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Inspection of the Canadian Embassy Belgrade

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April 20 - 24, 2009

Table of Contents

Inspection Scope and Objectives

The scope of the Inspection included a review of Mission Management and the Political Economic Reporting and Public Affairs, 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 Reporting and Public Affairs (PERPA), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Belgrade from April 20 to 24, 2009. The previous audit of these programs took place in 2001. The Embassy is a medium-sized mission with ten Canada-based staff (CBS) and 38 Locally-engaged staff (LES). In addition to all Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) programs, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) are also represented.

Overall, the Mission is well managed, and DFAIT program planning documents reflect departmental and Government of Canada (GoC) priorities. Objectives effectively cascade down from Mission plans and have been incorporated into staff performance management plans (PMPs). Internal communication supports program delivery and effective linkages exist between programs, facilitating cooperation and collaboration. A review of the Mission governance structure indicate that, while committees had been formed, they had not been meeting or exercising their role in Mission Management.

The PERPA and IBD programs are delivering results and working to implement objectives in their areas of accreditation. The development of a PERPA Plan and the refinement of the existing IBD Plan will better position the Mission to achieve and demonstrate results.

Overall, the Administration and Consular programs are providing a good level of service to their internal and external clients. A renewed focus is required, however, on the documentation of internal procedures, definition and communication of service standards, and the application of internal controls. Most importantly, the Mission must establish:

  • CBS oversight of the Passport Program (inventory control, authentication of citizenship and entitlement);
  • A Contract Review Board to review large contracts and periodically monitor procurement practices; and,
  • Documented internal procedures for procurement and staffing.

A total of 64 recommendations are raised in the report; 62 are addressed to the Mission and two 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 62 recommendations, management has stated that 30 have been implemented. For each of the remaining 32 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action. This Inspection Report was finalized on August 5, 2009 and approved by the Departmental Evaluation Committee on September 2, 2009.

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Mission in Belgrade is a medium-sized mission with ten Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 38 Locally-engaged Staff (LES). It is responsible for departmental program delivery in Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. It was also responsible for Kosovo until March 2009, after which these duties were transferred to the Mission in Zagreb, Croatia. All departmental programs are represented along with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). The CBS Head of CIDA is resident in Sarajevo and will relocate to Belgrade following the closure of that mission in summer 2009. CIDA’s engagement in Serbia is scheduled to end in 2010. The Mission also provides some administrative support services to the mission in Zagreb, but there is no memorandum of understanding (MOU) in place.

1.1.2 Overall, Mission and program planning documents are well developed and reflect departmental and Government of Canada (GoC) priorities. Objectives cascade down from Mission plans and have been incorporated into staff performance management plans (PMPs). The departmental decision to review the country strategy process has presented some challenges for Mission planning. The lack of a standard Political Economic Reporting and Public Affairs (PERPA) planning process and the fact that the Head of Mission (HOM) did not receive a mandate letter further complicates the matter. As an interim measure, all missions have been instructed to operate based on the 2008-2009 Country Strategy, making adjustments where deemed necessary. Recommendations regarding program plans have been made in the PERPA section of this report.

1.1.3 The Committee on Mission Management (CMM) effectively serves as a forum to review activities and objectives, and identify opportunities for inter-program collaboration. The Mission’s governance structure also includes Occupational Health and Safety, Housing, Security, Locally-engaged Staff, Contract Review and Information Management and Information Technology Committees. A review of Mission programs indicated, however, that many of the committees were not active and not exercising their expected role in Mission Management. Recommendations regarding the specific committees are detailed in their respective sections of this Report.

1.1.4 The CMM is advised of budget allocations for items such as travel and hospitality. It is not, however, provided with comprehensive Mission budgets for review and approval at the beginning of each fiscal year (FY). Furthermore, program managers are only provided with their program budget updates when requested, rather than on a monthly basis. To better facilitate planning, monitoring and control, Mission and program budgets should be tabled at the CMM for approval at the beginning of the FY, and regular updates provided. Where possible, program assistants should be provided with read-only access to the Integrated Management System (IMS) to monitor and track budget consumption during the month.

1.1.5 Communication within the Mission effectively supports program delivery. CMM minutes are distributed to all staff, and program managers maintain a regular dialogue with staff. There are effective linkages made between programs and, in some cases, project planning sessions are held with representatives from different areas. This serves to educate staff on broader Mission objectives and activities and builds mutual understanding and respect for each others’ work. It also ensures that Administration staff are able to provide advice early on in the process when contracting and procurement services are required. Early in 2009, the Mission initiated an internal employee survey. The results were positive, and staff appreciated that the HOM sought their input and advice. The CMM has responded to staff recommendations and has committed to implementing resolutions where possible.

1.1.6 An LES Committee is in place and has met twice in the last year. No issues have been brought to the attention of the Management Consular Officer (MCO). Important updates such as communiqués from the Locally-Engaged Staff Services Bureau (ALD), however, have not been discussed with nor circulated to staff. These messages contain updates on LES issues, such as the Handbook update process, and should be used as tools to engage with staff. As a best practice, the LES Committee should meet quarterly with the MCO and semi-annually with the HOM.

1.1.7 PMPs for the 2007-2008 FY had been completed and objectives were set for 2008-2009. Staff had not yet, however, carried forward their responsibilities and objectives into their 2008-2009 preparations. At the completion of the 2007-2008 PMP exercise, the objectives of the next review period should have been immediately carried forward into a new performance review preparation for 2008-2009. This allows staff and program managers (PMs) to make adjustments to responsibilities, objectives or performance indicators during the year as circumstances change. Managers can also ask staff to update their results achieved at select points during the year to facilitate mid-point performance review sessions.

1.1.8 Employee learning and development needs have been incorporated into the PMPs. A Mission-wide training plan, however, has not been developed. A training coordinator should be nominated and tasked with collating all staff training requirements. The Mission should consult with Headquarters (HQ) to determine if access to employee learning requirements in PMPs can be granted to the training coordinator. Following this, management can review the training required, identify common and priority needs, and discuss budget allocations at the CMM.

1.1.9 Overall, hospitality claims were in-line with program objectives and compliant with departmental policy. The evaluation of events was well done however, there was a need to more clearly state the program objectives being pursued, as defined in the country strategy or specific program plans. For example, the objective of “General relations with Serbia” should be replaced with a statement that directly links to the objectives set out in the country strategy or program plan. It was also noted that some claims for waiters related to hospitality events at the Official Residence (OR) exceeded the 25 Euro ceiling set by the CMM. There was no rationale on file to explain the reason for the extra cost, nor explicit approval by the HOM.

1.2 Recommendations to the Mission

1.2.1 The Head of Mission and the CMM should ensure that the Mission’s governance structure is operating effectively. The various subcommittees of the CMM should be asked to report to Mission Management on a regular basis, and when major issues or decisions require review.

1.2.2 The HOM should ensure that comprehensive budgets are tabled for approval at the CMM, and each program manager is provided with an update for their program on a monthly basis.

1.2.3 Mission Management should ensure that regular meetings with the LES Committee take place. As a best practice, these meetings should occur quarterly with the MCO and semi-annually with the HOM.

