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Inspection of the Canadian Embassy Beirut

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March 17-23, 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 Beirut from March 17 to 23, 2009. The previous audit of these programs took place in 2000.

The Embassy in Beirut is a medium sized mission with 13 Canada based staff (CBS) and 26 Locally engaged staff (LES). The Mission *** engaged program managers and *** at all levels. Security concerns are omnipresent in the Mission and throughout programs and represent a primary interest and focus of the Head of Mission (HOM).

Mission plans were in-line with Government of Canada and departmental objectives and priorities. Not all programs had fully developed operational plans, however planning was sufficient given the constantly evolving operating environment in Lebanon. Program managers had not been involved in previous budgeting exercises. Departmental tools and initiatives, such as TRIO and the New Way Forward, require further consideration and implementation.

The Mission's programs are well integrated and communication was seen to be strong. As a result, there is a sense of teamwork and unity that pervades throughout the Mission.

The Political Economic Program has supported most of the main activities of the Mission in recent years. The recently arrived HOM is *** engaged in the PE Program and leverages its capacity and capabilities appropriately. The range of activities for which the Program is responsible, and its current level of capacity make it a nucleus for Mission activities.

The IBD Program, while small (two LES with the Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) resident in Damascus), is affected by the lack of a resident STC. Given this situation the HOM has stepped in to provide ongoing direction and feedback to the LES. There is a risk of unmet expectations on the part of the three HOMs that the STC in Damascus serves. A Memorandum of Understanding or similar agreement as to how the STC is to be shared among posts would benefit the missions involved and provide some clarity and direction to the STC. Similarly, an agreement between the Beirut HOM and the STC as to how the IBD workload and personnel in Beirut are to be managed would be beneficial.

The Consular Program is *** managed. Due to the high volume of passports processed at this Mission, a representative of Passport Canada was a member of the Inspection Team. Overall, the passport element of the Program was ***.

Administration functions are also well executed although service standards require a thorough review and update. Procedural recommendations for improvement are noted with a view to enhancing an already sound operation. Two new positions are envisaged by the Mission, a cook for the Official Residence and the creation of distinct technician and driver positions from the current hybrid driver/technician single resource.

A total of 57 recommendations are raised in the report; 52 are addressed to the Mission and five are addressed to Headquarters (HQ). Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the 57 recommendations, management has stated that 31 have been implemented. For each of the remaining 26 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Embassy in Beirut is a medium-size mission with 13 Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 26 Locally-engaged Staff (LES). The Mission is responsible for program delivery in Lebanon. The Mission was operating effectively and efficiently. A Country Strategy outlining the main goals and objectives has been created, however unexpected events can have a significant impact on the Mission's activities. As a result, contingency planning and security are key priorities for the Mission.

1.1.2 The Head of Mission (HOM) is *** and provides *** support to all Mission programs. Since his arrival the HOM has organized a retreat, met individually with all staff and has bi-monthly meetings with all LES. Teamwork was evident throughout the Mission, both within and between Programs.

1.1.3 The Mission has a well established committee structure in place which includes: the Committee on Mission Management (CMM), Housing, Classification, Canada Fund, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), Security and LES. There is also a Training Co-ordinator and a Contract Review Board (CRB). A chair for each committee should be designated to ensure the committees continue to meet their established mandate.

1.1.4 The CMM, composed of program heads, meets weekly. As noted in paragraph 3.3.2, the Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) should also be included by conference call when feasible. As a best practice, pertinent information from the CMM minutes or records of decision should be distributed to all staff to inform them of events, priorities and management decisions. The CMM could be more effectively leveraged by focussing on Mission-wide issues and areas of inter-program cooperation, leaving discussion of program specific items to smaller forums. Minutes of other Committees such as Housing, Classification, OHS and the CRB are kept on the common drive which allows for staff access.

 
Mission comment:
***, the STC cannot necessarily participate at the CMM by telephone. However, he receives the minutes of the weekly meetings and receives debriefing from the CMM during his visits.

1.1.5 Designated staff within the Mission have the capacity to provide services in both official languages as well as in Arabic. Morale among staff was found to be above average.

Recommendations to the Mission

1.1.6 The Mission should designate a chair for each committee.

1.1.7 The CMM minutes should be distributed to all staff, as appropriate.

1.1.8 The CMM should focus discussions on Mission wide issues and areas of inter program cooperation, leaving program specific discussion to smaller forums.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.1.6 In progress for August 2009. All chairs to be designated after the finalisation of the CBS summer rotation.

1.1.7 Implemented June 2009 *** however the HOM will ensure that program managers provide an adequate debriefing at their weekly staff meetings.

1.1.8 Implemented June 2009. The HOM ensures that the CMM focusses on Mission wide issues and areas of inter program cooperation. To support this approach, the CMM is now limited to a maximum of one hour.

Political Economic Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The Political Economic (PE) Program in Beirut is managed by an FS-03 Political Counsellor/Program Manager (PM) who is supported by an FS-02 First Secretary, an LE-07 Public Affairs and Political Officer and an LE-05 Public Affairs Assistant.

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 Beirut
Fund 2008-09
Total$23,639
Travel$4,000
Hospitality$6,000
Grants/Contributions$5,000
Overtime$8,639

2.1.3 The Program's main functions are bilateral relations, political reporting, public affairs and visit support. There is a significant reactive element to the work of the Section, especially with political reporting. This dynamic is to be expected given the context of the country. That considered, the Program still makes attempts to identify periods of time where there is likely to be a requirement for heightened focus on reporting (e.g. election periods) so that other activities (namely public affairs events) can be minimized. Visit management is also a reactive function and varies significantly depending on the security situation in the country.

2.2 Management of the Program

2.2.1 The PM has been at the post since 2005. In this time the composition of the Program and her responsibilities have changed significantly. Upon arrival she was responsible for Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) files as well as the rest of the suite of PE activities. With the recent arrival of a CIDA Canada-based staff member, the responsibility for management of the development program has shifted to this section. During her tenure the LE-05 assistant position was created to alleviate some of the responsibilities of the LE-07 and allow her to focus more on core functions. The Program also underwent a shift in focus to respond to demands for more frequent and detailed reporting while still undertaking significant work for public affairs and visit management.

