and the functional bureaux, review of relevant HQ and mission documentation, and past audit findings, and an analysis of recurring trends and systemic issues.
During the Audit, audit issues and lines of enquiry were further refined from information gathered through interviews with the HOM, DHOM, and Program Managers, a meeting with the LES Committee, individual interviews with staff, and results of other documentation reviewed. The level of audit work was therefore based on issues and information identified and gathered at all levels, HQ, Mission Management and Mission operations.
|Assets||Crown Leased||Crown Owned|
|Financial Information 2007/08|
|Operating Budget (N001)||$6,326,010|
|Capital Budget (N005)||233,375|
|CBS Salary Budget (N011)||1,756,900|
|LES Salary Budget (N012)||2,817,516|
1.1.1 The Embassy in Moscow is a large mission with 47 Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 108 Locally-engaged Staff (LES). The Mission oversees honorary consuls in Vladivostok, Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Yerevan (Armenia). Prior to its closure in March 2007, the Mission was also responsible for the Consulate in St. Petersburg.
1.1.2 Overall the Mission is functioning *** and is *** protecting and furthering Canada's interests in Russia. The Head of Mission (HOM) *** provides *** support to all Mission programs. The working environment in Moscow is difficult and, as such, a great deal of attention must be paid to internal management, communication and community building. The quality and consistency of communication also varies between sections and in some cases did not always include LES. The Mission's community building and change management agendas would benefit from a more formalized communication framework that ensures all programs are effectively contributing to top-down and bottom-up communication, through Committee on Mission Management (CMM), town hall, section, LES Committee and CBS spousal meetings.
1.1.3 In 2005, the EX-01 Head of General Relations was converted to the EX-02 Deputy HOM (DHOM) and replaced by an FS-04 as Head of General Relations. The transfer and upgrade of this position to DHOM was meant to be a reflection of the importance and complexity of the bilateral relationship. The DHOM's focus was to be on the internal management of the Mission, allowing the HOM to focus externally and on high level strategic issues. However, the roles and responsibilities of the position are not clear ***. Given that the DHOM is an EX-02, and senior level management already exists in the Administration (EX-01) and IBD (EX-02) programs, the need for a DHOM position should be revisited. Eliminating the EX-02 DHOM position and reinstating it as the EX-01 Head of GR would give that program the appropriate level of seniority and provide *** value to the Mission.
1.1.4 A long-standing issue for Mission management and staff in Moscow has been the condition of the Crown-owned Chancery. The condition of the building is not reflective of the image of Canada that the Mission wishes to project and its limited facilities and lack of meeting space negatively impact program effectiveness. As a result, some Mission staff are reluctant to bring contacts and potential clients into their work areas. To compensate, the HOM promotes the use of the Official Residence (OR), *** for program related events. To date, the Department has not been able to resolve these property issues and, pending long-term solutions, some necessary work has been put on hold. It is important that opportunities to improve the work environment in the short-term continue and that all options are explored, including the potential relocation of the OR or certain programs to an offsite location. Long and short-term solutions must be considered independently, as failure to improve the existing site is no longer an option.
1.1.5 The closure of the Consulate General in St. Petersburg has also had an impact on the internal management of the Mission and the delivery of its programs. Impediments to specific programs are raised in the respective sections, but on a Mission level the closure introduced a sense of uncertainty and impacted LES morale. The need to provide services and event organization in the St. Petersburg region has diverted attention away from the vast territory under the Mission's purview, which includes three countries, and the ten regions of Russia spread over eleven time zones. The Mission requested an increased travel budget to compensate for the additional requirements. However, with the time required for staff to respond to and prepare for events in St Petersburg, the capacity to plan and conduct activities in other regions will no doubt be diminished.
1.1.6 The Mission has a comprehensive committee structure in place. The CMM meets weekly and is a forum for information sharing, discussions and decision making. The CMM could be more effectively leveraged by focussing on Mission-wide issues and areas of inter-program cooperation, leaving discussion of program specific items to smaller forums. CMM minutes are available to all staff via the I-drive. Other committees include Housing, Occupational Health and Safety and Environment, Contract Review Board, Classification, Security and Contingency Planning, and the LES Consultative Committee. The Mission also has designated training coordinators, an Environment Officer, an Official Languages Champion and an Anglo American International School Board Representative. Specific comments regarding particular committees and co-ordinators are detailed within this report.
1.1.7 In February 2007, the Mission established a Post Operational Review Committee (PORC) to review all aspects of Mission operations and provide suggestions for improvements. The Committee was comprised of eleven individuals, including a combination of CBS and LES from all Mission programs. The Committee received over 200 comments from Mission staff on a wide range of issues, which were subsequently consolidated on a thematic basis. Following the submission of the Report to management in April 2007, a sub-committee of the CMM was tasked to review and respond to the items raised in the report. Starting in June 2007, it is the intention of the sub-committee to respond to at least two issues per week and provide a monthly up-date to all staff. A Mission-wide, independent exercise supported by management is a valuable tool for improving mission operations and facilitating change management. In this sense, the PORC should be considered as a best practice, recognizing that such an exercise involves a significant time commitment from the Committee and must be followed through on by Management.
1.1.8 The LES Consultative Committee is made up of volunteer members and currently does not take minutes of meetings for distribution to staff. In line with best practices observed at other missions, management should promote a Committee composition that encompasses elected members from all programs and levels (officers, support staff and non-office staff). The Committee meets regularly with the Management and Consular Officer (MCO) and on an ad-hoc basis with the HOM. The HOM should meet with the Committee on a regular basis, quarterly for example, to ensure that both sides remain current on issues and concerns. The Audit Team met with the Committee and the following topics were raised:
These issues were raised with Mission management for future discussion with the Committee.
1.1.9 Members of the Audit Team made presentations to Mission staff concerning values and ethics. During the presentations Mission Management was encouraged to be vigilant in fostering open communication with all staff, including LES, in order to ensure that any ethical dilemmas or potential harassment situations are reported at the outset before issues escalate. As a best practice, the Mission should incorporate a value and ethics session each fall as part of their rotation process, so all staff (new and old) can be updated on policies and procedures.
1.1.10 The CMM should increase its focus on Mission-wide issues and areas of inter-program cooperation, leaving program specific discussion to smaller forums.
1.1.11 The Mission, in consultation with the Geographic Bureau (RED), should clarify the roles and responsibilities of the DHOM position. Consideration should be given to eliminating the DHOM position and reinstituting it as the EX-01 Head of the General Relations Program.
1.1.12 The Mission should develop and document a Mission-wide communication framework to facilitate top-down and bottom-up communication between management, programs and staff. This framework should, at a minimum, include and define the expectations for the following mechanisms:
1.1.13 Management should formally reinforce the importance of values and ethics on an annual basis. This could be accomplished by providing overviews and a forum for discussion via town-hall meetings scheduled in the early fall, coinciding with the arrival of new CBS, to ensure all CBS and LES have similar understandings of management expectations regarding values and ethics in the workplace.
1.1.10 Agree. CMM agenda is focussed on Mission-wide issues and inter-program cooperation and coordination. Implemented, June 2007.
1.1.11 The position of DHOM is new, and was created largely to remove the former Deputy Head from the responsibilities of running the General Relations Program, which was considered excessive, both at the Mission and at Headquarters. The position is barely two years old. *** and the establishment over this period of working relationships that evolved in the absence of the incumbent, the role could not be developed adequately. Only in the last year has it been possible to establish through practice and a more clearly articulated job description the desired role, which involves working with Program Managers in relationships that depend more on guidance and coordination than direct program management. The role is now evolving, as intended, to be a coordinator of issues with cross-program interests and processes in addition to carrying out representational responsibilities at a senior level. Under these circumstances, it would be premature to come to any hasty judgements regarding the future of this position after only one year of effective deployment. At the same time, a case can be made that the position of Head of the General Relations Program should be reclassified from FS-04 to EX-01. This is based on the number of employees supervised and the important responsibilities of the Section. This nevertheless constitutes a different issue from the requirement for enhanced coordination of an expanding G8 mission with eight different programs and 150 staff. An evaluation of the position will, nevertheless be required in the next fiscal year and this will be carried out together with the geographic bureau. In progress, spring 2009.
1.1.12 Agree. Following the example of CMM, weekly sectional meetings are required with agendas in advance and minutes distributed to staff. The first of quarterly meetings chaired by the HOM or DHOM has already taken place. The LES Consultative Committee is being revamped in accordance with the recommendations of a newly commissioned management consultant's report and CMM. Semi-annual meetings between the HOM and spouses will be scheduled beginning in January 2008. Implemented, November 2007.
1.1.13 Agree. This will form a part of the HOM town-hall meetings and special sessions on Human Resource issues. In progress, January 2008.
1.1.14 In addition to the development of a long-term solution, SRD should ensure that a plan is in place to address the Chancery issues in the short-term. Consideration should be given to a variety of options, including the relocation of the OR or programs to an offsite location.
1.1.14 In April 2007, SRD initiated a short and long term strategy for Moscow. The short term strategy is focussed on improving the working conditions of the Chancery through a comprehensive interior design plan for the CH and OR. This included proposed maintenance and repair projects to remedy deficiencies noted in the 2006 Building Condition Report ***.
To facilitate the installation of new chancery furniture to relieve the existing space pressures and to allow for some growth in the Chancery, SRD has also been working with the Mission, the Russian Government Landlord and local brokers to find suitable swing space.
A complete interior design plan for the Chancery has been developed that includes new office furniture, floor, window and wall coverings and lighting. Subsequent proposals have been developed for new paint colours, new upholstery fabric and redesign of the HOM private living space.
In mid November 2007, the Russian government landlord presented Canada with a possible new standalone chancery site. This proposal requires that the current Chancery which houses the Official Residence be restored and kept as the Official Residence. During the period November 26 - December 7, 2007, the Major Crown Projects Division (SRL) and the Property Strategy Section (SRSK) visited Moscow to investigate further this proposal.
SRD continues to provide technical support to the Mission property staff who are responsible for the implementation of maintenance plans for the life safety systems, the minor repair projects ***.