1.2.4 A training coordinator should be nominated, and a Mission-wide training plan should be developed, discussed at the CMM and assigned a budget.

1.2.5 Mission management should ensure that, following the completion of the 2008-2009 PMP process and future cycles, staff immediately carry forward their objectives into new PMP preparations.

1.2.6 Hospitality diaries should demonstrate clearer linkages to specific program objectives, and cost ceilings should be respected.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.2.1 Implemented September 2009. The CMM decided that each subcommittee would report to Mission Management on a quarterly basis. Chairs for each subcommittee have also been invited to submit ad hoc reports if/when major issues need to be reviewed by the CMM.

1.2.2 In-progress for September 2009. Travel and hospitality budgets have already been approved by the CMM. Mission Management also approved Program budgets for FY 2009-2010. Common Service budgets will be reviewed and approved by the CMM in September 2009. Administration has been requested to provide Program Managers with monthly budget updates.

1.2.3 Implemented July 2009. The CMM agreed that the MCO would meet with the LES Committee in September, December, March and June every year. The HOM will schedule meetings with the LES Committee every year in April and October.

1.2.4 In-progress for September 2009. The CMM designated the MCO as the Mission training coordinator. A Mission-wide training plan, based on employees' Performance Management Program is being developed.

1.2.5 Implemented July 2009. Program managers met with staff to ensure that preparations for 2009-2010 PMPs have started immediately after the completion of the 2008-2009 process.

1.2.6 Implemented June 2009. New hospitality diaries indicate a clear linkage with strategic objectives identified in the Country Strategy.

Political Economic Reporting and Public Affairs

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The PERPA Program in Belgrade is responsible for Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia and led by an FS-03 Program Manger (PM). He is supported by an LE-08 Political, Economic and Media Officer, an LE-08 Academic and Cultural Relations Officer and a portion of the LE-05 HOM Protocol Assistant (0.2 full-time equivalent). The Program’s financial resources for FY 2008-2009 have been allocated as follows.

Table 1: The PERPA Program in Belgrade
Program Funds 2009-2010
Total$53,250
Operations$35,000
Travel$11,750
Hospitality$6,500

2.1.2 The Mission’s reporting activities have been focussed on the developments related to Kosovo’s declaration of independence, elections in their territory and human rights. The Program supports other Mission objectives by cooperating with the International Business Development Program in the promotion of education marketing and support to cultural industries (book fairs, film festivals, and concerts). Public Affairs also organizes events and outreach activities that facilitate contact building for other programs. Discussions with members of the local Canadian Community indicated, however, that the Mission could be doing more to make Serbians aware of Canada’s engagement,***.

2.2 Program Management

2.2.1 Given the small size of the Program, staff meetings are ad hoc and usually held to address upcoming projects or visits. The PM does, however, maintain consistent dialogue with staff and meets them individually at the beginning of the week to discuss activities. The PM also visits his staff on a daily basis to discuss developments and provide advice and guidance. As a good practice, the weekly CMM is used by the PM as an opportunity to seek input from his officers on items to raise, and he subsequently debriefs them on items related to their responsibilities. The current framework provides an effective level of communication and facilitates program delivery.

2.2.2 For larger projects, the PM holds planning sessions that include PERPA staff as well as those from other programs (IBD, CIDA, CIC) and Administration. This is a best practice as it ensures staff remain aware of activities, can provide advice on process and content, and plan for future workloads.

2.2.4 The support provided to the Program by the geographic bureau was characterized as good. It was noted, however, that high turnover of the desk officer position (three times in three years) does pose some challenges.

2.2.5 The New Way Forward (NWF) PE Renewal initiative was not well understood by the Mission. The PM is the Renewal Envoy and had a general awareness of the potential changes related to this initiative,***. Only the Political, Economic and Media Officer had completed the training. Some elements had been actioned (i.e. the development of a list of alternate service providers and the use of visits guidelines) but the full suite of core principles had not been implemented. It is important that all PERPA staff (including the HOM and HOM Assistant) complete the on-line training module and discuss ways to incorporate the remaining elements of the NWF into plans and operations.

2.3 Planning

2.3.1 The planning process for the Program is based on the 2008-2009 Country Strategy, the Reporting Agreement and the Post Initiative Fund (PIF) Plan. The PM should also be provided with a copy of the HOM’s Performance Management Agreement (PMA) to further guide the development of Program plans and PMPs.

2.3.2 The Program has not developed a formal plan to operationalize its objectives. In particular, the Program should define how its reporting, public affairs, cultural and academic activities will facilitate the achievement of its key objectives. This is of particular importance given that the country strategy process is under review and Missions will not be producing new country strategies for the 2009-2010 FY.

2.3.3 The Program’s reporting is in alignment with 2008-2009 Country Strategy objectives and the reporting agreement, and reflects the active political environment in its territories and the independence of Kosovo. While the Program has delivered cultural and academic activities that align well with the Country Strategy, there remains room to bring a stronger focus to selecting events based on core Mission objectives.

2.3.4 There are also challenges in ensuring that activities are proactive and prioritized. For example, the Academic and Cultural Relations Officer recently assumed responsibility for education marketing, normally an IBD lead. The IBD action plan for this sector includes specific objectives and expected results, and will require an adjustment to the PERPA Officer’s existing workload and coordination between the PERPA and IBD program managers. The HOM will also need to ensure proper coordination between the two programs, facilitate decision making and resolve issues related to priorities. Given the growing commitment, Mission Management should revisit the objectives of this file, the appropriate lead program and the expected level of effort. If the current relationship is maintained, the Trade Commissioner will have to be involved as a third party in the performance management plan of the Academic and Cultural Relations Officer.

2.3.5 A formal plan would also help ensure an appropriate balance between core PERPA and education marketing activities by defining the activities and expected outcomes in all areas. This can then be used by the PM and officers to set priorities, make decisions and establish workplans focussed on proactive activities. The workplan objectives and performance indicators could then easily be transferred into PMP. This use of a PERPA plan and officer workplans would provide for a clearer link between Country Strategy objectives and Program activities. It also facilitates both the individual and program performance measurement process.

2.4 Implementation

2.4.1 The Program is actively engaged in its countries of accreditation. Reporting activities have focussed on Kosovo’s declaration of independence and the several regional elections that have occurred. There is a good level of coverage of the countries of accreditation, and both the HOM and the Program Manager travel regularly to Macedonia and Montenegro. While the responsibility for Kosovo was recently transferred to Zagreb, the Mission still monitors issues related to its declaration of independence. As a result of the daily media monitoring done by the Political and Economic Officer, the Program produces an “Eyes on Serbia” email for key contacts in Canada. The email covers a variety of subjects, including domestic politics, foreign policy, defence and security, economics, and bilateral relations.

2.4.2 The PERPA Program, along with all Mission programs, records its activities in a quarterly Mission Activity Report. This report is shared with key local contacts to apprise them of the level of the bilateral relationship and has lead to some follow-up interactions with those interlocutors. This is a good practice and is seen as a valuable document for both the Mission and HQ. The document, however, is very detailed and, perhaps, may not be the most effective method of engaging local contacts. As an alternative, the Mission could use it as the basis upon which to select a smaller number of activities or accomplishments to be incorporated into a newsletter, along with key upcoming events. It could be easier for contacts to digest and would require Mission programs to focus on their key priorities and accomplishments.

