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Inspection of the Canadian Consulate General Atlanta Including the Consulate in Raleigh-Durham

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May 2009

Table of Contents

Inspection Scope and Objectives

The scope of the Inspection included a review of Mission Management and the Political Economic, International Business Development, Consular and Administration programs. The inspection objectives were to:

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

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

Executive Summary

An inspection of Mission Management, the Political Economic (PE), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration programs was conducted in Atlanta from January 14 to 22, 2009. The previous audit of these programs took place in 2001. The Inspection also included a visit to the Consulate in Raleigh-Durham, an office created under the Enhanced Representation Initiative and maintained under the North American Platform Program.

The Consulate General in Atlanta is a small mission with five Canada-based staff (CBS) and nineteen Locally-engaged staff (LES). Overall, the Mission is facing several management challenges. These challenges are not new as similar issues were documented in the 2001 Audit. As they have been present or accumulating over a long period of time, the challenges faced by Mission Management could be attributable to an organizational culture which has been perpetuated over time despite changes in Canada-based staff.

Mission plans were in-line with Government of Canada and, departmental objectives and priorities. The implementation of these plans, however, did not meet the Inspection Team’s expectations. A lack of cohesiveness was observed at the Mission Management level and, from an employee perspective, there was a general resistance to change and a preference to work individually. These situations, among others, have led to an environment where:

  • Buy-in to Mission objectives is not easily achieved;
  • Individual objectives come ahead of internal client service;
  • Information is not shared willingly among staff;
  • Cooperation is not systematic, nor proactively sought out; and,
  • Departmental tools and initiatives, such as TRIO and the New Way Forward, are not fully implemented or being used.

The issues raised are fundamental to Mission operations and represent a *** challenge to any management team. An effort should be made to renew the leadership within this Mission, build trust among its staff and provide a vision and sense of direction. The Management Team must work towards changing the culture within the Mission, helping people and programs work together and taking the time to mentor and guide new staff.

Raleigh-Durham

The Consulate in Raleigh-Durham is a mini-mission with three CBS and three LES. The Head of Office and Senior Trade Commissioner reports directly to the Head of Mission in Atlanta. One of the CBS, an EX-03, was temporarily assigned to the Mission to address specific management challenges. This has resulted in improved morale among staff and a better sense of direction for the programs. The Memorandum of Understanding that governs the relationship between Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham was inaccurate and out of date. As both Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham maintain separate IBD business plans, there is a risk of duplicated efforts and greater communication and cooperation will be required. This relationship is, however, complicated by the management challenges in Atlanta.

A total of 81 recommendations are raised in the report; 70 are addressed to the Mission and 11 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 81 recommendations, management has stated that 39 have been implemented. For each of the remaining 42 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Consulate General in Atlanta is a small mission with five Canada-based Staff (CBS) and nineteen Locally-engaged Staff (LES). The Mission is responsible for program delivery in six states, with the Mission in Raleigh-Durham taking the lead on International Business Development (IBD) and Political Economic (PE) for North and South Carolina. Atlanta takes the lead in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. The responsibilities of both missions are outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) in Raleigh-Durham reports directly to the Head of Mission (HOM) in Atlanta.

1.1.2 The Mission is facing several management challenges and is in need of consistent attention from Headquarters (HQ) and greater leadership from Mission Management. These challenges are not new and were commented upon during the 2001 Audit. As they have been present or accumulating over a long period of time, the issues could be related to an organizational culture which has been perpetuated over the years despite changes in Canada-based staff.

1.2 Planning and Communication

1.2.1 Mission plans were in-line with Government of Canada and departmental objectives and priorities. The implementation of these plans, however, did not meet the Inspection Team's expectations.

1.2.2 The HOM has expended a great deal of effort to improve communication, cooperation and collaboration among staff and programs since his arrival. Initiatives included the distribution of Committee on Mission Management (CMM) minutes to all staff, holding staff retreats, and the distribution of emails of importance from Ottawa to all staff. This has not yet, however, translated into tangible results. While staff are experienced and committed to their jobs, the level of cooperation and collaboration was not what is expected of a Canadian mission abroad. Some links were occurring, but were largely as a result of established interpersonal relationships. The Inspection Team expects these linkages to be discussed and documented during Mission planning exercises and to occur systematically during the course of the year. While some improvement is necessary in the cooperation and collaboration of the management team, all staff have a responsibility to ensure that this occurs.

1.2.3 Mission planning exercises should ensure that IBD and PE objectives are seen by both management and staff as complementary, and that opportunities for cooperation and collaboration are proactively identified. The upcoming planning cycle presents an excellent opportunity to move this forward, leveraging existing and perhaps new mechanisms. The Mission’s annual retreat could be more focussed on joint planning exercises for both Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham, including activities where joint preparation and outreach activities could realize cost efficiencies and improve client service delivery. If missions and programs identify potential synergies during the planning phase, it is more likely that they will be realized during implementation.

1.2.4 To support this, there has to be consistent and strategic communication at the Mission Management level. It is also important that Mission policies and service standards are communicated as the decisions of the CMM. This should allow Administration to implement the decisions of Mission Management and avoid being seen as constraints to program delivery. CMM meetings should serve as a mechanism to discuss management issues and ensure that objectives are implemented in an integrated in a collaborative manner. These should be supplemented by regular bilateral meetings between the HOM and each program manager so that there is timely guidance and mentoring. It also ensures that the HOM stays abreast of any program or performance issues.

1.2.5 Instances of unprofessional behaviour were brought to the attention of the Inspection Team. Individuals were advised of the recourse mechanisms available to them and the instances were discussed with the HOM. Mission Management should be vigilant in ensuring professional behaviour by all staff and create an environment where any potential difficult situations are reported at the outset before issues escalate. Mission Management should discuss values and ethics annually with all staff, both new and existing, to provide a common understanding of the departmental and Government of Canada approach and employee awareness of recourse methods.

1.2.6 Program managers should be encouraged to improve the communication and integration of their programs at the operational level. Best practices observed in other missions include:

  • Inviting guests from other programs to periodically attend staff meetings;
  • Learning sessions for all staff provided internally by program experts or by outside trainers;
  • Strategic Communications Plan: A strategic document that outlines Mission-wide objectives and provides all staff with key messages to deliver when conducting activities outside of the Mission; and,
  • Joint Outreach Plans.

1.2.7 In general, communication with the LES community has to be improved. At present there is no LES Committee, as the LES have chosen to meet collectively as a group. The lack of an up-to-date LES Handbook has made it difficult for management to have an effective dialogue with staff. The primary issues that have been raised in these meetings, and formally with management through letters from all LES, are outside of the Mission’s control (salary increases, parking, tax issues, etc.). An up-to-date handbook should provide Mission Management with the basis upon which to renew dialogue with LES and focus discussion on those areas under managements control. The HOM should have regular meetings with the LES, perhaps quarterly to follow-up on issues raised formally and informally and establish an ongoing dialogue.

1.3 Mission Operations

1.3.1 The Mission should review and update job descriptions. While some have been updated recently for competitions, many were out-of-date. For example, a LE-09 officer’s role changed substantially following the loss of a position, but the job description has not been revised to reflect the broader scope of responsibilities. In the future, job descriptions could be reviewed and updated annually as a part of the performance management process. 1.3.2 The HOM expended considerable effort to ensure that staff Performance Management Plans (PMPs) were completed for 2007-2008. All staff have defined objectives for the coming year as well as learning and development needs. There remains, however, some confusion as to how the PMP cycle is supposed to work. Shortly after completing their 2007-2008 appraisals, staff should have begun the preparations for the current year. By initiating the 2008-2009 PMPs, staff and managers can revise key aspects to reflect changes in objectives, responsibilities or expectations. Without this, staff objectives could become static and not reflective of actual expectations. While the majority of the groundwork has already been done by the Mission, there is a need to carry it forward and update it. 1.3.3 Due to performance issues, some staff have been placed on performance improvement programs. However, management has not met these employees as often as the situation would have required to discuss performance and provide feedback. 1.3.4 Overall, hospitality claims were properly supported with receipts. The Mission’s hospitality guidelines provide established cost ceilings for most events. For receptions, however, the guidelines allow for reasonable and justifiable expenses. As the interpretation of this can vary dramatically, the Mission should establish a cost ceiling for the per person cost of all events. There was also room for improvement with regard to demonstrating value-for-money in the use of these funds. The claims should clearly:

  • State the linkage to program objectives as defined in the Mission Strategy or program plans; and,
  • Provide a more fulsome evaluation of the event, demonstrating value-for-money, identifying objectives advanced and any follow-up actions that are required.

The Mission was also reminded that only the HOM can offer hospitality to all staff, and that this is generally limited to one team-building event per year.

1.3.5 The current allocation of office space should be revisited to ensure that program security and privacy requirements are being met. Two changes are required in the short-term to provide enclosed work spaces to the Assistant Accountant and the Consular Assistant. As the Consular Assistant is also an Assistant to the PE Program the enclosed workspace should be used when performing certain sensitive aspects (working with passports and handling sensitive client information, etc.).