2.1.1 The General Relations (GR) Program is responsible for Political/ Economic Affairs and Advocacy and has a staff of 9.5 employees. It is led by an FS-03 acting as an FS-04 Program Manager (PM) and is supported by four CBS and two LES officers, one CBS assistant and two LES assistants. The Program is also accredited to Uzbekistan and Armenia. The Program had a budget of $120,000 in 2006/07 comprised of $85,000 in Public Diplomacy funds, $20,000 in Post Initiative Funding (PIF) and $15,000 in Northern Initiatives Funding (NIF). In 2007/08 the Program's budget decreased to $80,000 and is comprised of $65,000 in PIF and $15,000 in NIF. The Section also has a travel budget of $45,000 and hospitality budget of $25,000.
2.1.2 The Russian Federation is an important G-8 partner in global affairs. The current political climate can be described as a ***. Russia has taken an active approach to foreign policy issues and conflict resolution including UN reform, NATO expansion, the Middle East peace process, proliferation in Iran and energy policies. The focus of the GR Program at the Mission is to support the implementation of the Russia Country Strategy by focussing efforts on promoting good governance as well as political and civil society development.
2.2.1 The PM has a well established planning process. The Program's objectives, activities and work plans are aligned with the Country Strategy. Each objective in the Public Diplomacy (PD) strategy has a roadmap that includes a list of activities, desired outcomes, key audience, messages and partners. Each objective also has an associated performance measurement monitoring plan that is used to evaluate the extent to which activities contribute to the achievement of the Program's objectives.
2.2.2 In addition to the PD section of the Country Strategy, the Program also produces a Public Diplomacy Plan and Public Advocacy Plan, which provides more detailed information on how planned activities will contribute to the achievement of Program objectives. The annual Public Advocacy plan is approved at CMM and the Public Advocacy officer attends CMM every quarter to provide updates to all Program Managers. At the end of the fiscal year, the Section produces a PD report and PD End of Year Report that highlights the major accomplishments of the Section. The officer responsible for managing the NIF allocation also has a good planning and reporting system in place for the management and use of these funds.
2.2.3 The use of the Program's funds and resource allocations is *** accounted for and reported on. In addition, the use of travel and hospitality funds is in compliance with relevant policies and officers maintain *** hospitality diaries that provide a summary of the event and its implications for the overall Program.
2.2.4 The Program works *** with other programs at the Mission, including the co-located partner departments Canadian Development Agency (CIDA), Department of National Defence (DND), Public Safety Canada, and CIC. Program Managers and officers meet on an informal basis to share plans, ideas and general information. However, there is an opportunity for GR to work more closely with the IBD Program and vice-versa. Currently IBD is not included in the Mission's Communication Strategy. IBD and GR should work together earlier in the planning of IBD events to maximize public affairs benefits and enhance communication of Canada's broader objectives and activities within the Russian Federation. By working together, IBD and GR could build synergies between the programs and derive the maximum benefits for progressing bilateral relations with Russia where the government plays a significant role in the economy.
2.2.5 The GR and IBD programs should increase collaboration in event planning to maximize the potential use of public affairs and communication of Canada's broader objectives and activities within Russia.
2.2.5 Agree. IBD Program members have been provided with the Mission's public outreach strategy and are actively contributing to outreach events. Discussions have been held on crafting commercial-specific public outreach activities. Implemented, November 2007.
2.3.1 The GR organizational structure changed significantly in the fall of 2005 when the EX-01 Minister-Counsellor position was converted to fill the new role of Deputy Head of Mission (DHOM). As a result, an FS-04 took over management responsibilities for the GR Program. As noted in Mission Management, while the PM reports to the DHOM on paper, most interactions occur directly with the HOM. The DHOM, in fact, plays a *** role in the work of the Section and is used occasionally only for high-level meetings and cultural public diplomacy initiatives. The role currently allocated to the DHOM position *** for the Mission and should be reinstituted as solely the EX-01 Head of GR.
2.3.2 Canadian officers, similar to officers of like-minded missions, face daily challenges in scheduling meetings with contacts and conducting business in Russia. The most significant challenge relates to the PM's lack of access to Russian officials above the Director level. The difficulties associated with access to senior officials impacts the Program's ability to fully progress bilateral relations with Russia. This requires the HOM and DHOM to attend meetings that could be capably handled by a GR Program Manager. This is a factor that should be included in the assessment to re-establish the EX position as head of the GR Section, as it would negate any official access difficulties experienced by the current FS-04 PM.
2.3.3 Two of the Canada-based officers will be leaving the Mission in the summer of 2007. This, in addition to potentially reinstating the EX Program Manager position, presents a good opportunity to re-assess the current organizational structure of the GR Program as public diplomacy funding has decreased and workload has returned to normal following the G-8 summit. In addition, consideration should be given to assessing the requirement to have four Canada-based officers in the section as well as their classification levels. Given the current situation there is opportunity to increase efficiency through better alignment of resources in the Section.
2.3.4 Overall, the GR Program is *** managed. Staff roles and responsibilities are clear and the PM has made *** use of the resources available in the Section. When the PM assumed responsibility for the Program in August 2005, the job packages of the officers in the section were reorganized in order to manage the increase in PD funding and workload associated with preparing for the G-8 summit in July 2006.
2.3.5 The four Canada-based officers in the Program at the time of the Audit were all ***. This presented some management challenges for the PM as they had to balance increasing work requirements while building a team ***. The PM took a proactive approach to managing the Section and over the course of time has built a *** team. The PM spends time coaching staff, reviewing objectives and performance on a regular basis.
2.3.6 The PM has *** integrated the Global Security Reporting Program (GSRP) Officer into the work of the Section and has worked closely with them to expand their role in certain complementary areas, while respecting the fenced nature of the position. This work includes assisting in reporting on activities as well as completing *** correspondence on local NGOs in Russia.
2.3.7 The Section has good internal communications. The Section has formal weekly staff meetings and minutes of these meetings are distributed to all staff in the section. Informally, the PM meets with staff on an individual basis to review performance and short term objectives. Every six months the PM formally meets with staff to provide them with feedback on their performance.
2.3.8 An assessment of the roles, responsibilities and classification levels of Canada-based officers in the GR Program should be undertaken to determine whether there is room to achieve greater efficiencies through a realignment of resources in the Program.
2.3.8 Agree. Proposals have been suggested and consideration of this will be given in the new fiscal year. In progress, July 2008.
2.4.1 The increase in PD funds from 2005 to 2007 broadened the scope of the Program's work and enabled the Mission to widen / strengthen links with key Russian decision-makers and greatly assisted the GR Program's ability to meet the goals of raising Canada's profile in Russia. The short term increase in funds provided the Section with an opportunity to establish contacts through the funding of activities and increase Canada's exposure in Russia. The Section has also leveraged opportunities with the Canadian Studies Centres in Russia enabling them to increase their coverage and outreach. The seven Canadian Studies Centres are important partners for the Mission and provide support and assistance on a variety of PD programming activities.
2.4.2 The G-8 Summit that took place in Saint Petersburg in July 2006 presented challenges and opportunities for the GR Program. From January to July 2006 the Section played a key role in facilitating and coordinating Canada's participation at the Summit and managed over 25 official visits to Russia during the April to July time period. Two staff in the Section worked a combined 725 hours of overtime in preparation for the Summit. The increase in visits by Canadian officials was leveraged by the GR Section as they obtained commitments from visitors to undertake other outreach activities while in Russia, such as meeting with key contacts or undertaking public speaking engagements.
2.4.3 The GR Section has an opportunity to improve its external communications with local clients. Specifically, the Mission website does not provide information on upcoming events or activities undertaken by the GR Section. The site only lists specific Canadian programs offered in Russia and background information on Canada-Russia relations. By placing information on upcoming events and GR activities in Russia, the web site could be a significant vehicle that the Mission could use to communicate its message to its clients and potential clients in Russia. Some best practices that the Mission could refer to include the embassy websites in Warsaw and Washington.
2.4.4 The GR Section should increase the use of the Mission website to inform clients and potential clients of upcoming events and provide updates on GR activities to promote PD objectives in Russia.
2.4.4 Agree. Major Mission website overhaul completed. Implemented, July 2007.
2.5.1 Canada's major security undertaking in Russia is our involvement in the Global Partnership Program (GPP) against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction, launched in 2002 at the Kananaskis G-8 Summit. This Program consists of the dismantling of nuclear submarines, disposition of fissile material, destruction of chemical weapons and employment of former weapon scientists. Canada is a leading architect and supporter of the GPP with a commitment of up to $1 billion over ten years. The Program is managed by the Global Partnership Program office (IGX) at DFAIT Headquarters in Ottawa.
2.5.2 IGX is supported by a team of four personnel at the Mission in Moscow. The Mission's GPP Section is led by an FS-04 Counsellor and is supported by an FS-03 Officer, an LES Officer (LE-9) and an LES Assistant. The Section's role includes the management of logistics for visits by Headquarters staff, liaison with local partners, reporting, outreach and public diplomacy. The main focus is on the coordination of Canadian visits as the Section coordinated logistics for over 50 official monitoring visits in 2006.
2.5.3 The GPP staff at the Mission are not being fully utilized ***. A better match is needed between the position description for each member of the GPP Section and the actual expectations for performance and engagement with various projects, including the level of responsibility given to the employees. The current roles, responsibilities and mandate of the Moscow GPP office should be assessed to determine whether there is a requirement for the two CBS officers and whether the mandate could be expanded to take on more responsibilities, such as monitoring and increased reporting. This is necessary to achieve better value-for-money for the resources expended by the Program and ensure that officers obtain experience reflective of their classification levels.
2.5.4 IGX, in conjunction with the HOM, should assess the current mandate, roles and responsibilities given to the GPP section of the Mission and adjust resource levels accordingly.
2.5.4 IGX and the Mission agree with the recommendation and are following up. After a review of the group's role and responsibilities, we consider that the required level of support can be obtained through a different configuration of the GPP team at the Mission. In addition to logistical support for travel and project administration, IGX does require significant political reporting, project management and monitoring, and liaison support, much of which needs to be done by a CBS. An appropriate level of support would be the current FS-03, LES-09 and LES Assistant positions, plus a new LES Officer (proposed LES-07). The FS-04 position would be deleted. These resource levels, to be implemented in the summer of 2008, would address IGX's operational requirements and also reflect the draft recommendation of the GPP Summative Evaluation regarding making better use of Mission personnel.
