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Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

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Inspection of The Canadian Embassy Havana

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February 17 to 24, 2009

Table of Contents

Inspection Scope and Objectives

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

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

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

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

Report finalized on June 30th, 2009.

Executive Summary

An inspection of Mission Management, the Political Economic (PE), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Havana from February 17 to 24, 2009. The previous audit of these programs took place in 1997.

The Embassy in Havana is a medium sized mission with fifteen Canada-based staff (CBS) and fifty-four Locally-engaged staff (LES). It is well served by talented and dedicated CBS and LES, however, the Mission is facing several management challenges and is in need of greater attention from Headquarters (HQ) and more effective leadership from Mission Management. The local environment in which it operates and the low prioritization of the Mission by Headquarters, in areas such as property, have had a significant impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of operations, as well as morale of the staff.

Mission plans were in-line with Government of Canada and departmental objectives and priorities. Not all programs had fully developed operational plans, and program managers had not been involved in the budgeting process. Departmental tools and initiatives, such as TRIO and the New Way Forward, had also not been fully implemented or were not being fully used.

Several findings from the 1997 audit of the Mission were once again observed in this Inspection Report.

While action was taken to address the space limitations observed in 1997, the Mission once again finds itself at threshold, and staff are working in cramped and unsuitable conditions. Of particular note is that the Consular Program continues to operate without a booth to provide privacy and security when conducting interviews of clients, and that this situation has already resulted in one known incident of assault on a consular staff member.

While there is a plan to undertake renovations, it will not significantly address the issue of sufficient space for programs that continue to expand. The Department needs to have a short term accommodation plan for the period during which the renovations will be taking place. A long term strategy to ensure that this does not become a recurring issue should also be developed.

It was also observed in 1997 that limited planning was done in the Administrative Section, and that significant book and bank balances were held at the end of each month, which increases the Mission’s risk. Cuba is a cash based society and as a result, a significant amount of time is spent managing cash and budgets. This has had an influence on the Mission’s ability to accurately forecast and plan. Several recommendations are raised to improve efficiency.

Of significance, it was observed in both the Finance Section and IBD Program, that the network connectivity is insufficient for normal operations. There is a time lag between entering financial data into the IMS system and seeing it on the screen, increasing the likelihood of errors and diminishing the efficiency of operations.

A total of 90 recommendations are raised in the report; 88 are addressed to the Mission and two are addressed to HQ. Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the 90 recommendations, management has stated that 53 have been implemented. For each of the remaining 37 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Embassy in Havana is a medium sized mission with fifteen Canada-based staff (CBS), fifty-four Locally-engaged staff (LES) and is only responsible for program delivery in Cuba.

1.1.2 The Cuban environment poses several challenges to the Mission. Difficulties in acquiring goods and services due to trade restrictions on the island, and the centralized economy have made program delivery more difficult.

1.1.3 The state of disrepair of the Chancery and the fact that the offices are once again at full capacity have a profound effect on operations and morale.

1.1.4 The Mission faces a range of security threats, yet it has an inactive Committee on security. A number of recommendations of a previous security review remain un-addressed. It is essential that management, both at the Mission and HQ, ensure that the security posture of the Chancery and residential quarters is sufficient to safeguard the personnel and resources of the Mission.

1.1.5 Several findings from the Mission Audit of 1997 in areas such as planning, management of physical resources and property were once again observed at the Mission.

1.2 Planning and Communication

1.2.1 The Political Economic, International Business Development and Consular Program plans are in line with the Government of Canada and departmental objectives and priorities. The Administration Program, however, lacks plans in areas such as security, training and Information Management-Information Technology (IM/IT). The Audit of the Mission in 1997 made particular note that little planning was being undertaken by the Administration Program.

1.2.2 While plans have been established in many of these areas, the program managers (PMs) often were not involved in the budgeting process. The budget process has been an exercise conducted solely by the Management Consular Officer and Accountant, based upon data from prior years.

1.2.3 The lack of regular and formal communications in a number of programs, has elevated the risk that staff may not be kept informed of key priorities and administrative decisions.

1.3 Mission Operations

1.3.1 Not all job descriptions at the Mission are up to date, nor have Performance Management Plans for the year been completed.