2.4.3 The Program faces two main challenges in implementing its objectives: program funding and administrative support. From a funding perspective, the Mission has experienced a decrease in program funds and has had challenges with late confirmations of special funds, such as those related to La Francophonie. The Mission has, however, effectively used its limited funds to leverage external financial and in-kind support for key Post Initiative Fund events.

2.4.4 The second challenge to program implementation is the lack of a dedicated program assistant. At present, the Program uses a small portion (20%) of the LE-05 HOM Protocol Assistant and has had to hire temporary help to address periods of high workload. The HOM Protocol Assistant also supports the Defence Attaché (resident in Budapest) when he travels to the Mission’s areas of accreditation. As a result, the PM and officers are required to undertake many administrative support tasks for themselves. Additionally, the maintenance of the Mission website, a key role of PERPA programs, has been temporarily assigned to CIDA. This arrangement will cease upon the departure of the CIDA Program in 2010. While the exact workload is not known, it is estimated at 3-4 hours per week for regular updates.

2.4.6 The challenge of limited support is complicated by the reporting relationship of the Protocol Assistant who is supervised by the HOM Assistant. This has resulted in some difficulties with regard to the setting of priorities and approval of overtime. There is a need to review reporting relationships, as well as clarify supervisory versus managerial responsibilities. As in many other missions, there may be room to expand the role of the CBS HOM Assistant in support of other Mission activities.

2.4.7 The Program had a hospitality budget of $6,500 in 2008-2009, which was divided between the Program Manager and the Academic and Cultural Relations Officer. The Political, Economic and Media Officer *** has access to the PM’s budget when needed. He should be encouraged to use hospitality in search of political and economic intelligence to better meet the needs of the Program. A review of hospitality diaries for the Program indicate that claims were properly supported with receipts, and the evaluation of events was effectively completed. There remained room for improvement, however, with regards to the stated objective of the function.

2.4.8 The Program manages its contacts using Outlook shared contacts. At present there are approximately 1,800 contacts in the directory. Differentiating between contacts by territory and by priority is difficult, and there are concerns regarding whether the contacts are up-to-date. The Program has plans to review the database with the assistance of temporary help during summer 2009. A standard entry protocol would facilitate differentiation between them by type, territory and importance.

2.5 Recommendations to the Mission

2.5.1 All PERPA Staff, the HOM and the HOM Assistant should complete the New Way Forward on-line tutorial. The PERPA Program should subsequently identify methods to incorporate the core principles of the NWF into its operations.

2.5.2 A PERPA Plan should be developed to better define how the Program will contribute to the achievement of Country Strategy objectives.

2.5.3 Mission Management should better define its objectives related to education marketing, the expected level of effort and the appropriate lead Mission program.

2.5.4 If the result of recommendation 2.5.3 is to maintain the existing relationship, workloads should be adjusted and a process defined for the Trade Commissioner to participate as a third party in the PMP of the Academic and Cultural Relations Officer.

2.5.5 The Mission should revisit the roles, responsibilities and reporting relationships of the Protocol Assistant and the HOM Assistant to determine how to better meet the needs of both programs.

2.5.6 Hospitality diaries should clearly demonstrate a direct linkage to Country Strategy and program objectives.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.5.1 In-progress for July 2009. All PERPA staff, the HOM and the HOM Assistant have been reminded to complete the on-line tutorial. As of July 17, 2009 all staff but *** have completed the course.

2.5.2 In-progress for August/September 2009. A plan for PIF has been developed. The PERPA PM will include a draft PERPA plan in his hand-over note for the new PM's consideration.

2.5.3 Implemented July 2009. The HOM met with the PERPA PM and the Trade Commissioner to define the Mission's objectives and level of involvement in education marketing.

2.5.4 Implemented July 2009. The HOM, the PERPA PM and the Trade Commissioner signed an "MOU" outlining the roles and responsibilities of all involved, including the Trade Commissioner's participation in the PMP of the Academic and Cultural Relations Officer.

2.5.5 In-progress for August 2009. The HOM Protocol Assistant will report to the PERPA PM after the summer rotation. The HOM will prepare a document outlining the roles and responsibilities of the Protocol Assistant and the HOM Assistant for discussion after the arrival of the new HOM Assistant.

2.5.6 Implemented June 2009. New hospitality diaries indicate a clear linkage with strategic objectives identified in the country strategy.

International Business Development Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The IBD Program in Belgrade is managed by an LE-09 Trade Commissioner (TC), who reports to the HOM, and supported by an LE-05 Trade Commissioner Assistant (TCA). Priority sectors include agriculture, food and beverages, building products, information and communication technologies (ICT), metals and minerals, services and technology, and rail and urban transit. The Program’s financial resources are as follows:

Table 2: The IBD Program in Belgrade
Program Funds FY 2009-2010
Total$22,900
Operations$8,000
Client Service Fund (CSF) (proposed)$11,000
Travel$2,400
Hospitality$1,500

3.1.2 Serbia is a country in the midst of major reforms. A recently signed Stabilisation and Association agreement between the Balkan countries and the European Union (EU), aimed at preparing these countries for an eventual membership, has initiated projects that promote economic growth, infrastructure development and responsible social policies. All of these represent business opportunities for Canadian companies. The recession affecting the EU, however, is expected to negatively impact the economic prospects of the region, resulting in a contraction of the gross domestic product (GDP) and relatively high inflation. ***, the short term challenge will be to maintain existing Canadian trade and investment interests.

3.1.3 While the IBD Business Plan makes a vague reference to these difficulties, the Mission remains optimistic about export opportunities in agriculture (breeding cattle, swine, fish, poultry) as well as Canadian Direct Investment Abroad, (CDIA) possibilities in infrastructure (public transit, power generation, etc) and farming.

3.2 Program Management

3.2.1 The Program is managed by a *** TC with *** of experience and *** connections to government decision making circles. The Serbian Government is a key player in many business decisions particularly in infrastructure, privatization and various public works. The TC has *** knowledge of the decision making process and knows when to engage the HOM to facilitate contact for Canadian companies.

3.2.2 The IBD Program is also comprised of a *** TCA performing administrative support, responding to service requests (SRs) in non-priority sectors, reviewing the email inbox, managing sector information and acting as the TRIO Champion. The Academic and Cultural Relations Officer also appears as a trade commissioner on the Mission web site as the lead for education marketing.

3.2.3 TRIO was deployed in Serbia in September 2008 under a three month implementation plan. The Inspection Team has identified compliance issues as the *** stated that the slow speed of TRIO (the Mission uses a satellite for internet communications), and *** lack of familiarity with the tool, made it difficult to use. ***. As TRIO has only partially been implemented by the IBD Team, it is difficult to assess the performance of the Program. The Mission is certainly active in many files, but it is difficult to attribute an exact role for the Mission in the outcome or success of certain initiatives. Anecdotal evidence, however, showed that the Mission is engaged and responsive and has an ability to facilitate the resolution of issues.