3.1.1 The resident IBD Program is responsible for delivering Canada's international business development, investment and economic interests in Russia, Armenia and Uzbekistan. The last two countries are served on a reactive basis with the core focus being Russia. The Program is managed by an EX-02 Senior Trade Commissioner and is comprised of three CBS and four LES Trade Commissioners supported by two LES assistants. The Program's budget includes a Client Service Fund (CSF) of $80,000, $25,000 for hospitality and $25,000 for travel.
3.1.2 The Russian economy has recovered from the difficulties of the late 1998 financial crisis and is experiencing significant growth, with GDP increasing an average of almost 7% between 2001 and 2006. Recently, Russia's economy has benefited from high commodity prices, cheap domestic energy, low global interest rates, and spare manufacturing and labour capacity. In 2005, the Russian economy was the world's tenth largest ($766 billion USD) and is expected to be in the top six in the coming decade. Two-way trade has been increasing at a dramatic pace with Canadian exports jumping from $240 million in 2002 to $870 million in 2006 (source: StatsCan). These impressive figures do not include exports of Canadian services to Russia, Canadian goods trans-shipped through third countries, or Canadian goods purchased by Russian companies and registered "off-shore", such as aircraft. While China still represents Canada's largest export destination amongst BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries, Russia is only slightly behind Brazil (at $1,337 million) in absolute terms. More importantly, year-on-year growth in Canadian exports to Russia in 2006 (54%) was more than twice as fast as growth in Canadian exports to Brazil (21%) and Canadian exports to Russia are expected to exceed exports to Brazil some time in early 2008. In addition, Russia's active interest in investment abroad and strategic alliances as a means to diversify its industry is growing, as signalled by recent high profile agreements. Export Development Canada (EDC) has also seen a significant increase in export financing activity in Russia.
3.1.3 The Program is *** active and demands will continue to grow. As pressures increase, attention to adequate resourcing of the Program should be a priority for HQ over the coming years. At present, the Program has few assistants, no specialist positions, and is under-resourced compared to its peer missions. These growing challenges are exacerbated by an extremely large market territory and the closing of the Consulate General in St. Petersburg.
3.2.1 The Program is *** managed and communication is strong. Weekly meetings are held with CBS to discuss plans, their implementation and on-going operations. These meetings include LES on an issue-by-issue basis. Full Program meetings are held monthly, based on the availability of the Mission's only meeting room. In order to help promote coordination, aid performance management, and create a more forward-looking approach to the meetings, the Program should create an agenda based on Program priorities and keep records of decision at each meeting. These records should be circulated to all staff in the Program, the HOM, as well as being sent to other Mission programs to help create opportunities for linkages.
3.2.2 In an effort to improve collaboration and facilitate change management, the Program was recently restructured into three sub-teams, each headed by a CBS. To ensure a continued focus on results, each of the sub-units should hold regular meetings to review activities in-line with Mission priorities. These meetings could be further leveraged as coaching opportunities by the PM through periodic participation to focus on particular sectors or activities.
3.2.3 The Program includes an officer ***. *** officers need mentoring and coaching as part of their professional development and training. The Officer has received ongoing coaching *** and support from more experienced officers. While the Audit Team recognizes the growing demands on the Program, and the constraints facing the Program Manager, the *** could benefit from additional direct interaction with the Program Manager and *** should ensure that sufficient time is made available for coaching activities.
3.2.4 The PMP (Performance Management Program) has been implemented and is actively being used by the team; however, the managers must use it along with feedback and coaching sessions to mange performance on an ongoing basis, in addition to an annual appraisal tool.
3.2.5 Although responsibilities and objectives have been set for each Trade Commissioner, plans for each priority sector need to move away from a focus on activities, to one that centres on results. Establishing expected results that are clear, realistic, and attainable would assist the Trade Commissioners in better achieving targets and improving performance management.
3.2.6 Though each officer is also assigned a number of non-priority reactive sectors it is important to keep a tight focus on specific initiatives within the priority sectors. The non-priority sectors assigned to each officer should be removed from the Virtual Trade Commissioner (VTC) and InfoExport websites and kept on an internal list so as not to solicit non-priority inquiries.
3.2.7 Overtime in the Program is very high. Despite the fact that a large amount of overtime is unclaimed, the IBD Program has the third highest overtime bill, behind only the Mission drivers and staff at the Official Residence. Identifying niche opportunities within sectors, and reducing attention devoted to multi-sectoral work and reactive sectors (see above) could help improve focus. Though the Program needs to get a better handle on controlling expenses and promoting a healthier work-life balance, the statistics also reinforce that the Program is under-resourced.
3.2.8 Agendas should be developed for Program meetings and records of decision should be kept. These records should be circulated to Program staff, the HOM and other Mission programs.
3.2.9 Sub-unit Managers should hold regular meetings with their own teams to monitor activities and ensure a continued focus on results.
3.2.10 The Program should adjust its business planning so that it places a higher degree of focus on results.
3.2.11 Attention devoted to reactive sectors should be decreased where possible. To facilitate this, the Program should only publish its priority sectors on the VTC.
3.2.12 Managers need to better monitor overtime and reinforce work-life balance where possible.
3.2.8 Agree. Agendas are drafted, minutes kept of weekly meetings. These are circulated within the IBD Section and will be circulated to HOM, DHOM and other program managers. Implemented, November 2007.
3.2.9 Agree. IBD Section will institute quarterly meetings of sector teams to strengthen the results focus of their work. In progress, January 2008.
3.2.10 Agree. The 2008-09 business planning exercise will be used to sharpen the IBD's focus on results. In progress, March 2008.
3.2.11 Agree. Overall, however, IBD stresses the need for flexibility given the growth and dynamism of many sectors of the Russian economy. IBD will highlight only its priority sectors through the Virtual Trade Commissioner. In progress, March 2008.
3.2.12 Agree. Program Manager stresses need for better work-life balance. Implemented, September 2007.
3.3.1 The Program is managed by an EX-02 Senior Trade Commissioner and the team is comprised of three CBS (FS-03, FS-01 and ES-06) and four LES (LE-09) Trade Commissioners. The ES-06 position, along with one of the LE-09 positions, belongs to Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC). The entire team is supported by two assistants (LE-06 and LE-04). The Program's budget includes Client Service Fund (CSF) of $80,000, $25,000 for hospitality and $25,000 for travel. The Program also has a dedicated $26,000 for AAFC activities.
3.3.2 The Program's CSF allocation was originally $63,000 which is low in relation to the trade statistics, growth trends, market potential and a comparison of resources assigned to other BRIC markets. Russia has less than half of the CSF budget that was allocated to the team in Brazil or India, and less than a fifth of what was given to China. In April 2007, when the Consulate General in St. Petersburg was closed, Moscow was able to make a business case to absorb St. Petersburg's CSF allocation. This has helped improve resourcing levels to some degree but is still not sufficient. HQ should look at making further increases to Moscow's CSF level.
3.3.3 Russia is a large country that spans 11 time-zones from Europe in the West, to the Pacific Ocean in the East. This is an extremely large market territory to cover from a single office in Moscow. In order to identify market opportunities, collect and verify market intelligence, and to build and maintain networks, all the officers in the Program must travel regularly out into the regions. In addition two officers are also responsible for covering Armenia and Uzbekistan, not to mention the need to travel to conferences and trade shows, and to escort delegations or conduct outreach in Canada. The closing of the Consulate General in St. Petersburg has also added a new pressure of frequent travel to that city by members of the team in Moscow. These high travel demands greatly stretch a very limited travel budget of $25,000. The Program needs to have its travel budget increased significantly to ensure that Program integrity is maintained and the Team is able to effectively deliver its mandate.
3.3.4 The Program includes an FS-01 CBS Trade Commissioner position (EXTT5572R), ***. However, with an acute shortage of resources and growing demands, a number of additional duties have been assigned to the position including several sectors, trade policy issues, and managing the InfoCentre. The job package and management expectations of this position demonstrate that the Program is using, and requires, the position at a higher level. The classification of the position should be reviewed with the view to upgrade the classification to FS-02. This may also help better attract *** officers to a Program that generally has recruitment difficulties during the rotational cycle.
3.3.5 The Program currently has only two Assistant positions (LE-06 and LE-04). This is an anomaly to the structures of most IBD programs around the world. Usually, IBD programs include one Assistant supporting and working as part of each sub-unit. During the audit process we were unable to determine the history of position moves, creations, and deletions that contributed to a shortage of support positions. The lack of adequate support requires officers to engage in logistic and administrative work and results in the LE-04 Assistant position being over-whelmed. Keeping in mind the time involved in navigating ***, the Program's officer level resources could be better utilized. The structure of the Program needs to be reviewed, including the classification of the LE-04 position and the possibility of creating two incremental LE-05 Assistant positions to properly balance workloads in the Section.
3.3.6 In a country where access to commercial opportunities are subject to ***, inter-governmental agreements and consultative mechanisms are an essential part of ensuring a receptive environment to Canadian business. Relations with Russian ministries and state controlled economic entities are important. *** bureaucracy and multi-level policies require constant monitoring, analysis and interpretation in order to protect or mitigate risks that could impact Canadian commercial projects and investments. Peer programs globally have economic and trade policy positions within the IBD Program. As commercial ties between Canada and Russia continue to grow, Russia should be considered for an Economic and Trade Policy Officer. In addition to maintaining dialogue with key interlocutors, this position would focus on initiatives such as the renewal of the Soviet-era Foreign Investment Protection Agreement and the Inter-governmental Economic Commission, and to support files surrounding Russia's ascension to the World Trade Organization (WTO), intellectual property concerns, and other market access issues.
3.3.7 Currently, Canada's commercial relationship with Russia is one of export and investment. However, Canada cannot afford to lose sight of Russia's long history of innovation in the areas of science and technology. As the commercial relationship moves up the value chain there will also be a need to look strategically at where the two countries can cooperate on technology development. There will also be opportunities to work along side other programs, such as the Global Partnership, that are making money available to employ former military scientists in peaceful scientific pursuits. If funding is made available under the Global Commercial Strategy, consideration should be given to adding a Science and Technology Counsellor position to Russia.
3.3.8 In light of the observations noted above, the IBD Program in Russia is not resourced to effectively pursue and leverage the opportunities presented by a rapidly evolving Russian economy. While there is little to no space in the existing Chancery, the Department should not allow this constraint to dictate how Canada's commercial interests are managed.