2.2.2 The range of activities for which the Program is responsible, and its current level of capacity make it a nucleus for Mission activities. Program staff are *** and all contribute to the activities of the Program. Given the complexities in the country and the imminent turnover in the PM position in the summer of 2009, expectations will have to be tempered over the near term, and sufficient time will need to be allocated to transition planning and activities.

2.2.3 The recently arrived HOM is *** engaged in the PE Program and leverages its capacity and capabilities appropriately. Staff noted and *** this level of interest and engagement. It was also observed that the HOM is *** to dialogue with respect to workload and priorities.

2.3 Planning

2.3.1 Given the need to remain flexible in this operating environment, where the political situation is very fluid, the level of planning for activities is appropriate. It generally flows from the Country Strategy and is done on a short-term basis (one to three months). There is no limit to the nature or scope of activities that the Program could focus on. This creates a need to prioritize activities. Even with an increased staff complement, the Program is running at full capacity. A calendar of events for the Section helps to keep stock of upcoming events and activities.

2.3.2 Public affairs events and Mission outreach activities are held outside of Beirut on a regular basis. Even with security constraints that limit staff's ability to travel freely, events are planned and/or attended outside of the capital where possible. Examples include plans to hold a Canadian Day in the Bekaa Valley in the fall 2009 and the HOM's recent visit to the south to attend the memorial service for a fallen Lebanese-Canadian soldier. The PE Program is integral in the planning and support for these events and activities.

2.4 Implementation

2.4.1 The Program is structured and staffed in a manner which allows it to accomplish its objectives as laid out in the Country Strategy and reporting agreement. Reporting consistently reflected the requirements from HQ.

2.4.2 Canada's involvement in Lebanon is significant and the Mission and Program are proactive in communicating the nature and extent of that involvement to the Lebanese population. Canada has a well developed reputation which is further enhanced by the Public Affairs activities of the Mission. The newly HOM is *** in reaching out to the community to continue to promote Canada's contribution to Lebanon. The PE Program is instrumental in helping him to do this.

2.4.3 The Program has established a vast network of contacts with like-minded missions in Beirut and with Lebanese interlocutors. This helps them to receive timely and pertinent information to assist the Department and the government at large in achieving Canada's objectives in Lebanon. In times of crisis, this network can help to facilitate rapid responses to emerging and volatile situations and enhances the level of detail that can be provided to HQ and other Government of Canada stakeholders.

2.4.4 The LE-05 Assistant position in the Program has been used in times of absence to replace the LE-07 officer. This flexibility is important for a Program of this size. As the Assistant *** regularly participate in the more substantive elements of the Program on a more ongoing basis, this opportunity should be provided to the extent that it is congruent with the job description. When warranted, formal acting opportunities should be provided during absences of the LE-07.

 
Mission comment:
The Mission has taken note of the suggestion to look into acting opportunities for the LE-05 position ***.

2.4.5 New Way Forward/PE renewal principles were *** by Program staff. There was some question as to its relevance in such a fluid environment, and where security concerns limited certain flexibility for elements like visits management. While that is a valid concern, staff should *** their awareness of the initiative and discuss ways that elements can be formally implemented into Program operations. Completion of the on-line training course launched by the Office of the Chief Political Economic Officer in the fall of 2008 and a subsequent staff meeting devoted to discussing ways that all applicable elements can be implemented within the Program would be a good step in this direction.

2.4.6 Hospitality budgets were used *** by CBS program employees to further Program objectives and nurture contacts. As the LE-07 Officer continues to have increased responsibility for the identification and maintenance of contacts to assist in political reporting, a formal allocation should be provided to her to increase her operational autonomy.

2.5 Performance Management

2.5.1 The pace and fluidity of activity in the Program impacts performance measurement and management in the same way that it impacts the ability to plan over a long period of time. That said, the Program does evaluate the effectiveness of events that it plans and manages, and informally discusses performance on all matters on a routine basis. A formal record of evaluation for planned events would help to build corporate memory and would assist in the planning of future events.

2.5.2 Performance Management Plans (PMPs) were in place for all Program

staff. They were providing a good forum for the discussion of priorities and areas for development. Training opportunities for Program staff resulting from previous years PMP exercises had been sought and received. Additional pertinent and important training needs were identified in the most recent cycle. As reactive activity within the section is likely to increase over the short term (to cover the events leading up to and following the upcoming legislative elections) it will be important to plan training appropriately and to not allow operational requirements to supercede time for training and development over a long period of time.

2.6 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

2.6.1 The New Way Forward on-line tutorial should be completed by all Program staff. A formal discussion should follow that would culminate in the development of an implementation plan to incorporate all applicable elements into program operations.

2.6.2 Event evaluations should be formally documented, recorded in a standard format and filed according to an established nomenclature/filing structure.

2.6.3 Hospitality budgets should be devolved to program officers to allow for more autonomous planning and operations and reinforce individual responsibility.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.6.1 Completion of the online tutorial by each member of the team is expected by the end of July 2009. Given network challenges, one day of work (broken down if possible) will be set aside for this exercise. The PE team has previously experienced connection problems for this course.

2.6.2 Implemented May 2009. An informal discussion would normally be scheduled after most PE events. In order to document these conclusions further, a form has been drafted for this purpose.

2.6.3 Implemented June 2009. The Public Affairs Officer has been allocated her own hospitality envelope. For now, given her duties and objectives, the amount is set at $500.

International Business Development Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The International Business Development (IBD) Program is managed by an FS 03 based in Damascus, Syria, acting in the FS 04 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) position. The STC has responsibility for the countries of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. He is responsible for managing LES in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Two LES work for him in the Lebanon Mission, an LE-09 Trade Commissioner and an LE-07 Trade Commissioner.