3.2.4 It will be important in the coming year to properly use TRIO to record activities. A more comprehensive TRIO database would allow all parties to better judge the performance of the Program and its impact on Canadian business interests. Furthermore, it would provide the TC and the HOM with a basis upon which to review the performance of the Program on a regular basis.

3.2.5 The TCA is not currently involved in the monitoring or tracking of the Program budget. The TCA should assume this role and be provided with IMS read-only access.

3.2.6 The Inspection Team has noted that, over the last two FYs, the Program has not been able to spend all of its CSF allocation. For example, in 2008-2009, the Mission returned $6,000 of its $11,000 budget late in the FY (February). In this case, an incoming mission of Serbian officials planned for March 2009 did not materialize. Increased attention has to be paid to budget performance and efforts should be made to allocate the CSF against events or initiatives where the Mission has greater control.

3.2.7 Both the TC and the TCA have their own e-mail address appearing on the Mission web site. The Mission should adopt a generic IBD Program e- mail address that could include the HOM and the officer responsible for education marketing. These messages would then be filtered by the TCA to the appropriate person and facilitate monitoring of service standards.

3.3 Planning and Implementation

3.3.1 The IBD Business Plan requires further review to refine the selection of priority sectors and ensure alignment with the action plans. At present, there are too many priority sectors for the resources available, and an action plan has been created for a sector not identified as a priority (education marketing). Priority sectors are demanding as performance indicators have to be defined, and expected results achieved. Given the size and nature of the market, the Program should limit the number of priority sectors to one or two and focus mainly on responsive activities in other sectors.

3.3.2 As a part of the exercise to move positions abroad, the Mission requested the creation of a new assistant position at the LE-05 level and the reclassification of the existing LE-05 to an LE-06. However, more pressing requirements were identified by HQ, and the Program should plan its activities based on its existing resource complement.

3.3.3 The Mission should focus its limited resources on supporting sound business opportunities and continue to rely on the Post Support Unit to validate dubious requests. With the present state of the economy in Canada and in the US, many of our clients may be looking for new opportunities abroad. As a result, they may seek the active involvement of missions, at times, without the appropriate analysis or business case to realize their commercial expectations. Thus, there is a distinct need for the TC to ascertain the capacity of clients to succeed in this market and advise them accordingly.

3.3.4 A decision was made by the TC to add education marketing as a priority sector. Due to the small number of IBD resources, this sector is covered by the Academic and Cultural Relations Officer in the PERPA Program. The decision to add this to the list of priority sectors was motivated by an invitation by the Serbian authorities for Canada to be the guest of honour at the annual education fair. For these purposes, the Academic and Cultural Relations Officer will be considered a TC and will be required to adhere to the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) service standards and record her activities in TRIO. Training has been provided on TRIO, and plans are in place for her to take the Global Learning Initiative II and learn how to navigate the Horizons website.

3.3.5 As discussed in the section 2.3 of this report, there will be a need for the TC to input, as a third party, into the PMP of the Academic and Cultural Relations Officer, who reports to the Political Counsellor. The HOM will also have to ensure proper coordination between the two programs, facilitate decision making and resolve issues related to priorities.

3.4 Recommendations to the Mission

3.4.1 The Mission should record activities in TRIO in a timely fashion, including service requests and outcalls. These entries should be performed by the staff member directly involved in the delivery of the service.

3.4.2 The use of TRIO to report activities should be incorporated into the PMPs of all staff performing IBD related activities.

3.4.3 The Mission should revisit the selection of priority sectors, update the business plan and closely monitor the implementation of the action plans and consumption of budgets.

3.4.4 The TCA should be provided read-only access to IMS to monitor and track Program budgets.

3.4.5 The Program should adopt a common e-mail address for use on the Mission website and the Virtual Trade Commissioner website.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.4.1 Implemented July 2009. IBD staff now input activities in TRIO. The officer directly involved in the delivery of the service and implementation does the input in a timely manner.

3.4.2 Implemented July 2009. TRIO reporting has been incorporated into the 2009-2010 PMP cycle.

3.4.3 Implemented July 2009. The business plan has been updated and priorities have been identified in consultation with the HOM.

3.4.4 Implemented July 2009. The TCA has been provided read-only access to IMS and will receive training to monitor and track Program budgets in the third week of August.

3.4.5 In-progress for September 2009. The Mission website and the VTC website have been updated and now include a common e-mail address for the Program.

Consular

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is managed by an MCO (AS-06) with day-to-day operations handled by the Consular Officer (LE-07) assisted by a Consular and Passport Assistant (LE-06) and a Passport Assistant (LE-05). The Mission is also responsible for Montenegro and oversees an Honorary Consulate (HonCon) in Skopje, Macedonia. Bi-weekly Consular staff meetings are held and the Consular Officer speaks daily with the MCO. The Consular Officer also attends the weekly Administration Program meeting which includes all section heads.

4.1.2 Staff responsibilities are clearly defined, and back-up procedures are in place to address absences. The work of the LES team ***. The workload is manageable, and the Mission receives a good level of support from HQ. Staff did note that a refresher course for long serving staff may be necessary, particularly given the high volume of new passport directives issued recently. Recommendations to this effect have been made to the Consular Policy and Advocacy Bureau (CLD) in previous reports.

4.1.3 Consular staff are in contact with the HonCon weekly,***.

4.1.4 The Consular Program is proactive and has built relationships with key local contacts. A booklet has been developed for newcomers to Belgrade and contains information on topics such as useful telephone numbers, medical assistance and transportation. Yearly meetings are held with counterparts in like-minded missions, local contacts and wardens. Consular staff also visit Montenegro and the HonCon in Skopje yearly, although the MCO has not yet had a chance to visit. Reports of each event or visit are made, and plans for travel and hospitality have been proposed for the coming year.

4.2 Client Services

4.2.1 The Program processes approximately 640 passports and 60 citizenship applications annually. According to the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) database, there are approximately 850 Canadians in the Mission’s areas of accreditation. The actual number is not known due to the high number of dual nationals who do not register.

4.2.2 The Program has received positive feedback from clients, although the response rate has been low. Efforts are made, however, to distribute forms and encourage clients to respond. As some may be uncomfortable providing feedback forms directly to staff, a locked box could be installed in the reception area for clients to deposit forms. The box should be controlled by the MCO and feedback shared with Consular staff, the HOM and HQ.

4.2.3 The Program is meeting the service standards set by the Department and Passport Canada. However, service standards, fee schedules and a copy of the official receipt are not posted in the waiting area. Additionally, some posters in the reception area were not in both official languages. Although most communication with clients is conducted in Serbian, there is one Consular staff member who can serve the public in French. In the event that she is absent, the Mission has trilingual staff in other programs, who can assist.

4.3 Internal Controls

4.3.1 The MCO, Deputy MCO (DMCO) and all three LES have passed the passport certification course. ***. According to Government Security Policy and Passport Canada directives, the authentication of citizenship and confirmation of entitlement, and passport approval in the Passport Management Program (PMP) must be conducted by a secret-cleared CBS.

