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Inspection of The Canadian Embassy Helsinki

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September 21 - 24, 2009

Table of Contents

Inspection Scope and Objectives

The scope of the Inspection included a review of Mission Management and the Political Economic Relations 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 the Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Helsinki from September 21 to 24, 2009. The Administration and Consular Programs were last audited in 1992 and 1993 respectively. The Embassy in Helsinki is a small mission with three Canada based staff (CBS) and 14 Locally engaged staff (LES).

The Head of Mission (HOM) had only been at the Mission for two weeks at the time of the Inspection visit,***. There is good inter-program cooperation and, according to the staff, morale was generally high. Given the size of its operations and the number of federal government programs to deliver, Headquarters (HQ) may wish to consider reviewing the categorization of this Mission (currently a Category 2).

The PERPA Program’s priorities are aligned with Government of Canada priorities and the Department’s Transformation Agenda. Though the team is small, more attention should be paid to improving teamwork, to communication among its members and to delegating tasks and follow-up on activities. For the next staff turnover, the Mission should reorganize the reporting relationships to reflect a more traditional small mission structure.

Finland is a priority mission for investment and innovation activities. The Program has two Priority Sectors (PS) that demonstrate past, current and ongoing potential. The Program is focussed with employees aware of their objectives and responsibilities. Everyone in the Program was able to articulate how they put the Integrative Trade model into practice. Program planning and performance monitoring is sound but could benefit from expanding the number of PSs and reducing the level of detail in IBD Plans. Program staff are encouraged to enter information into TRIO (IBD’s data repository) on a real-time basis through concerns were noted regarding the speed of application processing.

As the Management Consular Officer (MCO) position was eliminated in 2008, the CBS HOM Assistant is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Consular Program and has assumed the role of Mission Security Officer (MSO). The Department should develop a model (or models) indicating how the Consular Program and the Security function could be managed in missions without an MCO. Given these added responsibilities, the classification level of the HOM Assistant position should be examined. These mission-wide roles need to be highlighted early in the posting cycle so that proposed staff have the opportunity to obtain the appropriate training prior to arrival at a mission.

The Mission Administration Officer (MAO) and the Finance/Property Assistant have been in their positions for one year, ***. As well, there were few handover documents provided when the MCO departed. The Program has to create short, medium and long-term planning documents in order to prioritize projects, evaluate financial pressures and monitor progress. There is a hub and spoke relationship for accounting services with the mission in Berlin. However, this arrangement should be formalized with the development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The Mission needs to explore a diversity of options for the disposal of Crown assets, other than only discarding items.

Recovery action from the previous occupant for damages caused at a staff quarter *** should be examined, and consideration given to an accommodation deficiency adjustment for the current occupant until the property is returned to an acceptable living condition.

Some concerns were raised regarding the speed of application processing times, given that the Mission's communications network operates under a bandwidth of 384 Kbps. The Mission is encouraged to consult with the Client Relations and Information Technology Governance Division (AIE) to determine if additional bandwidth and increased random access memory (RAM) for computers would speed up processing times.

A total of 82 inspection recommendations are raised in the report; 76 are addressed to the Mission and six are addressed to Headquarters (HQ). Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the 82 recommendations, management has stated that 40 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 42 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Embassy in Helsinki is a small mission with three Canada based staff (CBS) and 14 Locally engaged staff (LES). There are no partner departments co-located at the Mission. The Mission’s area of accreditation is Finland.

1.1.2 The new Head of Mission (HOM), an EX-01 in an EX-02 position, began his assignment only two weeks prior to the Inspection visit. ***. The HOM’s immediate staff includes a CBS HOM Assistant (who arrived one month prior to the HOM), a HOM Chauffeur, a Maid and a half-time Gardener (the position is currently vacant).

1.1.3 The rotation in the same year of both the HOM and the HOM Assistant can be challenging. To allow for improved continuity and better planning, it would be beneficial to limit the rotation of CBS to one per year. Following the deletion of the Management Consular Officer (MCO) position in 2008, there are now only three CBS at this four-year cycle Mission. Given the Mission’s current size and number of federal government programs to deliver, Headquarters (HQ) may wish to consider reviewing the categorization of the Mission (currently a Category 2 mission).

1.1.4 Mission staff indicated that there was good cooperation among the different teams. The morale for the past two years was rated as high, as the previous HOM leadership and management style had been appreciated. The practices he had put in place, such as holding monthly all-staff meetings, should continue. An all-staff retreat was held in March 2009 to discuss transformation projects. The departure of the two previous heads of mission *** has raised questions regarding the message this was sending to both staff and local interlocutors.

1.1.5 There was no Country Strategy review this year, but the Mission believes that the same priorities, already integrated into program plans, are still relevant. With the exception of notes from the previous HOM, comprehensive handover documents were not developed and left for incoming for the HOM Assistant.

1.1.6 The Committee on Mission Management (CMM) has been meeting weekly. The Committee is formed by the HOM and program managers (PMs), with the HOM Assistant taking minutes for distribution to all staff. The new HOM would like to alternate between an Operations meeting and a separate CMM to discuss management issues, including budgets. Since Helsinki is a small size Mission, the frequency of the CMM can be adjusted to reflect management needs.

1.1.7 The Contract Review Board (CRB), which meets as required, is comprised of the Mission Administration Officer (MAO), the Senior Trade Commissioner and Public Affairs Manager, with minutes kept on file. There is currently an Olympic and Paralympic Games Committee dealing with issues related to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. Information is stored on the shared drive.

1.1.8 As this is a small mission, the CMM addresses other committee requirements. However, certain representatives should be nominated, including an Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Representative and Official Languages Coordinator. These representatives can be chosen from outside the Administration Program in order to share Mission-wide workload and management responsibilities.

1.1.9 The Mission has the capacity to provide services to clients in both official languages as well as in Finnish. There are also a couple of staff members with Swedish language capacity as it is Finland’s other official language.

Recommendations to the Mission

1.1.10 The development of comprehensive transition documents for CBS departing the Mission should be included as part of their Performance Management Plan (PMP), given the concerns raised by staff from experiences in recent years.

1.1.11 The HOM should have regular all-staff meetings where discussions can be held.

1.1.12 An Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Representative (OHSWR) should be appointed.

1.1.13 An Official Languages Coordinator should be appointed.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.1.10 These documents will be prepared and reviewed in advance of the next CBS rotation.

1.1.11 An all staff retreat is planned for March 2009. All staff meetings will be held on a quarterly basis, or more frequently, as required.

1.1.12 An OHSWR has been appointed.

1.1.13 An Official Languages Coordinator was appointed.

Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA) Program in Helsinki is managed by two LE-09 program managers (PM). They receive support from a shared LE-07 Political and Public Affairs Program Coordinator. One PM focusses on Political and Economic relations, analysis and reporting, as well as related advocacy and outreach activities while the other works on Public Affairs, Academic and Media Relations issues.