1.4 Raleigh-Durham Consulate

1.4.1 The Consulate in Raleigh-Durham is a mini-mission with three CBS and three LES. One of the CBS, an EX-03, has been temporarily assigned to the Mission to address specific management challenges. The Head of Office will have to ensure that any new FS-04 is provided with the right mentoring, responsibilities and oversight to be prepared to assume the Head of Office role in the summer of 2010.

1.4.2 Morale and communication has improved ***. The office space was also improved as two lawyers vacated offices within the Consulate’s business suite. Prior to this, staff had to work and communicate with doors closed. This was not a secure environment, nor was it conducive to effective communication and cooperation. The Mission was only able to secure funding for this until the end of fiscal year 2008-2009. Efforts should be made to ensure that the Consulate in Raleigh-Durham is provided with a private and enclosed office space in the future.

1.4.3 To facilitate the relationship between the missions in Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham, a Joint Operational Agreement, or MOU, was established. The agreement delineates responsibilities for program delivery, administrative support and corporate roles (i.e. security). The Agreement is, however, out-of-date and some aspects are not being implemented. For example, the agreement calls for the Mission Security Officer (MSO) in Atlanta to visit Raleigh-Durham every six months. *** . Given the evolution of programs and priorities, the IBD and PE programs should also revisit the framework for delivery of services. A concerted effort should be made to ensure that the principles of integrated trade and Political Economic Renewal are respected in the document. The MOU could be revisited annually and approved at CMM. It should also be reviewed in conjunction with each change in HOM in Atlanta or Head of Office in Raleigh-Durham.

1.4.4 Administrative support arrangements have also changed with the growth of the office, and the responsibilities of Raleigh-Durham will have to be reviewed. Subsequently, the job description of the Trade Commissioner Assistant in Raleigh-Durham should appropriately reflects those duties.

1.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

1.5.1 The Mission’s annual retreat, including Raleigh-Durham, should place emphasis on integrated planning exercises and the identification of opportunities for programs and missions to work together.

1.5.2 The CMM should focus on Mission-wide issues and areas of inter-program cooperation. It should also serve as a forum to discuss, approve and communicate Mission policies, procedures and service standards.

1.5.3 Regular bilateral meetings should be instituted between the HOM and each program manager.

1.5.4 Quarterly meetings should be scheduled between the LES Committee and the HOM.

1.5.5 Job descriptions should be reviewed and updated.

1.5.6 Mission management should ensure that PMPs for the 2008-2009 fiscal year have been initiated and that staff and managers regularly review and update performance expectations.

1.5.7 The Mission should identify a cost ceiling for all hospitality related events.

1.5.8 Mission management should ensure that hospitality diaries provide clear linkages to strategic objectives and evaluations that demonstrate value-for-money.

1.5.9 Enclosed work spaces should be provided for the Assistant Accountant and the Consular Assistant.

1.5.10 Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham should review and update the MOU between the two missions to reflect current arrangements and expectations. The MOU should be revisited annually in the future.

1.5.11 Following the completion of 1.5.12, the Mission, in consultation with the Head of Office Raleigh-Durham, should review the job description of the Assistant in Raleigh-Durham to ensure that it includes the required administrative and officer support duties.

1.5.12 A plan should be put in place to ensure appropriate mentoring and transition to the new Head of Office in the summer of 2010.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.5.1 Noted and in progress, next retreat October 2009. January 2006 retreat was a full two-mission, multi-program planning session; December 2006 retreat focussed on key program priorities (emergency management and competitiveness), with all-staff involved; December 2007 all-staff retreat had as it’s theme staff communications; September 2008 retreat reviewed program plans at mid-year/encouraged cross-program dialogue. March 2009 planning sessions (for fiscal year (FY) 2009-2010) were jointly led by program managers, involved all staff and focussed on PE/IBD crosswalks. These practices/themes will be continued.

1.5.2 Noted, implemented and weekly/ongoing. CMM minutes (distributed to all staff) show that most weekly sessions focus on these kinds of issues. Continued attention to overarching management concerns/ requirements/policies and to inter-program collaboration will be made.

1.5.3 Noted, implemented and ongoing. Regular/formal monthly meetings on performance and management issues (as distinct from program or transactional matters) have now been instituted. This involves the MAO only until summer 2009 - the PE Program Managers (PM) and Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) slots are currently vacant. The HOM believes he has in the past engaged each program manager substantively and with daily frequency. For example, the HOM paid six visits to Raleigh-Durham during 2008-2009 to ***.

1.5.4 Agree and in progress for June 2009. As the report indicates, LES occasionally meet as a group when they feel it warranted (this practice is directly the result of HOM encouragement - they have chosen not to have an established ‘committee' per se). Quarterly meetings will now be scheduled by the HOM.

1.5.5 Agree and in progress for June 2009. This process is commencing immediately.

1.5.6 Agree and in progress for June 2009. PMPs have been a top priority for the HOM since his arrival, and expectations/directives have been clearly expressed to all staff on multiple occasions (there should be no ‘confusion' associated with this requirement). IBD staff received personalized instructions from the acting STC on procedures March 24, 2009 and given deadlines to complete 2008-2009 exercise/initiate new PMP cycle. Raleigh-Durham STC did same March 26, 2009. The CMM minutes of April 7, 2009 indicate formally that completion/initiation process has been launched for all staff.

1.5.7 Noted and in progress for May 2009. The Mission will establish cost ceiling for the one category currently not covered (‘receptions/wine and cheese' occurring at ‘commercial establishments', where ‘actual and reasonable expenses' always supported with receipts are presently permitted).

1.5.8 Agree and in progress for April 2009. Descriptions will be made more strategically detailed.

1.5.9 Agree and in progress for June 2009. With the March 31, 2009 departure of the LEITP, office space has been made available for one of the two assistants (April 2009); the second will also be repositioned via redesign of the interior workspace (information storage facility).

1.5.10 Agree and in progress for May 2009. Minor changes are required.

1.5.11 Agree and in progress for second quarter 2009.

1.5.12 Agree and in progress for second quarter 2009. The new FS-04 replacement (2009) in Raleigh-Durham will be selected with the expectation that he/she becomes the STC in 2010, when the special assignment incumbent departs.

Recommendation to the North American Commercial Affairs Bureau (GND)

1.5.13 GND, in consultation with the North American General Relations Bureau (GGD), should ensure that the Office in Raleigh-Durham is provided with an enclosed work space to facilitate security and to provide a workplace environment more conducive to communication and cooperation.

GND Action and Timeframe

1.5.13 GND will consult with GGD and other interested divisions (security, property, etc.) regarding the financial resources required, and the most cost-effective way to achieve the desired outcome.

Political Economic Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The Political Economic (PE) Program in Atlanta is responsible for the states of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. The Program Manager is a single-assignment DFAIT Officer at the FS-03 level, supported by an LE-09 Political Economic/Academic Relations Officer, an LE-08 Strategic Network Coordinator and a half-time LE-06 Researcher/Assistant. The other half of the LE-06 Assistant’s time is dedicated to supporting the Consular Program, for which the PE Manager is also responsible given the absence of an Management Consular Officer (MCO) in the Mission. The Program also has a LE-09 Officer in Raleigh-Durham, primarily responsible for North and South Carolina.

2.1.2 The Program’s financial resources for 2008-2009 have been allocated as per the table below.

Table 1: Political Economic Program in Atlanta
Fund2008/09
Total$180,842
Operations$ 25,000
Travel$6,299
Hospitality$3,543
ECOMPNET (see 3.4)$90,000
Other$56,000

2.1.3 The Program’s main functions are advocacy reporting, political reporting in cooperation with the Embassy in Washington, visitor support and academic relations. Recently, efforts had been largely focussed on reporting on the 2008 elections. More routine activities include an emphasis on forming and enhancing academic relations. As the region that the Mission covers includes a high number of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, a significant emphasis has been placed on the establishment of contacts and academics in these institutions and those in Canada with established or emerging programs in study of Black History.

2.2 Management of the Program

2.2.1 The PM arrived in the summer of 2008 and, given that this is a single assignment, some time was required to generate regular involvement within the Program. ***. The PM holds weekly staff meetings with an agenda and recorded minutes. At present these meetings include both Consular and PE staff. While it may be good to hold joint staff meetings periodically, it would be more effective to hold separate Consular and PE meetings. This would facilitate greater focus on individual and specific program activities and objectives. In addition, the HOM should meet more regularly with the PM to review objectives, activities and performance.

2.2.2 There is a need within the Mission for a more universal understanding of the PE section’s role. Communication on how the Program can support other programs is required. New Way Forward (NWF) principles in the context of PE renewal (core services) have to be incorporated into this communication. Doing so, and communicating the parameters of PE involvement in Mission activities should serve to clarify roles and responsibilities for events that require work and input from multiple programs.

2.2.3 The PE position in Raleigh-Durham, which was recently staffed, reports to the Head of Office. Functionally, it also works closely with the PE Program in Atlanta. Given this dynamic arrangement, it is essential to clarify expectations and reporting lines among the involved parties. The Mission should ensure that the MOU is revised to reflect the expected working arrangement.