3.3.9 The current team in place has *** Russian language skills. Given the lack of English in the local environment and the challenges of working in Russia it is critical that CBS officers being selected for postings to Moscow be identified as early as possible. Not only do they need at least 12 months of Russian language training, they also need to receive sufficient exposure to the market and its issues before arriving at the Mission by spending time in a Geographic or Functional unit, or on a temporary assignment to Russia.
3.3.10 The Program should review the classification of the FS-01 position and submit a business case for its classification to be upgraded.
3.3.11 The Program should review its organizational structure and prepare a business case to increase the number of support positions and to upgrade the classification of the current LE-04 position to LE-05.
3.3.12 The Program, in consultation with a number of HQ units, should prepare business cases to assess economic and trade policy and science and technology needs over the next three years.
3.3.10 Agree. The business case for upgrading the current FS-01 position will be prepared in conjunction with HQ planning on the fiscal year 2008-09 posting cycle. In progress, June 2008.
3.3.11 Agree. Program Manager will prepare a case for the reclassification of the section's LES-04 to an LES-05 before the end of the fiscal year. Business cases for other LES positions will need to be developed within the context of overall Mission planning for increasing office space. In progress, April 2008.
3.3.12 Agree. The Section will work more closely with HQ in identifying specific trade policy issues for stronger IBD focus, given limited resources which have made it difficult for the Section to focus on trade policy issues. Recognizing that S&T has not been identified as a priority area in DFAIT's Russia Business Plan, the IBD Section will work more closely with HQ and with the Global Partnership Section in the Mission to identify possible opportunities for stronger S&T focus. Implemented, July 2007.
3.4.1 The Program complies with all of the applicable policies and practices expected by the management of the Trade Commissioner Service.
3.4.2 TRIO has been implemented at the Mission and it remains an ongoing challenge for the Program. *** that have joined the Program are more adept at using and navigating the system but there are long delays in getting these *** staff members trained which limits how quickly they are able to get up to speed. *** also require some further coaching and training to help them *** using the tool. HQ also needs to provide more guidance to the missions on what should and should not be entered into the system. In the absence of this direction, the Program has developed its own guidelines, as have many other programs worldwide. The LE-06 Program Assistant is the InfoCentre Administrator. This position should work with the IBD management team on improving how the TRIO system is used. Managers need to spend additional time reviewing the system and utilizing that information as a means to conduct team meetings by reviewing activities in-line with priorities and results.
3.4.3 The Program has a number of documents on InfoExport and the Virtual Trade Commissioner. Given the pace of events, the Program has not had the capacity to update these documents or to develop new content. This should become a priority of the team in order to provide clients with up-to-date information on opportunities in the market and the challenges of doing business in Russia.
3.4.4 Though all officers are doing some outcalls, they still spend a significant amount of their time in the office. The Program needs to act more strategically and increase the amount of focussed outcalls in order to gain market intelligence and cultivate a network of contacts in their areas of responsibility. The inclusion of an outreach/outcall strategy as part of each work plan would allow the Program to more effectively use its resources to identify results.
3.4.5 A hospitality budget of $25,000 is available and *** utilized by the CBS Trade Commissioners. The LES Trade Commissioners have hospitality allocations of their own, ***. Because of the local business culture, officers do not necessarily have a significant number of client interactions outside of office meetings or telephone calls. Traffic in the city also makes business dinners a less frequent occurrence. Commercial hospitality funds should be used by the officers to gain market intelligence and cultivate networks of contacts in the territory. Given the business culture, this may best be done through receptions. The Mission should review the current level of funding to determine if it is required by the officers to support the development of their contact base with respect to their priority sectors.
3.4.6 Hospitality diaries generally include all receipts but the forms are not always completed legibly. The Commercial Program manager should not approve any claim for reimbursement, including travel claims, unless it is completed electronically so that all descriptions and calculations are clear. The Program Manager has developed guidelines to help improve the content of the diary forms, which has generally helped the team improve their reporting. Some minor changes to how form EXT52 (boxes 7, 8 and 9) is completed could further improve demonstrating that the hospitality funds are being well spent. The forms should clearly show value for money and link to the Program's strategic objectives. The evaluations of events and the potential follow-up actions resulting from the events should also be indicated. The Program should also consider including hospitality diaries in the performance appraisal process to reinforce proper completion and as an indicator of an officer's ability to leverage resources strategically.
3.4.7 The Program undertakes its own communication and media relations specific to commercial activities. Historically the Program has not received close support from the Public Diplomacy unit. It is still important to reinforce that the Mission's Public Diplomacy plan needs to include messages related to Canada's commercial interests where appropriate.
3.4.8 The Program should set objectives and develop a plan to update and increase content on InfoExport and VTC websites.
3.4.9 The Program needs to increase its level of outreach and should address this in its results-based business plan for each sector.
3.4.10 The Program should set objectives for the use of hospitality funds to ensure resources are being used strategically.
3.4.11 The Program should improve the completion of the hospitality diaries. All forms should be completed electronically before they are submitted for signature.
3.4.12 The Program should work more closely with the GR Section to ensure that the Mission's messaging reflects Canada's Commercial interests.
3.4.8 Agree. IBD Section will increase its focus on updating content on InfoExport and the Virtual Trade Commissioner websites. In progress, January 2008.
3.4.9 Agree. IBD Section is increasing outcalls in priority sectors, this will be reinforced in the next annual round of business planning. Implemented, November 2007.
3.4.10 Agree. Greater attention is already being paid to matching objectives of the use of hospitality funds with overall IBD strategic priorities and this will be reinforced beginning in the next IBD business planning cycle. Implemented November, 2007.
3.4.11 Agree. Program Manager requires all forms to be completed electronically before approval is given. Implemented, November 2007.
3.4.12 Agree. IBD program members have been provided with the Mission's public outreach strategy and are actively contributing to outreach events. Discussions have been held on crafting commercial-specific public outreach activities. Implemented November 2007.
3.5.1 The Russian economy is evolving and providing indications of sustained economic growth. This expansion is fuelled by a desire to diversify Russian industry beyond the export of natural resources, and moving value-added activities within their borders. For example, instead of exporting lumber, Russian industry would like to export finished doors, windows, or modular timber-frame houses. This has provided valuable opportunities for Canada to export processing technologies to Russia. The needs of a diversifying Russian economy are well matched with Canadian expertise in areas such as aerospace, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas and forestry. By capitalizing on this opportunity, Canada could successfully get in on the ground floor and develop strong business relationships as the value-added industry in Russia emerges. With the rapid pace of diversification and the large amount of government funds available to support this agenda ($100 billion USD), failure to properly situate Canadian businesses and technologies could leave Canada playing catch-up, instead of leading the way.
3.5.2 In addition to Russia's recent expression of interest in mapping future Canada-Russia commercial ties, similar efforts have also been extended to the emerging economies of India and Brazil. These efforts are supplementary to the already important economic and historical relationships that Russia enjoys with emerging economies in Kazakhstan and China. As the economy diversifies and integrates into the world market, Russia could become an ideal location for Canadian business to operate or invest in order to serve the rapidly growing Russian and Chinese markets.
3.5.3 The Department, acting with its key partners, needs to develop an overall strategy to guide Canada's commercial engagement with Russia. Comparable documents are being developed for other priority markets and Russia should not be an exception. This strategy is critical to help shape the future direction of the Program and to better allocate the Department's limited resources. It will also form the basis upon which to develop longer-term plans for adding incremental specialist positions and managing a pool of Russia experts.
3.5.4 Three of the four CBS positions in the Commercial Program are rotating this summer. This will be a significant change in the management team which will have a large impact on Program operations. The rotation should have been more staggered to allow for retention of corporate memory and a smooth transition. ***. The importance and scale of the IBD Programs should attract very talented and senior officers from within the Trade Commissioner Service. It is important to have the people on the ground with the appropriate skills to ensure Canada can fully benefit from the potential opportunities. It is a concern that an important Program was unable to attract candidates from the rotational foreign service. Further more, the Human Resources (HCM) and the Global Operations (WMM) branches are facing challenges to successfully identifying candidates for a career path that includes Russia early enough to allow the requisite language and professional training. This is a wider problem that is surfacing in a number of important commercial programs. There is a significant absence of career paths and strategic human resources planning in the Trade Commissioner Service which is leading to talent gaps and not having the right candidate in the right place at the right time. In the end, the Department is having to go outside the Trade Commissioner Service to find candidates from other agencies in order to fill these gaps.
3.5.5 Export Development Canada has recently opened an office in Russia. The presence of this office is already demonstrating positive benefits for Canada. EDC has a completely different methodology from the Trade Commissioner Service in how to approach client interaction, opportunity development, networking and hospitality. There are opportunities to work more closely with the EDC team in developing networks and advancing specific projects. The Trade Commissioners could also learn from some of EDC's own best practices. Fortunately the current IBD Program Manager is on secondment from EDC; however, future Program Managers and Trade Commissioners will have to aware of how they can work more closely with the EDC office in Moscow.
3.5.6 The closure of the Consulate General in St. Petersburg, Russia's second largest city, has likely affected Canada's long-term commercial efforts in Russia. The closure removed a Canadian presence from one of the county's major consumer markets, the principal commercial port and the key centre for Canada's interests in natural resource industries, such as forestry, pulp and paper and energy. St. Petersburg is also a power centre with important linkages to many of the key figures and decision makers, ***. The IBD Program in Moscow was already stretched because of insufficient resourcing and with one less office, and 2.5 fewer full time equivalents (FTE), the strain on the team in Moscow has increased. In comparison with resources allocated to other BRIC markets - China (70 positions in 5 locations), India (24 positions in 5 locations) and Brazil (25 positions in 4 locations) - HQ should review Russia's current resource envelope (8 positions in 1 location). Currently, the Trade Commissioner Service has more resources at the Consulate General in Sydney, Australia alone than in all of Russia.
3.5.7 Another major challenge facing the Program is issuance of visas. The timely issuance of visas is critical to all aspects of the commercial relationship including business facilitation and investment attraction. Canadian businesses need visas to train workers in Canada. Government officials, investors, and other key influencers require visas to attend meetings. Not only do applicants have to contend with regular service delays, but many of these ***. These challenges portray Canada as a difficult country to do business with. The Mission has been able to identify specific cases where business was either lost for Canada or relations between companies strained because Russian business partners had to surrender their travel documents for lengthy periods of time when applying for a Canadian visa, leaving them unable to conduct other business travel. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) plays an important role in supporting and advancing Canada's prosperity agenda. Executive managers of International Trade at HQ need to continue to work with CIC to ensure that their program priorities are better aligned with Canada's economic interests.
