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Audit of the Canadian High Commission, Port of Spain

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(January 2008)

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

An audit of the General Relations (GR), the International Business Development (IBD), the Consular and Administration Programs at the High Commission in Port of Spain was conducted from January 29 to February 2, 2007. The Mission was last audited in July 1997.

General Relations is carried out by the Head of Mission (HOM) as there is no Canada based political officer in Port of Spain. Resource considerations for the Program require both a short and a long term view. In the short term Trinidad and Tobago will host both the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and the Summit of the Americas in 2009. While existing resources can address current reporting requirements, they will be far from sufficient to cover the buildup to, participation in, and follow-up required for these two events. As a minimum, a term posting for a political (CBS) (senior FS-03) until 2009 should be considered. Specialist resources in logistics and high-level visit co-ordination in a developing country environment will be required to manage the practical aspects of these events. In this respect, a Management and Consular Officer (MCO) with the aforementioned experience should be assigned to the Mission on a short term basis.

In the long term, the importance of Trinidad and Tobago as a Caribbean economic and political hub should be determined. The host government has a lead role in regional security, is a major energy supplier, and serves as a geographical counterbalance to neighbouring South American and Cuban influences. Given these factors, resource requirements for the Section will need to be reviewed.

The IBD Program is managed by a Canada-based Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) who recently arrived at the Mission. *** , his adjustment to the Program Manager role was taking precedent. The Program had a business plan for 2006/2007 and a new plan for the coming fiscal year was in the process of being established. The purpose of these meetings was to identify priority sectors and objectives for the Program, and to provide a team building opportunity for the staff. The results will also feed into the Performance Management Program (PMP) process in terms of individual objective setting and establishing training requirements.

As Port of Spain's commercial territory includes Guyana and Suriname, the STC is also responsible for providing functional direction and guidance on Trade matters to the HOM in Georgetown, and through him, to the Honorary Consul in Paramaribo. Though the individuals involved have a *** working relationship, the STC's role as a provider of functional direction and guidance should be formalised with respect to Trade activity in Guyana and Suriname. This should ensure that officer turnover does not adversely affect the working relationship.

The Consular Program is under the general management of the Deputy MCO (DMCO). The DMCO is supported by an *** Consular Officer who has *** contacts in the region and provides a *** level of service to the Mission's consular clients. The Passport Assistant, while relatively new to the Mission, has established a *** organized operation, facilitating *** service. There has been a *** improvement in the Section's passport processing over the past year due as a result of a re-engineering exercise. The Section would further benefit from increased integration between the Consular Officer and Passport Assistant, in particular to provide back-up when one is away.

At the time of the Audit, the Administration Section was experiencing a number of difficulties due to communication issues *** . This was most evident in the Property portfolio where client service, and the lack of consistent processes and planning structures was having a considerable impact on clients and morale within the Section. Furthermore, some of the Staff Quarters (SQs) had major maintenance issues. Other administration areas, Finance, Human Resources and Information Technology, were not as profoundly affected by the conflict, however, there was not enough attention devoted to high risk areas. Greater attention will need to be devoted to high risk areas such as contracting and hospitality.

A total of 50 audit recommendations are raised in the report; 45 are addressed to the Mission and five 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 50 recommendations, management has stated that 36 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 14 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Scope, Objectives, Mission Resources

Audit Scope and Objectives

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

The audit objectives were to:

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

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

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

Physical Resources

Table 1: Mission Resources Fact Sheet of Physical Resources
Physical Resources
AssetsCrown LeasedCrown Owned
Chancery1-
Official Residence-1
Staff Quarters103
Vehicles-4

Table 2: Mission Resources Fact Sheet Financial Information
Financial Information 2006/07
Total$3,073,934
Operating Budget (N001)$1,298,435
Capital Budget (N005)$103,600
CBS Salaries Budget (N011) including overtime$427,030
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$1,244,869

Organization Chart

Organization Chart

Mission Management

1.1. Overview

1.1.1 The High Commission is a medium-sized mission, with 13 Canada Based Staff (CBS) and 38 Locally Engaged Staff (LES). In addition to its role in managing the bilateral relationship between Canada and Trinidad and Tobago, the Mission also has regional responsibilities. The International Business Development (IBD) Program is responsible for Suriname and Guyana, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) covers nine other countries from this Mission, and the CIC Medical Section is accredited to eighteen additional countries.

Committees and Communication

1.1.2 The Mission has an extensive committee structure in place, including the Committee on Mission Management (CMM), Canada Fund Committee, Classification Committee, Contract Review Board (CRB), Housing Committee, Locally Engaged Staff Committee, Maple House Tenants Committee, and the Occupational Health and Safety Committee (OHSC). In general, terms of reference exist for all committees and minutes are taken and distributed as appropriate. Despite the fact that formal communications channels are utilized, communication in the Mission could be improved. A number of interpersonal conflicts exist throughout the Mission, and are impacting operations and communications at numerous levels. The HOM has been actively addressing these situations as they come to his attention, but will also need to focus on addressing other conflict situations identified during the course of the audit field work.