2.1.2 Original 2009-2010 financial reference levels for the Program are listed below. The budget has since been reduced, and the new levels are given below.

Table 1: Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs Program
Fiscal Year 2009-2010 FundCurrentOriginal
Total$22 050$41 695
Travel$7 550$19 695
Hospitality$1 000$5 000
Northern Initiative Fund$11 000$12 000
Mission Initiative Fund$2 500$5 000

2.2 Management

2.2.1 In a team of three employees, when there are two distinct Program Managers, governance and leadership issues occur which can create difficulties in alignment and results. At the time of the Inspection, regular Program meetings were not occurring, and there was limited interaction between the PMs.

2.2.2 Ideally, there should be one Manager for the Program. This role is normally filled by the HOM in the absence of a CBS PM. For the LES complement, the usual structure would include an LE-09 Political Officer, an LE-08 or LE-07 Officer focussing on Public Affairs and an LE-05 Program Assistant. As staff turnover occurs in the Section, a change of structure should be implemented.

2.2.3 In the current environment, the newly arrived HOM should assume the role of overall PM and convene regular meetings for the Program. This would enable him to closely monitor the management, teamwork and workload distribution and also allow him to contribute actively to the development of objectives, planning and activities.

2.2.4 With the fluidity in the Mission’s and Program’s budget situation, it has been difficult for the two PMs to keep track of their current budget allocations. Both were unclear on their specific remaining funds. Current and ongoing clarity on these matters is required. Regular budget updates should be distributed at least monthly by the MAO.

2.3 Political Economic Relations

2.3.1 The Political Economic Relations part of the Program is highly active. The PM has clear objectives and priorities,***. She works closely with other Mission programs and takes initiative to improve collaboration, such as her proposal to create a Committee on Northern Issues within the Mission.

2.3.2 Program priorities are clearly aligned to those of the Government of Canada and the Department’s Transformation Agenda. *** the PM produced a sound activities and reporting plan for her program, reflecting a clear understanding of priorities and their relation to Canada’s specific interests in Finland. Current priorities include: Northern issues, climate change and Canada’s European and Multilateral agendas. A larger focus will be placed on Defence and Security issues.

2.3.3 An extensive network of contacts is in place and assists in the accomplishment of objectives. ***. It will be important that the PM work closely with the HOM in the early days of his tenure to nurture current contacts and develop a plan to build an even more prominent network.

2.3.4 The PM manages both the Post Initiative Fund (PIF) and Northern Initiative Fund (NIF) budgets. The PIF is managed in conjunction with the Public Affairs PM. Due to a busy period at the start of the current fiscal year, no NIF resources had been expended to date. However, a plan is in place to use those funds. The PIF budget remains untouched and there is no plan for its use.

2.4 Public Affairs

2.4.1 The Public Affairs PM manages a busy program that focuses on education marketing (including Canadian Studies, promoting and administering the “Understanding Canada” programs, networking between institutions, promotion of education in Canada, etc.). Further, the PM manages the cultural industries program, sports (currently in the context of Vancouver 2010), relations with Finnish-Canadian/Canadian-Finnish communities, immigration, integration and seal hunt issues

2.4.2 Other areas of activity include youth mobility and the Finland-Canada dialogue related to Official Languages in Finland. The PM also functions as the website coordinator for the Mission and maintains relations with media organizations.

2.4.3 ***.

2.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

2.5.1 A plan to increase communication and collaboration within the Program should be developed. The HOM should take an active leadership role within the Program (as overall PM) to assess priorities and workload and to familiarize himself with objectives and areas of focus.

2.5.2 The Mission, in conjunction with HQ, should plan to restructure the PERPA Program to a more traditional small-mission model as staff turnover occurs.

2.5.3 Ongoing budget summaries should be regularly provided to the Program so that staff remain current on their budget levels and are able to plan activities accordingly.

2.5.4 A plan for the PIF budget should be developed and incorporated into the overall Program plan.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.5.1 Different options to increase collaboration and communication within the PERPA Program have been discussed. As an example, the Arctic has been identified as an area where closer collaboration will be developed and a joint PERPA/IBD Arctic Committee (or, "Arctic Task Force") has been established. The HOM has taken an active role in all aspects of the PERPA Program.

2.5.2 At the moment, no staff turnover is expected. The different options how to restructure the Program in the future have been initially discussed. The LES acknowledge the current structure with two Program Managers has created some challenges, but these are derived more from the division of work and responsibilities than from the structure per se. Options for future restructuring will be considered as part of succession planning.

2.5.3 The MAO has provided the PMs with budget summaries at the bi weekly CMM meetings and as required.

2.5.4 A plan for the PIF budget for fiscal year (FY) 2009 2010 was developed as part of the 2009 2010 PERPA Business Plan. The initial FY budget plan from April 2009 was revised in early September 2009 due to the budget cutbacks

International Business Development Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The IBD Program in Helsinki is managed by an FS-02 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) in an FS-03 position, supported by two LE-09 Trade Commissioners and an LE-05 Trade Commissioner Assistant (TCA). The current STC has been at the Mission since September 1, 2008. Program priority sectors include renewable energy, and information and communication technologies. The Mission is also a priority post for investment and innovation activities. The Program’s financial resources for fiscal year 2009-2010 are as follows (travel and hospitality were reduced mid-year from $20,000 and $8,500 respectively).

Table 2: IBD Program in Helsinki
Program Funds FY 2009-2010
Total$49,175
Client Service Fund (CSF)$36,000
Travel$6,800
Hospitality$4,500
International Forestry Partnership Program$1,875

3.1.2 Canada has a well developed commercial relationship with Finland with Canadian exports growing from approximately $400 million in 2006 to over $1 billion in 2008. Imports from Finland have dropped from $1.1 billion in 2006 to approximately $853 million in 2008. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from Finland is substantial, at well over $1 billion.

3.1.3 Sectors are divided between officers, with the two Trade Commissioners (TC) having one priority sector each. Both TCs are responsible for investment and innovation activities in their sectors. The STC is the lead for investment and innovation, and the Program Assistant handles general and non-priority sector inquiries.

3.1.4 There is strong management of the Section, and ***as communication is done regularly through weekly staff meetings, policies and procedures are respected, and delegation of responsibilities is appropriate.

3.2 Planning

3.2.1 The STC has not modified priority sectors since arrival. Current sectors were reviewed and validated as part of the 2009-2010 IBD planning process.

3.2.2 The 2009-2010 IBD Strategy and corresponding Action Plans are thorough and precisely identify activities to be pursued to meet overall objectives. The plans are quite detailed. While planning is important and encouraged, the STC should consider preparing more adaptable plans. In the current environment, with the fluidity surrounding Program budgets and the economy in general, it is important to retain some flexibility. Although the overall plan was well developed, in the future it would be useful to engage in more extensive consultation with Regional Offices to improve the Program’s understanding of the desires of Canadian clients.