3.5.8 WMM should finalize its commercial strategy for Russia and use it as the basis upon which to review the adequacy of resources in the Program in relation to the strategic opportunities and objectives.
3.5.9 WMM should engage CIC to explore potential solutions for those markets where visas have been identified as a limitation to conducting trade and investment.
3.5.8 The Russian Market Plan is currently being developed and should be completed by the end of fiscal year 2007/2008. The Market Plan will then serve as one of the key tools for future business planning.
4.1.1 The Consular Program is functioning *** under the direction of the Management-Consular Officer (EX-01), with day-to-day management by the Deputy MCO Consular (DMCO) (AS-04). The team also includes a Consular Officer (LE-07) and a Consular Assistant (LE-06), with the General Services Officer (LE-07) providing backup during staff absences. The *** Consular Assistant will be nominated to attend the Consular Specialist Course in Canada at the next available opening. The Program also oversees honorary consuls (HonCon) in Vladivostok, Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Yerevan (Armenia) and, with a bilateral agreement provides consular assistance to Jamaican citizens with direction from its mission in Berlin.
4.1.2 Annually, the Mission provides an average of 645 passport services and handles 90 citizenship applications and 135 notarial requests. The Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) system indicates there are 685 registered Canadians in the Mission's areas of accreditation, although the actual number of Canadian residents is estimated to be around 6,000 and with an estimated 31,000 visitors per year. There are a total of 17 wardens in the Mission's network and the Program is continually searching for people to fill vacant districts. The Program held its last warden conference in April 2003 and this year plans to provide an up-dated information package, as it may not be feasible to hold a conference. The Mission's contingency plans and duty officer manuals are up-to-date and it will shortly be finalizing its Pandemic Flu Preparedness Plan.
4.1.3 The Mission also noted an increase in demand for consular services from Belarus (the mission in Warsaw has responsibility for this area of accreditation). Some clients find it more convenient to approach Moscow for assistance due to language, family-business relations and ease of travel. Staff noted that some clients are not able to communicate in either of the official languages, preferring to use Russian and staff felt it is an asset for the DMCO to be provided with Russian language training where feasible, to not only serve clients but to better communicate with local authorities.
4.1.4 The Program is also responsible for processing passports for the mission in Almaty, who's area of accreditation includes Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan (via its HonCon in Bishkek). As the Russian authorities recently prohibited identification documents from crossing its borders unaccompanied, the Mission has been forced to temporarily transfer Almaty's passport processing to Ankara, and to use work-arounds to send and receive passport applications from the HonCons in Tashkent and Yerevan. As a result, the service standard of 15 working days for passport delivery for applications is not always met. The Mission is in ***. The Mission in Almaty is also discussing with Passport Canada steps to be taken to become a passport issuing office which would remove this responsibility from Moscow.
Passport Canada (PPTC) comment:
Negotiations for courier services are no longer possible as Russian authorities have advised that a new law prohibits transmission/transportation of any identity documents including passports, applications, and supporting documentary evidence. The prohibition encompasses mail services, couriers, etc. This new law had a profound effect on the passport program in that PPTC can no longer deliver personalized passports into Russia *** which affects the 15 day service standard. Over the past year, Passport Canada has been discussing with Almaty the prospect of becoming a passport issuing office and have requested Almaty to identify the consular employees who will undertake the passport program as well as the training in order to become a full service mission.
4.1.5 As at many missions, the Program experiences additional workload due to enquiries from Citizenship and Immigration Canada clients. To manage processing requirements within the CIC Section, the staff do not accept phone calls and encourage the use of fax, email and the Department's website. However, not all clients have access to the internet nor find the information they require, and therefore wish to speak with an individual. As many countries have integrated consular and immigration services, CIC clients often assume this is true in Canadian missions and contact the Consular Section for assistance.
4.1.6 The Program's clientele can be quite demanding given the complex and highly bureaucratic local environment. The Consular Section's office space and waiting area are not suitable and negatively impact on service delivery. For example, the number of clients that can be served at one time is limited by the existence of only one consular booth, there is no washroom in the waiting area and clients must be directed to another building for facilities, and the airflow for heating and airconditioning is problematic. With the decision to remain on-site for the foreseeable future, the Mission has started to examine ways to renovate the space to address these and other concerns. The Mission has also been adjusting its work processes to improve efficiency such as changing client hours to allow staff time to concentrate on application processing.
4.1.7 Though the Mission is *** with services provided by the HonCons, they would benefit from annual letters of instruction and annual assessments. With the recent closure of the Consulate General in St. Petersburg, the Mission will be evaluating the impact of this decision to determine if there is sufficient justification for an HonCon as a point of service in the region.
4.1.8 Staff are ***, overall controls are in place, and assets are adequately safeguarded. The inventory of passports assets is reconciled monthly by the DMCO and quarterly with the MCO, however it should be the HOM or DHOM that conducts the quarterly count. As a best practice, the Mission should also ensure that two CBS participate in the monthly reconciliation and the receipt of passport inventory and that both sign the form.
4.1.9 In order to strengthen revenue control procedures the Program should implement the following improvements:
4.1.10 Provide an annual set of instructions and objectives to each HonCon and ensure that annual performance assessments are completed.
4.1.11 Two CBS should participate in the monthly reconciliation and the receipt of passport inventory. Both should sign the form.
4.1.12 The HOM or DHOM, rather than the MCO, should conduct the quarterly passport count.
4.1.13 The Program should examine ***.
4.1.14 The Program should ***.
4.1.15 All ***.
4.1.16 Revenue reconciliations ***.
4.1.17 EXT-119 forms should ***.
4.1.18 The Z-tape produced ***.
4.1.19 On the client side of the consular booth, the Mission should place a notice indicating the types of receipts available for services.
4.1.10 Agreed. Discussions will begin with HonCons shortly to provide instructions and objectives. In progress, February 2008.
4.1.11 Agreed. Implemented November 2007.
4.1.12 Similar to the practice currently implemented for the monthly Bank Reconciliation Reports, the DMCO will prepare the quarterly account of blank assets. The MCO will in turn verify and review the count and seek HOM concurrence.
4.1.13 Agreed. Administration is working on this acquisition. In progress, April 2008.
4.1.14 This has been explored but is not possible, however, new cash register will solve this issue, see response 4.1.13.
4.1.15 Agreed. Implemented June 2007.
4.1.16 Agreed. Procedures has been put in place to ensure reconciliation. Implemented June 2007.
4.1.17 Agreed and Mission has recently implemented this suggestion. Implemented June 2007.
4.1.18 Agreed. Implemented June 2007.
4.1.19 Agreed. Implemented November 2007.
4.1.20 While processes and procedures within the Program are considered good, improvements can be made by implementing the following recommendations.
4.1.21 Signage (services, service standards and fees) should be displayed in the Consular waiting area in both Official Languages. The Mission may also wish to consider posting key messages in the local language as well.
4.1.22 The Mission should ensure feedback received from clients (ie survey forms) are forward to HQ on a regular basis.
4.1.23 The Mission should ensure that completed COMIP reports are submitted to HQ on a monthly basis.
4.1.24 The Mission should ensure that the time reported for the MCO and DMCO(s) efforts are accurately distributed between case work and program management in the monthly COMIP reports.
4.1.25 Monthly passport returns submitted to Headquarters should include original applications and documentation for emergency, diplomatic and special requests. Implemented, July 2007.
4.1.21 Agreed. Mission will examine the types of messages that could be posted to assist clients. In progress, February 2008.
4.1.22 Agreed. Questionnaires are now available to clients in order to obtain feedback. A more structured feedback process is being examined. Implemented, June 2007.
4.1.23 Agreed. Mission staff will begin to provide statistics daily and will complete monthly reports for HQ.
4.1.24 Agreed. Implemented July 2007.
4.1.25 Agreed. Mission provided instructions to employees to ensure this is done. In progress, February 2008.
5.1.1 Administrative support is provided to DFAIT Programs and to the Other Government Departments (OGDs) located in the Mission (Canadian International Development Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Department of National Defence, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Public Safety Canada and Export Development Canada). The poor condition of the Chancery, local environment and bureaucracy, language barriers, and sometimes challenging clients present unique demands on the Program. Despite this the Program is functioning ***. Most of the recommendations and observations made during the Audit focus on procedural aspects of operations, in an effort to improve control and efficiency. As the Program moves forward with these recommendations and its own initiatives, finding the right balance of implementing improvements and managing the pace of change for staff and clients will be essential.
5.1.2 The changes the Program has already implemented to decrease certain 'holdover services' from the past has met with a moderate level of resistance from some clients, both CBS and their spouses. The elimination of dry cleaning pick-up is a prime example of services readily available and accessible that should not be provided by the Mission. Other services, such as cost-recovery airport transportation are more complex, but the Program has begun to work with local companies that provide safe alternatives to using Mission vehicles and drivers. As the Russian economy and local environment continues to evolve, the level of service provided by the Administration Program will need to be adjusted accordingly.
5.1.3 Though many of the changes implemented or proposed, such as the airport taxi service, had been appropriately analysed by the Program in terms of efficiency, safety, and dependability, clients did not always understand the rationale behind the changes. Improving communication of administrative policies and procedures will be an important step to addressing this issue.
5.1.4 As the level of special service required and provided is adjusted in relation to changes in the local environment, the number of CBS and LES resources in the Program will need to be examined. At present, with three MCOs, a Canada-based (CB) Financial Officer, a CB Maintenance Officer, six Military Security Guards, and three CB IT professionals, the Mission is well-resourced on the Administrative side. A detailed analysis was not possible during the Audit, though it was clear that some efficiencies could be gained and the resources devoted to the Program will need to be monitored by both the Mission and HQ. However, with the impending chancery projects and recent closure of St. Petersburg, suggested changes for the short-term are minor.
5.1.5 In preparation for upcoming rotation of the three MCOs ***, the Mission should develop a plan for the new incoming team to ensure that, as appropriate, all MCOs are exposed to activities outside their main functional responsibilities. This will ensure appropriate back-up capabilities and allow for staff development.