3.1.2 The HOM has taken *** role in the day-to-day management and planning functions related to the Program. He is involved in a program of outcalls and activities related to the furthering of IBD objectives in Lebanon. Priority sectors currently in place for the Program are Agriculture, Food and Beverages and Information and Communication Technologies.

3.1.3 Canada's trade relationship with Lebanon is growing. Exports to Lebanon increased from approximately $69M in 2007 to $106M in 2008. Imports are growing as well, albeit at a slower rate ($15.6M in 2007 to $16.5M in 2008). Lebanon is the 78th largest destination in dollar value for Canadian exports, and the 108th largest source of imports to Canada.

3.2 Program Structure

3.2.1 The geographic location and suite of responsibilities of the STC, is a challenge. It necessitates a great deal of direct involvement on the part of the HOM and has the tendency to create some confusion within the Program.

3.2.2 The STC has recently begun to visit Iraq on a more frequent basis and the expectation is that *** there will be more opportunities in that country over the next number of years. Additionally, frequent ministerial visits to Jordan and a busy trade policy agenda (including the negotiation and conclusion of a Foreign Investment Protection Agreement, a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), an Air Services Agreement, and a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement) have consumed a great deal of the STC's time since early 2007. As opportunities increase in Iraq, and potentially Jordan given the new FTA, the ability of the STC to consistently oversee and manage the operation in Lebanon will be reduced.

3.2.3 There is currently no formal agreement as to how the STC is to be shared among the three posts which he serves. This creates an environment where expectations are unlikely to be met. There is the possibility for conflict when two or more HOM's deem his presence and/or involvement in a key file to be absolutely necessary.

3.2.4 Similarly there is no formal agreement between the HOM and the STC with regard to the ongoing management of the unit. To the extent possible the HOM keeps the STC apprised when tasking the LES Program staff and vice versa. That said, it is not often possible to consult or keep the other informed of all decisions and issues. From a functional perspective this could become problematic should Program staff feel that they are serving two managers. From an administrative perspective, the employees already have to seek approval from both the HOM and STC for routine approvals (such as leave).

3.3 Planning

3.3.1 The annual planning exercise was thorough and demonstrated in-depth understanding of priority sectors. Both priority sectors are areas where volume and future potential would dictate a continued focus. That said, given the relatively small size of the unit, a risk remains that other sectors may not receive sufficient attention. Should the preferred model in Lebanon remain having two priority sectors (one per officer), a specific strategy to monitor and evaluate the potential of other sectors is necessary.

3.3.2 The STC *** into Mission planning and management. He does not participate in the CMM meetings. The HOM and STC do communicate on a fairly regular basis ***.

3.4 Implementation

3.4.1 TRIO was installed at the Mission in May of 2008. Since that time Program staff have been using it appropriately although there remains work to be done to achieve full implementation, namely data entry. Contracts have been established to eliminate data input backlogs that existed upon its introduction. It is imperative that Program staff continue efforts to make TRIO fully integrated into work within the Program.

3.5 Performance Measurement

3.5.1 The full integration of TRIO into Program operations would improve the STC's ability to manage at a distance. Currently the level of utilization does not include the generation of reports for the STC on Program performance. The LE-07 within the program is also designated TRIO Champion and, as such, should have the responsibility for assisting the STC with Program performance monitoring.

3.5.2 Program hospitality funds were generally well used, however event objectives should be more directly linked to specific Program objectives as stated in the Country Strategy or IBD plan.

3.6 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

3.6.1 A formal management agreement should be developed that outlines the specific roles and responsibilities of the Damascus-based STC and the Beirut HOM for the management of the Beirut IBD Program and the LES staff.

3.6.2 A specific strategy for regular monitoring and reporting on non-priority sectors should be developed and implemented. Consideration should be given to increasing the number of priority sectors if analysis supports this, given the relatively small size of the post and the potential for diverse areas of focus.

3.6.3 A timeline should be established for the full implementation of TRIO, including the periodic generation of summary reports for the STC to allow for more frequent performance measurement.

3.6.4 Hospitality event diary objectives should be specifically linked to objectives noted in the Country Strategy or IBD Plan.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.6.1 In progress for September 2009. A formal agreement is to be developed between the new Damascus based STC (arriving July 2009) and the Beirut HOM.

3.6.2 In progress for January 2010. A horizontal multi-sector initiative will be developed in 2009 2010 as part of the plan, with emerging sectors of interest to be identified via SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. Selection of priority sectors will continue to be subject to yearly review, as part of the planning cycle. The Mission will continue limiting the number of priority sectors to two, taking into account program resources (two Locally engaged trade commissioners). Proactive work on promising opportunities in non priority sectors will continue and be reported upon.

3.6.3 In progress for August 2009. The tracking of service requests, out-calls to local contacts and leads is up to date as of end of June 2009. Summary reports are to be extracted from TRIO on a monthly basis by the TRIO Champion, complemented by a monthly report on other quantitative performance indicators identified in the IBD Strategy and Action Plan.

3.6.4 Implemented June 2009. Diaries now make specific linkages to objectives. Reporting under Box 7 (Program Objective) was strengthened to this effect.

Recommendation to the Director General, Middle East and Maghreb (GMD)

3.6.5 In conjunction with the Beirut, Damascus and Amman missions, an operational agreement or Memorandum of Understanding should be developed that addresses issues related to the sharing of the Damascus-based STC resource.

GMD Action and Timeframe

3.6.5 Middle East and North Africa Commercial Relations (GMC) is currently working on such an arrangement which should be ready for implementation by the time the new Damascus based STC arrives in late July 2009.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The day-to-day management of the Consular Program is the responsibility of the AS-04 Deputy MCO (DMCO) overseen by the HOM and MCO. The DMCO is supported by an LE-07 Consular Officer, LE-06 Passport Officer, LE-06 Consular Assistant-Passport Examiner and LE-05 Consular Assistant-Passport Examiner. The LE-04 Receptionist is currently working in the Program two afternoons per week, as well as assisting during absences.