3.2.3 Many valuable reasons were invoked to maintain the two current priority sectors. However, consideration should be given to adding one or two sectors, if warranted, in upcoming years. As this is a small Mission, it would be possible for the officers to have two priority sectors each, which could give the Program more flexibility.

3.3 Implementation

3.3.1 The Program is achieving results and is very active in its priority sectors. The officers have a good range of contacts and are proactive in performing targeted outcalls. A plan is underway to prepare a series of high level targeted outcalls for the new HOM in the coming months.

3.3.2 The Program is a member of the Multi-Country Sector Teams (MCST) for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and for Renewable Energy Technology (RET). Therefore, these two areas are mandated priority sectors.

3.3.3 Interactions and understanding of the roles and responsibilities of various HQ divisions (investment, innovation, geographic, sector practices) were not entirely clear from the Program’s perspective ***.

3.3.4 The Program is a member of the Renewable Energy Technology and Information and Communication Technology MCSTs. The desire to cooperate more closely with other regional missions on files of shared interest was expressed. This could potentially be done with one or two missions specifically, or through the MCSTs. Should regional collaboration occur outside of MCSTs, it would be worthwhile to still keep them informed. In today’s fiscal environment, it will be critical for missions to work collaboratively, leveraging funds and opportunities. Consultation with regional STCs and the MCSTs in the development of both plans and specific initiatives is encouraged.

3.3.5 As a priority country for investment and innovation, the Program has a higher profile than most missions of its size. The promotion of investment and innovation is a central component of each TC’s responsibilities. The STC, as lead of the investment and innovation initiatives, ensures that each officer continues to consider and implement the integrative trade model. ***.

3.3.6 Performance indicators highlight that the Program is performing at expected levels. There were some comments on the length of time necessary to input all required data into TRIO, and therefore some officers had a backlog of information that had yet to be entered. Officers are encouraged to record information in real-time as much as possible, because figures are analysed on a regular basis, and monthly statistics are produced by HQ.

3.3.7 The evaluations of hospitality events were well detailed and specifically linked to Program objectives. Additionally, the Program makes efficient use of hospitality by hosting events at the Official Residence as often as possible. Although the narrative sections of the Hospitality Diary were completed appropriately, the tracking of bulk wine was done by the STC on an ad-hoc basis. Regular reconciliation should occur and be officially recorded in the Diary.

3.4 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

3.4.1 A thorough review of current and potential priority sectors should be undertaken prior to the development of the 2010-2011 IBD Plan.

3.4.2 A plan for targeted outcalls with the new HOM should be developed and implemented.

3.4.3 TRIO entries should be recorded on a real-time basis to avoid backlogs and reflect actual performance.

3.4.4 The reconciliation of bulk wine purchases used for hospitality should occur at least quarterly (and prior to departures) and be reflected in the Hospitality Diary.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.4.1 This was completed as part of the 2009/2010 IBD Planning and will be done every year as it is an integral part of the IBD planning process. For 2010/2011 the IBD Program will undertake a more rigorous approach.

3.4.2 A list of key outcalls for the new HOM was provided in advance of HOM's September 4, 2009 arrival. These and other additional calls have been completed. The HOM has been engaged in several commercial outcalls and other IBD activities. Budget restrictions have limited calls outside of Helsinki.

3.4.3 All officers have been and will continue to be encouraged/instructed to record their outcalls and other notes for subsequent entry into TRIO if they cannot be entered in real time. The STC will focus on monitoring and ensuring service request entries are made in real time and that the IBD Section will complete a planned in house training program related to TRIO.

3.4.4 Wine usage is currently recorded in Hospitality Reports as part of the costing calculation. Reconciliation of Mission wine inventories will take place quarterly and be reflected in the Hospitality Diary.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is managed by the HOM, with the assistance of the LE-07 Consular Officer *** and the CBS HOM Assistant. The previous HOM Assistant exercised the passport approver role and acted as a back-up to the Consular Officer. The current team is planning to involve the HOM Assistant more in the day-to-day running of the Program, such as assuming responsibility for filing monthly COMIP statistics reports and managing some cases, as well as doing passport approval and back-up duties.

4.1.2 With the deletion of the MCO position in the summer of 2008, the HOM Assistant became the Mission Security Officer (MSO) in addition to her duties in the Consular Program. Given these added responsibilities, the previous HOM was advocating for a reclassification of this position (currently an AS-02).

4.1.3 *** it would be useful for both to visit other missions to see how new processes/procedures can be incorporated into the operations.

4.1.4 While it would be ideal to have an MCO at all posts, having the HOM Assistant assume these functions:

  • Provides the Consular Program/Security Program with a CBS (besides the HOM) who can be involved in the day-to-day activities, such as passport approval and guard supervision without impacting staff in other programs such as IBD or PERPA;
  • Makes operations more efficient, as there is a CBS on-site to deal with certain clients, access secured assets, etc., given that the duties of the CBS in other programs are generally conducted outside the office; and,
  • Provides for career variety (and potentially progression) for HOM Assistants. Once they are trained, they can re-assume this role in missions with a similar structure.

In order for this type of assignment to be effective, a future incumbent should be given sufficient time, by the Mission and her supervisor, to complete the required training (passport, Consular, security, secure communications (COMSEC), etc.) prior to arriving at post. Subsequent HOMs will have to be informed that this position is not a standard HOM Assistant position and may have to temper their expectations. There should also be a review of the classification level of these hybrid positions, in light of the increased level of responsibilities.

4.1.5 As noted in the Dublin Inspection Report, there are other structures where there is an MAO rather than an MCO, and no HOM Assistant position. In these circumstances, it falls to staff in IBD (or PERPA in some cases) to undertake the roles of passport approver, Consular PM, MSO, COMSEC custodian, etc. This impacts program delivery for these functions, and HQ should be cognizant that expectations regarding activities/results may have to be modified downward. Again, early and clear notification that these responsibilities will be part of the job package, is necessary so that appropriate training can be taken prior to arrival.

4.1.6 In some missions, it is the HOM that must take on the day-to-day responsibility for both the Consular/passport and Security programs. In these cases, proper training for the “technical” side of the duties will be needed, and HQ expectations of the HOM’s performance will need to be clearly established and communicated to any incumbent.

4.1.7 The HOM Assistant is the primary passport approver and sees the original documentation. In the past, ***. The Mission is concerned that, with the budget reduction this year, it may be difficult to continue with this arrangement for all absences. The Mission will need to discuss with Passport Canada if remote approval can be established, as required. Passport assets were appropriately secured, and the new HOM plans to be part of the monthly passport count, as was his predecessor. The Mission intends to transfer the petty cash from the Administration Program, where it is infrequently used, to the Consular Program.

4.1.8 While there is good informal communication, the physical separation between the Consular Officer in the Operations Zone and the other team members in the Secure Zone creates some challenges . Regular meetings should be scheduled to discuss cases, processes and other important issues. The Program does not currently have a hospitality allocation for contact development and networking with Consular staff from like-minded foreign missions.