Hospitality

1.1.3 Hospitality diaries were reviewed for all DFAIT programs. Documentation of hospitality diaries needs to be improved so that linkages to strategic objectives and evaluation of the events are clearly indicated, and demonstrate value for money. It was also noted that Section34 on the hospitality form was not always executed by the employee's manager, or in the case of program managers, the HOM. A proper Section34 approval is instrumental in ensuring that hospitality funding is used appropriately.

Recommendations for the Mission

1.1.4 The Mission should ensure that hospitality diaries are properly completed and demonstrate linkages to program objectives.

1.1.5 Hospitality diaries should be approved under Section34 by the employee's manager.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.1.4 Completed April 2007. Reminder made at CMM July 12, 2007.

1.1.5 Completed April 2007. Reminder made at CMM July 12, 2007.

LES Handbook

1.1.6 The Mission's last approved LES Handbook was published in 1998. An updated draft handbook was prepared in 2001, but was not reviewed or approved by the Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (HLD). HLD had informed the Mission that it was scheduled for a comprehensive benefits review in 2007, and this information was communicated formally to all LES. Prior to undertaking field work, the Audit Team was informed that this schedule had been abandoned, and that a new schedule had not yet been developed. This information should have been communicated to the Mission by HLD, in order to avoid unrealistic LES expectations. Both management and staff are cognisant of the resource constraints within HLD that continue to delay the up-dating of Handbooks for missions, however, given that the LES community makes up more than 50% of departmental staff this should be a priority for senior management.

Recommendation for HLD

1.1.7 HLD should prioritize Port of Spain's LES handbook for completion.

1.1.8 The new schedule for updating the LES Handbooks should be clearly communicated to all Missions as soon as possible.

HLD Action and Timeframe

1.1.7 HLD has developed criteria for the establishment of priorities within the framework of a contract to update the LES manuals. Port of Spain's handbook is targeted for completion during phase two of this exercise. The new schedule will be clearly communicated to all missions once the contract has been finalized.

1.1.8 See response 1.1.7.

Values and Ethics

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

Recommendation for the Mission

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

Mission Action and Timeframe

1.1.10 Completed February 2007. General staff meetings held annually with the last two occurring in fall 2006 (HOM led) and February 2007 (ZIV led). Next general staff meeting scheduled for fall 2007 after the arrival of new CBS.

General Relations Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The General Relations (GR) Program is largely carried out by the Head of Mission since there is no CBS political officer. The HOM is assisted by a Locally-Engaged Public Affairs Officer (LE-07) and a CBS HOM Assistant (AS-02) .

2.1.2 There is a reporting agreement that is well-linked to the Mission's Country Strategy. The HOM maintains a *** dialogue with HQ, and reporting activities are focussed on priorities.

2.1.3 As Trade is the priority DFAIT program in the Mission, the HOM works closely with the Senior Trade Commissioner on many files. A significant number of the Mission's visits are Trade related, and they are cross-leveraged for the benefit of both programs in terms of outreach and profile generation. Similarly, the HOM works closely on the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) with the Locally-Engaged Senior Development Officer, whose position is fully funded by the Canadian International Development Agency.

2.2 Resource Considerations

2.2.1 In 2009 Trinidad and Tobago will host both the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and the Summit of the Americas. The resource implications of these events were raised during pre-audit briefings in HQ, and discussed in depth at the Mission. While existing resources can address current reporting requirements, they will be far from sufficient to cover the buildup to, participation in, and follow-up required for these two events. As a minimum, a term posting for a political CBS (FS-03) extending to 2009 should be considered. The position subsequently could be either made permanent, or cancelled, depending on the importance of Trinidad and Tobago as a regional economic and political hub.

2.2.2 For managing the practical aspects of the events themselves, an individual experienced in logistics and visit co-ordination in a developing country environment will be required. Drawing on his experience as HOM in Nigeria when the CHOGM took place there in 2003, the HOM states that an MCO would also be required on a short term basis to manage the increased administrative workload generated by such an event.

2.2.3 A longer term view of the importance of Trinidad and Tobago as a Caribbean hub is warranted. The host government has a lead role in regional security, in addition to the country's role as a major energy supplier, and serves as a geographical counterbalance to neighbouring South American and Cuban influences. Accordingly, there is potential for trilateral initiatives on security and energy. Trinidad and Tobago will figure significantly in the upcoming Canada/Caricom Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations. Other features which demonstrate Trinidad and Tobago's growing importance in the region include the Association of Caribbean States and the Caribbean Court are both headquartered in Port of Spain and it is a host site for the Cricket World Cup games scheduled in 2007.

Recommendation for the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau (RLD)

2.2.4 Review Port of Spain's GR and other related resource requirements with a view to ensuring that the Mission is adequately staffed for two major international summit meetings in 2009.

RLD Action and Timeframe

2.2.4 RLD is currently reviewing staffing possibilities to ensure the Mission is adequately prepared for the two major international summit meetings in 2009.