5.1.6 The Administration Program should increase its communication of administrative policies and guidelines to staff through means such as service standards, presentations at staff meetings, etc.
5.1.7 The Mission should develop a plan to ensure exposure (as required) of the MCO team to responsibilities outside their normal duties.
5.1.6 Agreed. Mission hired an organizational design expert to identify opportunities for improvement and identify outstanding priorities and guidelines. A comprehensive communication plan is being prepared for implementation in May 2008. In progress, May 2008.
5.1.7 Agreed. DMCOs have already been provided with exposure outside their normal duties. A more specific development plan is being discussed. Opportunities for staff will be reflected in PMP process. In progress, January 2008.
5.2.1 HR is managed by the MCO with the support of the LE-07 HR Officer, who also supervises the LE-06 Visits Co-ordinator and Accreditation Assistant and the LE-04 Secretary-Translator. During the Audit, the Program was restructuring and the two Messenger positions, previously supervised by the Visits Co-ordinator, were transferred to the Transport Section. As part of the Mission's efforts to ensure back-up capacity, the General Services LE-07 was being trained in certain aspects of the HR function. In addition, she is responsible for the training data-base and maintaining contact with CBS spouses.
5.2.2 The Mission is also equipped with a mini-clinic and is eligible for a six month Community Co-ordinator contract. At the time of the Audit, the Mission had not yet found a Community Coordinator for this year, as no CBS spouses expressed interest in the position. The Mission will be examining the possibility of sourcing potential candidates from outside the Mission, either in the local Canadian or expat community, as this position is viewed as a useful asset given the challenges of the environment. The Mission highlighted the need for this position to extend beyond assisting new arrivals to better settle into the Mission and city (the duties covered by the six month contract period) to include organizing activities, outings, etc., given the potentially isolating environment. The Mission will explore self-funding a second contract for the remainder of the year to carry out these duties in an effort to improve the sense of community.
5.2.3 The Mission maintains a ***-organized HR filing structure. Separate files exist for each employee as well as position number; overtime and leave are *** tracked and controlled, and there is a Mission-wide training data-base. The Mission recently reverted back to having the HOM sign all letters of offer. A review of staffing and classification actions was conducted and files were found to be *** maintained and containing proper documentation. One additional step needed in the staffing and classification process is to ensure that the right to grieve be provided in writing to internal candidates of staffing actions and to classification candidates.
5.2.4 The Employee Handbook was approved in 2004 and the Mission recently prepared an updated package highlighting changes to the benefits package (such as wording for 13th month bonus, authorized holiday leave benefit, currency change of salary scale, change of expatriate positions to LES positions) which was forwarded to the Locally-engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD) for review and approval. Written confirmation of receipt of the Handbook is maintained on employee files.
5.2.5 The Audit Team also met with a group of CBS spouses to obtain their perspective on the posting in Russia. Topics discussed included:
5.2.6 The right to grieve should be communicated in writing to internal staffing candidates and to classification candidates.
5.2.7 The Mission should conduct an orientation session for spouses in the fall following the relocation cycle to provide information on such processes such as VAT processing, Chancery access, etc.
5.2.8 The Mission should ensure spouses are also included where applicable on messages of general information and job postings.
5.2.6 The appropriate wording will be incorporated into the letters to unsuccessful candidates (internal) and to the incumbents of the positions which revised job descriptions were not reclassified to a higher level by Mission Classification Committee. In progress, January 2008.
5.2.7 Agreed. Community Coordinator is organizing event for recently arrived employees and spouses. CMM has recently approved a new Russian learning program which offered transition assistance to employees and spouses. In progress, September 2008.
5.2.8 Agreed. Community Coordinator and HR Officer send both general information and job postings to spouses' e-mail addresses. Implemented, November 2007.
5.3.1 Under the direction of the MCO, the Property Section is managed by a DMCO (AS-05), who leads a team composed of one CBS, three LES, and 20 non-office LES. Transportation is supervised directly by the MCO and includes two LES and 12 drivers. Given the large staffing complement, difficult environment, high number of Staff Quarters (SQs), and problems with the Chancery, it can be a challenging Section to manage. A number of adjustments are necessary to improve service levels and internal control, though overall, the Section is running ***. In particular, the Section would benefit from the creation of service standards to ensure client expectations are appropriate, and to give property staff guidelines for carrying out the work.
5.3.2 Service standards for the Property Section should be created and communicated to all staff.
5.3.2 Agreed. HQ assistance has been sought on the development of these and other service standards. In progress, May 2008.
5.3.3 The Chancery's poor condition, health and safety deficiencies, and lack of capacity to adequately accommodate the number of staff needed for effective program delivery have been long-standing issues for the Mission and the Department. In addition to the main chancery building, administration staff are separately housed in the 'Domic', CIC staff work in an annex, and a fourth building has the garage, storage, and work space for the non-office staff. Within each of these buildings, staff offices have been divided and walls moved over the years to create more office space, which has resulted in air circulation problems and inefficient layouts. Offices in the basement of the main building are of particular concern due to sewage backups. Renovations in the past several years by the Physical Resources Bureau (SRD) have tried to address some of these issues, though given the nature of the problems and the number of staff working at the Mission, the only possible solution is a complete renovation or a new chancery site. Though much of the chancery-related problems are out of the Mission's direct control, the MCO and DMCO have taken steps to improve working conditions to the extent possible.
5.3.4 Since 1994, several options to redevelop or construct a new building have been considered, though to-date a solution has not been found. Complicating factors such as the comprehensive local government approvals needed, security-related considerations, the need for swing space, and the sky-rocketing cost of construction in Moscow have only added to the difficulty of formulating a binding, long-term resolution of this issue for the Mission. SRD visits to the Mission in April 2007 and one planned following the Audit in July 2007 are aimed at finalizing a short-term and long-term strategy. This approach appropriately recognizes that improvements, especially health and safety related, are necessary in the next several years to improve working conditions in the interim. Given its history and impact on the staff and operations of the Mission, SRD indicated that the Moscow Chancery project is a priority.
5.3.5 The Official Residence (OR) is located on the top floor of the main Chancery building. Representational areas in the OR are functional, appropriate, and well used by the current HOM. A recent renovation and redecoration yielded positive results in some areas such as the dining room, but overall left the Mission dissatisfied with the final outcome. The Mission has contacted SRD on this issue, and has addressed some of the deficiencies itself. The artwork previously chosen for the OR also raised concerns, particularly related to some pieces that have been noted as offensive to some guests. The Mission should coordinate with SRD to find more suitable pieces, particularly for the main entrance of the OR. Though not raised as a major issue by the HOM, the private space was not deemed adequate in terms of size nor fit-up. The small private living space is compounded by the fact that the HOM lives where he works, in the main building. This OR would not be suitable for families, and consideration should be given to improving the space for any future HOMs, or as an option, housing the HOM in an OR offsite and only using the representational space of the OR.
5.3.6 The Mission should coordinate with SRD to replace certain fine art pieces with more appropriate works.
5.3.6 Agreed. SRD to define timetable for replacement. Mission will assist SRD in this implementation. In progress.
5.3.7 The Mission has made good progress in the last several years to improve its SQ portfolio. Based on comments received from the majority of staff, and a visit to a representative sample of SQs, staff at the Mission are well housed. Families are situated in a housing development outside of the downtown core, and though commuting time can be considerable, the houses are well-appointed and have all the necessary amenities for families. Closer to the Mission, all other SQs are apartments, and are of high quality as well. The DMCO has visited all 46 SQs, a best practice that should continue to assist maintenance planning and ensure properties are in good condition. To assist this process, the standard checklist in the Property and Material Manual should be used to ensure a consistent approach to SQ inspections. The Housing Committee has been working smoothly and was able to accommodate most housing requests from the previous posting cycle. Though the MCO keeps a record of these requests, there is no central file of the Committee's records of decision or meeting minutes. To improve documentation and transparency, a file should be created.
5.3.8 The Mission should continue annually inspecting each SQ and should implement the use of the SQ inspection checklist to this end.
5.3.9 The Housing Committee should ensure that all records of decision and meeting minutes are documented and stored in a central location.
5.3.8 Agreed. New inventory management framework being developed. This tool will also assist in the preparation of a lifecycle replacement plans for furniture and SQs. In progress, April 2008.
5.3.9 Agreed. Files will be located centrally in the Property Section. In progress, January 2008.
5.3.10 The Section manages a fleet of 20 vehicles and the associated maintenance and repair. A total of 12 drivers and a Dispatcher report to the General Services Manager, who reports directly to the MCO rather than the Property Section and the DMCO. Historically, due to a lack of safe and acceptable alternatives, a high number of drivers and vehicles has been necessary for CBS official and non-official transportation needs. Determining whether the current vehicle complement is still necessary was difficult due to the way dispatch records are maintained, therefore an analysis could not be readily performed. As conditions change in the local environment, the need for the current levels in the Transportation Section should be monitored and changes made accordingly. In general, *** about the availability and quality of transportation services provided by the drivers and the Dispatcher.
5.3.11 Areas for improvement related to vehicle management focus on improving control over certain aspects of operations. In particular, vehicle logs should be given more attention with respect to fuel usage and maintenance. Fuel purchases are recorded on the vehicle logs, but currently, no one is monitoring the automatic calculation for fuel consumption from month to month for each vehicle. The General Services Supervisor, as part of their monthly log review, should examine the kilometres to litre of fuel ratio to identify trends or any discrepancies in vehicle fuel efficiency. Attaching a copy of the Mechanic's maintenance records to the log will also facilitate monitoring of vehicle costs. Similarly, the original gas purchase and trip logs should be attached to the monthly fuel invoice to allow the General Services Supervisor to perform a proper reconciliation.
5.3.12 Controls surrounding the collection of revenue for airport transportation and the issuance of receipts also need improvement. Presently, non-official receipts indicating that the client has paid are distributed at the end of a trip, whether the individual has paid or not. It is also difficult for the Drivers to follow-up with CBS on payments owed, and there is no record of delinquent accounts. The Transportation Section should work with the Finance Section to determine a better process to manage this cost-recovery process. At a minimum, Finance should receive a regular report of airport runs, which would allow it to reconcile whether all fees have been received and follow-up on discrepancies or outstanding payments.