4.1.2 The DMCO is*** and arrived in the summer of 2008. ***. He created a staff workflow allocation plan which allows for the fair rotation of duties, clearly defined responsibilities and ensures that back-up capacity remains strong. Monthly Program meetings are held in addition to ad-hoc meetings as required. Among the Program’s plans for the upcoming year are projects to transfer corporate knowledge (such as contacts) from individuals to systems and the implementation of a credit card system for Consular client payments.

4.1.3 The staff are***. Workload is high as the Program is providing 3,580 passport services, handling 940 notarial service requests and processing 700 citizenship applications annually. As the majority of Canadians in Lebanon are also dual nationals (Lebanese) this can make cases such as arrest/detention and child abduction/custody more complex and lengthy.

4.1.4 HQ indicated that ***. As COMIP is the departmental tool that is used to monitor mission activities, provide input into planning documents for central agencies and develop business cases for resourcing needs, it is important for these reports to be completed and filed monthly. The Program currently uses data from it’s queue system for internal tracking purposes ***.

4.1.5 The Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) indicates that there are approximately 3,800 registrants with the Mission (out of an estimated 40,000 Canadians in the country). The Program was a pilot for the new ROCA 2.0 user-centric system. Despite the events of 2006 and the efforts of the Mission, Canadian registration remains low.

4.1.6 There are 110 wardens and deputies in the Mission’s warden network, many of them new since ***. the Mission has identified a need to reform its warden network. This is a challenge given wardens volunteer for this role.

4.1.7 The Mission has been using the lessons learned from the 2006 crisis and evacuation, as well as the visits of the Consular Assessment Planning Team (October 2007) and the Strategic Advisory Team (May 2008) to develop a scenario specific Contingency Plan (considered a best practice) and up-date the Departmental Contingency Plan (CONPLAN). The Section recently forwarded to HQ an updated Duty Officer Manual (DOM), last reviewed in November 2003.

4.1.8 In January 2009, the Mission organized an MCO regional conference to enhance regional planning, solidify collaboration and share lessons learned. Program staff were also involved in providing temporary assistance in Amman during the Gaza evacuation and training a visiting Consular LES.

4.1.9 Limited client feedback is being received at HQ. While feedback forms are available in the waiting room, in order to promote feedback Consular staff can ensure that all clients receive a form when services are provided (such as passport, citizenship, notarial, etc.) and encourage them to complete it.

4.1.10 Overall systems, processes and files were in good order. However, to ensure the security of Mission assets, such as seals, the Program needs to create and maintain a seals inventory and conduct regular reconciliations.

4.2 Passport

4.2.1 Overall passport services were found to be effectively delivered and the organization of work efficient. All Program staff have been certified via the passport certification course. The Program supports and encourages the training of additional LES as well as contractors on passport processing, in order to better handle peak periods and absences. If a future crisis should take place, this would also allow the Mission to be better prepared to respond.

4.2.2 The passport issuance service standard posted in the Consular reception area is indicated in both official languages but is displaying 20 days instead of 15. *** Overall, the 15 day service standard is consistently being met, with a current average of eight days over the past several months. As a result, the Passport Canada (PPTC) directed 15 day service standard should be the one communicated to clients.

4.2.3 The overall approach towards entitlement and approval of passport applications is not always consistent with PPTC directives. This is particularly applicable with respect to the issuance of Temporary Passports (TP). This approach has developed over time, through knowledge and insight of the environment, as well as accumulated experience with a range of applications. Discretion and judgement are required and are both encouraged and supported by PPTC, but the Mission should make the best possible use of its range of passport services, whether the need for travel is personal, work related or other. If all application requirements are met, the most appropriate travel document should be issued, taking into account the situation and available resources. Overall, consideration for the issuance of a TP of Emergency Travel Document (ETD) should be increased, such that in urgent situations where a regular passport cannot be issued within the 15 day service standard, a TP or ETD should be an available option.

4.2.4 The inventory of passport assets is ample and all material is accounted for. Passport inventory kept in the *** compared with level of operations, is disproportionate. While the ready availability of stock facilitates access and usage of passport material, the appropriate measures are to retain only the required amount. Significant amounts of current *** stock could be removed without impact to daily operations ***.

4.2.5 ***. A system for the ongoing ***. This system should include information such as: date, type of asset, name or initials, spoils, items returned to safe, etc. The amount of assigned stock should be proportional to daily requirements. The domestic form PPTC 297 could provide the basis for this tool, or an in house, electronic tool could be used.

4.2.6 Preliminary responsibility for end-of-month inventory count in the *** is handled by LES. Increased participation by CBS in this activity is required and both the DMCO and MCO should take an active part in this monthly activity as well as for the receipt of new stock.

4.2.7 Approval and entitlement responsibility for passport applications is shared between the DMCO and the Senior Consular Officer. Recognizing that there will be rare occasions when both the MCO and the DMCO may be absent from missions, PPTC has ensured that senior LES staff also have an approver profile within the Passport Management Program (PMP) issuing system. However, it is expected that where possible the CBS conduct the passport approval.

4.3 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

4.3.1 The Program should ensure that all Consular related work is included in the COMIP report and filed monthly.

4.3.2 The DOM should be reviewed, up-dated and sent to HQ annually.

4.3.3 The Mission should examine ways to increase the number of client feedback responses.

4.3.4 Consular stamps and seals should be inventoried, secured and reconciled annually.

4.3.5 The appropriate passport issuance service standard of 15 days, as well as all other Consular service standards, should be displayed in the Consular reception area.

4.3.6 Without compromising the integrity of the Program, efforts should be made to provide all types of passport services available at the Mission.

4.3.7 ***

4.3.8 The Program should review the overall level of *** being held.

4.3.9 ***.