4.1.9 Last year, the Program processed 152 passport services, 30 citizenship applications and 53 notarial requests. The Consular Officer has designated signing authority, but generally obtains a CBS signature for documents used within Finland. The mission in London provides Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) services but does request assistance from the Mission for the odd visa application. Unfortunately, with the limited handover notes provided, no CIC inventory of visa supplies was found.

4.1.10 The Mission had planned to renovate the main waiting area but, due to the reduction in the budget this fiscal year, this has been postponed. Given space concerns, the plan did not include a private interview booth for clients. Presently people speaking at the Consular booth can be overheard by others in the waiting area.

4.1.11 In September 2009, there were 581 Canadians registered in the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) database. The Consular Officer provides a copy of the bookmark to clients to try to solicit feedback and encourage registration in ROCA. The country is divided into five districts, and the Mission estimates there are approximately 1,000 Canadians resident in the county and 30,000 visitors per year. The Contingency Plan and Duty Officer Manual are due for update in October 2009. The Mission has created a Pandemic Contingency Plan.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.1.12 Regularly scheduled meetings should be established among the team:

  • A) Daily between the Consular Officer and HOM Assistant to review cases and contacts so both remain up-to-date;
  • B) Weekly between the Consular Officer and HOM Assistant to review processes so that the HOM Assistant can act as back-up; and
  • C) Monthly with the HOM, Consular Officer and HOM Assistant to discuss Program needs.

4.1.13 The Consular Program should be provided with a hospitality allocation to develop contacts.

4.1.14 The Program should incorporate in its training plan visits to other missions by the Consular Officer and HOM Assistant in order to observe other operations and allow new processes/procedures to be brought to this Mission.

4.1.15 The Program should obtain the inventory of CIC assets from the mission in London and verify current stock. This inventory should be reconciled quarterly.

4.1.16 The Program should discuss, with Passport Canada, the process for establishing remote passport approval if required.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.1.12

  • A) Daily meetings are held if and when there are any cases requiring action. In addition, the HOM Assistant is copied on case related e mail communications.
  • B) Weekly meetings are held to review processes.
  • C) Monthly meetings with the HOM, Consular Officer and the HOM Assistant are held.

4.1.13 The Consular Program had a hospitality budget for FY 2009 2010, but due to budget cuts, it was relinquished. For FY 2010 2011, a hospitality budget will be requested.

4.1.14 Visits to other missions will be incorporated in the training plans for the next FY.

4.1.15 An inventory of CIC assets is in place. The inventory is reconciled quarterly.

4.1.16 The Stockholm mission has agreed to provide remote approval on a temporary basis and formal agreements are made when needed.

Recommendation to the Assignment and Pool Management Division (HFP)

4.1.17 For assignments where staff are assigned Consular and/or Security duties outside of their normal stream responsibilities, HFP should, in conjunction with relevant bureaux, ensure that:

  • Early notification of these requirements is communicated to the employee and their current supervisor, so that all appropriate training can be taken prior to arrival at the mission;
  • HQ divisions work closely together to set out expectations so that all parties are clear on the role and responsibilities of employees assigned in these types of positions;
  • An MCO mentor is assigned so that the incumbent can consult with an experienced source; and,
  • A classification review is conducted for the HOM Assistant positions that are given additional responsibilities.

HFP Action and Timeframe

4.1.17 HFP has worked to advance the overseas assignments process with a goal of completing 90% of assignment decisions by the end of December, this then gives nominated candidates, current and future managers at least six months to establish and agree to a training plan which allows the employee to arrive at a mission fully trained for their duties, without creating an undo burden on their current manager. In 2010, HFP will continue to work to achieve this target date for overseas assignment decisions.

For 2010, HFP has been included in a departmental working group which is coordinating the various pre posting training for all employees and spouses going overseas in summer 2010. HFP has provided the list of candidates selected for assignments abroad to one central point of contact in Centre for Learning Advisory Services, e-Learning and Administration (CFSA), who will coordinate the training requirements of security, consular, etc. to ensure that courses will not be scheduled at competing or unreasonable times. HFP continues to work with the Foreign Service Administration Assistant (FSAA) Program Manager at Centre for Corporate Services Learning (CFSS) to design and deliver relevant training to FSAAs upon entry into the stream and prior to assignments abroad. In conjunction with CFSS and CFSA, Administration Assistant (AA) Renewal (HFP) is working to create learning roadmaps for the FSAA stream.

HFP will consult with MCO Renewal (CFMX), the Consular branch (CNO) and the Security branch (ISR) to ensure that non MCOs who will be required to perform duties in these areas of expertise have access to an MCO mentor in the region. These partnerships will be decided and confirmed prior to the beginning of the assignment in summer 2010.

The Corporate Classification Division (HSC) has hired a consultant to conduct a classification review of all FSAA positions. This consultant will provide a model which classification can use to identify appropriate classification levels for the FSAA positions overseas, including "hybrid" positions. AA Renewal (HFP) is working closely with HSC on this project and will provide all necessary support and data required to complete this analysis. The deadline for the report is May 2010. Once this model is established, the Geographic bureaux who own the FSAA positions overseas will need to address any classification pressures identified in the report via the Committee on Representation Abroad (CORA) process.

4.1.18 The following procedural recommendations are noted for action:

Recommendations to the Mission

4.1.19 The Mission should request a COSMOS account for the HOM as overall PM of the Program, which will allow for the entry of his Consular activities and review of Program activity.

4.1.20 When delivering a Canadian Citizenship Card, a photocopy of the card should be taken and signed by the client to show receipt.

4.1.21 The Program should organize training for the HOM Assistant in COSMOS including COMIP and CAMANT notes.

4.1.22 The Mission should create an inventory *** and should reconcile these annually and upon turnover of staff.

4.1.23 The HOM should have a second person (whenever possible another CBS) to assist with the monthly passport count and when new stock is received.

4.1.24 ***

4.1.25 The Program should stop contacting clients when the passport arrives and have them automatically come back after 15 days for pickup.

4.1.26 To improve revenue processing, the Program should:

  • A) Use official receipts for all revenue accepted including passport (rather than using unofficial receipts);
  • B) Use one EXT119 form that records all revenue received together rather than create separate reconciliation documents for each type of service provided. The EXT119 forms should be numbered for control purposes;
  • C) Ensure that the yellow copy of the official receipt is provided with the EXT119 form for sign off by the HOM Assistant or HOM before being given to the Administration Section;
  • D) Ensure that the pink copy of the official receipt remains with the Consular Program’s copy of the EXT119 form along with the Official Receipt received from the Administration Section;
  • E) Ensure that the gold copy of the official receipt remains in the booklet for audit purposes rather than be removed and kept separately;
  • F) Ensure that Consular *** transferred to the Administration Program *** and,
  • G) As a best practice, post a copy of the official receipt in the booth so clients know what to expect when paying for a service.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.1.19 A COSMOS account has been opened for the HOM.