2.3 Military Workload

2.3.1 There is no Canadian Defence Attaché accredited to Trinidad and Tobago, and the HOM has raised this point in Ottawa with no action taken to date. There is an ongoing Military Assistance Training Program (MTAP) for Trinidad and Tobago, and occasional requests for military overflight clearance from the host government. At present, these are processed by the HOM Assistant or the Senior Development Officer. It would be more appropriate for both of these tasks to be performed within the Administration Section where there are two Canada-based officers.

Recommendation for the Mission

2.3.2 Transfer the MTAP and military overflight clearance processing to the Administration Section.

Mission Action and Timeframe

2.3.2 Completed April 2007. Overflight clearance responsibilities were transferred to the Administration Assistant. MTAP responsibilities remain with the HOM assistant.

2.4 Head of Mission Office

2.4.1 During the recent period of more than a year when there was no Head of Mission (HOM) in Port of Spain, the HOM Assistant's duties evolved considerably. With an active HOM now in place, the current HOM Assistant who was in the job for four months at the time of the audit noted a change in her duties. Given that the role of the job has changed, the Assistant's position description should be reviewed and updated as required.

Recommendation for the Mission

2.4.2 The HOM Assistant's job description should be reviewed and updated in collaboration with the Human Resources Section.

Mission Action and Timeframe

2.4.2. Completed February 2007. The HOM Assistant's job has been reviewed and updated.

International Business Development Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The International Business Development (IBD) Program is delivered by a Canada-based Senior Trade Commissioner (STC), a locally engaged Trade Commissioner and a Trade Commissioner Assistant. The STC recently arrived at the Mission and *** .

3.1.2 Port of Spain's commercial territory includes Guyana and Suriname. Accordingly, the STC is responsible for providing functional direction and guidance on Trade matters to the HOM in Georgetown and, through him, to the Honorary Consul in Paramaribo. Regional priority sectors include oil and gas, infrastructure development and the environment.

3.1.3 While in Port of Spain the Audit Team spoke to both the HOM and the Trade Commissioner in Georgetown. The STC is providing *** support to Georgetown for Trade activities in Guyana and Suriname.

3.1.4 Trinidad and Tobago has a booming economy, driven in large part by oil and gas revenues. Consequently, IBD is the lead DFAIT program at the Mission, and one that requires close coordination and cooperation with the GR Program. Appropriately, the HOM is *** available and provides *** support to the STC.

3.2 Program Management

3.2.1 The Program had a business plan for 2006/2007 and a new plan for the coming fiscal year was in the process of being established. The initial business planning meetings to produce such a plan were taking place. These meetings had two important objectives: first, to clearly identify the priority sectors and objectives for the Program, and second, to initiate an essential team building activity for the staff. The Program will need to remain focussed on the business planning process, which requires extensive consultation and collaboration within the Trade Program, with the HOM and the Public Affairs Officer, with the Mission's Senior Development Officer (the Mission's Canada Fund for Local Initiatives of $100,000), and with Georgetown.

3.2.2 The Program Manager should complete the implementation of the PMP process by setting responsibilities and objectives for each team member, and by addressing training requirements for all members of the team, including the new Trade Commissioner in Georgetown. As a start, she should be invited to Port of Spain to meet the team, participate in orientation activities and to observe business practices.

3.2.3 The Trade relationship with Georgetown is *** as a result of the *** engagement of all involved. To ensure this relationship remains effective it should be formalised by first clarifying and then including a description of the role of the STC as a provider of functional direction and guidance in the various documents governing trade activity in Guyana and Suriname (e.g. the STC's PMP and job description, the Port of Spain Trade business plan, the Guyana and Suriname Country Strategies, the Georgetown Trade Commissioner's job description, etc.).

Recommendations for the Mission

3.2.4 Ensure the completion of the Trade business plan, including coverage of all dimensions of regional commercial activity.

3.2.5 Strengthen the activities of liaising, coordinating and cooperating with the Trade program in the Public Affairs Officer's job description.

3.2.6 Complete the PMP process, with special emphasis on objective setting and training for each team member.

3.2.7 Develop a comprehensive training plan for the Trade Commissioner in Georgetown.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.2.4 Completed February 2007. The business plan for 2006/07 from the previous STC had already been in place; the Section was in the process of developing a plan for 2007-08 during the Audit Team's visit which is now complete.

3.2.5 Completed March 2007

3.2.6 Completed April 2007

3.2.7 Completed. The Georgetown Trade Commissioner has visited Port of Spain since the audit for a series of discussions with colleagues on how a commercial section works. The Port of Spain Trade Commissioner will travel to Georgetown at the end of November 2007 for follow-up business planning meeting.

Recommendation for Port of Spain and Georgetown

3.2.8 Clarify the STC's role as a provider of Trade functional direction and guidance in an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Guyana and Suriname.

Port of Spain and Georgetown Action and Timeframe

3.2.8 Completed. Consulted HQ and no MOU template was available. Email correspondence between the parties has since clarified expectations locally.

3.3 Operations

3.3.1 The IBD Program is well resourced with a Client Service Fund of $17,500, and travel and hospitality of $19,600 and $9,800 respectively.