2.2.4 Given the limited number of staff within the PE Program in Atlanta, there is a need for a strong, formalized system to ensure continuity of operations and contact maintenance. The Program should develop a common approach to information management and sharing to allow for back-up and the facilitation of eventual succession of staff.

2.2.5 Contact management and sharing within the Program and HOM Office should be strengthened. Parallel and paper based systems for contact storage and management are redundant and inefficient. A formal protocol (e.g. the need to notify the primary contact holder before making contact) and format/nomenclature should be developed.

2.3 Planning

2.3.1 The development and content of PE plans for the Program is well done. Specific activities are identified that support overall departmental and Mission-specific strategic objectives. These objectives cascade down into Program staff’s PMPs.

2.3.2 Notwithstanding the strong Program-specific annual plan there is room for further planning and integration with other Mission programs (notably the IBD Program and the HOM). Joint-planning sessions that result in coordinated outreach, academic and innovation activities for example, would further multiple program objectives simultaneously.

2.3.2 The Mission was recently visited by a representative of the New Way Forward. Employees have a general understanding of the principles of the initiative and have begun to implement certain measures (such as the preparation of a list of alternative service providers for non-core services related to requests). There is a need to further implement the provisions of the initiative, including completing the on-line training course launched by the Officer of the Chief Political Economic Officer in the fall of 2008. The team should use the course to ensure that NWF principles and core services are integrated into Program plans for the upcoming fiscal year.

2.3.4 Funding levels for PE activities within the current fiscal year have been affected by changes to the composition of North American Partnership Platform (NAPP) participants. This has decreased the funding available and forced missions to cut back on activities. While greater stability is expected in future years, the Program will have to identify ways to be innovative and further strategic objectives with reduced funds.

2.4 Strategic Network Coordination

2.4.1 The Economic Competitiveness Network (ECOMPNET) Strategic Coordinator position housed in Atlanta is a resource for all U.S.-based missions. This position reports on issues related to economic competitiveness within the U.S. and Canada and provides materials, presentations and speaking points to other Canadian missions in the U.S. There are five Strategic Network positions in the U.S., two LE-08 and three LE-09s, all of which are term positions set to expire in 2010. Questions have been raised with respect to the overall strategic objectives and governance arrangements for the U.S. specific strategic coordinator positions. A recently developed mandate letter was sent to all missions housing a Strategic Coordinator position that clarifies strategic objectives and identifies the key point of contact in GGD.

2.4.2 While mandate issues have been clarified, issues remain with regards to the inconsistent classification of strategic coordinator positions in the U.S. Four of the five strategic network positions are classified at the LE-08 level, while the remaining one is at the LE-09 level. This has created a sense of inequity among the incumbents and their co-workers. The Inspection Team did not conduct a review of job descriptions for strategic network coordinators in the U.S. and is not in a position to comment on the appropriateness of levels assigned. There is, however, a need to ensure that consistent application of classification standards for these strategic network positions. A desk audit by the Locally Engaged Staff Services (ALD) should be undertaken to ensure that the classification levels assigned to these positions at missions are appropriate given the job descriptions.

2.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

2.5.1 The PM and Program staff should complete the NWF on-line tutorial and create a plan to implement all measures required under this new framework. This plan should coincide with the development of the PE Program plan for the upcoming fiscal year.

2.5.2 Once the principles of the NWF have been incorporated into Program operations, a presentation should be developed, in consultation with the HOM, that explains the role and function of the PE Program and given to the rest of the Mission.

2.5.3 A records management system should be implemented within the Program to facilitate back-up and identification of key documents.

2.5.4 In consultation with the HOM Office, a system for the sharing of business contacts between the Program and HOM Office should be developed. A nomenclature and storage format should be agreed upon and implemented.

2.5.5 Further integration between the PE and IBD programs should be instituted. The sharing of plans during the development stage and the identification of opportunities for collaboration on outreach and initiatives would increase the effectiveness of both programs.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.5.1 In progress. Some PE staff have now completed the tutorial; others will do so by May 2009.

2.5.2 Noted and agree. Planned for September 2009.

2.5.3 Noted and in progress for the first quarter 2009. A report numbering system was established January 2009; PE has a shared common drive filing/retrieval system in place that functions. This recommendation will be carefully considered, from a cost/benefit perspective as it is not immediately clear that current sharing arrangements do not operate adequately.

2.5.4 Noted and agree. In progress for September 2009.

2.5.5 Agree, in progress and ongoing. FY 2009-2010 planning processes (January-March 2009) were more fully integrated and shared. Joint outreach initiatives in the new cycle will be implemented.

Recommendation to ALD

2.5.6 ALD should perform a desk audit of the classifications of the five strategic network coordinator positions in the U.S.

ALD Action and Timeframe

2.5.6 ALD is in the process of thoroughly reviewing all the classification files. ALD requested all the files and is in contact with the missions where a Strategic Network Coordinator has been identified and will include the Network Affairs and Advocacy Officer position. Particular attention will be given to the rationale for having an LE-09 in Chicago. Should discrepancies be noted, corrective measures will be taken. This review is expected to be completed by the end of April 2009 including receiving feedback from the missions. It should be noted that there is a revision of the classification of the LES positions in the U.S. and that as a result of that analysis an action plan will be developed to ensure more consistency throughout the country. This U.S. review should be completed by the fall 2009 including the development of an action plan.

International Business Development Program

3.1 Atlanta IBD Program

Overview

3.1.1 The IBD Program in Atlanta is headed by an FS-04 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC). The STC is supported by an FS-03 Technology Partnering Officer (TPO) and an FS-03 Investment Officer, seconded from ACOA (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) and AAFC (Agriculture and Agri-food Canada) respectively, three LE-09 trade commissioners (TCs) and two assistants (LE-06 and LE-05). In addition to the technology partnerships and foreign direct investment (FDI) promotion activities, priority sectors include: auto, health and bio-industries, energy, information communication and technology (ICT), aerospace and defence, building and wood products, environmental products and services. The Program’s financial resources are as follows:

Table 2: The IBD Program in Atlanta
2008-2009
Total$147,092
Client Service Fund (CSF)$20,450
Technology Partnering Initiatives (TPI)$15,000
North American Partnership Platform (NAPP)$64,700
Travel$29,266
Hospitality$17,676

3.1.2 The Program covers six Southeastern states, namely Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, North and South Carolina. The Consulate in Raleigh-Durham takes the lead, however, in the states of North and South Carolina. The region is increasingly playing an economic leadership role in the U.S. economy and represents a dynamic political, economic, academic and cultural environment. This region will continue to be of strategic importance to Canada’s economic and trade interests.

3.1.3 The region has a population of 36 million, combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $1.24 trillion (2006) and trade flows with Canada of $44 billion. Atlanta’s airport is among the largest in the world and serves as a major hub for large companies and serves as a major aspect of global value chains (GVCs). It is also an important region for science and technology clusters in energy, health, bio-industries and nanotechnologies, aerospace and defence. A solid academic network is also a key ingredient explaining the dynamism of the region. Canada ranks among the top FDI originators, and it is estimated that almost 824,000 jobs in the region are the result of Canada-U.S. trade activities. Additionally, forty Fortune 500 companies are based in the region.

Management of the Program

3.1.4 The STC should hold regular and frequent meetings with his team, individually and as a group, to provide strategic direction, review plans and priorities, as well as monitor progress and results. The IBD Team has to be more aware of the Program’s progress related to strategic objectives and the targets identified in the Business Plan. *** . This adversely affected open dialogue, the sharing of best practices and the identification of synergies between officers and programs.

3.1.5 ***. Over the last few years, efforts have been made to improve the NAPP assignment process and pre-posting training regiment. As the program develops there will be a need to regularly review and revise the assignment and training programs for ***.

3.1.6 The Inspection highlighted major compliance issues with regards to the use of TRIO, particularly with regards to the three CBS in the Program. ***. As a result of TRIO compliance issues, the Inspection Team cannot make comprehensive observations on program performance, particularly in the key areas of innovation and investment. Although, an upward trend was observed for the first nine months of 2008-2009, this was due in good measure to the closure of service requests that were initiated in previous years.

3.1.7 A high degree of autonomy within the LES group and a preference to work individually was observed. In addition, a resistance to change on the part of the local staff complicated the implementation of plans in-line with the integrative trade approach. ***. In addition, this absence of interaction produces missed opportunities to leverage contact networks within the group and exploit initiatives, such as the Southeastern U.S.-Canada Alliance initiated by the HOM.

3.1.8 The Program is adequately resourced with TCAs, however, ***. At present, the Mission does not have an Infocentre, nor many of the core functions that are normally centralized within such a group. As a result:

  • Officers publish their own individual email addresses on the Mission website and on the VTC (Virtual Trade Commissioners) website, making it difficult to manage client requests and service standards, as well as perform a triage function.
  • Sector documentation is individually managed; leading to potentially unorganized and out of date information being provided to clients.
  • Officers prepare their own outcall briefs and follow-up schedules, rather than being managed centrally.
  • No performance information was being provided to the STC on a monthly or quarterly basis to facilitate a review of program performance.