4.1.20 The standard practice in the Mission is to mail Citizenship Cards by registered mail, and mail tracking codes and dates are recorded on a photocopy of the Card and are kept on file. In the exceptional case that client requests us not to mail the card, signatures will be requested in the future.

4.1.21 The HOM Assistant has had comprehensive COSMOS training organised by Consular Informatics Division (CLC).

4.1.22 An inventory of *** is in place and will be reconciled annually and upon staff turnover.

4.1.23 Monthly passport inventory and confirmation of new stock has been conducted by the HOM and another CBS.

4.1.24 ***.

4.1.25 Passport clients are now asked to collect passports after 15 days.

4.1.26

  • A) Official receipts are now issued for all fees, including passport fees. Current staff were instructed to issue unofficial receipts for passport fees, and were not aware that the practice is outdated.
  • B) Data from EXT119 is compiled on a single numbered Excel sheet since EXT119 is not available in electronic format. Separate Excel sheets for different types of payments are no longer created.
  • C) Implemented.
  • D) Implemented.
  • E) Implemented.
  • F) Based on the low volume ***, the Mission will do ***.
  • G) Implemented.

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Administration Program is managed by an LE-09 Mission Administration Officer who assumed this role in 2008 following the deletion of the MCO position. She is supported by an LE-06 Finance/Property Assistant, an LE-05 SIGNET Support Assistant (SSA)/Driver/Administrative Assistant, an LE-05 Secretary/Receptionist and a half-time Cleaner. Clients indicated that there is good client service from the team. Given the small size of the Program, communications are generally informal. No hospitality allocation has been provided to the Program for contact development with like-minded missions or local government officials.

5.1.2 The Program has been concerned with its resource level, as well as the Mission’s budget, even before the recent budget reductions. However, no planning documents exist that establish priorities (for the short, medium and long-term), making it difficult to evaluate pressures. Planning is of particular importance as there are often overlapping responsibilities. Regular Program meetings with records of decisions would aid the monitoring process.

5.1.3 Neither the *** nor the *** Assistant have received HQ training, and this should be incorporated into the Mission wide Training Plan to be developed (see paragraph 5.2.2). Given the deletion of the MCO position, this training should be a priority for the Mission and HQ. Until such time as formal training can be arranged, the Mission should look at both employees spending a few days at other missions to see how they are organized, develop plans and processes, set up file structures, etc.

5.1.4 The Program should develop arrivals-departures checklists (one for CBS and one for LES) to facilitate the integration of new employees and help with the departure process.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.5 The Administration Program should be provided with a hospitality allocation.

5.1.6 The Program should establish monthly meetings with all Administration staff in order to establish priorities, monitor workload and exchange ideas. Records of decision minutes should be taken to allow for follow-up on projects.

5.1.7 As a best practice, the MAO should meet weekly with the HOM to review Program needs and priorities.

5.1.8 The Program should develop planning documents with priorities, time-lines and budgets.

5.1.9 The Program should incorporate, in its plans, visits to other missions by the MAO and Finance/Property Assistant, so that other operations can be observed and new processes/procedures brought to this Mission.

5.1.10 The Program should develop arrivals-departures checklists for staff.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.5 A hospitality allocation will be budgeted for the next FY 2010 2011.

5.1.6 The monthly meetings started in December 2009 with minutes having been taken.

5.1.7 Given the priority attached by the HOM to addressing issues in the Administration Program, weekly meetings have been scheduled with the MAO since November 2009. In reality, HOM meetings with the MAO have averaged 2 3 time per week, at least, since November 2009.

5.1.8 For the operational budget, planning documents have always existed. The capital budget planning document has been created and implemented.

5.1.9 Visits will be planned for the next FY 2010 2011 depending on available budget.

5.1.10 Arrivals departures checklists will be developed.

Recommendation to the Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI)

5.1.11 Create a learning roadmap for MAOs to provide them with the tools for the position.

CFSI Action and Timeframe

5.1.11 CFSA is currently in the process of consulting with other divisions to develop the roadmap. It will be launched by February 15, 2010.

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

5.1.12 An MCO mentor should be assigned to ensure that the MAO can consult with an experienced source. This would also be useful for all MAOs

ASD Action and Timeframe

5.1.12 Agreed. This mentoring role will be provided through the introduction of the Regional Service Centre (RSC) based in the United Kingdom, with specific oversight and support to be provided to missions within the Europe, Middle East and African regions. This will be of direct benefit to all MCOs, but particularly MAOs who have not traditionally had the same level of training and support. The RSC will be comprised of senior MCOs and functional specialists with a mandate to provide guidance and oversight in the delivery of common services at missions.

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 The MAO oversees the HR function. While the MAO did spend some time with the departing MCO, there were few handover notes ***. The SSA/Driver/Administrative Assistant assists with leave tracking and the Finance/Property Assistant with salary payment calculations.

5.2.2 PMPs for the previous fiscal year are complete, and objectives have been set for this fiscal year. The PMPs for the HOM’s staff were completed on the departure of the previous HOM, but covered a two year period which reflected the HOM transitions. These employees should have annual PMP reviews.

5.2.3 Training requirements are noted in staff’s Performance Management Plans (PMPs), but the Mission has not used this information to develop a Mission-wide training plan. This would be useful, particularly in this period of budget restraint, to assist with priority setting and achieve economies of scale. A Training Coordinator should be appointed to undertake this process.

5.2.4 The LES Handbook was last updated in 2000. The Mission’s new LES Terms and Conditions are part of Phase I of the worldwide review and are scheduled to be finalized this fiscal year. Previous communications from HQ had led the staff to expect the release earlier.

5.2.5 The Mission Report on the Intranet site is dated 2007 and should be reviewed and up-dated. There is a Reciprocal Employment Agreement (REA) with Finland, but finding employment outside the Mission is difficult without having Finnish language competency.

5.2.6 In the past year, there was no formal LES Committee, as there were three LES on the CMM who relayed information to the LES community. The Inspection Team met with the newly created LES Committee, and others from the LES community, and the following issues were discussed:

  • a desire for LES to have the opportunity to review the new LES Terms and Conditions to ensure Helsinki Labour law is included and is clearly written;
  • a wish for office equipment to be replaced at a pace that keeps up with advances in technology, particularly in Finland. They were deploring the fact that they could not use a Finnish equivalent to the Blackberry as Blackberry service providers are not readily available in the country. There is presently only one Blackberry at the Mission;
  • a desire for all LES to have access to the Mission before and after hours so that they do not have to inconvenience others in order to work outside of Embassy hours. Currently two LES can open the Mission and two LES can close;
  • a preference for training at HQ and in classroom settings. This allows for a better understanding and promotion of Canada. The limited bandwidth makes on-line training slow and frustrating, and it is difficult to schedule teleconference training (with the time difference between Finland and Canada and the inability to stay after hours at the Mission);
  • a wish for the social club to be reinstated, as it was useful for team and morale building;
  • a need for CBS in supervisory or management roles to have better training in communication and management. In the past, some CBS lacked these skills, which had an impact on productivity and morale. There was also a perception that some CBS were more focussed on career development than on serving Canadian clients when on posting; and
  • a need to improve cultural sensitivity.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.7 As part of the planning for the Administration Program, time should be allocated to allow staff to take on-line training.