5.3.13 The Mission should continue to monitor transportation needs of staff, taking into consideration capacity usage of the current fleet and the availability of acceptable, safe external service providers.
5.3.14 Original driver's logs and other relevant supporting documentation should be attached to monthly fuel invoices for the General Services Supervisor to review and reconcile.
5.3.15 Fuel usage for each vehicle should be monitored to determine vehicle efficiency.
5.3.16 Airport transportation receipts should not be given to clients until payment has been received.
5.3.17 The Dispatcher should give the Finance Section, on a regular basis, a report of all airport transportation services provided so that fees received and receipts issued can be reconciled.
5.3.13 Agreed. The Mission registers transportation requests of all staff. To this end a Vehicle Long Book was created in 2005. The drivers have been requested to fill it out more thoroughly. The Mission also signed agreements with the two leading taxi companies in May 2007 and uses them mainly for airport pick ups/drop offs (when Mission official transportation is not available). Implemented, November 2007.
5.3.14 Agreed. It has been communicated to the Transportation Manager to bring to the General Services Supervisor the fully filled out driver's logs and also a Fuel Card Log Book. Implemented, November 2007.
5.3.15 Implemented. Detailed Vehicle Operating Report completed for every Mission vehicle. It is a comprehensive form which shows monthly usage of fuel, mileage, monthly fuel usage per kilometre, etc.
5.3.16 A new system is in place since August 2008. ***. He now fills out a numbered Cost-Recovery-Driver-Service slip (3 pages) and gives the 1st page to the client, 2nd page to Accountants and the 3rd puts on his file. The client is fully responsible for making an appropriate payment to the Finance Section. Implemented, August 2007.
5.3.17 The is no longer applicable see response 5.3.16.
5.3.18 The Mission has made *** progress in decreasing the amount of material it has in storage, much of which has surpassed its useful life expectancy or is surplus to requirements. An auction was recently held, which allowed the Mission to dispose of one of its two offsite warehouse facilities. This effort should be continued for the remaining warehouse and materials stored in the large attic of the garage. Inventories of the storage facilities are kept, though other assets, such as the tools and supplies used by the maintenance staff are not formally controlled. At a minimum, an inventory of larger and higher value tools, equipment, and supplies should be created and maintained.
5.3.19 The Mission should determine an appropriate threshold at which tools, equipment, and supplies should be inventoried and ensure that this inventory is created and maintained.
5.3.19 Agreed. New inventory management framework being developed. In progress, May 2008.
5.3.20 The previous DMCO implemented a work order system in the Section to manage maintenance and service requests for the Chancery, OR, and SQs. This system finally gave the Section a systematic way to manage requests, which is especially important given the size of the property portfolio. However, there have been *** received related to the timeliness of service and follow-up on work order requests. The following adjustments to the system should address some of the issues raised by clients and also improve efficiency within the Section:
5.3.21 Ensure all work order requests are followed up on a timely basis as will be defined in the Section's Service Standards. Standardized responses should be developed and used when appropriate to update clients and solicit feedback on the quality of service.
5.3.22 Work orders should be tracked and monitored electronically.
5.3.23 The DMCO and key LES should have a weekly meeting to discuss outstanding work orders and related issues.
5.3.21 Agreed. New procedures, service standards and standardized responses being developed. In progress, May 2008.
5.3.22 Agreed. Consultations have been held with SRD Property who will provide an electronic work order system capable for monitoring and tracking. In progress, January 2008.
5.3.23 Agreed. Meetings have commenced. Implemented, November 2007.
5.3.24 Other procedural recommendations to improve Section operations are as follows:
5.3.25 The DMCO should consult with the Dvorniks (maintenance staff), who indicated a need for some new tools to replace old or broken ones.
5.3.26 The shower in the garage, currently used as storage, should be cleared and made available to maintenance staff.
5.3.27 The DMCO should receive on a regular basis a financial report from the Finance Section to facilitate budget monitoring.
5.3.28 The box containing spare keys to Mission vehicles ***.
5.3.29 The Mission should seek training opportunities for the new Property/Material Assistant, either at HQ, in the region, or online.
5.3.25 Agreed. List of items identified by Dvorniks and new equipment have been purchased. Implemented, September 2007.
5.3.26 Agreed. Implemented, summer 2007.
5.3.27 Agreed. DMCO and Finance Officer working closely in identifying capital and operational expenditures. Implemented, December 2007.
5.3.28 Agreed. Implemented, summer 2007.
5.3.29 Agreed. This will be a part of PMP process. Implemented, December 2007.
5.4.1 The Finance Section is managed by the Mission Finance Officer (FMO), an FI-03 who supervises three LE-06 Assistant Accountants (an Operations Assistant, Banking Assistant and Payroll Assistant) and an LE-05 Cashier. The FMO reports directly to the MCO. Bank reconciliations are up-to-date and are reviewed by the FMO. Signing authorities are properly exercised and there is sufficient segregation of duties to ensure an appropriate level of control.
5.4.2 Accounting operations are significant. Responsibilities include controlling a budget of $11 million and accounting for annual Immigration revenues greater than $3 million. The Mission controlled its budget well in fiscal year 2006/07. The Mission issued approximately 60 Electronic Fund Transfers (EFT) each month from the Rouble bank account until March 2007 when the average increased to over 100 due to a reduction in cash payments. The EFTs from the US bank account are nominal. There is also significant activity in both cash accounts with average monthly cash payments of approximately 2 million Roubles and $65,000 USD (prior to April 1, 2007). No cheques are issued as cheques are not a recognized financial instrument in Russia. The Mission has recently begun using acquisition cards for smaller frequent purchases, although their usage is still sporadic.
5.4.3 The FMO oversees the financial management of the Mission including signing the bank reconciliations and other monthly documentation sent to Foreign Operations and International Banking Division (SMFF). The MCO does not see the bank reconciliations. There has been no formal arrangement between SMFF, the MCO and the FMO regarding the oversight of financial responsibility at the Mission. The only job description provided to the FMO is that of an FI-03 at Headquarters. His specific duties at the Mission have never been outlined formally, but informally the MCO tasked him with the opening of a bank account for immigration fees and the reduction of cash payments. Both projects were completed ***.
5.4.4 Given this arrangement, the MCO relies on the FMO for all financial information. Further communication is needed to ensure the MCO is current on key issues. For example, the MCO was not aware of the fact that the electronic banking had been disabled and was no longer in use (paragraph 5.4.21). The weekly Administration Program meetings between the MCO and her staff including the FMO, offer the ideal opportunity to discuss relevant information in a timely manner. A written job description for the FMO could also be used to clarify the desired level of communication.
5.4.5 Priorities for next year include completing a request by the HOM to develop a transportation policy for the Mission, improve control of financial assets in the consular section and manage the contracting process more closely, including becoming the contracting specialist for the Mission.
5.4.6 A more proactive approach is necessary to implement, improve, and monitor financial management controls throughout the Mission. Areas requiring particular attention include ensuring revenues are properly accounted for, including those collected by the Mission's drivers; exercising authority over financial management such as the right of refusal over incomplete, inaccurate receipts in support of claims for hospitality, travel, etc; and, providing monthly actual versus budget spending reports to the program managers.
5.4.7 As time and resource intensive activities decrease, such as cash payments, and as more controls are put in place over financial management activities, the Mission will have to examine the FMO's duties. There may be an opportunity to consolidate this position with another CBS administrative position in the future.
5.4.8 Write and provide job descriptions to CB Financial Officers posted at missions.
5.4.8 SMD will provide the current job description dated 1998 to the CBS Financial Officers at missions. SMD is currently reviewing the benchmark for the LES Accountants at missions and will also undertake to rewrite the CB Financial Officers job descriptions in the next year by June 2008. SMD will be meeting with the CB Financial Officer in Moscow on December 3, 2007 and discuss the key activities and responsibilities to update the job descriptions.
5.4.9 The FMO should implement internal controls for the Mission's revenue collection functions and enforce the current policies, procedures and guidelines in order to ensure sound financial management.
5.4.10 The FMO should provide the Program Managers with monthly budget reports.
5.4.9 Agreed. Internal controls over revenues have been reviewed and new procedure implemented. Implemented, August 2007.
5.4.10 Agreed and implemented. As of October 2006, Program Managers receive monthly financial reports on travel and hospitality and overtime salary. Implemented, October 2007.
5.4.11 A review of the travel and hospitality files of several Program Managers, the HOM, the Deputy HOM and the MCO was performed. Although most files were properly supported several instances of incomplete documentation and support were noted. In particular, some claims were only submitted at year end for travel throughout the fiscal year; some Travel Authority forms were not authorized prior to the travel; and, inadequate explanations were provided to support some meals, overtime and delayed travel-related costs.
5.4.12 As of April 1, 2007, personal draws are only approved in exceptional circumstances since the bank machine at the Mission provides adequate access to cash for CBS in most circumstances. Given a past occurrence of difficulties settling a personal draw, the Section should increase its monitoring of outstanding advances and seek Management assistance to take the appropriate follow-up actions.
5.4.13 The MCO should be the only person permitted to sign Section 34 for Personal Drawings.
5.4.14 Incomplete or unsubstantiated travel and hospitality claims should not be paid until proper support is provided.
5.4.15 Instances of incomplete or delayed claims should be investigated by management and appropriate action taken.
5.4.13 Up to March 2007, Personal Drawings were used monthly by many CBS to obtain local currency. Since the implementation of the Procedure on Payment Method In Moscow, (Implemented in April 2007) Cash Personal Drawings are no longer an available option to get local currency. However, the Mission continues to have authority to issue cash personal drawing but has no intention to do so. In case of crises or Emergency, MCO may authorise this method and allow employee to received funds from Mission accounts.
5.4.14 All staff has been informed that Travel Authority Form is mandatory before flight/hotel arrangement can be made. This procedure is now enforced by the travel coordinator who requires a copy of the form before a booking can be made. Employees must submit the original Travel Authority Form with their travel claim. No claim is processed without the form. This is reinforced by accounting staff.
5.4.15 Agreed and implemented. Program Manager and HOM will now be copied on messages sent on overdue advance - second notice. Implemented, August 2007.
5.4.16 The Mission has three bank accounts and two cash accounts. One bank account and cash account are each in USD and Russian Roubles. The third bank account, in Russian Roubles, is new as of March 2007 and is dedicated for deposit of immigration fees collected on the Mission's behalf by two third party organizations: the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) (weekly deposit) and Pony Express (daily deposit).