4.3.10 The Mission should ensure that two CBS participate in the monthly reconciliation of passports and the receipt of new passport stock.

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

Mission Responses and Timeframes

4.3.1 In progress for June 2009. COMIP logs for fiscal year 2008 2009 to be derived from the Queue Management System (Q Win) and COSMOS (the overall Consular software application) as ADT (average daily traffic). A similar approach to be used on an ongoing basis.

4.3.2 Implemented March 2009. The DOM was sent to Ottawa for the current year.

4.3.3 Implemented June 2009. Feedback forms placed in full view of clients in the Consular waiting room. E mail and telephone are also available as feedback channels.

4.3.4 Implemented June 2009 and inventory completed. Worn out stamps that were still in the inventory have been destroyed.

4.3.5 Implemented June 2009. The whiteboard in the Consular waiting room updated accordingly.

4.3.6 Implemented May 2009. The Mission will continue to follow Passport Canada's policies.

4.3.7 Implemented June 2009. Substantial volume of Temporary Passports, along with their observations and identification (ID) labels, returned to HQ. All obsolete Emergency Passports destroyed.

4.3.8 Implemented June 2009, see response 4.3.7.

4.3.9 In progress for June 2009. A log is to be designed along the lines of what is used at Passport Offices in Canada, in consultation with the Passport Officer on temporary duty in Beirut.

4.3.10 Implemented April 2009. April and May reconciliations were conducted in this way, and this will continue for all future end of month processes.

4.3.11 Implemented April 2009. Unless Program imperatives and staff availability dictate otherwise, the DMCO approves all passport applications.

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Administration Program is managed by an AS-06 MCO (currently being under-filled by an AS-04) supported by ten LES. The MCO is also the Mission Security Officer. The Program provides services to partner departments, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

5.1.2 The Mission has seen growth since 2006 to 13 CBS (and currently 13 children at post). While this has placed additional demands on the Administration Program, clients indicated that overall the Section provides good service. In fiscal year 2009-2010, there will also be the addition of two CIC LES positions.

5.1.3 Within the first six months of the HOM’s arrival, the Mission had four different individuals acting as MCO, which proved challenging. The situation has stabilized with the arrival of the current MCO, who was previously the Mission’s DMCO until the summer 2008 and returned to take over this new role in December 2008.

5.1.4 Communications within the Program are generally good. Regular meetings are held by the MCO and each functional section (i.e. finance and property). To further improve the communications, it would be useful to have occasional all-staff Program meetings for an overview of priorities and upcoming projects.

5.1.5 Overall procedures, practices and policies are in place. Given the changes to the Mission in the last number of years, (now a Category 2 mission, the acquisition of additional space and growth in staff), the Mission will need to review and update its Service Standards (last done in 2004) so that both staff and clients have a clear understanding of time-lines and responsibilities.

5.1.6 There is regular and frequent communication between the MCO and DMCO. However, given the Consular workload and thus the DMCO’s need to concentrate on his role within this Program, the MCO ***.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.7 The Program should establish regular all-staff meetings.

5.1.8 The Mission should review and update Service Standards.

5.1.9 The MCO should ***.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.7 Implemented June 2009. Regular all staff meetings have been arranged along with weekly/bi weekly section meetings.

5.1.8 In progress for September 2009. The Mission will review the current services standard document to bring it up to date.

5.1.9 In progress for August 2009 ***. The DMCO replaces the MCO during absences ***.

5.2 Human Resources

5.2.1 Human Resources activities are managed by the MCO with support from an LE-07 employee, who shares her time with her property management responsibilities. The LES Committee is active and it has a regular, formalized and productive relationship with senior management. The employee handbook is recent (2007) and it has been distributed to everyone.

5.2.2 The embassy does not have a comprehensive human resources plan; however, the Mission would like to create two jobs from the Driver/Handyman position. The Inspection Team is favourable to an analysis of this approach, which is in line with the Mission’s expansion and growing needs. In addition, the Mission has made a request to create a cook position at the OR. There are many hospitality activities and the one and only OR employee already has a fairly busy schedule.

5.2.3 Employees have training plans, but they are not instituted on a Mission-wide basis so that resources are planned adequately and employees are grouped together in training activities, for example, language courses.

5.2.4 The Mission benefited from the visit by a dignitary in 2008 to highlight an LES member’s length of service. The Mission might implement a system for identifying employees who qualify for a plaque for their length of service.

5.2.5 Certain employees fill in from time to time at the reception area. These persons must therefore have a general understanding of the embassy’s activities and be familiar with specific information to guarantee good client service.

5.2.6 Employee records are independent of job records, but this recent, praiseworthy and necessary change has still not been completed. Likewise, reclassification and staffing records are often incomplete. At times, for example, the latter do not contain a copy of the committee’s official recommendation to the Head of Mission. Most employees have recent job descriptions signed by the supervisor and the employee.

5.2.7 The mission makes use of the services of emergency staff, but makes these persons sign a contract. We observed some confusion regarding regular employees and contract employees on the telephone list, as contract employees were listed there. In one case, a contract employee even received an offer of employment before his contract expired. The Mission should clearly establish who are contract employees and who are regular employees and take measures to prevent employer-employee relationships to be formed with contract employees. In addition, offers of employment are not generally signed by the HOM. He is the only person authorized to recruit employees.

5.2.8 The MCO keeps unsolicited resumes for one year and PMs consult them to recruit employee son an urgent basis. Spouses are invited to apply when there are openings. The Mission might offer them a community coordinator contract, a function does not exist at the moment and is generally carried out by the HOM’s spouse on a volunteer basis.

5.2.9 The Mission offers secure transportation by means of the Mission’s vehicles to various educational institutions. This service is provided by drivers hired on a contract basis. The presence of families at this posting is a new phenomenon and the Mission is adjusting accordingly, usually without obstacles or undue expenditures.