3.1.9 In addition to introducing efficiencies in the Program, the Infocentre could also serve as an integration mechanism to breakdown silos that exist between officers and work towards a new culture of sharing information. An Infocentre would provide a mechanism to establish a backup system to ensure client service is not affected by prolonged absences. In combination with effective use of TRIO, the Infocentre will also help the Program maintain continuity through staff turnover. As observed in other missions, an Infocentre in Atlanta could also provide support to the Mission in Raleigh-Durham, ensuring consistent, coordinated and cost effective support.

The Business Plan

3.1.10 Both anecdotally from the STC and program officers and through TRIO data (2005-2006 to 2007-2008),*** . The present economic conditions will likely exacerbate the problem and this overall downward trend will require a closer look at the Program’s strategic direction, objectives and use of resources.

3.1.11 *** of Canadian companies in this market, it is imperative that the 2009-2010 Business Plan focus on client acquisition. In particular, the Plan should focus on proactive identification of opportunities that could generate tangible and measurable results as well as increase market awareness in Canada. ***. In order to develop a realistic plan, extensive consultation will have to be held with HQ, regional offices, partner departments, provinces and industry associations.

3.1.12 The Program budget is monitored closely by the STC through weekly reviews with the TCA responsible for tracking. While the focus on financial performance is commendable, the same level of structured and inquisitive attention has not been paid to strategic directions, action plans and results. Consequently, little focus is placed on monitoring activities and results, such as outcalls, the number of technology partnerships and timely reporting on the innovation landscape, the number of investment prospects, leads, deals, etc. The lack of conformity with TRIO makes it more difficult to monitor the performance of the Program.

3.1.13 There is a need to revisit the existing selection and the number of priority sectors given the challenges faced by the Program. The STC should provide a challenge function to his staff to validate their proposed choices of priority sectors and ensure that appropriate consultations take place. The new Global Business Opportunities Bureau and the “structured practices” for certain sectors should facilitate the development and validation of sector strategies.

3.1.14 Both the STC and the officers have noted that there is not enough coverage outside of Atlanta. The development of a more strategic focus for the Program should result in a better targeting outside Atlanta. This would, however, put more pressure on the travel budget. In 2009-2010 the IBD Program should identify ways to leverage the HOM-led SEUS - Canada Alliance.

Investment and Innovation

3.1.15 The STC should develop well defined and strategic objectives for the innovation and FDI promotion elements of the IBD Program for the TPO and investment officers. In line with the integrated trade approach, this should be incorporated into all priority sectors. The TPO should focus on partnership initiatives at the commercialisation stage.

3.1.16 From a performance perspective, the Inspection Team could not ascertain the progress ***.

3.1.17 While efforts have been made to better understand the science and technology partnering opportunities in the market, reporting from the Mission has not been sufficient. *** .

3.1.18 The functional specialist for FDI has *** it is very difficult for the Inspection Team to judge the performance of the FDI promotion program.

3.1.19 The 2008-2009 year marked the first year where a comprehensive outcall list was developed based on the Investor Services (IMS) Strategic Investment Identification System (SIIS). The number of outcalls is low, however, given the number of officers in the Program. For 2009-2010, the SIIS should be combined with local intelligence generated by the Program. The STC should ensure that a program of outcalls is developed covering all sectors in the Program’s area of responsibility. This should be used to develop a program of HOM outcalls. All activities should be reported and monitored in TRIO. Atlanta also should work closely with Raleigh-Durham to ensure coordination and the sharing of sectoral intelligence. Particular attention should also be paid to senior management instructions in terms of retention calls and the gathering of intelligence on potential investment and business opportunities.

3.1.20 It should be mentioned that the Investment Officer is also responsible for the Bridgestone portion of the HQ-based GVC initiative. The preliminary indications of the consultant study are promising from a Canadian sourcing perspective.

Recommendations to the Mission

3.1.21 The Mission should ensure that the Mission website and the VTC reference the generic Program email address rather than those of individual officers.

3.1.22 The systematic use of TRIO should be included as a part of all staff performance management plans.

3.1.23 The Mission should establish an Infocentre to improve program efficiencies and maintain key support and client service functions.

3.1.24 The STC should hold regular staff meetings to engage his staff in discussions on the performance of the Program and promote the sharing of information and best practices.

3.1.25 The STC, in consultation with HQ and partners, should lead his team in a thorough review of the Program’s priority sectors.

3.1.26 The Mission should work closely with the Investor Services Division to establish a program of outcalls, including the HOM and coordinated with Raleigh-Durham.

3.1.27 The Investment Officer should work closely with the other officers within the IBD Program to ensure that FDI promotion activities are incorporated into their respective sectors.

3.1.28 A program of activities should be developed for the TPO with specific objectives and planned results focussing on commercialization and an obligation to record activities in TRIO.

3.1.29 The TPO should receive a briefing from HQ on the latest developments in terms of the HQ innovation strategy and the introduction of the “structured practices” for certain sectors.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.1.21 Agree and in progress for completion in April 2009.

3.1.22 Agree and in progress for June 2009 to ensure compliance.

3.1.23 Agree and in progress for June 2009. The IBD Section will construct an InfoCentre that is designed to maximize operational efficiencies, performance monitoring and client service.

3.1.24 Agree. However, long-term absence of current STC will delay implementation. To be implemented July 2009.

3.1.25 Agree and in progress for completion in April 2009. This will be undertaken within the context of the interactive 2009-2010 IBD planning process. ***.

3.1.26 Agree and in progress for implementation in May 2009.

3.1.27 Agree and in progress for implementation in April 2009.

3.1.28 Agree and in progress for implementation in April 2009.

3.1.29 Agree and in progress for the earliest opportunity.

Recommendation to the North American Platform Program (NAPP) Executive Coordinator Senior Advisor (GWX)

3.1.30 Given the development of the NAPP, GWX should review the content of orientation provided to seconded duty officers who are recruited externally to the Department to address both operational and posting training needs.

GWX Action and Timeframe

3.1.30 GWX agrees that orientation and training programs need to be reviewed on an annual basis to keep them current. One of the key activities of the NAPP human resource program is to research and develop training plans for other government department (OGD) candidates, based on an analysis of training needs and gaps and an assessment of how to improve skills. This fiscal year's training budget amounts to $140,000 and will be used to fund the attendance of OGD employees at various training initiatives as well as to develop courses which benefit our partner employees.

3.2 Coordination with Raleigh-Durham

3.2.1 There is a good level of communication between the two offices at the management level, with the STC in Raleigh-Durham taking part in Atlanta's weekly CMM meetings. However, as each office maintains their own business plan, it is important that the two programs maintain an active dialogue and identify ways to cooperate in overlapping sectors (such as auto and life sciences). A lack of cooperation could lead to duplicated efforts and create confusion among clients, given the proximity of these two markets. In addition, both programs face challenges in terms of attracting clients to their territories and it will be important that greater consultation occur to maximize synergies and develop common programs in certain sectors, such as automotive and life sciences.

3.2.2 Consolidating efforts into one business plan at this time would not facilitate the resolution of the issues raised in this report. In the future, however, this option combined with a shared Infocentre function could result in economies of scale and a better use of resources.

3.3 Raleigh-Durham IBD Program

Overview

3.3.1 In line with the MOU, the IBD Program in Raleigh-Durham has a high degree of autonomy to develop and implement its Business Plan for North and South Carolina. The STC, an FS-04 level position, reports directly to the HOM in Atlanta and is supported by an FS-02, one LE-09 and one LE-05 trade commissioner assistant. At the time of the Inspection the ***. For reasons discussed in Mission Management and below (3.3.7, 3.3.8, 3.3.9),***. The Program’s budget information is provided below.

Table 3: IBD Program in Raleigh-Durham
2008-09
Total$142,650
Client Service Fund (CSF)$10,950
North American Partnership Platform (NAPP)$52,700
Travel$53,000
Hospitality$26,000

3.3.2 According to the Business Plan, two-way trade with this territory exceeds $11 billion per year. This is the model of a Knowledge-based Economy with 40% of the labour force in the “Research Triangle” (anchored by the cities of Raleigh-Durham and Chapel Hill) holding at least a bachelor degree and 11% of residents holding a graduate, professional or doctorate degree. This represents a strategic territory for Canada and offers several potential business opportunities, particularly in research and development cooperation and partnering. While the impact of the current economic downturn is uncertain, the Carolinas are expected to retain these key innovation clusters over the long term.

3.3.3 The Office has identified the following sectoral priorities: automotive, health industries, bio-industries and ITC (although the investment promotion action plan identifies several more sectors). The TCA covers building products on a reactive basis. In addition, the investment officer is involved in the Global Value Chain initiative ***.