4.3.2 The monthly passport reconciliation and the verification of new stock is performed by the MCO, with the HOM participating annually. Passport directives require that reconciliations be done monthly by the CBS program manager and a witness, preferably CBS, and by the HOM quarterly.

4.3.3 Staff members have a securable cabinet or safe in their offices to store seals, stamps and documents containing client information. These cabinets and safes are ***.

4.3.4 The Record of Fees Received form and related revenue is transferred by the Passport Assistant to the Consular and Passport Assistant *** for reconciliation. The cash, ***. Additionally, it was noted that weekly revenues sometimes exceed $500. According to the Manual of Consular Instructions, revenues should be transferred when the fees collected reach the equivalent of $500 or *** each week, whichever comes first.

4.3.5 The Mission is currently providing official receipts to clients when fees are received. ***, consideration should be given to purchasing a cash register to allow for *** easier reconciliation of cash received versus services provided.

4.4 Recommendations to the Mission

4.4.1 The MCO should plan visits to the HonCon in Skopje on a regular basis.

4.4.2 A locked drop-box should be installed in the waiting area to receive client feedback forms. The MCO should periodically empty the box and provide feedback to Consular staff, the HOM and HQ.

4.4.3 Consular service standards and a fee schedule should be displayed in the reception area. A copy of an Official Receipt should also be posted with a note to clients stating that they should receive a receipt as soon as payment is made.

4.4.4 All posters and documents in the Consular reception area should be provided in both official languages.

4.4.5 In accordance with Passport Canada regulations, only certified secret-cleared CBS should approve passport applications prior to passport issuance.

4.4.6 The monthly passport inventory reconciliation should be performed by the CBS Program Manager and witnessed by another staff member, preferably CBS.

4.4.7 The HOM should conduct quarterly reconciliations of passport inventory with the CBS Program Manager.

4.4.8 Safes, cabinets and office doors should be ***.

4.4.9 Revenues should be transferred to the Finance Section whenever fees collected reach the equivalent of $500 or *** each week, whichever comes first.

4.4.10 Revenues should be ***.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.4.1 In-progress for September 2009. The Mission will plan quarterly visits beginning in fall 2009 and carried out, budget permitting.

4.4.2 In-progress for September 2009. The Property and Material Section will acquire/construct a box for client feedback.

4.4.3 Implemented July 2009. Consular service standards, a fee schedule and a copy of an Official Receipt are now on display in the reception area.

4.4.4 In-progress for September 2009. The Consular Section has requested that HQ provide posters in bilingual, one-sided format. The Mission will only post those there is room for, and that have both official languages represented.

4.4.5 Implemented July 2009.

4.4.6 Implemented July 2009. The monthly passport inventory reconciliation will be performed by the MCO and witnessed by the DMCO (or another Consular staff).

4.4.7 Implemented July 2009. The HOM will now conduct quarterly reconciliations of passport inventory with the CBS Program Manager.

4.4.8 Implemented July 2009. Staff have been reminded of this policy, and spot checks will be conducted by the Program Manager.

4.4.9 Implemented July 2009. Staff have been reminded of this policy, and all deposits will be reviewed carefully to ensure they are following the guidelines for amounts and timing.

4.4.10 Implemented June 2009. Revenues are ***.

Administration

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Administration Program is managed by an MCO who is supported by a Deputy MCO (AS-04), a Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (CS-02), three Military Police Security Service (MPSS) staff and 16 LES. The Program is providing a good level of service to all programs within the Mission. The MCO and DMCO hold weekly meetings with members of the supervisory staff. While supervisors conduct regular meetings with non-office staff, there are no periodic meetings held between the MCO or DMCO and non-office staff. Such meetings would provide non-office staff with an opportunity to discuss issues that they may be reluctant to raise with their immediate supervisors.

5.1.2 The Mission also provides administrative support services to the mission located in Zagreb, Croatia. There is no memorandum of understanding, however, to define the services provided and the standards to be maintained.

5.1.3 The Administration Program is well resourced, and the MCO benefits from the presence of dedicated CBS to facilitate the management of physical resources, information management and information technology, as well as security. Despite this, the Inspection Team found that the Program lacked documented internal procedures, client service standards and fully functioning internal controls. Details of the issues identified are outlined in their respective sections of this report.

5.1.4 As part of the training plan for staff within the Administration Program, consideration should be given to providing client service training to staff dealing with internal and external clients.

Procurement

5.1.5 The primary area of focus for the MCO has been the procurement and contracting processes, as concerns have been raised by some staff with regards to the appropriateness of procedures used. Reviews undertaken by the MCO and the Inspection Team did not produce evidence of any inappropriate activities. The Inspection Team’s review did, however, identify weaknesses in the overall contracting process, including a lack of documented procedures, a non-functioning contract review board (CRB) and incomplete project files.

5.1.6 The Mission’s contracting procedures were not properly documented, and tools, such as contracting checklists, were not used consistently. Although efforts to tighten procedures have been made, the lack of documented procedures increases the risk of contracts being awarded in an inappropriate manner.

5.1.7 There is a lack of formal oversight on procurement processes as the CRB has not reviewed a contract since March 2008. The Mission has awarded several contracts since that time, that should have been reviewed by a CRB to ensure the proper procedures were followed.

5.1.8 A review of contracting files revealed that many of them were incomplete and located in an unsecured location. In particular, the following deficiencies were noted and should be addressed to ensure compliance with policies and procedures.

  • The contracting checklist was not complete and not being used consistently.
  • Sole source contracts did not include proper justification.
  • The Statement of Work was either not clear, not provided, or quotes from bidders were being used.
  • The evaluation of bids and rationale for selecting the winning bid was not documented.
  • The manner in which companies were selected and how they were invited to bid was not documented.
  • Letters to unsuccessful bidders were not on file.
  • Maintenance contracts were renewed regularly without the benefit of new bids.
  • Contract amendment forms were not used to document changes to the contracting arrangement, nor were new bidding processes conducted for high -value changes to existing contracts.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.9 An MOU should be developed to govern the administrative relationship between the missions in Belgrade and Zagreb.

5.1.10 All staff dealing with external and internal clients should be provided with client service training.

5.1.11 A contracting procedures document should be developed, incorporate all key controls and distributed to all relevant staff.

5.1.12 CRB Terms of Reference (TOR) should be reviewed and updated, and roles and responsibilities of Committee members should be clearly communicated.

5.1.13 The CRB should meet to review contracts over the threshold established as defined in the TOR in recommendation 5.1.12. The Board should also meet quarterly to review a list of contracts awarded below the threshold for CRB approval, to identify any potential issues for follow-up, such as instances of contract splitting or frequent use of certain suppliers.

5.1.14 The Mission should consult with the Contracting Policy, Monitoring and Operations Division (SPP) to ensure that their contracting checklist contains all of the key control points of the procurement process.

5.1.15 Contracting files should demonstrate adherence to policy requirements and be safeguarded in approved, securable storage cabinets.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.9 In-progress for September 2009. The Mission will complete a draft agreement based on the recent requirements of the spoke mission and discuss with the new HOM once he arrives in Zagreb.