5.2.10 Senior management advocates values and ethics in communications with employees and frequently carries out activities to reinforce the message in an original manner, for example, by using The Greatest Canadians series.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.11 The Mission must develop a human resources plan approved by the management committee and send a copy to ALD.

5.2.12 The Mission must develop a business case for the creation of a new Handyman position and the specialization of tasks relating to the joint Driver/Messenger position.

5.2.13 The Training Coordinator must develop a plan and budget for all of the learning needs contained in individual PMPs.

5.2.14 The Mission must keep an up-to-date record of instructions and factual information that is frequently asked of the Receptionist.

5.2.15 The Mission must develop checklists to ensure that records are completed properly.

5.2.16 All offers of employment must be signed by the HOM, including offer letters prepared for emergency jobs.

5.2.17 The Mission must participate in the Headquarters program and hire a community coordinator (contract).

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.11 In progress for September 2009. The Mission will complete the HR templates provided by ALD and have them approved by the CMM.

5.2.12 In progress for September 2009. The Mission will complete a business case for the separation of the Driver/Handyman position into two distinct positions Driver/Messenger and Handyman.

5.2.13 In progress for September 2009. The Training Coordinator will work with the Administration Section to implement such a plan.

5.2.14 Implemented June 2009. The document currently exists and the Mission will bring it up to date.

5.2.15 In progress for September 2009. A checklist will be created in the HR/Materiel Section to ensure all the appropriated documents are included in the employee files.

5.2.16 The Mission has implemented this procedure.

5.2.17 Implemented May 2009. The Mission sent out a request to all spouses and there was no interest in the position. With the turnover this summer, the Mission will continue to advertise this position. There is a community coordinator *** who produces a regular news letter and provides other ideas and invitations which are forwarded to all CBS staff. The Mission will apply next year for the funding.

Recommendation to the Geographic Area Management Office (GLD)

5.2.18 Headquarters must give serious thought to the creation of a cook position.

GLD Action and Timeframe

5.2.18 A request to create a cook position has been submitted to the Committee on Representation Abroad (CORA).

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The Real Property Program is managed by the MCO with the assistance of an LE-07 local officer who also has HR responsibilities, a Materiel Assistant (LE-05), two Drivers and a part-time Handyman. The Program manages the maintenance of a Chancery, an Official Residence (OR) and 12 Staff Quarters (SQs); all of this property is currently rented. The OR and SQs that were visited are considered appropriate.

5.3.2 The capital budget matches the Mission’s needs. The Property Management Plan is updated by the MCO and is currently up-to-date.

5.3.3 The previous incumbent of the LE-07 officer position left ***, and the position was vacant for some time. The creation of new CBS positions, the arrival of several families, the relocation of Staff Quarters and the emphasis on security resulted in the Property Program suffering somewhat, but it is on the right track.

5.3.4 Weekly meetings every Friday provide the team with an opportunity to discuss priorities. The Officer sees the Handyman daily to play the day’s work.

5.3.5 Work orders are received by email in a general mailbox that all team members can access. The Mission plans on replacing this system very soon with Crow Canyon software. There are no service standards apart from the template dating back to 2004, but requests usually seem to be responded to promptly and in a priority order (see paragraph 5.1.5).

5.3.6 The Chancery is a four-storey building, with the top storey being used by the owner. There is sufficient space despite recent expansion, and capacity is saturated in the security zone. The planning of common and operational spaces is not optimal. It should be noted that some sections tend to be cold, whereas others receive too much sun and are uncomfortable.

5.3.7 The Inspection Team visited four Staff Quarters, two of which are located close to downtown and are suitable to the needs of employees living by themselves. The others are located in the suburbs of Beirut and are relatively close to the Chancery and Official Residence, which is convenient for families. More than six Staff Quarters are as new as 2006 because of the creation of two CBS positions and the policy of grouping housing together in areas considered to be more secure. The presence of families at the Mission dates back less than three years; there are a number of families now, and the range of housing is adequate overall and compliant with standards. The local context is such that the accommodation units are equipped with generators, water tanks and heating and air conditioning units. None is eligible for an accommodation deficiency allowance.

5.3.8 The owners *** and many of the modifications not included in the lease have to be performed by the Mission ***. Particular attention to the owner’s willingness to cooperate will be necessary when selecting new accommodation.

5.3.9 The process of seeking accommodation is well organized with adequate involvement of the Mission’s Housing Committee. Both the MCO and the HOM visit all of the selected SQs before signing the lease. Inventories and occupancy agreements were signed by the occupants with the exception of the MCO’s, which expired in late 2008. The Mission’s fine arts inventory was signed by the HOM.

5.3.10 The HOM pays an appropriate portion of housekeeping, cable TV and Internet charges. The Internet connection is slow and expensive because it is via satellite.

5.3.11 The OR is located in a nice residential neighbourhood, home to many ORs and embassies. ***. Many minor alterations have been made since the new HOM arrived in August 2008, particularly to improve security, and representation and operating capacities. The furnishings are adequate for representation and family comfort, but the official tableware is damaged and insufficient. Water infiltration is a recurrent problem and the owner is ***. A best practice is for the Mission to set up a projector and screen relatively inexpensively so that more than 50 persons can view audiovisual presentations in the lounge during official events.

5.3.12 The choice and range of vehicles is adequate, but there is no renewal plan. Some of the vehicles are also used for *** by contract drivers.

5.3.13 A best practice is for the Property Officer to prepare a financial and usage report for every vehicle, signed by the HOM. Every day, drivers complete an inspection sheet to verify the status of their vehicle.

5.3.14 There is an Occupational Health and Safety Committee, but members met only four times in 2008. The committee makes interesting recommendations, particularly with regard to the notion of accessibility (for persons with a mobility impairment). Minutes of the meetings are prepared and reports submitted to Headquarters.

5.3.15 The Mission uses the IMS MM module for contracts. Certain clerical errors were identified in the general ledger. A number of small expenditures are recorded when the use of petty cash and acquisition cards would be more efficient.