3.3.2 The Section's office space and adjoining rooms present a shabby appearance to visitors and is an unproductive workspace for staff. The functionality could be improved by re-arranging and upgrading furniture, equipment and partitions; culling files, printed material, and other unused items; changing the use or upgrading some of the adjoining space; and providing efficient, ergonomic workspaces for staff.

3.3.3 Working tools also need review and upgrading to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness. Where necessary, business cases should be prepared for the acquisition of such items as cell phones, Blackberries, corporate credit cards, laptop computers, SIGNET Remote Access (where feasible), scanners and colour printers, mobile radio communications equipment (for visits), etc. A *** Trade team should be commensurately accommodated and equipped.

Recommendations for the Mission:

3.3.4 Improve the appearance and functionality of the Trade Program office space.

3.3.5 Upgrade office equipment and communications tools as warranted by business cases.

Mission Action and Timeframes

3.3.4 In progress (winter 2007-08). Awaiting order confirmation from supplier for baffles for IBD Section. The move of office equipment to the trade registry was not feasible given physical constraints of proposed space.

3.3.5 Completed. Orders filled from requests by the IBD Section and officers have these additional tools.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is staffed with a Consular Officer (LE-07) and a Passport Assistant (LE-06). Until recently, both employees reported to the MCO, however, the reorganization of the Administration and Consular Sections resulted in both employees reporting to the DMCO, who is also responsible for Finance. The DMCO, who is not in the rotational MCO stream, did not undertake Consular specialist training prior to her arrival at the Mission as it was not expected that she would be responsible for supervision of the Consular function on a regular basis. This training would now be extremely useful to give her a framework within which to carry out her responsibilities, although she does have prior experience working in the Consular Case Management Division (CNO).

4.1.2 Based on client feedback to HQ, the Section provides *** service to Canadian citizens. The Consular Officer has been in her position for many years and has developed *** contacts with host government officials, as well as local businesses, hospitals, airports, etc. The Passport Assistant, while relatively new to the Mission, has established an *** l organized operation, facilitating *** service. An LE-04 Assistant in the Administration Section also works half days providing assistance to the Consular Section.

4.1.3 One area of potential risk to the Mission is the lack of interaction between the Consular Officer and Passport Assistant. While Section meetings are held on a regular basis with the DMCO, this is largely the extent of communication between the two employees. They do not serve as back-up for each other, with the LE-04 from the Administration Section replacing the Passport Assistant, and the MCOs filling the role of the Consular Officer as required. Some matters, such as the processing of citizenship files, have become troublesome, as the Consular Officer is responsible for this service, though the Passport Assistant is best positioned to respond to routine inquiries as she is the first contact for clients that enter the Mission. However, instructions on handling these matters were not shared either formally or informally between the two employees. It is important that both formal and informal communication be improved in the Section, and that the roles of both employees be better integrated. Given the Section's recent reorganization, changes should be introduced gradually over the medium term.

4.1.4 As previously mentioned, the passport processing function is now *** organized and controlled. This is significant to note, as in past years the passport function of the Mission deteriorated to the point where the MCO requested the help of Passport Canada (PPSD) to document standard operating procedures (SOP). The Passport Assistant was hired after the initial visit of PPSD, but was trained during a subsequent visit. The Passport Assistant adheres to the SOPs and a review of passport stock did not find any exceptions.

4.1.5 With approximately 4,300 Canadian citizens in the consular territory, there is a variety of cases which can and do arise. The Consular officer is afforded *** access due to her considerable contacts, and cases are dealt with ***. Prior to the Audit Team's departure, they were told by CNO that the volume of cases was low compared to other comparable sized missions. However, the Team's review indicated a significant level of activity pertaining to case management. Given the considerable influence the Mission holds when intervening on behalf of clients, it is imperative that CNO be copied on all pertinent correspondence on cases.

4.1.6 Other findings included the need for client feedback forms to be placed in the lobby, and for completed forms to be forwarded to the Consular Bureau (CND). The consular service standards need to be posted in the Consular booth and all signage should be bilingual (the fee schedule was posted only in English).

Recommendations for the Mission

4.1.7 The DMCO should take the Consular specialist course.

4.1.8 Client feedback forms should be displayed in the main lobby or consular booth.

4.1.9 Consular service standards should be displayed in the main lobby or consular booth.

4.1.10 All signage should be bilingual.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.1.7 While we recognize the importance of Consular training, operational requirements make it impossible to meet this recommendation due to arrival timing of new MCO (December 2007), departure timing of current DMCO (summer 2008) and course schedule delivery (fall and spring sessions). The lack of training will be compensated by extra vigilance, liaison and dialogue with departmental resources.

4.1.8 Completed July 2007. Client feedback forms are available in the front lobby area. A copy is also given to every client that collects a passport or a citizenship card.

4.1.9 Completed. PPT service standards are displayed in the lobby. Citizenship service standards have been added to what is already there.