5.1.10 In-progress for October 2009. Many staff have participated in client service courses, and the Mission will arrange another course in the fall.

5.1.11 In-progress for September 2009. The Mission has begun developing a document while reviewing past contracts to ensure all steps are identified.

5.1.12 In-progress for September 2009. The CRB TOR, including roles and responsibilities, will be reviewed by the CMM and distributed to all CBS.

5.1.13 In-progress for September 2009. This will be implemented as part of 5.1.12. The next meeting of the CRB will take place in September, once the TOR have been approved by CMM. Meetings will be scheduled quarterly in board member's outlook calendars, starting in September 2009.

5.1.14 In-progress for September 2009. The Mission will contact SPP for assistance before finalizing contracting procedures identified in 5.1.11.

5.1.15 Implemented July 2009. Existing files are being reviewed to identify possible missing items. All available documentation, and all new contract files will follow the checklist being developed. All contract file cabinets will now be *** .

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 HR functions at the Mission are the responsibility of the MCO who is assisted in part by the LE-05 Administrative Assistant. The MCO is in the process of updating all job descriptions, as many have not been updated in several years. As a part of this process, the MCO plans to modify the duties of the Administrative Assistant to include more HR responsibilities and transfer some of her other tasks to the Receptionist. The requirement for bilingual status will also be added to the Receptionist job description as a part of this exercise.

5.2.2 At present, the Mission does not have an HR plan, and PMs bring their staffing requirements to the MCO when a need arises. The development of an HR plan would facilitate workload planning and budgeting.

5.2.3 There is no standard process in place for staffing actions and, as a result, the MCO explains the process to PMs on an ad hoc basis. This could lead to inconsistency in the process applied by different managers and in the documents maintained on file. Developing a standard process document would give PMs clearer guidelines and ensure greater consistency in the staffing process.

5.2.4 A review of competition files revealed many incomplete files. As a result, the Inspection Team was unable to fully assess the Mission’s compliance with policies and procedures. The following items were not found on file:

  • Advertisements of competitions;
  • Scoring grids;
  • Names of interview board members;
  • The board’s decisions and recommendations to the HOM; and,
  • Letters informing unsuccessful candidates of the board’s decision and of an internal candidates right to an informal discussion.

5.2.5 While no classification exercises have occurred recently, a review of files indicated that earlier exercises were completed without the recommendation of a Classification Committee.

5.2.6 The Mission has developed a tool to track leave and overtime of LES electronically. This is seen as useful and has been shared with other missions in the region.

5.2.7 The Mission is in the process of creating an LES arrival/departure checklist. This will provide instructions for employees and other staff involved in this process on who to contact, and what is required. It will be important that key program areas, such as security and information management and technology, be consulted on the content.

5.2.8 Job titles and levels in the departmental Human Resource Management System (HRMS) differ from the Mission’s organizational chart and are currently being updated with the assistance of the Locally Engaged Staff Services (ALD) Bureau. A review of files indicated that both position and personnel documents are stored in one file. Position and personnel files should be maintained separately.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.9 The Mission should implement an HR planning process.

5.2.10 The Mission should ensure that competition files are complete and clearly demonstrate compliance with policies and procedures.

5.2.11 The Mission should develop a staffing procedures document.

5.2.12 Once the LES arrival/departure checklist is completed, it should be incorporated into the staffing procedures document. Completed checklists should be maintained on personnel files.

5.2.13 A Classification Committee should be established by the Mission.

5.2.14 The Mission should separate position files from personnel files.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.9 In-progress for October 2009. A planning document is in development and will be reviewed by the CMM in the fall.

5.2.10 Implemented July 2009. The MCO now ensures that selection committees for future competitions are informed of policies and procedures, and all files are being treated accordingly.

5.2.11 In-progress for October 2009. A document is being developed by the MCO and will be presented to the CMM when completed.

5.2.12 In-progress for October 2009. A document is being developed by the MCO and will be presented to the CMM when completed.

5.2.13 In-progress for September 2009. This will be done as part of 1.2.1

5.2.14 in-progress for October 2009. The Mission has started this process already, and will complete it in the fall.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The Property Section is managed by the Deputy MCO who is assisted by a Maintenance and Property Assistant (LE-06), a Materiel and Property Assistant (LE-05), two handymen and two cleaners. The DMCO plays an active role in this function.

5.3.2 ***.

5.3.3 The Mission’s property portfolio includes a Crown-owned Chancery and Official Residence (OR) and nine Crown-leased staff-quarters (SQs). The Chancery is housed in a three storey stand-alone building that was constructed in 1984. Current excess space in the Chancery consists of nine vacant offices and eight additional workstations in open areas. Two more offices will become vacant in 2010 when CIDA ceases its program activities in Serbia.

5.3.4 The Property Section is promoting a “Greening the Embassy” initiative by: recycling paper, installing compact fluorescent bulbs and motion sensor taps to reduce electricity and water consumption. This is seen as a good practice.

Management and Planning

5.3.5 The Mission is making full use of an electronic service request system and processes approximately 1,200 requests yearly. Daily meetings are held with the Property team to review scheduling and outstanding service requests.

5.3.6 Annual SQ inspections are conducted by property staff and provide valuable information for replacement and maintenance planning. However, no workplan or associated budget has been established for the maintenance function. Although the Section does produce a list of proposed in-year capital requirements, they have not developed a multi-year capital acquisition plan. This creates the risk that maintenance projects or acquisition needs could be overlooked or go unfunded. The Section should be proactive and consult PMs yearly regarding program needs and CBS regarding SQ needs. The plans and associated budgets should then be submitted to the CMM for discussion and approval.

5.3.7 The OR is used extensively for official hospitality by the HOM as well as by other programs. The OR staff are also used to cater events at the Chancery in support of all Mission programs. Repairs to the plaster on the exterior walls of the OR are performed yearly, most recently in summer 2008. Given the speed with which the exterior is deteriorating and the frequency that repairs must be undertaken, the Physical Resource Bureau (ARD) should be consulted regarding a long-term solution.

5.3.8 Members of the Inspection Team visited five SQs which were all well maintained, although newer units appeared to have some problems related to water damage. The Property Section should develop a maintenance workplan for all properties to ensure that long-term problems do not develop.

5.3.9 The Mission Housing Committee (MHC) began meeting recently in preparation for the upcoming relocation season, although it does not yet have a Chairperson. Due to the nature of housing issues, this role should be assumed by a senior CBS appointed by the HOM. Terms of Reference should be updated and distributed, and responsibilities clearly communicated to members. A review of the two outstanding accommodation deficiency adjustments (ADAs) revealed that the most recent application was not reviewed by the MHC. Instead it was given directly to the MCO who presented it at the CMM.

Client Services

5.3.10 ***. The Property Section should be more proactive in its communication with CBS regarding SQ maintenance requests. The establishment and communication of Mission specific service standards would help manage expectations. Additionally, the Section should notify clients *** regarding workplans and any potential delays.

5.3.11 The Section should meet with SQ occupants upon arrival to review the welcome kit, explain what services are provided and discuss general administrative procedures. The Section should also consult recent arrivals regarding the quality of services provided in an effort to improve future services.