Management of the Program

3.3.4 The Inspection Team observed two significant compliance issues, budget allocation and TRIO usage.

  • Budget allocation: The Program has not allocated its budget to action plans for priority sectors. This makes it difficult to review budget allocation and performance in line with Program priorities.
  • TRIO Usage: The Mission does not use TRIO consistently to record activities. Rather, the STC relies on data provided by officers based on a separate performance tracking system for the U.S. (referred to as Marcus) which is not verifiable with TRIO. The Mission was reminded that Marcus data should be drawn from TRIO. This issue has to be addressed immediately and represents a major challenge for the Program. Retraining will be required and a drop in productivity could occur over the short-term. It was noted, however, that the use of SIGNET Remote Access results in a slower interface and therefore requires attention from the E-Services Division (BSS).

3.3.5 At present, hospitality advances have been provided to the STC and the FS-04 in Raleigh-Durham. The FS-04 in turn provides reimbursements to other Mission staff who carry out hospitality activities. This arrangement is cumbersome and not an effective way to manage financial resources, nor for employees to be held accountable for the strategic use of hospitality funds. Instead, hospitality allocations should be made to each officer and each officer should be required to plan and account for its use.

3.3.6 The use of TRIO would allow the STC and the HOM in Atlanta to monitor program performance and intervene when necessary. While there are problems with the network connection speed, due to the use of SIGNET Remote Access (SRA), this should not be used as rationale for non-compliance.

3.3.7 The Office does not use a universal e-mail address to manage the volume of service requests received. It is recommended that Raleigh-Durham adopt a universal e-mail address to facilitate the monitoring of program performance and assist the STC in determining the optimal way to deploy resources. At the time of the Inspection, the STC had no means to monitor the performance of the officers in terms of adherence to client service standards. *** only monitored the generic program email inbox once a month. As a result, client requests run the risk of not being addressed within the five day service standard, or not being addressed at all.

3.3.8 At the time of the Inspection, the TCA covered several non-priority sectors. As a result, limited attention was being paid to officer support, such as outcall preparation, document management, managing the general inquiries, mailbox and client service triage. Drawing resources away from essential administrative support duties could also lead to ineffective maintenance of responsibilities as per the MOU. Since the arrival of the new EX-03 Head of Office, the sector based responsibilities have been scaled back and more emphasis placed on the performance of administrative tasks.

3.3.9 As discussed in Mission Management, the role and activities of the TCA should be reviewed in line with her job description and the MOU between Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham. Particular attention should be paid to her administrative duties within the office.

Implementation

3.3.10 The Program has a good understanding of the Life Sciences sector and the key contacts in the industry. More attention, however, is required on the action plan for that sector. The development of a U.S. strategy for the Life Science sector should provide the guidance that is required to bring greater focus to identifying opportunities. The Program will have to work closely with HQ and the regional offices to validate action plans, given the existence of the “Research Triangle” and the Mission’s potential to make a significant contribution to the Department’s life sciences efforts. The Program will also need to work closely with Atlanta to ensure a coordinated approach.

3.3.11 A review of plans and activities indicated that the investment program lacked focus and may have too many priority sectors. The Office has used the IMS SIIS list to identify target companies, but should also use local intelligence to develop its outcall program. Once in place, the Program should work with the Infocentre in Atlanta to maintain a current stock of promotional material from partners and the Invest in Canada Bureau. The activities for 2009-2010 should be more focussed with defined targets, strategies and outcomes. Attention should also be paid to messaging from senior management on responding to the economic downturn and the importance of conducting investment retention outcalls. Supportive activities, such as a comprehensive program of outcalls for the HOM in Atlanta and the STC in Raleigh-Durham, should also be developed.

Recommendations to the Mission

3.3.12 The use of TRIO should be fully implemented and reflected in the PMPs of all staff.

3.3.13 The Mission should develop the action plan for life sciences in coordination with Atlanta and in close consultation with GND and the Global Business Opportunities Bureau (BBD).

3.3.14 For the fiscal year 2009-2010, the Program should develop clear objectives for its investment program for all sectors, including a program of outcalls for the HOM in Atlanta and the Consul in Raleigh-Durham.

3.3.15 Hospitality allocations should be made to officers in Raleigh-Durham and each officer should be required to plan and account for its use.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.3.12 Agree and in progress for June 2009. Effective TRIO utilization will be reflected in all staff 2009-2010 PMPs.

3.3.13 Agree and in progress. The Mission will do our best to expand coordination and collaboration while guarding against duplication and inefficiency.

3.3.14 Agree and in progress/ongoing during the FY. The Program will meet the outcall numbers expected by HQ, and engage the HOM and Consul appropriately.

3.3.15 Agree and implemented April 2009.

Recommendation to the Client Service Bureau (BSD)

3.3.16 BSD should investigate the TRIO access issues noted by the Office in Raleigh-Durham.

BSD Action and Timeframe

3.3.16 The issue has been raised with Corporate Information Systems (AIA) who is now responsible for TRIO maintenance and new development. The eServices Division (BSS) will work closely with AIA to ensure that the problem with TRIO speed is analysed and solutions identified well before the end of FY 2009-2010. Depending on the cost and other projects this should be resolved before end of FY 2010-2011.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is the responsibility of the PE Program Manager, supported by an LE-08 Consular Officer and a half-time LE-06 Consular Assistant. The Mission’s area of responsibility includes Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. Any Consular inquires received at the Consulate in Raleigh-Durham are directed to Atlanta or the departmental Watch Office after hours.

4.1.2 In 2008, the Program processed 38 regular, 24 temporary and four emergency passports. On an annual basis the program also processes approximately 338 citizenship applications, 50 notary services and 70 Letters of Facilitation. The Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) indicates that there are 440 Canadians registered in the Mission’s areas of accreditation. The Mission estimates the actual number of Canadian residents to be approximately 50,000. The Receptionist, currently an emergency employee, handles routine consular inquires for the Program. All consular activity is being reported in the Consular Management Information Program (COMIP).

4.2 Management of the Program

4.2.1 The Program Manager responsible is a single assignment officer who is also the Political Economic PM. In situations such as this, the individual should have a mentor in the region and perhaps at Headquarters to provide advice and guidance. ***. As there is no MCO in the Mission, there is also a need to ensure that the PM or her staff is included in regional conferences and copied on all correspondence related to consular matters.

4.2.2 Consular staff meetings are held weekly as a part of the PE staff meeting. Separate Consular staff meetings should be held to facilitate information sharing, priority setting and procedures, and to review consular cases. This will also serve as an effective educational tool for the PM and facilitate integration into operations.

4.2.3 The Contingency Plan was last updated in December 2006. The Mission is currently finalizing a new version and will send it to Headquarters.

4.2.4 In order for the Consular Officer to be more involved in establishing and maintaining contacts, a hospitality budget should be allocated for outreach activities. The Consular Officer should develop an action plan to identify those networks and contacts to maintain and those that should be expanded. The maintenance and expansion of networks, as well as strategic use of hospitality funds, should be incorporated into the Officer’s PMP.

4.2.5 Client feedback is currently being provided to the Mission in the form of thank you cards and phone calls. While it is valuable for the Program to have such forms of positive feedback, the Department requires more formal means to track client feedback. The Mission should examine ways to increase the number of formal responses through proactively distributing client feedback forms and referring clients to the online feedback form.

4.3 Client Service Delivery

4.3.1 Given the potential high workload that may result from Phase II of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) in summer 2009, the Program has initiated a proactive approach to service delivery. This includes consulting with like-minded missions, regularly updating the Mission’s website, allowing clients to schedule appointments, and hosting passport clinics.

4.3.2 The Mission and the Consular bureaux will have to monitor the impact of WHTI on missions in the U.S. to ensure that resources are adequate. Should this not be the case in Atlanta, there is a risk that the PM and the Assistant may not be able to deliver on key PE responsibilities.

4.3.3 Concern was raised by the Mission regarding the application of the policy on Letters of Facilitation amongst various missions in the U.S. Procedures surrounding the issuing of such letters or the particular instances when that document should be used instead of a temporary passport are unclear. As a result, clients receiving services at missions in the U.S. are provided with different instructions, posing a risk from a client service and compliance perspective. Consular Policy and Advocacy Bureau (CLD) should clarify the policy and procedures and ensure consistent application by missions.

4.3.4 Back-up for the Consular PM is provided by the STC. ***. To ensure that operations can continue during absences, a remote approval process could remain in place. ***.

4.3.5 Service standards and fee schedules were not posted in both official languages in the consular booth. In addition to service standards and fees and as a best practice, a sample of an official receipt could be displayed. As there should be conformity regarding what is posted by the Consular Program at Missions, the Consular bureaux and Passport Canada should work together to develop a standard form for use at all missions.

4.4 Internal Controls

4.4.1 Currently, the LES Consular Officer is approving passport applications. As per instructions from Passport Canada, only certified Canada-based Staff (CBS) should verify original documents and approve passport applications prior to passport issuance. The Consular PM has passport approval authority, passed the passport certification course and therefore should be exercising this authority.

4.4.2 Inventory controls were inadequate ***. While the HOM was performing a passport inventory reconciliation quarterly, a CBS and the Consular Officer should be performing the same exercise monthly. *** . A reconciliation of passport stock was undertaken by the Inspection Team and all assets were accounted for.