5.3.16 Major efforts have been made lately to compile an inventory of all the Chancery’s effects and to organize storage spaces. The last auction took place over a year ago and was managed by the Mission. The equipment order process is not systematized. Finally, the embassy does little in the way of recycling, as the practice is not extensively developed locally.

5.3.17 The processes and procedures in place under the Program are deemed to be satisfactory, but some improvements can be made, as set out in the recommendations.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.18 The Mission must send the Capital Officer to undergo specialized training at Headquarters and/or take the comprehensive training offered online.

5.3.19 Occupancy agreements and inventories must be signed within a reasonable timeframe after an SQ is occupied by a CBS member.

5.3.20 ***.

5.3.21 The Mission must develop a cyclical replacement strategy for official vehicles.

5.3.22 The OHS Committee must meet at least nine times each year and have two co-presidents.

5.3.23 The Mission must make greater use of petty cash and acquisition cards for minor expenditures.

5.3.24 The Mission must group certain purchases and services, such as fumigation, under service contracts or standing offers.

5.3.25 The Mission must continue with its rationalization efforts as regards its furniture and incorporate them in a cyclical renewal plan, including a formal SQ inspection visit each year.

5.3.26 Property Section employees must not be authorized to bid on assets put up for auction by the Mission.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.18 In progress, the Mission will apply to attend this training when it is next advertised by HQ.

5.3.19 Implemented. This is the common practice at the Mission but the high turn over in summer 2009, and three MCOs in three months led to this issue.

5.3.20 In progress for August 2009. Noted and the Mission will move forward with this before the new CBS occupies this SQ.

5.3.21 In progress, the Mission recently replaced the vehicles but will implement this strategy in future.

5.3.22 Noted and in progress for August 2009.

5.3.23 Implemented June 2009.

5.3.24 Implemented June 2009. Contracts are in the process of being issued for Embassy cleaning. A contract already exists for fumigation and will be renewed.

5.3.25 In progress for December 2009. The Mission only recently completed inventories of all SQs and the OR, and will now move toward merging these into a cyclical plan to renew furniture.

5.3.26 Noted and implemented June 2009.

Recommendations to the Physical Resources Bureau (ARD)

5.3.27 ARD must procure a full set of official tableware and implement an inventory control system.

5.3.28 ARD, in conjunction with the Mission, should analyze the Chancery plan to identify spaces that could be put to better use as possible offices and create functional spaces for non-resident CBS.

5.3.29 ARD, in conjunction with the Mission, must closely monitor the market and evaluate opportunities to purchase ***.

ARD Actions and Timeframes

5.3.27 Led by the Mission Client Services and Innovation Bureau (ASD), the Physical Resources Bureau will work collaboratively to implement recommended inventory control systems.

5.3.28 In June 2009 an evaluation of both the Chancery and Official Residence will be conducted to consider continued lease versus purchase preferences, space optimization and quality of work place alternatives. Staff Quarter long term needs analysis will be deferred until fiscal year 2010 2011.

5.3.29 See response 5.3.28.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The Mission’s financial management is overseen by the MCO, who is supported in his tasks by a Senior Accountant (LE-07) and an Accountant (LE-06).***.

5.4.2 The Senior Accountant, *** in performing her tasks. She is called upon to provide training in other missions in the region. As for the Accountant, she has been in her position for seven years. *** .Staff members stay up-to-date on all new procedures. In addition, with a view to improving operations, the inspection reports for other missions published on the VIZ site are consulted for recommendations that may apply to the Mission.

5.4.3 Records on hospitality expenses and travel were reviewed for the entire current fiscal year, and they are in order. The Mission’s accounts are in proper order and easy to understand. An operating account can be found for USD and another for LBP. There is also another USD account for immigration funds.

5.4.4 The financial reports produced by the section are up-to-date and delivered to the managers so that they can operate in an informed manner. The reports enable managers to find out where they are in terms of their different budgets. Financial aspects other than budgets are discussed once every two weeks by the Committee on Mission Management. Budgets are discussed once a month when the FINSTAT report is produced.

5.4.5 Following a request from Headquarters, the Mission was able to return funds. In order to do so, certain expenses were carried forward to the 2009-2010 fiscal year. At the same time, the Mission was still waiting for the funds approved by Ottawa for the salaries relating to two new positions.

5.4.6 ***.

5.4.7 Revenues from consular and immigration services, as well as reimbursements by employees, were reviewed for two different periods, and all of the amounts were traced and justified. The Immigration and Consular Services Sections do not collect funds at the Mission. Clients must go to the bank to pay charges. The control processes in place are adequate.

5.4.8 The Consular Services Section is in the process of implementing the use of VISA credit cards to collect funds at the Mission to serve clients better. A phasing-in period will take place for three months, after which the experiment will be evaluated to determine whether the new approach should continue to be used. The Mission is considering opening a bank account for these revenues, but has not contacted SMFF yet to find out about the procedure to follow.

5.4.9 We wish to emphasize that the Immigration Program, besides not accepting payments at the Mission (payments are deposited by clients directly at the bank), has gone one step further. Through an agreement reached with the bank, clients are given an appointment immediately upon making their payments, so clients do not have to go back to the Mission to schedule an appointment, which frees up time for immigration staff.

5.4.10 Official receipts issued by the Consular Section are kept for a period of one year and then destroyed. Since they are financial documents, it is necessary for them to be retained for seven years before being destroyed.

5.4.11 At present, the Accounting Section waits to receive all amounts due to repay personal telephone calls before issuing an official receipt to each client and then making the deposit. An official receipt must be issued as soon as the money is received and the deposit must be made more quickly.

5.4.12 The Mission orders blank cheques from a private supplier, as the bank is unable to supply cheques with a perforated margin so that they can be fed into the printer. ***.

5.4.13 *** . Please note that the Mission can obtain the cheques and printer in Canada.