Internal controls

5.3.12 Overall control of physical assets has to be strengthened. Areas of concern include the lack of Chancery and SQ inventories, monitoring of vehicle logs, unclear disposal procedures, and the need for a formalized and documented procurement process. In addition, many contracting files were incomplete. Improved oversight, tightening of controls as well as stricter adherence to procedures will help mitigate risks to the Mission. Please refer to section 5.1 of this report for details regarding contracting and procurement.

5.3.13 The Mission has storage space in the basement of the Chancery as well as rented space at a commercial warehouse. Inventories for on-site storage rooms were not up-to-date, and inventories for the off-site location were not maintained in a clear and consistent manner. There was also no inventory maintained for handyman tools and equipment.

5.3.14 SQ inventories, while signed by occupants, were not verified by a Mission staff member. It was also noted that the condition of each item was not indicated. Occupancy agreements for all SQs have been signed.

5.3.15 Disposal of surplus materiel is conducted through public auctions. Files reviewed were incomplete and, therefore, it was difficult to assess the Mission’s compliance with policies and procedures. In addition, the HOM was not signing the official disposal records. All disposals records should be signed by the HOM, or the appropriate HQ unit, as defined in the Materiel Management Manual. The Mission should ensure all relevant information and communications regarding the sale of Crown assets are maintained on file.

5.3.16 HOM vehicle logs have only been maintained since January 2009, and both fuel and oil consumption appeared high. Although other official vehicle logs are maintained, monthly reconciliation of mileage driven and fuel purchased only began in January 2009. The Mission should ensure that all vehicle logs are closely monitored, and any discrepancies investigated.

5.3.17 The Mission’s closer review of duty free gas requirements in spring 2008 resulted in a 50% reduction in quantities ordered each quarter. Previously the maximum allowable amount per vehicle was being ordered. Continued monitoring of actual consumption, to determine order amounts, will help ensure that duty free fuel ordered is consistent with requirements. This should also minimize the possibility of duty free fuel being sold by the supplier for non- diplomatic purposes.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.18 Maintenance and multi-year capital acquisition plans should be developed in consultation with PMs and SQ occupants. These should be presented to the CMM, along with an associated budget, for approval.

5.3.19 The HOM should appoint a senior CBS to assume the duties of the Housing Committee Chairperson.

5.3.20 Terms of Reference for the Housing Committee should be updated, reviewed and approved by Committee members at the next possible meeting.

5.3.21 ADAs should be submitted to the Housing Committee, which in turn will review the application and make a recommendation to the HOM.

5.3.22 The Section should develop Mission specific property service standards and communicate them to CBS and their families.

5.3.23 The Mission should update all inventories of Crown assets in storage.

5.3.24 All Crown asset disposal records should be approved by the HOM or the appropriate HQ unit, per the Material Management Manual.

5.3.25 SQ inventories should be verified by a Mission staff member and the condition of each item recorded.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.3.18 In-progress for October 2009. Plans exist in informal formats, however they were not presented to the CMM. The next plan, following the summer rotation, will be presented to the CMM.

5.3.19 Implemented June 2009. Implemented for this current relocation season.

5.3.20 In-progress for September 2009. New terms of reference have been provided to the committee by email in electronic format (PDF). The Chair will circulate to new members after the summer rotation.

5.3.21 Implemented July 2009. The Chair of the Housing Committee has been informed of the proper process.

5.3.22 In-progress for September 2009. The Mission's Property and Materiel Section is developing a more specific service standards list that will then be communicated to all staff, and CBS families after the summer rotation.

5.3.23 In-progress for October 2009. The Mission is updating the inventory of assets in storage.

5.3.24 Implemented July 2009. All Crown asset disposal records will be approved by the HOM or the appropriate HQ unit for future disposals.

5.3.25 Implemented July 2009. SQ inventory forms have been modified to reflect this requirement, and all conditions of items will be noted during this summer relocation and subsequent semi-annual SQ inspections.

Recommendation to ARD

5.3.26 ARD should work with the Mission to identify a long-term solution to address the deterioration of the OR’s exterior walls.

ARD Action and Timeframe

5.3.26 In progress as this has been identified as a project within the Property Maintenance and Operations Section (ARAF) Workplan designated for the Mission.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The Finance Section consists of a Senior Accountant (LE-07) and an Accountant (LE-06), working under the supervision of the MCO. Finance staff *** receive good support from the Financial Operations International Division (SMFF). At present, both accountants report directly to the MCO. To establish the appropriate hierarchy, the Accountant should report directly to the Senior Accountant, who in turn will report directly to the MCO.

5.4.2 The MCO is responsible for establishing and maintaining the Mission’s budget. However, PMs were not fully involved in the allocation process. To improve transparency, PMs should be consulted in the budget allocation process and recommendations brought to the CMM for approval at the beginning of each fiscal year. PMs should be provided with monthly updates on their program budgets to ensure they are able to monitor and plan their spending.

5.4.3 The MCO is responsible for providing oversight for the Finance function and to ensure that documents provided for review are carefully considered prior to their approval. The MCO is not, however, regularly using the Integrated Management System (IMS) to obtain reports and monitor specific types of financial entries. In order for the MCO to more closely monitor IMS transactions, refresher training is required. As the monitoring responsibilities of MCOs cover several programs, a centrally developed quick reference guide on key reports for MCOs would be beneficial.

5.4.4 A review of files revealed that PMs were not always signing Section 34 under the Financial Administration Act (FAA) for projects under their area of responsibility. Instead, the PM was initialling the document, and the DMCO was signing Section 34. Each PM who has delegated authority should be signing for his/her projects, confirming work has been performed. This was brought to the attention of the Mission during the Inspection visit, and PMs have since begun exercising Section 34 for their projects.

5.4.5 A review of procedures identified some areas for improvement regarding the segregation of duties and asset control such as:

  • The monthly bank statement is sent to the Finance Section, instead of directly to the MCO;
  • The accountants are both creating purchase orders (POs) and initiating the payment of invoices. These functions should be segregated with another member of the staff, generally from the Property Section, entering the PO in IMS;
  • The accountants have the same IMS access privileges and are able to conduct each aspect of the procurement process, from PO to payment of the invoice. While useful from a back-up perspective, the Mission must ensure that they respect the proper segregation of duties on individual transactions;
  • The Mission’s supply of cheques and official receipt books are kept ***. These documents should be secured and controlled by a CBS who issues only a suitable working stock to the accountants; and,
  • Access to the Canada Club ***. Canada Club assets, *** when no representative of the Canada Club is present. Failure to do so puts the Department at unnecessary risk,***.

5.4.6 The Mission has the opportunity to increase efficiencies by reducing the number of transactions in IMS. At present, low dollar transactions are processed individually in IMS, which results in a high number of entries. An acquisition card should be considered to address low dollar value purchases, such as office supplies. Standing operational advances could also be provided to drivers to cover regularly reimbursed costs.

5.4.7 The Mission is entering contracts in the Material Management module of IMS. The Mission is not, however, using the embedded contract form in IMS. Discussion with SPP following the Inspection indicated that the Mission may not be using the appropriate contracting vehicle for some smaller contracts.