4.4.3 To facilitate proper safeguarding of information ***. Completed passport applications and some archived personal information are being stored ***. Generally, completed passport applications should not be retained for longer than 90 days. The Program should also review its archived files to determine what should be destroyed.

4.4.4 The Consular Assistant should also be provided with an enclosed workspace ***.

4.4.5 Consular revenues are transferred to the Finance Section only when the amount is in excess of ***. As per the DFAIT Consular policy, revenues should be transferred to the Accountant ***, and when in excess of ***.

4.5 Recommendations

Recommendations for the Mission

4.5.1 A separate Consular Staff meeting should be held regularly to prioritize work, review cases and facilitate information sharing.

4.5.2 The Mission should update the Contingency Plan annually and send it to HQ once finalized.

4.5.3 A hospitality budget should be allocated to the Consular Officer for strategic outreach activities and contact maintenance. Objectives related to this should be reflected in the Officer’s PMP.

4.5.4 The Mission should identify and implement methods to increase the number of formal feedback forms received from clients.

4.5.5 The Mission should formalize the process for remote passport approval to ensure service delivery during staff absences.

4.5.6 Service standards and fee schedules should be posted in both official languages in the consular booth, along with a sample of the official receipt.

4.5.7 The passport approval function should be exercised by a certified CBS officer.

4.5.8 A monthly inventory reconciliation of passport stock should be performed by two CBS.

4.5.9 *** should be created to track ***.

4.5.10 Official seals should be inventoried, appropriately secured and reconciled annually.

4.5.11 *** to facilitate proper safeguarding of information. ***.

4.5.12 Completed passport applications should not be retained longer than 90 days.

4.5.13 The Consular Assistant should be provided with an enclosed workspace to use while discussing consular cases, handling client information or processing passports.

4.5.14 Consular revenues should be transferred *** .

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.5.1 Noted and implemented. Consular issues are normally discussed at the end of each PE/Consular team staff meeting. If confidentiality is required, a separate conversation ensues without PE staff in the room.

4.5.2 Actioned March 2009. Updated Contingency Plans have been sent to HQ.

4.5.3 Agree and in progress for April 2009.

4.5.4 Agree and implemented April 2009. Currently, a flyer displayed in the Consular booth provides website information on feedback forms. Blank feedback forms will be printed and placed in visible locations.

4.5.5 A formalized process for remote passport approval is not desired by Passport Canada. The Mission will select another CBS to take the passport training and become certified. Remote passport approval will only be used in exceptional circumstances.

4.5.6 Agree. A sign in the Consular booth currently indicates that service standards are available upon request. The Mission will post the service standards along with all fees and a sample of the official receipt (April 2009).

4.5.7 In progress. The Mission is working to ensure another CBS (in addition to the PE PM) has certified passport training in order to provide greater signing flexibility. The PE PM is not longer at the Mission. Please note that Passport Canada has given permission for the LES Consular Officer to enter data and to approve passport applications for reasons of practicality, efficiency and expertise (Passport Canada authority January 21, 2009).

4.5.8 Noted and in progress for the third quarter 2009. Monthly inventory of passport stock is currently being done by the PM, or in her absence, the HOM. Another CBS will be selected to take passport training and become certified; that individual will conduct the monthly inventory along with PM.

4.5.9 Agree and in progress for April 2009. Log books will be created.

4.5.10 Agree and in progress for May 2009. Official seals are currently stored in a safe in the Consular Officer's work area to facilitate daily usage. They will be inventoried and reconciled annually.

4.5.11 Agree and in progress for May 2009. Work is being scheduled.

4.5.12 Agree and in progress for May 2009. Completed passport applications will be destroyed within 90 days. The option of hiring a shredding company versus engaging a CBS will be evaluated.

4.5.13 Agree and in progress for June 2009. See response 1.5.9.

4.5.14 Agree and implemented April 2009. Consular revenues are now being transferred to the ***.

Recommendations to CLD

4.5.15 The Consular PM be scheduled to attend the Consular Specialist Course and provided with a mentor.

4.5.16 CLD should ensure that the PM is included in conferences.

4.5.17 CLD should work with the appropriate groups to clarify the policy and procedures on Letters of Facilitation and ensure its consistent application at Missions.

4.5.18 CLD should contact Passport Canada to ensure that the STC’s name is removed from the list of individuals with passport approval authority.

4.5.19 CLD, in cooperation with Passport Canada, should develop a standard form regarding service standards and fees to be used by all missions.

CLD Actions and Timeframes

4.5.15 CLD has been keeping a report of all participants who attended any Consular Training. The PE PM attended last fall only a portion of the “New MCO Recruits Consular Training” due to other commitments (which is equivalent to the Basic Consular Training). She is, however *** CLD will contact Miami where there is an experienced Consular PM for a possibility of mentorship for Atlanta.
Note: This PE PM is no longer at the Mission.

4.5.16 For all Regional Consular Conferences, one participant per mission is invited and the expenses are paid for by Consular Policy and Initiatives (CLP). If a mission wishes to send more than one participant, it would be at its own expense. These sessions are organized every two years in each region. The United States are scheduled sometime this fiscal year. No dates or location have been confirmed yet.

4.5.17 CLD is undertaking a complete review of the Letters of Facilitation policy. An initial meeting was held in April 2008 and further meetings/consultations will be conducted in the coming months with both missions and other stakeholders as appropriate. The policy review will be completed and a new policy implemented by the end of FY 2009-2010. Until the review is completed, missions are being asked to administer the policy as written.

4.5.18 CLD will contact Passport Canada, the list will be double checked with Passport Management Program (PMP) and names will be removed (if not already done). Last February, all names of individual who did not pass the passport certification training were deleted from the list.

4.5.19 Our service standards (common with Passport Canada) and fees (to be paid only in CAD in the U.S.) and to be used by all missions are listed on our intranet site. CLD will contact missions to make sure that this information is on display.

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Administration Program is managed by an LE-09 Mission Administration Officer (MAO) assisted by five other staff members: an LE-07 Accountant, LE-05 Assistant Accountant, LE-05 Administration Assistant, LE-04 Receptionist, and an LE-08 Locally-engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP). The LEITP position, however, is to be abolished effective March 31, 2009. There is also an LE-09 Regional e-Services Manager housed within the Mission, responsible for TRIO in the Americas.

5.1.2 The Program provides support to the Consulate in Raleigh-Durham under the conditions of an MOU. As stated in the section on Mission Management, the terms of this agreement should be reviewed and updated. The job description of the assistant in Raleigh-Durham will have to adequately reflect the administrative responsibilities of the position.

5.1.3 The Mission has the capacity to provide services to clients in both official languages. Signage posted inside the Chancery, however, was not always in a bilingual format.

Management of the Program

5.1.4 The MAO meets monthly with her direct reports and biannually with all Program staff. As a best practice, the Program should meet more frequently as a group, preferably monthly, to discuss plans, upcoming events, items raised at CMM and other issues.

5.1.5 The Mission has a number of experienced employees, however, information on work procedures and contacts is not currently being shared. A best practice, especially for a small mission, is for the creation of back-up plans to cover each position in case of unexpected absences. The Mission in Washington has developed standard operating procedures for each position and these could provide templates to use as a starting point.

5.1.6 Policies and procedures are not frequently communicated to Mission staff. As a good practice, an email on a specific topic (contracting, hospitality, or travel claim, etc.) could be sent quarterly. This would serve as a reminder to all Mission staff and could highlight training needs or requests. Mission policies could also be organized and stored on the common drive for easy access to guidelines and reference material.

5.1.7 On behalf of the HOM, Administration Program team building events are hosted monthly by the MAO using Administration Program’s hospitality budget. As per Chapter 9 of the Protocol Manual, only the HOM can offer hospitality to employees and this can only be done once annually.

5.1.8 Performance Management Plans (PMPs) are in place with the exception of the Driver and the Housekeeper which have to be developed.

Client Service Delivery

5.1.9 The Program has made a concerted effort to strengthen controls following the last audit visit in 2001. With these controls now in place, the Program must now work towards finding an appropriate balance between internal controls and effective client service. This can be accomplished by:

  • Revisiting internal service standards, last updated in 2005, and consulting with clients to determine program needs;
  • Proactively educating program staff on administrative policy requirements and how to complete forms (contracts, hospitality, travel, etc.); and,
  • Providing advisory services to program staff that allow them to obtain advice on procurement or contracting arrangements at the time of project conception, rather than at the time of approval.

5.1.10 The MAO has been working for the Mission for many years. Unlike MCOs, however, she has not had the opportunity to experience different mission environments and observe how services are offered elsewhere. Such opportunities would be valuable in terms of professional development and contribute to improved service delivery. It would also be useful for the MAO to participate in the mentoring program for MCOs, which has funding for travel and a set of guidelines to be followed. ***.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.11 Signage within the Mission should be in both official languages.

5.1.12 The Administration Program should hold more frequent all-staff meetings.

5.1.13 Administrative service standards should be reviewed, updated, approved annually by CMM and re-communicated.

5.1.14 The Mission should have only one team building event per year funded by the hospitality budget. Other events, such as retreats, should be funded through operations.