4.1.10 Completed April 2007.

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.2 The Administration Program is managed by the MCO (AS-06), who is assisted by a DMCO (AS-04). The Head of Mission, to address a workload imbalance between the MCO and DMCO, recently reorganized the Administration Section. Prior to the reorganization, the DMCO was responsible for Finance and Physical Resources, the two busiest and most challenging administrative functions. Under the reorganized structure, responsibility for the Physical Resources function was transferred to the MCO, while responsibility for the Consular Program was transferred to the DMCO. The HOM should be actively involved in monitoring the implementation of the reorganization to ensure that the new roles and responsibilities are respected. The reorganization should be reassessed in a few months to determine if a proper balance in workload has been achieved.

5.1.3 As a result of the workload imbalance, and a number of long periods where the DMCO acted for the MCO, communication within the Administration section *** . Roles and responsibilities, while clearer under the new structure, have at times resulted in a challenging working environment, particularly at the management level. *** . Communication should be made a priority moving forward, with employees and managers being respectful of each other roles, and supportive of their activities.

5.1.4 The aforementioned communications issues have resulted in an Administration program which is performing inconsistently, with some areas operating reasonably well, and others such as ***, generating less than satisfactory results. Finance controls and frameworks are strong, yet the results in high risk areas such as contracting and hospitality are not always commensurate with the control frameworks. Tighter scrutiny of higher risk activities is necessary.

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 The MCO oversees the management of the Mission's HR function, with the support of the Personnel and Administrative Officer (LE-06). The Personnel and Administrative Officer is *** with respect to HR policies and takes a *** approach to managing the Section's information. As a result, employee and position files were detailed and *** maintained with separate file structures.

5.2.2 Competitions files were generally found to be thorough, however, there were a few exceptions. In two cases, the competition board members did not provide a thorough justification for the selection of the successful candidate. This is a requirement for all competitions, however, it is particularly important in competitions where internal candidates are successful in order to demonstrate transparency and fairness.

5.2.3 The Mission's main challenge regarding competitions is a general perception amongst the LES that all of the standard procedures in the competition process are not being followed. As observed, the Mission is following the required procedures, though there is room for improvement in some of the supporting documentation. However, this must be better communicated to the staff through formal means. The Mission could make use of the LES Committee to discuss its approach to the competition process in order to resolve any misperceptions.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.2.4 Competitions files must clearly demonstrate that all phases of the staffing process have been properly completed.

5.2.5 The Mission should resolve misperceptions regarding staffing action procedures through increased formal communications with LES.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.4 Completed April 2007. Competition process vetted by HLD for all new competitions.

5.2.5 Completed July 2007. Re-sent message regarding competition process to *PSPAN.

5.2.6 Appraisals had not been fully completed within all sections for the past two years. This is partly due to challenges experienced with the Performance Management System (PMP), however, as communicated by HQ where the PMP could not be used due to technical complications, old appraisal forms should have been completed. The Mission should undertake a comprehensive exercise to update any outstanding appraisals for prior years. In addition, the PMP should be fully rolled out in order to facilitate the completion of appraisals for the current calendar year.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.2.7 The Mission should complete any outstanding appraisals.

5.2.8 The PMP should be fully rolled out as soon as possible with objectives set for all employees.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.7 All 2006/2007 appraisals are completed, except for one Immigration (CIC) LES employee *** .

5.2.8 PMP has been "rolled out" to all but eight staff: four non-office Official Residence staff, *** , the Immigration (CIC) LES employee above, and two new Immigration (CIC) LES employees. All staff will have 2007-2008 objectives and learning plans set in PMP to meet the 14 December 2007 learning plan deadline.

5.2.9 Discussions with the LES Committee, revealed several issues. The central issue was the outdated LES Handbook which was approved in 1998. The Committee was surprised to learn that the schedule for updating the handbooks, which was previously communicated to all missions, had been abandoned. They were further discouraged to hear that a new schedule had not yet been established at the time of the audit. Despite this message, the Committee was grateful to receive a realistic picture of the current situation. In subsequent meetings with the MCO, it was suggested that a formal message regarding the status of the LES handbook should be sent to all staff.

5.2.10 The Committee also expressed concerns regarding relations amongst the CBS and LES. It feels that both CBS and LES would benefit from additional inter-cultural effectiveness training since trying to bridge the gap with little or no formal training or tools is placing unnecessary stress on the Mission. In further discussing this issue, it became clear that additional training for CBS is required both before they arrive and while at the Mission.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.2.11 A formal message regarding the status of the LES Handbook should be sent to all staff at the Mission.

5.2.12 A training session on inter-cultural effectiveness for both LES and CBS should be developed and implemented.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.11 Completed July 2007.

5.2.12 In progress (winter 2007-08). Discussed at CMM and working with the Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI) to develop scope of the training session. At this point, a survey is being distributed to staff in order to determine the precise needs. Anticipated completion by end of 2007.

Recommendation for Centre for Intercultural Learning (CFSC)

5.2.13 More comprehensive intercultural effectiveness training should be developed and provided to CBS prior to posting.

CFSC Action and Timeframe

5.2.13 CFSC does offer a two-day intercultural effectiveness course, which includes a country-specific component, to all DFAIT personnel as part of the pre-posting program. Additionally, there is a strong intercultural component to both the Program Managers Abroad and Supervision at Mission course. CFSC has reviewed records for the past three years, and only 4 of the current CBS at Mission have attended any of these courses. Further analysis will have to be done to determine if the intercultural training needs further development, or if it is more a question of CBS being aware of and attending existing courses.