5.4.8 In the past, duplicate vendors were created in IMS leading to confusion over which vendor account had the correct information. The Mission is working with SMFF to rectify the situation.

5.4.9 Recently, the Mission began asking staff to reimburse for personal calls on cellular telephones. Staff, however, have not been paying in a timely manner. Appropriate follow-up should be undertaken in order to ensure all reimbursements take place.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.10 The reporting structure should be modified so that the Accountant reports directly to the Senior Accountant.

5.4.11 The MCO should be provided with IMS refresher training.

5.4.12 The Mission should ensure that PMs continue to exercise their delegated authorities under Section 34 of the FAA for their respective projects.

5.4.13 The Mission should improve internal controls by ensuring that:

  • Monthly bank statements are delivered, opened, and reviewed by the MCO;
  • Duties related to procurement and payment are properly segregated;
  • Official receipt books and cheques are secured *** by a CBS and only working stocks are provided to staff; and,
  • *** at the Canada Club are implemented.

5.4.14 The Mission should implement practices that improve efficiencies, such as the use of acquisition cards and standing operational advances.

5.4.15 The Mission should contact SPP for guidance on using the appropriate contracting vehicles and templates.

5.4.16 Mission Management should re-communicate the policy on cellular telephone use, and timelines for reimbursement should be enforced.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.10 In-progress for July 2009. The proposed change will be implemented and reflected in the job descriptions.

5.4.11 In-progress for September 2009. The Mission will submit a request to the Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI) for training.

5.4.12 Implemented June 2009. The new process has been implemented for this fiscal year following the recent common services and program budget split/changes.

5.4.13 Implemented July 2009.

  • A process to that effect has been put in place.
  • The Mission has segregated the payment to the accountants, and all procurement / ordering to the Property and Material Assistant.
  • Official receipt books and cheques are now secured *** by a CBS, and only working stocks are provided to staff.

In-progress for August 2009.

The Mission will provide ***.

5.4.14 In-progress for September 2009. The Mission will request an acquisition card on a trial basis to see how it can be used in the local market and evaluate any efficiencies it provides. ***. This will be evaluated after six months to see whether this improves overall efficiency.

5.4.15 In-progress for July 2009. SPP has been contacted for guidance on using the appropriate contracting vehicles and templates

5.4.16 Implemented April 2009. Cellular telephone policy has been communicated to all staff, and reimbursement is enforced for all staff as of FY 2009-2010

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

5.4.17 A quick reference guide on the key IMS reports, that MCOs should be using for monitoring purposes, should be created.

SMD Action and Timeframe

5.4.17 SMD will conduct a survey during the fall-winter 2009-2010 with MCOs to understand their preferences and evaluate the option of either developing a reference guide for IMS or to send them customized Business Intelligence (BI) reports every month. If the BI option is chosen, reports can be customized so that the MCOs receive only the information they require. BI would automatically send the MCO the reports via email on a monthly basis.

5.5 Information Management - Information Technology (IM-IT)

5.5.1 The IM-IT function is provided by a CS-02 Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) who reports to the MCO and the Client Service Regional Manager (CSRM) located in London. The FSITP receives good support from the MCO and attends the weekly Administration staff meetings. Both the MCO and the Accountant are capable of assisting with basic IT issues during absences of the FSITP. The Mission is using InfoBank to help manage information, and the FSITP plans to provide staff with monthly advice or best practices to augment the overall use of the tool.

5.5.2 An IM-IT Committee is in place and chaired by the FSITP, but has not met in the last six months. As a best practice, quarterly meetings should take place to review and discuss IM-IT issues. The FSITP and the IM-IT Committee should consult with the MCO to ensure IT operational and purchasing requirements are taken into consideration in the Mission budgeting process.

5.5.3 Overall, clients were satisfied with the IM-IT services provided by the Mission. Informal requests (i.e. hallway conversations), however, present a challenge to completing priority activities. Staff should, whenever possible, submit a formal request by email allowing the FSITP to better schedule his work. The communication of service standards to clients would help manage client expectations and allow the FSITP to address priority activities.

5.5.4 The FSITP was unclear as to the level of service that should be provided to partner departments co-located at the Mission. To clarify this issue, the FSITP should familiarize himself with the MOU on Operations and Support at Missions Abroad and seek clarification from the CSRM, if required.

5.5.5 The Business Continuity Plan states that the*** is the alternate operations site. The alternate site,***.

5.5.6 There is no formal process in place to inform the FSITP when an employee commences or ceases working at the Mission. This disrupts the FSITP’s work on priority items and increases the risk of unauthorized access to the network should an account not be deactivated in a timely manner.

5.5.7 IT inventories are maintained by the FSITP, but staff are not required to sign-out IT equipment, such as laptops. As a result, staff are not formally taking responsibility for these assets, creating a risk that the Department cannot hold them accountable for lost or damaged assets.

5.5.8 There are currently no restrictions on usage of telephones to place long distance telephone calls. The FSITP is working with the Client Relations and Marketing Division (AIEC) towards a resolution.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.5.9 The IM-IT Committee should meet regularly, quarterly as a best practice, to address Mission IM-IT issues and planning.

5.4.10 The MCO should consult with the FSITP and IM-IT Committee to identify operational and purchasing requirements to be included in the Mission budgeting process.

5.5.11 IM-IT Service Standards should be communicated to clients.

5.5.12 The Business Continuity Plan should ***.

5.5.13 Key aspects related to IM-IT should be incorporated into the LES arrival/departure checklist, in line with recommendation 5.2.12.

5.5.14 The FSITP should implement a formal sign-out sheet for IT equipment being loaned to staff.

5.5.15 Restrictions on long distance calls should be implemented based on position requirements.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.9 In-progress for September 2009. A new IM-IT Committee will be formed after the summer rotation and requested to report to the CMM as per recommendation 1.2.1.

5.5.10 Implemented June 2009. IM-IT requirements have been included in the semi-annual purchasing plans.

5.5.11 In-progress for September 2009. The FSITP will adapt current service standards to a Mission-friendly format to forward to all clients.

5.5.12 In-progress February 2010. ***

5.5.13 In-progress for October 2009. This recommendation will be included in the implementation of recommendation 5.2.12

5.5.14 Implemented June 2009. The FSITP has produced a sign out sheet for equipment tracking

5.5.15 In-progress for August 2009. The Mission will seek clarification from HQ on long distance calls restrictions before implementing this recommendation.

Appendix A: Inspection Scope and Objectives

Table 3: Inspection Scope and Objectives of Physical Resources
Physical Resources
AssetsCrown LeasedCrownOwned
Chancery1-
Official Residence1-
Staff Quarters-9
Vehicles6-

Table 4: Financial Information in Belgrade
Financial Information 2008-09 (CAD$)
Total$3,231,266
Operating Budget (N001)$1,490,711
Capital Budget (N005)$55,517
CBS Salaries Budget (N011)$584,660
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$1,100,378

Appendix B: Organization Chart

Organization Chart


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Date Modified:
2012-11-15