5.1.15 Develop PMPs for the Driver and the Housekeeper.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.11 Noted and in progress for August 2009. Signs will be reprinted in both official languages.

5.1.12 Agree and implemented April 2009. All-staff meetings will be scheduled bi-monthly.

5.1.13 Agree and in progress for September 2009.

5.1.14 Agree and implemented April 2009.

5.1.15 Agree and in progress for June 2009.

Recommendation to the Mission Client Services and Innovation Bureau (ASD)

5.1.16 *** such as mentoring and visits to another mission in the United States. Consideration should also be given to expanding this to include all MAOs.

ASD Action and Timeframe

5.1.16 ASD has organised regional workshops for MCO/MAO's, including one for the Americas which was held in Ottawa in February 2008 in which the MAO from Atlanta participated. Workshops will continue on an annual basis and will be an opportunity for the exchange of ideas and best practices for all MCOs and MAOs. ASD is also working on Regional Service Centres which will provide additional support to missions and act as "centres of expertise". While still in the design and implementation phase, training opportunities will be looked at on a regional basis and will be factored in. ASD is also in dialogue with the mission in Washington, which has taken a lead on regional initiatives for MAOs and MCOs in the United States.

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 Overall, the Inspection Team found that communication and transparency with regard to staffing actions, procedures and processes were adequate. Personnel and competition files were also well organized.

5.2.2 The Mission has generally experienced low turnover. One classification action was outstanding at the time of the Inspection, the reclassification of an LE-05 TCA in Raleigh-Durham to an LE-06. As mentioned in the IBD section of the report, the Inspection Team does not support the reclassification as it diminishes a key support role within that office.

5.2.3 The Mission has to be conscious of potential health and safety issues regarding Driver overtime and use of the Driver to move furniture at the Official Residence (OR). Schedules should be monitored to avoid burnout, especially if the HOM attends many events after-hours and/or on weekends. The establishment of alternate driving services should be examined to ensure that there is adequate back-up to cover for holidays or sickness. Professional services should also be used for moving heavy furniture

Recommendation to the Mission

5.2.4 The Mission should monitor Driver overtime to avoid burnout and refrain from using that resource for other duties not described in his job description. Alternative sources should be found to provide all moving services and extra transportation when needed.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.2.4 Noted and implemented April 2009. The HOM has made arrangements to use alternate commercial driver services for official week-end travel. The job description is being updated to define more explicitly ‘other duties'.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The Mission’s property portfolio includes a Crown-owned Official Residence and two Crown-owned staff-quarters (SQs). The other two SQs are privately leased. The OR is a newly constructed house, which the HOM moved into in July 2007, and is considered by HQ and the Mission to be an excellent solution to HOM housing requirements. The Mission Housing Committee meets on an ad hoc basis to discuss areas under their responsibility as per the Terms of Reference.

Planning

5.3.2 The 2001 Audit Report noted that “inadequate planning regarding staff quarters and related maintenance had resulted in a sub-optimum housing portfolio, more detailed planning needs to be done for the Mission” and recommended that, the Mission should, “develop a detailed work plan and schedule for SQs to identify improvements, inform occupants and monitor work regarding the property profile.” While improvements have been made on planning, more should be done.

5.3.3 Currently, all Crown-owned properties are relatively new and in good condition. To ensure that the properties are effectively maintained, the Mission should develop maintenance plans for all Crown-owned properties. The plan should incorporate standing offers for regular maintenance activities, where appropriate. Agreements should include a clear scope of work, response times and frequency of visits. Information regarding these plans should be communicated in the CMM to ensure transparency and improve communication. At minimum this could be done quarterly or at the same time that Mission budgets are presented for review.

5.3.4 The Mission currently does not have a capital acquisition plan. Although the budget is not large ($30,000), it is still necessary to have a multi-year plan to ensure that necessary items are purchased in a timely manner and that funding is available. Administration should consult programs yearly (at minimum) regarding their needs and develop a plan that takes Mission priorities and budget constraints into consideration. Recommendations should then be presented at CMM for discussion and approval. In this way surplus money can be identified early and returned to HQ or deficits can be flagged.

Client Service Delivery

5.3.5 The presence of both Crown-owned and privately-leased SQs in Atlanta leads to some differences in property services provided to CBS. Those in privately leased SQs are responsible for most property related requirements, whereas the Mission has responsibility for Crown-owned SQs. These variations can lead to confusion and unmet expectations among staff. The Administration Program should therefore be proactive and ensure that SQ occupants are advised of what services can be provided to those with private-leases. The Program should also provide early advice to occupants. For example, the Mission could:

  • Provide a list of contacts with the welcome kit;
  • Hold a welcome session for newly arrived staff and their families to review the welcome kit, explain what services can and cannot be provided and discuss general administrative procedures; and,
  • Consult with recent arrivals regarding the quality of information provided upon arrival in an effort to improving services to future clients.

5.3.6 CBS should be consulted regularly on what work has to be performed at the SQs, and regular visits should be made by the MAO to assess both maintenance needs and capital asset renewal. The Administration Program should to be more proactive in its communication with CBS regarding maintenance plans for the SQs, as CBS should be made aware of plans for their SQs. In the absence of such communication, occupants assume that no plans are in place and work is not being done.

5.3.7 Work requests are currently being submitted on paper work order forms or over the telephone. An electronic work order system should be used to facilitate follow-up, tracking and trends analysis. Numerous off-the-shelf systems are available and should be considered, including Crow Canyon which is available through Headquarters. At a minimum, work requests could be submitted via email.

Compliance Issues

5.3.8 The Mission is currently paying for the yard maintenance of all Crown-owned properties. Section 16.7.3 of the Property Manual states that the occupant is expected to perform and pay the costs of routine grounds maintenance. The Mission should seek reimbursement for the portion spent up to 650 sq metres, as per the Property Management Manual.

5.3.9 All employees, including the HOM, are responsible for reimbursing the monthly user fees for cable TV, satellite and internet services.

5.3.10 Logs for the HOM vehicle are not being completed properly and only contain total daily mileage for the days when fuel is purchased. It was noted that fuel was purchased frequently (a few times each week), but there was insufficient information in the logs to verify the validity of vehicle use. The Mission is reminded that every time the vehicle is used an entry must be made detailing the purpose of the trip and locations visited, as well as mileage driven. This is important as a means to demonstrate that the vehicle is being used for official purposes only.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.11 The Mission should develop comprehensive maintenance plans for all Crown-owned properties and table them for approval at CMM. Regular visits to Crown-owned properties should be made by the MAO to assess and update maintenance requirements.

5.3.12 Maintenance agreements to deliver on the plans should be put in place and clearly indicate the scope of work, response time and frequency of visits to ensure adequate maintenance of properties.

5.3.13 The shared Administration calendar should reflect the workplans related to maintenance plans and used to keep SQ occupants informed of planned work or visits.

5.3.14 The Mission should implement a work order system, preferably electronic, to more effectively respond to and monitor maintenance requests.

5.3.15 The Program should develop a capital acquisition plan in consultation with programs and SQ occupants, and present it to CMM for approval.

5.3.16 To facilitate the transition for those in private leased accommodations, the Administration Program should institute a proactive approach to advise all CBS of the services that can and cannot be provided depending on housing type.

5.3.17 The Mission should ensure that occupants of Crown-owned properties pay the cost of routine grounds maintenance, up to 650 sq metres as per the Property Management Manual.

5.3.18 Reimbursement should be sought from all CBS for the monthly user fees for cable TV, satellite and internet services as these costs are compensated for under the FSDs.

5.3.19 Vehicle logs should be completed and detailed regarding the purpose of each trip and locations visited along with the mileage driven.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.11 Agree and in progress for September 2009. The MAO will coordinate with Property Maintenance and Operations Section (ARAF) to compile a comprehensive maintenance plan for all Crown-owned properties to present to the CMM. Routine visits to the Crown-owned properties will be part of the maintenance plan.

5.3.12 Agree and in progress for September 2009.

5.3.13 Agree and in progress for September 2009.

5.3.14 Agree and in progress for May 2009. Crow Canyon has been placed in many missions as a pilot work order system and has been deemed a success. The Mission plans to add this system in the coming months.

5.3.15 Agree and in progress for April 2009. A capital acquisition plan is being developed.

5.3.16 Agree and in progress for July 2009.

5.3.17 Agree and implemented in April 2009.

5.3.18 Agree and implemented in April 2009.

5.3.19 Agree and implemented in April 2009.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 Financial operations are overseen by the MAO with the assistance of an LE-07 Accountant and an LE-05 Assistant Accountant. The team was organized and diligent, and there is an appropriate level of interaction with the HOM regarding financial matters. Finance section staff meetings, consisting of the Accountant and the Assistant Accountant, occur weekly to discuss issues and plan workload. The MAO is not involved in these meetings, but has an open door policy and staff feel this is sufficient for day-to-day operations. That being said, staff did express interest in having a regular all-staff meeting to identify/discuss process improvement opportunities.