With approval from Port of Spain, CFSC will, in conjunction with the Organizational Development division of Centre of Learning for International Affairs and Management (CFSD), develop and conduct a survey of learning needs related to intercultural effectiveness and organizational effectiveness (communications, team functioning) for both in-Canada and at Mission, and report on results and provide recommendations to the Mission.

Timeline:
  • Communicate with Port of Spain re: inter-cultural and organizational learning needs analysis survey by October 10, 2007.
  • Complete data collection by October 31, 2007.
  • Prepare report with recommendations for Mission and ZIV by December 2007.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1. With the recent reorganization, responsibility for the Property portfolio now falls under the MCO, *** . Unfortunately, with the combination of several back to back absences of both the MCO and DMCO, the workload was too heavy to provide adequate management coverage of all areas and the Property portfolio suffered from a lack of focus. While workload was a contributing factor, *** resulted in a property crisis for the Mission, a situation that should have been addressed well before it *** its current state.

5.3.2 Rebuilding the Property portfolio will not be an easy task as a number of the properties have numerous outstanding work requests. The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that there are no annual maintenance contracts (AMCs) in place. Some years ago, in an attempt to increase the competitive contracting process, the existing annual maintenance contracts were not renewed. Unfortunately, new contracts were not put in place and as a result virtually no preventative maintenance has been performed on the SQs in the past year. This has left the Property Section in a reactive mode as maintenance is only initiated when occupants identify a specific issue. The current backlog of work orders is so great that it may take the Section from six months to a year to fully resolve this situation.

5.3.3 Another challenge within the Property Section is client service. The majority of its clients expressed dissatisfaction with the ***. It should be noted, however, that many clients noticed a marked improvement in the client service orientation with the recent reorganization of responsibilities within the Administration Section.

5.3.4 Following the implementation of a more client oriented approach, the Property Section must develop and maintain all of the necessary property frameworks, tools and systems. These should include a detailed annual preventative maintenance plan for which a template was developed, but never used; annual maintenance contracts to cover all of the common services at the SQs, Chancery and Official Residence (OR); a system for following up on work orders; more detailed service standards which outline specific timeframes and the individuals responsible for all steps in the service provision process; an annual capital procurement plan; and annual property inspections.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.3.5 The Mission should implement an annual preventative maintenance plan.

5.3.6 Annual maintenance contracts should be established through a competitive bidding process.

5.3.7 The work order system should be improved to track follow-up actions.

5.3.8 Detailed property service standards should be established and communicated to all staff.

5.3.9 An annual capital procurement plan should be created.

5.3.10 Annual property inspections should be undertaken and documented.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.5 Completed June 2007. Plan established by MCO and LES Property Manager and incorporated within FINSTAT process.

5.3.6 In progress (winter 2007-08). Mission is working on the technical specifications to include in the Requests for Proposals (RFPs). Will tender once scopes are prepared.

5.3.7 Completed June 2007. Extremely positive feedback received from clients.

5.3.8 Completed July 2007. Message sent out to all staff and CBS spouses/families.

5.3.9 Completed April 2007. Capital procurement plan for fiscal year 2007/08 approved by CMM June19, 2007

5.3.10 In progress (spring 2008). Half of the inspections have been completed. The remainder will be done prior to the end of the current fiscal year in order to feed accurate information into the property (MPMP) and maintenance (MMW) plans for the coming year.

5.3.11 During the course of the audit, a selection of the Crown-owned and leased SQs were visited. The Crown-owned accommodations were generally not well maintained, some with as many as 40 outstanding work orders. PRID 6560007 was of particular concern given that at the time of the audit over $80,000 had already been spent on its repair and maintenance in fiscal year 2006/07. Nonetheless, it would still require a significant capital investment to bring this SQ up to an acceptable standard. This raises the question of whether this SQ should be maintained in the Crown's inventory. Given the value and size of the land, the feasibility of developing a housing complex on this site should be explored by the Physical Resources Bureau (SRD) in conjunction with the Mission.

Recommendation for SRD

5.3.12 In collaboration with the Mission, explore the possibility redeveloping the housing located on PRID 6560007.

SRD Action and Timeframe

5.3.12 The Property Strategy Section (SRSK) will be visiting Port of Spain in the fall of 2007 and will investigate the feasibility of redeveloping the land occupied by PRID 6560007.

5.3.13 The Crown-leased SQs presented a quite different picture. The leased SQs were in extremely good condition with virtually no maintenance issues. Some of the recently acquired units had a large square footage and, in some cases, markedly higher than average lease costs. The MCO, explained that the need for representational space had been used as a basis for some of the Housing Committee's decisions. Representational space should not be a primary criterion for selecting SQs.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.3.14 The Mission Housing Committee should not use the concept of representational space as a primary justification for acquiring larger and more expensive SQs.