5.2.8 The HOM’s staff’s PMPs should be completed on an annual basis.

5.2.9 The Mission should develop a Mission-wide training plan.

5.2.10 The Mission should appoint a Training Coordinator.

5.2.11 The Mission Report should be reviewed and updated.

5.2.12 The LES Committee should be transformed into an LES Governance Board and meet as required.

5.2.13 The LES Governance Board and/or Mission Management should ensure that the Official Residence (OR) staff are provided with the meeting minutes and are given an opportunity to provide input to agenda/deliberations. At the time of the Inspection, the OR staff were not aware of the creation of the LES Committee.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.7 While on line training is considered useful, implementation will be a challenge with the present workload of the Administration staff and existing technology barriers. The Mission will undertake training where possible and as outlined in the Mission Training Plan.

5.2.8 The PMPs have been completed annually. Some confusion may have occurred with the change of the two previous HOMs ***.

5.2.9 The Mission wide training plan will be implemented. The training plan for each employee is currently recorded in their PMPs. This will be pulled into the Mission Training Plan.

5.2.10 A Training Coordinator has been appointed.

5.2.11 The Mission Report will be updated by the end of this fiscal year.

5.2.12 The LES Committee will remain and meet additionally as a LES Governance Board according to the requirements.

5.2.13 The future meeting minutes will be faxed to the OR staff.

5.2.14 The HR filing structure has to be better organized. Files reviewed predated the MAO position creation, and specific recommendations for key files are mentioned below for future use by the Program.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.15 Job descriptions should be reviewed to ensure that they are up-to-date. A good practice is to do so during PMP review.

5.2.16 Employee and position files should be maintained separately.

5.2.17 Should an LES be hired above step 1, justification for that decision should be kept on file.

5.2.18 Overall, competition processes were conducted transparently. However, the files should be organized so that the process can be easily reviewed from start to finish.

5.2.19 As the MAO is responsible for creating and approving the EXT208s, the HOM should sign off on her EXT208s.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.15 The job descriptions will be renewed during the next PMP review.

5.2.16 The employee and position files will be separated during the renewal of the job descriptions.

5.2.17 The justification for such cases will be put on file.

5.2.18 All of the previous competition process filing (or the lack thereof) was undertaken by the previous CBS MCO. The Mission will implement the organized filing for the new competitions.

5.2.19 This will be implemented with the next EXT 208s are prepared and updated.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The Property and Materiel Section is managed by the MAO who is assisted by the Finance/Property Assistant. ***. There was a limited handover period during the summer of 2008 between the departing MCO and the incumbent MAO, and little guidance on Mission operations was provided.

5.3.2 The Property portfolio consists of a Crown-owned Chancery, a Crown-owned Official Residence (OR), and two Crown-leased Staff Quarters (SQs). The Inspection Team visited all properties and all were in good condition and well maintained except for ***. Further detail will be provided below.

Chancery

5.3.3 The Chancery is located in an upscale neighbourhood in a central area of the city. The building is an old four-storey heritage structure which is lacking in various modern amenities and facilities. The building has a small elevator which services each floor. ***. There are no facilities which would give suitable access to the building itself, or to Chancery facilities, for persons requiring mobility assistance. The ventilation system is inadequate and does not provide suitable airflow in many offices. Small air conditioning units are only installed in specific areas of the Chancery, such as the main waiting area and communications server room. Staff have observed that high temperatures during summer months can make working conditions quite difficult. Windows are opened by staff to try to relieve the effects of heat and lack of fresh air flow. However, resulting street noise, pollution and problematic insects make this option just as undesirable. A project to update the ventilation and air conditioning system is scheduled for fiscal year 2009/2010.

5.3.4 The Chancery has a fire alarm system, and the main panel is installed in the Receptionist’s area. ***.

Physical Resources Bureau (ARD) comment:
A review and study will be undertaken with Interior Design (ARBD), Capital Project Delivery Division (ARP) and Property Maintenance and Operations Section (ARAF) to review the accessibly issue of the Chancery for possible mediation to the problem. ARAF will be advised and form part of the project team to follow up with any project initiative or correct measure requiring renovation or modification to existing elements. The plan will include the Mission as the prominent stakeholder. The ventilation system and the fire safety and operations issues will be reviewed with ARAF for followup with corrective action. A project to update the ventilation and air conditioning system is scheduled for fiscal year 2009/2010.

Official Residence

5.3.5 The OR is an older building which was originally constructed in 1952. A complete painting of the interior of the property was last undertaken approximately ten years ago. According to ARD planning documents, the property is due for a refurbishment in 2009/2010, and painting of the interior should be included once this project is initiated.

5.3.6 There is no air conditioning in the representational or family areas of the OR, which can be quite uncomfortable during the summer months. There are vines growing on the outside of the building that have encroached upon the roof and the eaves trough which may cause problems for drainage.

5.3.7 ***.

5.3.8 A percentage reimbursable by the HOM should be established for the purchase of cleaning supplies and other consumables used at the OR. As the HOM has only recently arrived at the Mission, purchases and usage should be tracked over several months prior to setting a reimbursable percentage.

ARD comment:
The OR is scheduled for refurbishment in 2009/2010/2011 and the painting project has begun already with the Mission’s input and contracting under ARBD’s supervision. The air conditioning issue will be reviewed with the ARAF for corrective action. This will be reviewed by ARP and ARBD for any possible architectural or interior design related issues with the potential installation of an air conditioning system.

Staff Quarters

5.3.9 The Mission leases two SQs which are located in good neighbourhoods.

***.

5.3.10 The Mission does not have a formal Housing Committee established to allocate SQs. Incoming staff simply take over the outgoing staff member’s SQ. A Housing Committee should make formal recommendations to the HOM, as required, and a final decision regarding allocation of housing should be taken by the HOM. SQs should be visited by the Housing Committee prior to recommendations being presented to the HOM.

Asset Management

5.3.11 The Mission does not have a multi-year capital acquisition plan established. This is necessary, especially given the limited capital budget provided to the Mission. The plan should be tabled and approved by the CMM annually.

5.3.12 The Property Section does not conduct annual inspections of properties. A schedule of inspections should be implemented in order to avoid problems ***. It will also give the Section an opportunity to review furnishings and include the findings in the preparation of the capital acquisition plan.