5.4.2 Control improvement opportunities were noted in the following areas:

  • The monthly bank statement is currently being sent to the Finance Section. This statement should be delivered to, opened and reviewed by the MAO, and then passed to the Accountant to complete the reconciliation process.
  • The Accountant should copy the MAO on email requests when ordering cheques from the bank.

5.4.3 A Contract Review Board (CRB) reference guide has recently replaced the departmental version making it more relevant to the Mission. This more clearly defines the process and role of its members and includes controls such as the recent lowering the CRB approval ceiling to $5,000 and requiring in-person Board meeting attendance. The document is currently pending CMM approval and once received, it should be communicated to all staff.

5.4.4 A review of contracting files was conducted. There are a few areas requiring improvement:

  • CRB members should meet yearly to update the Terms of Reference and reference guide.
  • Quarterly CRB meetings should be held to monitor contracts awarded below the $5,000 threshold, and to identify and review issues such as contract splitting.
  • Advance payments to suppliers are to be considered only in extraordinary circumstances and are rarely justified as per Treasury Board guidelines. Progress payments are considered the preferred option.
  • The value of a requirement being less than $25,000 is not sufficient justification for sole source contracting.
  • Contracts were not organized and filed properly. Files should contain standard documentation including the signed Request for Contract and Amendment Form (RFCA), supplier bids and a clear CRB rationale for selection signed by all members. In some cases the appropriate contracting forms were not used and some contracts were missing signatures, as well as start and end date.
  • As a result of the new contracting framework, all contracts should be entered into the Materiel Management (MM) module of the Integrated Management System (IMS) regardless of the value. Currently, the Mission is entering contracts valued above $5,000 and will reduce it to $2,000 effective fiscal year (FY) 2009/2010 and soon thereafter plans to capture all contracts.

5.4.5 Payments to suppliers should be done against the Purchase Order (PO) created in the Integrated Management System (IMS). In certain cases, payments are occasionally issued using a Reference Document Number (KR) for a payment transaction. This results in direct payments made to vendors and not linked or attached to a PO. Additionally, two IMS entries are made for the same supplier. KR documents should not be used to process payments for contracts as these transaction will not be captured when running the proactive disclosure reports or when gathering data for access to information requests.

5.4.6 There was a misunderstanding regarding certain types of IMS coding. This was brought to the attention of the Finance Section during the Inspection and proper coding will be implemented. After discussions, the Finance team will be using the DZ type of coding for employee reimbursements and SD for deposits of revenue such as consular, passport and other special purpose revenue.

5.4.7 The Administrative Assistant of each program is responsible for creating vendor codes required for their needs, and the program manager of the respective section approves these requests. This is a good practice as it alleviates having the Administration Program tasked with this for the entire Mission.

5.4.8 In preparation for the *** the Assistant Accountant should be trained on performing monthly bank reconciliations and other financial duties currently being completed by the Accountant. Consideration may have to be given to providing extra support to this area ***.

5.4.9 Acquisition cards are currently being used. However, the Mission should examine the possibility of expanding its use for low dollar value purchases such as office supplies, printing services, and travel booking for efficiency instead of committing those expenditures in IMS.

Raleigh-Durham

5.4.10 The Section is also responsible for all aspects of Raleigh-Durham’s financial operations as laid out in the MOU between Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham. As noted earlier, this Agreement should be amended to include additions such as quarterly visits to review financial processes and procedures. These visits could also include an educational portion on specific subject matters such as contracting, hospitality and travel.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.12 The monthly bank statement should be delivered to and reviewed by the MAO and then passed to the Accountant to complete the reconciliation process.

5.4.13 The Accountant should copy the MAO on email requests when ordering cheques from the bank.

5.4.14 The CRB Terms of Reference and CRB Reference Guide should be updated yearly and communicated to staff following CMM approval.

5.4.15 Contracting controls and documentation should be strengthened by:

  • Establishing quarterly CRB meetings to identify issues and monitor contracts awarded below the $5,000 threshold;
  • Providing a clear justification for sole source contracts less than $25,000;
  • Ensuring that the CRB’s decision is documented on file along with the appropriate contracting forms; and,
  • Entering all contracts into the MM module of IMS, as per the new contracting framework.

5.4.16 Payments to contract suppliers should be done against the PO created in IMS.

5.4.17 The Assistant Accountant should be trained an all financial duties currently being performed by the Accountant.

5.4.18 The Mission should examine the possibility of expanding its use of acquisition cards to include low dollar value purchases.

5.4.19 Quarterly visits to Raleigh-Durham to review financial processes and procedures, including an educational portion on specific subject matters, should be included in the MOU.

5.4.20 The Mission should determine the minimum level of effort required by Raleigh-Durham to meet financial and administrative responsibilities. This should be reflected in the MOU.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.12 Implemented in March 2009.

5.4.13 Implemented in April 2009. Actioned with the next cheque order.

5.4.14 In progress for May 2009. To be completed/approved by CMM/communicated as per recommendation.

5.4.15 Noted, in progress and ongoing. All points will be actioned.

5.4.16 Noted and implemented in April 2009.

5.4.17 The Assistant Accountant will be trained on all financial duties currently being performed by the Accountant; another employee will be trained to back-up the Assistant Accountant. In progress for April 2009.

5.4.18 Agree and in progress for April 2009.

5.4.19 Noted and in progress for September 2009. Feasibility of once-a-quarter visits will be evaluated. Mid-year visit is fully agreed-to.

5.4.20 Noted and in progress for July 2009.

5.5 Information Management - Information Technology (IM-IT)

5.5.1 The Mission’s IM-IT service is provided by an LE-08 Information Technology Professional (LEITP) until March 31, 2009. At that time, the position will be abolished along with four other missions in the U.S. This makes Atlanta one of 86 missions that do not have an on-site IT professional. At the time of the Inspection, it was unclear how the Mission will obtain assistance when required and the effect it will have on service standards.

5.5.2 The Mission was in the process of determining how to operate without an on-site LEITP and identifying a suitable candidate to be the Signet Support Assistant (SSA). A clearer definition is required from Headquarters on the SSA’s role, responsibilities, support structure and training plan. Detailed instructions and training from the FSITP and IT Client Support division will be required for new SSAs. HQ guides for resolving common IT problems could be developed and communicated to SSAs.

5.5.3 Given the loss of the LEITP position, it would be beneficial for the Mission to institute an IT Steering Committee to assist the SSA and allow for discussion of issues. The institution of these meetings would bring structure to IT management and planning and would allow for earlier identification and prioritization of Mission IT acquisition and training requirements to feed into Mission-wide budget planning. The Steering Committee, in conjunction with the CMM, should monitor the quality of IT services received from HQ or elsewhere, and follow-up as appropriate.

5.5.4 The Mission had expressed interest in developing a Mission intranet to communicate and store policies. Given the level of effort required, other information sharing means should be considered such as Infobank or the Mission’s shared drive.

5.5.5 The inventory of IT devices provided to staff for use outside the Chancery is currently the responsibility of the Administrative Assistant. While these inventories are being maintained, they are not recorded in the departmental IT Assets Management System (ITAMS).

5.5.6 Staff members in Raleigh-Durham connect to DFAIT network using a SIGNET Remote Access laptop with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection. This mode of connection is problematic and issues with network and TRIO software speed were raised as a concern. A recommendation has been made to BSS in the IBD section of this report to investigate this in conjunction with the appropriate HQ groups.

Recommendations for the Mission

5.5.7 An IT Steering Committee should be instituted to manage and plan for IT needs, assist the SSA, and monitor the quality of IT services received from HQ.

5.5.8 The Mission should ensure that an inventory of IT devices are maintained and recorded in ITAMS.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.7 Noted and implemented April 2009.

5.5.8 Once the new SSA is familiar with the statement of work and the ITAMS system the inventory will be complied or completed. In progress for September 2009.

Recommendations Information Management and Technology Bureau (AID)

5.5.9 AID should provide the Mission with clarification on the SSA role, responsibilities, support structure and training plan.

AID Actions and Timeframes

5.5.9 The Mission IT Client Support Section (AISZ) provided Atlanta with clarification on the SSA role, support structure and training plan in a message sent on February 27, 2009. This same information package was also forwarded to Raleigh-Durham on April 21, 2009.

Appendix A: Mission Resources Fact Sheet

Table 4: Mission Resources Fact Sheet of Physical Resources
Physical Resources (Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham)Other
AssetsCrown OwnedCrown LeasedPrivate Leased
Chancery-2-
Official Residence1--
Staff Quarters2-5
Vehicles3--

Table 5: Financial Information (Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham)
Financial Information 2008-2009AtlantaRaleigh-Durham
Total$2,571,310$681,740
Operating Budget (N001)$864,747$291,188
Capital Budget (N005)$32,760$11,240
CBS Salary Budget (N011)$295,950$158,400
LES Salary Budget (N012)$1,377,853$220,912

Appendix B: Organization Chart

Organization Chart

Note: A temporary EX-03 Head of Office was assigned to the office in Raleigh-Durham in the summer 2008 and is scheduled to end in summer 2010.


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Date Modified:
2012-11-15