5.3.15 During the next posting season, the Mission should reexamine its property portfolio to ensure that any over-accommodations and rental costs are minimized. Any Crown-leased SQs that fall outside of the average square footage should be targeted for disposal and replacement.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.14 Implemented April 2007

5.3.15 Completed April 2007. Last reviewed February 2007 and noted in Mission's MPMP/Prime submission. Current complement of SQs is based on security, rotational and family configurations often restricting the Mission to maintain SQ leases in safer more expensive neighbourhoods. Mission Housing Committee mandated in 2006/07 to review SQ inventory balance between apartments and houses with preference given to apartments where possible. For 2007/2008, one house has been released in favour of an apartment effective September 2007.

5.3.16 The Crown-leased Chancery is appropriate, well maintained (with the exception of the IBD workspace) and located within reasonable proximity to the business district, as well as many of the SQs. The Mission shares the building with another occupant, a major private corporation. While this arrangement creates some security challenges, the Mission is managing these effectively. The two main points of concern, the lack of a consular booth and a drivers' room, will be addressed by a property project in the coming year. The only other issue was signage on the exterior of the building. While there is a coat of arms, there is no official signage at the High Commission's entrance.

5.3.17 The Chancery's lease expires in 2011 and as a result a longer term plan for the Mission's space requirements will need to be developed. While the Mission is comfortably accommodated at the moment, should there be significant growth, other options may need to be considered as there is no additional space available for expansion. The Mission should flag the issue in its Mission Property Management Plan (MPMP) and begin discussions with its geographic bureau and SRD in order to forecast and accommodate any future growth.

Recommendation for the Mission

5.3.18 In collaboration with the Geographic and SRD, the Mission should begin developing a long-term strategy for the Chancery.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.3.18 Completed February 2007. Indicated in Mission's MPMP submission of February 2007 plus e-mails sent to HQ August 2006.

5.3.19 The Crown-owned OR is located in an upscale neighbourhood in Port of Spain. While the OR is 40 years old, it went through a recent refurbishment with favourable results. There is adequate separation between the private and representational space, and the extensive grounds provide more than enough space for large scale receptions which are frequently hosted. Aside from a minor leakage issue over the back kitchen entrance, there were no major maintenance issues.

5.3.20 The Mission had undertaken a major disposal of excess inventory in the past year. The disposals was handled by an outside auctioneer and yielded favourable results. The documentation was sound, however, the DMCO had signed off on the disposal records in place of the HOM. The HOM should sign off on all disposal records as this authority can not be delegated to more junior staff.

Recommendation for the Mission

5.3.21 As required by Departmental policy, the HOM should sign off on all disposal report forms.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.3.21 Implemented April 2007

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The Finance Section consists of a Senior Accountant (LE-07) and a Junior Accountant (LE-04) working under the supervision of the DMCO. The DMCO is from the Financial Administrative Personnel (FI) group and has a *** background and training from which to draw upon. In general, *** controls were in place and *** financial frameworks and structures exist. For example, the revenue collection process has been documented and is adhered to by staff. The financial operations of the Mission are procedurally sound, but more focus is needed on high risk areas such as hospitality and contracting. The Mission should also make every effort to find more vendors who will accept electronic funds transfers (EFTs) as the form of payment *** . It is acknowledged that local conditions are difficult in this regard.

5.4.2 Financial documentation could be improved to provide better support for each transaction. Examples of simple improvements include attaching a copy of the contract for the processing of large payments. For recurring expenses such as lease payments, a spreadsheet should be prepared and attached. For property related transactions, copies of work requests or Local Purchase Orders (LPOs) should be attached to illustrate why the work was undertaken.

5.4.3 Contracting practices need to be more consistently applied. A review of contracting files revealed a number of instances where sufficient justification for the selection of the winning bid was not evident on file. The Managerial Checklist was not always completed and the Materiel Management module of IMS has not yet been rolled out at the Mission. Standing Offer Agreements (SOAs) need to be developed for recurring needs such as maintenance and relocations.

5.4.4 Travel claims were also reviewed, with one comment of note. When an employee undertakes official travel with his/her spouse, a quote for single versus double hotel occupancy should be requested prior to travel to clearly indicate the incremental cost, and therefore the portion for which the employee is responsible.

5.4.5 More rigour must be placed on controlling Mission budgets. Last fiscal year, a planning breakdown led to additional operational funding being requested which was not required. Closer budget management should include more CMM involvement. The CMM does not currently review budget information or provide input into the financial planning of the Mission. As a starting point, the MCO and DMCO should meet with the CMM and discuss what CMM members would like to review and in what format. To facilitate this discussion, examples of different budgeting formats should be presented. CMM budget presentations should be made on a quarterly basis. Similarly program reporting needs should be discussed to ensure that Program Managers are receiving the information they need to effectively manage their programs.