5.4.17 Many payments were historically made in cash in Russia and both US dollars and Russian Roubles were readily accepted. Since July 2006 when the Rouble became convertible, it is possible to pay most expenses with this currency. LES are required and suppliers are encouraged to open bank accounts so that payments can be made by EFT rather than in cash.
5.4.18 Monthly payments from the USD cash account averaged $65,000 USD during the last fiscal year and the account regularly held month end balances of approximately $60,000 USD. Since April 1, 2007, when cash ceased to be collected in the CIC Section, the balances have dropped substantially. The Mission has made a concerted effort to reduce USD cash payments however, additional opportunities should be explored to eliminate the USD cash account now that the Rouble is fully convertible and that USD can be obtained when necessary at the bank. The Mission should also work towards the elimination of USD cash payments so as not to support an underground economy in Moscow.
5.4.19 The Rouble cash account is still required by the Mission for some one-time and regular payments including quarterly rent payments for two SQ's. Payments of approximately 2 million Roubles (approximately $84,000 CAD) are made from this cash account monthly. With the increased usage and acceptance of electronic payments, the payments from this cash account should be monitored for necessity and the balance should be retained at the minimum level required.
5.4.20 The separate bank account for immigration revenue collection is a positive step in reducing cash flow and accounting separately for revenue. The Section should regularly monitor the account to ensure the deposits are reasonable when compared to POS+ 2000 reports produced by the CIC Section.
5.4.21 The Mission had access to Internet banking via a standalone computer in the Banking Assistant's office until February 2007. This allowed access to the bank balances as well as the ability to submit the EFTs through the Internet rather than on paper. In February 2007, an upgrade was made to the computer's anti-virus software which inadvertently disabled the Internet banking software. The bank's suggested solution of the installation of a different anti-virus software was not acted upon and the banking software has not been used since February. Due to the fact that the *** approval process within the banking software consisted of following instructions provided by the Banking Assistant, *** he is more comfortable with the manual processing of EFT transactions and feels this process is more strongly controlled. However, processing the EFTs with paper is increasing the workload of the Banking Assistant particularly with the substantial increase in the number of monthly EFTs since March 2007. This should be addressed immediately in order to recover the gains in efficiency that were achieved by using the Internet banking.
5.4.22 The bank statements, all invoices and the Internet banking software are all in Russian. *** of financial transactions includes a review of the invoices for accuracy of figures and payee name against the entries in IMS. For his due diligence and given the language barrier, he checks with Russian speaking staff on occasion for verification of a name or item on an invoice. Additional Russian language skills would aid the FMO in the performance of his duties. Immediately, the FMO could obtain greater comfort with the Internet banking software by having a Russian speaking CBS translate the key words he uses repeatedly.
5.4.23 Close the USD cash account and obtain US cash through withdrawals from the USD bank account on an as required basis.
5.4.24 Purchase another Anti-Virus software and coordinate the required changes to the banking software.
5.4.23 Implemented, USD cash account has been closed since August 2007.
5.4.24 Agreed and implemented October 2007. On-line banking software has been re-established for payments.
5.4.25 Given the in-house capabilities, the Mission has relatively few contracts other than for items such as the purchase of vehicles and office equipment, for which contracts are standard in Russia. Copies of these contracts are currently kept in the section receiving the goods and services and as such, Finance is not able to verify payments against the terms and conditions specified.
5.4.26 The Contract Review Board consists of the MCO, FMO, CIDA Program Manager and CIC Program Manager. The CRB meets only virtually. Most contracts are initiated by the Property DMCO who reviews the recommendations of her staff and the contract details and forwards a summary by email to the MCO as chair of the CRB. The MCO then forwards the information by way of email to the other board members and requests any feedback. Since the number of contracts is likely to increase with the anticipated renovations to the Mission property over the next few years, it would be appropriate for the CRB to meet in person to review bids and proposals prior to selecting contracts. The Finance Section should be more proactive and act as a contracting resource for the CRB, by providing advice and promulgating departmental policies and guidelines.
5.4.27 The Mission does not use the Material Management (MM) module in IMS to record contracts as, despite several requests, they have not received training. The Mission should consider using the Canada Foreign Service Institute (CFSI) online training in the E-Learning Portal entitled "Material Management Tutorial".
5.4.28 Finance should obtain a copy of each contract signed at the Mission.
5.4.29 The Contract Review Board should meet in person.
5.4.30 The Finance Section should provide the CRB with advice and guidance on Departmental contracting policies.
5.4.31 The Mission should complete the Mission Management Tutorial in CFSI's online training.
5.4.28 Agreed. All contracts are signed in three copies. One of them is kept in the Finance Section. Mission will re-organise filing structure. In progress, January 2008.
5.4.29 Agreed. Contract Review Board has started to meet as of October 2007 and new procedures are being developed. Mission training to follow.
5.4.30 Mission will name a Mission Contracts Officer (to be performed by FMO). The function of that position will be to provide advice on contracts for construction, goods and services to Program Managers and to reinforce the Departmental Contracting Policy. In progress, March 2008.
5.4.31 Mission has registered for the Material Module training in IMS. Upon successfully competition of the training, all contacts other then rent will be entered in MM. In progress, April 2008.
5.4.32 Given the high volume of cash deposits into the cash accounts, a reconciliation was performed of all cash receipts for a two month period. The purpose of this test was to ensure that all cash recorded with an official receipt was in fact deposited in the cash account. For the months of September and October 2006, the transactions were reconciled and the discrepancies found were supported with appropriate documentation. However, further attention is needed with respect to the issuance of official receipts. Some of the official receipts examined indicated the incorrect payment method (cash vs. cheque) and/or the incorrect currency. In order to further facilitate reviews of receipts by the Finance Section, the official receipt numbers, Consular/Passport EXT-119 sequential numbers and the Immigration POS+ 2000 sequential numbers should be recorded in the IMS text field.
5.4.33 Official Receipt numbers, Consular /Passport EXT-119 reconciliation numbers and the Immigration POS+ 2000 sequential numbers should be recorded in IMS for all transactions.
5.4.34 Official receipts should be properly completed ensuring the correct currencies and payment methods are recorded.
5.4.33 Agreed. Implemented, June 2007.
5.4.34 Agreed. Implemented, October 2007.
5.5.1 The IT Section is staffed by three Foreign Service Information Technology Professionals (FSITPs), a CS-03 Team Leader and two CS-02s. The Section delivers the full range of IT services in Moscow and exercises regional coverage for the LES SIGNET Support Assistants (SSAs) in Riga and Almaty. An operational budget for regional travel is managed by the Client Services Regional Manager (CSRM) based in London and capital funds are made available by the Mission based on procurement consultations with PMs. In general, *** provided by the Section and noted the ***. At the time of the Audit, one FSITP ***, operations were assessed based on the two FSITPs on site.
5.5.2 Communication within the Section is good and staff appraisals are up-to-date. While no formal planning exercise takes place, a generic workplan outlines routine activities and equipment upgrades in Moscow. For its regional responsibilities, the Mission establishes planned dates for site visits and maintains regular contact to monitor activities and issues. On a weekly basis the Mission provides an IT Operations Report to the CSRM in London covering major, outstanding and resolved issues as well as ongoing projects and activities. Control over assets was appropriate and items on loan are signed for and logged in the Information Technology Asset Management System (ITAMS).
5.5.3 The Section has a team approach to the workload and roles and responsibilities are loosely defined. While this facilitates a collegial work environment, it also indicates that the workload is not sufficient enough to require formal planning, delineation of responsibilities and priority setting. Discussions also indicated that a good deal of support required by Mission staff is related to basic support and troubleshooting with software and equipment (printer jams, etc.), estimated at approximately 60% by the Team Leader. While the Audit Team did not have sufficient time and information to conduct complete workload review, consideration should be given to reducing the CBS complement to two, and providing the section with an assistant. Due to security concerns this assistant should not be provided with any system administrator privileges, but instead provide basic support and troubleshooting for staff and equipment outside the secure zone. The assistant could also serve as the main contact point for incoming service requests and be responsible for opening trouble tickets in Remedy. This would ensure that activities undertaken by CBS are seen as value added and reflect the rationale for posting Canada-based IT professionals abroad.
5.5.4 As noted in the Physical Resources section of the report, conditions throughout the Chancery are not in keeping with the expectations and needs of staff. The IT Section's offices are located in the basement of the chancery and also serve as workshops and storage facilities. One individual is located in an office with the Mitnet Server Room (MSR) and another is located between the gym and the Canada Club. The current facilities do not provide an appropriate work environment for staff and efforts should be made to locate space for the Section in another location in the Chancery.
5.5.5 The lack of space in the Chancery also does not facilitate the provision of IT training. While this is not rectifiable in the short term, any future Chancery plans should include the provision for a multipurpose training room.
5.5.6 Discussions with the Section also indicated that the Mission has not yet developed a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). A BCP is an essential part of the Mission's contingency planning as it seeks to ensure the continuity of essential operations in the event of a disaster or major disruption. The Mission should consult with the ISR for guidance or any templates that are available.
5.5.7 The Mission should endeavour to relocate the IT Team to a more suitable office location within the Chancery.
5.5.8 The Mission, in consultation with ISR, should develop a Business Continuity Plan to ensure the continuity of essential operations in the event of a disaster or major disruption.
5.5.9 The Mission should ensure that any future Chancery plans contain a provision for a multi-purpose training room.
5.5.7 Agreed. However, current space does not permit this. Mission to actively work with SRD to find suitable accommodation for all Chancery operations.
5.5.8 Mission will consult with ISR and will develop a BCP for Mission approval. In progress, July 2008.
5.5.9 Agreed. Item actually included in Chancery space plan.
5.5.10 SXD, in consultation with the Mission and ISD, should review the requirement for three FSITPs and give consideration to the establishment of an LES assistant to handle basic support and troubleshooting outside the secure zone and serve as the main contact point for the creation of trouble tickets in Remedy.
5.5.10 SXD will launch consultations with Security and Intelligence Bureau (ISD) to review the current IT support model for Moscow and consider the establishment of an LES Assistant to handle basic support and troubleshooting outside the secure zone and to serve as the main contact point for the creation of trouble tickets in Remedy.