5.3.13 The Inspection Team reviewed a number of property/materiel related files and made the following observations:

  • Official vehicles - mileage report forms are not used by the drivers to record mileage or destinations; monthly operating reports are not properly completed; and there is no verification or reconciliation carried out by the MAO;
  • Disposal of Crown assets files - over the past three years, all surplus materiel has been disposed of as scrap materiel. There appears to be little effort made by the Mission to sell these assets or to contact other organizations (such as embassies) to determine if selling is an alternative to simply discarding items. The Mission maintains a rented storage facility within the Chancery building at a cost of approximately $10,000 per year. The facility holds surplus and used furnishings, appliances, and Information Technology (IT) equipment. Given that the storage facility is currently used to store items which will be eventually thrown away, the Mission should consider terminating the lease and disposing of all material as soon as it is declared surplus.
  • Inventories - no inventory exists for any stored materiel (see above). The inventory for the OR is presently being prepared for the HOM’s signature. However, no inventories exist for the two SQ occupants, one of whom arrived at the Mission over a year ago. Form EXT 182 - Materiel Transfer Voucher (MTV) - should be used when there is any change to an inventory which has already been signed by the occupant. Occupancy agreements should be signed by all occupants within two weeks of being allocated the SQ - in one case, the occupant arrived in September and the occupancy agreement was not signed until December of that year. The same SQ also has no inventory record of furnishings.

Contracting

5.3.14 The Mission Contract Review Board is active and meets to review all contracts above a minimum ceiling of $5,000. The Board needs to ensure that all contract documents are maintained in a consolidated file for ease of reference and a contract register is used to control contract issuance.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.15 The Mission should ensure that the MAO and the Finance/Property Assistant receive all the necessary training required for their positions.

5.3.16 The Mission should pursue the implementation of the ventilation and air conditioning project with ARD.

5.3.17 ***.

5.3.18 The Mission should conduct a fire emergency drill on an annual basis.

5.3.19 The Mission should highlight in its next Maintenance Work Plan the requirement for air conditioning to be installed in specific areas of the OR.

5.3.20 The Mission should have a contractor assess if any damage is being caused by the vines growing on the exterior surface and the roof of the OR.

5.3.21 The Mission should establish a reimbursable percentage by the HOM for cleaning supplies and consumables used at the OR.

5.3.22 ***.

5.3.23 ***.

5.3.24 The Mission should establish a formal Housing Committee and members of the Committee should be familiar with all relevant properties.

5.3.25 The Mission should develop a multi-year capital acquisition plan and have it approved by the CMM on an annual basis.

5.3.26 The Property Section should undertake annual inspections of all properties and prior to the departure of CBS.

5.3.27 The Mission should ensure that proper records are maintained for the operation of the two official vehicles and that monthly verifications and reconciliations are conducted and signed.

5.3.28 The Mission should ensure that all possible options are explored for the disposal of Crown assets and that scrapping items is considered as a last option.

5.3.29 The Mission should assess the operational and financial feasibility of maintaining a commercial storage facility.

5.3.30 The Mission should ensure that inventories for all assets (including those in storage) are prepared in a timely manner and maintained appropriately.

5.3.31 The Mission should ensure that any movement of assets are controlled through the use of the EXT-182 Materiel Transfer Voucher.

5.3.32 The Mission should ensure that occupancy agreements are prepared and signed by the occupant within two weeks of occupancy.

5.3.33 The Mission should ensure that Contract Review Board files are maintained together and that a contract register is developed.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.15 The Mission agrees with the training recommendation. Classroom training is preferred where possible as finding time during working hours for online training is a big challenge due to workload, timing and lack of bandwidth. Travel to another mission by the MAO as well as hosting the MCO from another mission here in Helsinki would also be useful training exercises.

5.3.16 The ventilation and air conditioning project has been started. A representative from ARAF visited the Mission in December 2009. The project is in the planning stage and will be incorporated into the planned refurbishment of the Chancery. The HOM wrote a letter to the building owners to initiate a dialogue on upgrading facilities and services available to the Chancery.

5.3.17 ***.

5.3.18 The Mission will conduct a fire drill annually, starting as soon as the fire/security update is completed.

5.3.19 The different possibilities for installing an air conditioning for the OR will be verified. This was also noted in ARAF’s trip report to Helsinki. Possible implementation FY 2010 2011 as part of the scheduled refurbishment of the OR.

5.3.20 The monitoring of possible damages and also the cutting of the vines will be done during the springtime.

5.3.21 An approach will be developed and implemented in consultation with the HOM.

5.3.22 ***.

5.3.23 ***. Additional information has been requested by Foreign Service Directives Policy and Monitoring Division (AEF).

5.3.24 A formal Housing Committee will be established. No relocations are planned for the next fiscal year.

5.3.25 A multi year capital acquisition plan has been developed and will form part of the planning for the scheduled chancery and OR refurbishments.

5.3.26 The annual inspections will be implemented FY 2010 2011. Additional inspections will be undertaken as required

5.3.27 These records were kept and existed prior to the Inspection but not in the format required. The procedures have been verified and altered to meet departmental requirements.

5.3.28 All options will be considered in the future for the disposal of Crown assets.

5.3.29 The Mission requires a storage facility for program material, Mission supplies and other items. In the future, a change to a smaller storage will be considered.

5.3.30 The inventory procedure will be improved and updated.

5.3.31 The use of form EXT 182 will be implemented immediately.

5.3.32 The occupancy agreements will be updated and in future prepared and signed within 2 weeks as recommended.

5.3.33 The Contract Review Board files have always been maintained together. The contract register has now been developed.

Recommendations to ARD

5.3.34 A complete repainting of the interior of the OR should be considered as part of the refurbishment plans.

5.3.35 ***.

ARD Actions and Timeframes

5.3.34 The Representational space was painted over the holiday season and funded by Architecture and Interior Design Services (ARBC). The remainder of the OR painting has been identified in the 2010 2011 work plan and will be completed during that FY.

5.3.35 ***.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The Finance function is managed by the MAO with the assistance of the Finance/Property Assistant. There is a hub and spoke relationship with the mission in Berlin for accounting services. In addition to Helsinki and the missions in Germany, Berlin provides services to the missions in the Baltic. The Mission however, could not find a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the mission in Berlin for these services.

5.4.2 The Mission executes Section 34, codes the invoice, enters the payment details into the electronic banking system, the MAO being the first approver for payment, and faxes the information to Berlin. Berlin facilitates the IMS entry, executes Section 33 and provides the second approval for payment. The mission in Berlin performs the bank reconciliation and returns it to the Mission for review and the HOM’s signature. The MAO receives the original bank statement and forwards it, with the package from Berlin to HQ. Berlin also inputs vendor creations/changes.

5.4.3 The Mission pays invoices by electronic funds transfers (EFTs), which total approximately 70 per month. Consular *** collected at the Mission averages ***.

5.4.4 The Mission budget is discussed at the CMM. The Financial Management Officer from Berlin visits yearly. He recently came to set up signature cards and meet with the new HOM to discuss the budget and recent cuts. During his visit, he mentioned that he believed the Mission had not been appropriately funded since 2006. However this perception will require further analysis.