5.4.6 A petty cash in the amount of 3,000 Trinidad and Tobago dollars (approximately $500 Canadian) is held by *** . The Mission was considering issuing a second petty cash advance to another member of the Administration Section as the Mission is sometimes left without access to a petty cash while the claim is being processed by the Finance Section. After reviewing the current situation, both the Audit Team and Mission management concurred that the issuance of a second petty cash would not be necessary with improved collaboration on the timing of replenishment of the petty cash by the Property Manager and Accountants. This will entail the Property Manager requesting replenishments at a pre-determined level (before the petty cash is fully spent), and getting the MCO to review the petty cash transactions prior to submitting to the Accountants. The petty cash reconciliation should also be submitted the day before the scheduled visit to the bank.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.4.7 The Mission should try to find more vendors who accept EFTs as payment.

5.4.8 Financial documentation should be improved to provide clear justification and support for all transactions.

5.4.9 Contracting practices should be improved, including better justification of the winning bids and completed managerial checklists.

5.4.10 More SOAs should be developed for recurring services such as maintenance and relocations.

5.4.11 Employees accompanied by their spouse when on official travel should request quotations for single versus double hotel occupancy before travelling.

5.4.12 Budget information should be presented and discussed quarterly with the CMM.

5.4.13 Pre-determined budget information should be regularly provided to Program Managers.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.7 In progress (winter 2007-08). Mission uses EFT payments whenever possible. We have been encouraging landlords to accept EFTs. They were also informed via a letter sometime in 2006 that at some point EFTs will be mandatory (when Mission roll out to ACH is complete).

5.4.8 Completed April 2007

5.4.9 Completed April 2007. Managerial lists and full documentation maintained and vetted through HQ when necessary.

5.4.10 Completed July 2007. Maintenance SOAs reviewed when preparation of annual preventative maintenance plan was established. Relocations SOA's updated by Personnel Officer (departure checklist) and Logistics Officer (moving company responsibilities) and continually reviewed based on feedback received from clients.

5.4.11 Completed July 2007. Mission reminded CBS staff of mandatory inclusion of quotations for single verses double hotel occupancy for CBS travelling with spouses.

5.4.12 Completed April 2007. Budget information is being presented to CMM on a quarterly basis and is discussed frequently on an ad-hoc basis.

5.4.13 Completed April 2007. Each program manager is provided with an IMS report at month end of expenditures to date on the funds they manage.

5.5 Information Technology (IT)

5.5.1 The IT Section is staffed by a *** Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) (CS-02) and assisted by a Locally-Engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP) (LE-08). The workload on the Section is dictated by the demands of the Mission and the IT Professionals are generally busy. Client feedback was *** .

5.5.2 The Section also has responsibility for the Mission in Georgetown, Guyana. This Mission has a number of challenges which stretches the Section. This is exacerbated by lengthy visits to install and maintain services.

5.5.3 Given that there are two IT support positions in the Mission, the roles of the two positions should be more clearly defined so that work-load is balanced. In addition, both IT professionals need to improve the tracking of help desk tickets in the Remedy system.

5.5.4 Other taskings should be removed from the IT Section. The FSITP's predecessor managed cellular phones for the Mission and helped CBS register and troubleshoot telephone and internet services at their SQs. The Mission still expects the Section to perform these duties contrary to the ITP standard defined by the Information Management and Technology Bureau (SXD). The phones should be handled by the Administration Section while CBS should take more responsibility for private services at their SQs.

5.5.5 The Mission has proactively purchased credits for IT training at local institutions. These credits should be complemented by an IT training plan, which forms part of the Mission's overall plan for training and staff development.

5.5.6 The Mission has good inventory control of hardware and software. Original software CDs are stored in several locations. All installation disks should be stored in a central location, in a locked cabinet.

5.5.7 Infobank was previously installed at the Mission. It is only being used on a regular basis by three employees, one of them being the FSITP. All employees need to be encouraged to use this document management system.

5.5.8 The FSITP is on his first posting and is in his first role as a section manager. He should ensure that his own manager, the MCO, is helping him to develop the appropriate management skills. The FSITP should work with the MCO to include this as a developmental goal in his PMP. The MCO should also make himself available to coach and mentor the FSITP as needed.

5.5.9 SXD raised concerns that the Mission has a greater number of connected workstations than number of employees. The Mission has dual workstations for a number of CIC staff members who work both in offices and in interview booths throughout the day. Combined with a couple of vacant offices, all workstations were accounted for.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.5.10 The Section should ensure that all help desk requests are tracked in Remedy.

5.5.11 The roles of the FSITP and LEITP need to be more clearly defined in order to better balance workloads.

5.5.12 The Section should not be responsible for Mission cellular phones and private communication services at the SQs.

5.5.13 The Mission's training plan should contain an IT component so that training credits at local institutions can be utilized more effectively.

5.5.14 Original installation disks should be inventoried and stored in a locked cabinet.

5.5.15 The MCO should ensure that the FSITP is receiving coaching as required to contribute to his development as a section manager.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.10 Implemented April 2007.

5.5.11 In progress (winter 2007-08).

5.5.12 Completed July 2007. Administrative function transferred to Logistics Officer.

5.5.13 In progress. Personnel to review outstanding credits available and local course schedule(s).

5.5.14 Completed July 2007.

5.5.15 Completed July 2007. FSITP to get local supervisory training in fall 2007.

Office of the Inspector General


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Date Modified:
2012-10-18