5.4.14 The Mission could not produce the agreement with the bank. A request was made to the bank to obtain a copy.

5.4.15 Correspondence with the bank is routed through the Senior Accountant rather than the MCO. The same is true for private suppliers concerning changes to the agreement that the Mission has with them.

5.4.16 We have noted that unused lines on overtime and temporary help reports completed by hand, etc. were left blank.

5.4.17 The Mission has three acquisition cards that are in the possession of the MCO, the Deputy MCO and the Property and Materiel Manager. Restricted use is made of the cards. It would be preferable, especially in the case of the Property and Materiel Manager, to use the card whenever the opportunity presents itself.

5.4.18 We noted that, in January 2009, the current MCO renewed certain contracts expiring in the fall 2008; for example, general maintenance, gardening, etc. The lag in renewal can be explained by the numerous changes of MCO in fall 2008. In the meantime, suppliers continued to deliver their services, and the current MCO had no room to manoeuvre. The MCO indicated that he wanted to diversify suppliers.

5.4.19 The Mission must consider concluding more long-term contracts, lasting a number of years, possibly with a renewal clause for one or two years. Since the Mission is considering diversifying its suppliers, the use of a Standing Offer Agreement (SOA) would enable them to retain various suppliers for the requisite services.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.20 Official receipts issued by the Consular Section must be kept for seven years before being destroyed.

5.4.21 Remind all Mission staff members that they must, upon receiving their telephone account statements, make any payments within the requisite timeframes.

5.4.22 ***

5.4.23 See whether the bank can supply blank cheques or whether it is preferable to obtain cheques and a new printer in Canada.

5.4.24 Keep a three-month supply *** and store the remaining inventory ***.

5.4.25 Review the agreement with the bank in light of the fact that the Mission will be accepting the use of VISA cards for consular fees, direct deposit for LES pay; also see why the bank is unable to supply blank cheques.

5.2.26 All official correspondence with the bank and suppliers must be routed through the MCO, who will follow up on same.

5.4.27 Any lines left blank on overtime and temporary helps reports completed by hand, etc. must be struck out.

5.4.28 Use the acquisition card more frequently whenever it is possible to do so.

5.4.29 The Mission must ensure that contracts are signed before work commences.

5.4.30 The Mission must review the type of contracts used for regular services.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.20 Implemented June 2009. The Mission will keep the official receipts on file for seven years.

5.4.21 In progress for June 2009. Noted and this will be raised at the CMM.

5.2.22 Implemented June 2009. ***.

5.4.23 Implemented June 2009. New cheques have been purchased for both the LBP and USD accounts.

5.4.24 Implemented June 2009. A working stock of cheques has been provided ***. The remaining inventory is being monitored and secured ***.

5.4.25 Implemented June 2009. The Mission installed a credit card machine in the Consular Section and the LES are currently being paid by direct deposit. Both of these bank agreements are on file. The Mission is currently working with the bank to obtain the formal bank agreement related to general affairs.

5.4.26 In progress for August 2009. Correspondence will be re routed to the MCO.

5.4.27 In progress for June 2009. Noted and currently being implemented for all emergency employees.

5.2.28 Implemented June 2009. The Materiel and Property Section is using the card more frequently (see response 5.3.23).

5.4.29 Implemented June 2009. Most contracts are signed before the work begins. While some service contracts were renewed and signed after the fact, this is not common practice. The Mission will create a contract chart to remind us in advance of expiring contracts.

5.4.30 Implemented. Contracts are issued for regular services such as Arabic lessons, Embassy cleaning, and fumigation. This is done when it is fiscally responsible (see response 5.3.24).

5.5 Information Management-Information Technology (IM-IT)

5.5.1 The IM-IT function is overseen by the MCO with the assistance of the LE-08 Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP). The Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) is located in Damascus and the Client Service Regional Manager (CSRM) in Nairobi.

5.5.2 Staff indicated that *** client support is provided by the team. The LEITP is ***and makes consistent use the Remedy system as means to manage and track work and other data such as inventories. He has been providing training to the new LEITP in Addis Ababa.

5.5.3 The Mission takes contingency planning seriously and has established ***. It has set up drops and power sources to accommodate workstations and other office and electronic equipment ***.

5.5.4 The LEITP has familiarized himself with the Blackberry system and he provides support to staff using it since it was introduced at the Mission in 2009. Almost all CBS and some LES were provided with a Blackberry which is also a contingency planning communication device. Other communication devices such as satellite phones and radios have been acquired. To help ensure system access, back-up tapes should be stored outside the server room and preferably off-site.

5.5.5 In order to improve client telephone accessibility to the Chancery, the Mission is looking to change the phone lines from analog to digital to increase capacity. It would also like to see incoming numbers displayed on the switchboard.

5.5.6 The Mission has acquired the departmental software for work-order processing and is working with other missions on its set-up before rolling out to staff. In general the various IM-IT applications were functioning well, although it was noted that in the afternoons, the overall speed of the Passport Management Program (PMP) slows down at times.

5.5.7 The Mission has recently seen the addition of other new systems such as Blackberry and TRIO (client and contact information system) and is scheduled to migrate to Interwoven in the summer. InfoBank (information management system) was rolled out at the Mission and some staff are starting to use this application along with public folders, the common drive and their own personal drives to store and share information.

Recommendation to the Mission

5.5.8 The Mission should store the server back-up tapes in a fireproof media safe offsite.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.5.8 Noted and In progress for August 2009.

Appendix A: Mission Resources Fact Sheet

Table 2: Mission Resources Fact Sheet of Physical Resources
Physical Resources (Beirut)
AssetsCrown OwnedCrown Leased
Chancery-1
Official Residence-1
Staff Quarters-13
Vehicles-7

Table 3: Financial Information Beirut
Financial Information 2008-2009 Beirut
Total$2,638,194
Operating Budget (N001)$864,747
Capital Budget (N005)$211,600
CBS Salaries Budget (N011)$471,600
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$1,090,247

Appendix B: Organization Chart

Organization Chart


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Date Modified:
2013-01-31