5.4.5 While members of the staff understood the need for fiscal restraint, they are concerned that such limited budgets will have an impact on the effectiveness of programs. There is also some frustration with the disproportionate time and effort required to manage such small budgets, as procedures have not been simplified following budget reductions.

5.4.6 The Mission moved to electronic banking last year, and it now plans to evaluate the efficiency of having Consular clients make direct payments at the bank. Acquisition cards are now used at the Mission. Staff from Berlin are scheduled to visit the Mission in November 2009 to set up the Materiel Management (MM) module.

5.4.7 The Mission is concerned that the banking system in Finland is moving away from the use of certified cheques. The Mission believes that, in the future, its bank will only provide certified instruments if the client’s salary is deposited to the account. The Mission has started discussions with the CIC Program in London regarding opening an account in which clients can transfer money.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.8 The Mission should develop an MOU with the mission in Berlin for the finance support provided and desired.

5.4.9 The Mission, in conjunction with ASM, should monitor the Mission’s budget to determine if past funding changes are appropriately reflected.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.8 The MOU will be planned and implemented in cooperation with Berlin.

5.4.9 The Mission budget is monitored weekly or during the present financial situation even more often by MAO. The FINSTAT exercise is used to reflect issues.

5.4.10 The following procedural recommendations are noted for action:

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.11 The Mission should evaluate if the HOM Assistant should be provided with Section 34 signing authority (training will be required).

5.4.12 When employees pay for travel (ie airline tickets), proof of payment should be provided with the expense claim.

5.4.13 The Mission should provide the Finance/Property Assistant with read-only access to the bank account so that she can evaluate funding requirements during the MAO’s absences.

5.4.14 The Mission should determine if the STC requires payment approval authority in the banking system in the event that the HOM and MAO are absent at the same time.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.11 The Mission does not consider this a requirement as there are currently five employees with Section 34 signing authorities in the Mission. Program managers sign for their programs, while the HOM, MAO and STC sign for common service expenditures.

5.4.12 Proof for the payment of airline tickets will be required in the future.

5.4.13 The read only access to the bank account has been provided for the Finance/Property Assistant.

5.4.14 Approval authority in the banking system has been provided for the STC with the banking codes.

5.5 Information Management - Information Technology (IM-IT)

5.5.1 IM-IT duties are assumed by the SIGNET Support Assistant (SSA)/Driver/Administration Assistant. ***. The Mission is supported by the Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) located in Stockholm who is to visit Helsinki on a quarterly basis. The SSA will also contact the FSITP by phone if urgent issues arise. The Mission has requested that the scheduled visits are conducted as planned in order for the Mission to be serviced effectively. The HOM Driver is designated as the SSA back up, however, he does not have administrator access to the server.

5.5.2 The SSA is also the InfoBank champion. ***.

5.5.3 The Mission’s communications network operates under a bandwidth of 384 Kbps. Several staff mentioned that their computers and software applications are slow and inefficient due to this limited service. In particular, TRIO, at times, is extremely slow and cumbersome.

5.5.4 The SSA indicated that the hardware at the Mission was slow and cumbersome, and he was under the impression that extra random access memory (RAM) for computers was to be provided by Headquarters for workstations in order to address that issue. To date, the Mission has not received any such upgrades. The SSA should raise this issue with the Client Relations and IT Governance Division (AIE) and request that follow up be made on this issue. This may provide some relief to the problem of slowness of applications.

5.5.5 Several comments were received by staff concerning the lack of updated communications tools and equipment such as faxes, laptops, printers and photocopiers, in the office. A budget for these items does not appear to have been set. The Mission should establish a priority list of items required and this should be included in the Mission’s capital acquisition plan. As well, the Mission does not use Blackberries as there is no local service provider in Finland - they would have to sign an agreement with a provider in another country and thus would incur expensive roaming charges. The Mission should pursue this issue with AIE.

5.5.6 The Mission has routinely, over the past several years, disposed of surplus IT assets by simply throwing them out. It is suggested that the SSA and the MAO contact like minded organizations to determine how other organizations dispose of surplus equipment (see recommendation 5.3.28). Appropriate HQ approval for disposals should be sought when needed..

5.5.7 The server room is used as a storage room for non-IT items. This practice should be discouraged and all non-relevant material moved to another area.

5.5.8 ***.

5.5.9 ***.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.5.10 The SSA should contact AIM to request additional or follow-up training in the use of InfoBank.

5.5.11 The Mission should contact AIE to follow up on the issue of increased memory being provided for desktop computers.

5.5.12 The Mission should establish a priority list of communications tools and equipment and have this added to the capital acquisition plan.

5.5.13 The Mission should pursue options for access to mobility tools.

5.5.14 The Mission should ensure every effort is made to dispose of surplus IT assets in a timely fashion in order to maximize the potential for financial return.

5.5.15 The server room should not be used for storage of non-IT materiel.

5.5.16 ***.

5.5.17 ***.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.10 The FSITP located in Stockholm is planning a one day training for SSA during his visit to Helsinki in January 2010.

5.5.11 Four new computers and additional memory for the rest of the PC's will be installed during the FSITP’s next visit at the beginning of the FY 2010 2011.

5.5.12 The Administration Section will establish the priority list after consulting the CMM and the IT support.

5.5.13 The HOM's Blackberry has been replaced with a new model and a new unit has been purchased for the STC in November 2009. Options for two more Blackberries for the TCs were approved in principle by the Chief Information Officer (CIO), but these were declined by the TCs in favour of laptops. The purchase of two new SIGNET Remote Access (SRA) laptops is being considered for next FY.

5.5.14 After consulting with IT support, the conclusion was reached that as all the IT assets are more than five years old, no financial return can realistically be realized. The Mission will try to maximize the potential for financial return for those assets that will be replaced in the future.

5.5.15 The non IT material has been removed from the server room.

5.5.16 ***.

5.5.17 ***.

Recommendation to AIE

5.5.18 AIE should conduct an analysis of bandwidth usage and determine if an increase to the bandwidth would address the Missions concerns.

AIE Action and Timeframe

5.5.18 Network Infrastructure (AITM) has reviewed the bandwidth utilization report for the Mission which did not highlight any problem and indicated low Internet utilization. Bandwidth for this Mission will be reviewed next year as part of the MITNET contract renewal, expected for June 2011.

Appendix A: Mission Resources Fact Sheet

Table 3: Mission Resources Fact Sheet of Physical Resources
Physical Resources
AssetsCrown OwnedCrown Leased
Chancery1-
Official Residence1-
Staff Quarters-2
Vehicles2-

Table 4: Program Funds
Program Funds 2009-2010
 Common ServicesProgram
Total$687 167$794 375
Operating Budget (N001)$270 794$55 559
Capital Budget (N005)$5 503-
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$410 870$738 816

Appendix B: Organization Chart

Organization Chart Helsinki


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Date Modified:
2012-11-14