1.3.2 Of significant concern is the physical state of the Chancery. The 1997 Audit of the Mission noted serious concerns with the cramped and over-crowded conditions of the building. An annex project has since been completed, providing additional space, however there has been continued expansion of programs at the Mission and as a result, it is once again at threshold. The state of disrepair of the facilities exacerbates the situation, as portions of the main building have been unoccupied while “patchwork” renovations are undertaken.

1.3.3 The 1997 Audit Report also identified the working conditions of the Consular Program as a significant issue, and took note of *** that would afford Canadians using the Program with privacy and Consular staff with protection. The Inspection Team observed that there is still *** at this point in time, and that *** where any number of staff or visitors may be privy to the communications. Of grave concern is that the lack of a *** has already resulted in an incident of assault on a member of the Program staff.

1.3.4 The Audit of 1997 also noted that the evening guards were on contract with little discerning them from the employees who were daytime guards, creating a potential employee-employer relationship between the evening guards and the Mission. Currently all security guards are under an umbrella contract with the Cuban Government, as are all LES. The 80 contract guards have also individually signed a contract with the Mission. This may constitute a potential employee-employer relationship for the Mission.

1.4 Mission Governance

1.4.1 The Mission has an active Committee on Mission Management (CMM) with minutes distributed, and active Housing and LES Committees. However, the Contract Review Board does not meet to discuss contracts, and the Security Committee last met in the summer of 2008.

1.4.2 Members of the Inspection Team met with the LES Committee and the focus of their discussions was on the issue of communications. There was not always clear communications on decisions, and the LES would appreciate greater communication on issues of concern, such as contingency plans should there be a change in the official currency being used in Cuba.

1.4.3 Monthly financial status reports are not being provided to program managers. Some program managers are not aware of their full budget allocations in areas such as LES overtime, and are not involved in the budgeting process, making it quite difficult for the program managers to manage within their budgets.

1.4.4 The Mission ensures that the Official Languages Policy is complied with, and has identified a resource to monitor and report on the implementation of the Policy. In sections dealing with external clients, such as reception, consular and immigration, service can be provided to clients in both official languages, and key documents and signage are available and displayed in both languages. The Mission’s general internal communications are conducted in both official languages for messages to CBS, and in both official languages and Spanish for general communications to CBS and LES.

1.4.5 Recommendations on the above observations are made in the pertinent sections of this report.

Political Economic Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The FS-04 Counsellor (Political) is the Program Manager Political Economic in Havana, and is supported by a FS-01 Second Secretary, a junior Officer on first posting, and a LE-05 Secretary. The PM has fostered good teamwork and a clear sense of direction in the Political Economic (PE) Program. As both officers were new to the Mission this year,*** . However, a *** has been developed with clear delineation of duties and responsibilities.

Table 1: Program Manager Economics in Havana
Fund2008/2009
Total$37,198
Operations$0
Travel$11,898
Hospitality$5,300
Post Initiative Fund$20,000

2.1.2 The PM has been able to establish/negotiate clear expectations between the Program and the Head of Mission (HOM) given the limited resources in the Section. The HOM provides support, direction and involvement as appropriate. Next summer will see the addition of a Global Security Reporting Program (GSRP) officer to the Program and a Department of National Defence (DND) liaison officer to the Mission.

2.1.3 The Program Manager is primarily responsible for government to government relations, analysis and reporting as well as supervising the junior Officer and the Secretary and managing visits and events. The junior Officer is responsible for human rights issues, public affairs activities, academic relations and is also involved in visits. The Secretary supports both officers in arranging meetings, organizing programs and events, writing speeches and is involved in cultural events as well as handling media relations and public enquiries.

2.1.4 Priorities are set and staff’s efforts are determined by the Country Strategy (CS) expectations and deliverables, Reporting Agreement commitments, as well as upcoming events (Post Initiative Fund (PIF), media, academic and cultural) and known visits. These are discussed at weekly Program meetings and tracked on a Program calendar.

2.1.5 The CS and Reporting Agreement are the main drivers for the PE Program. PIF activities ($18,000) and public affairs events are undertaken only if they can demonstrate a link to one of the four CS objectives. The Program has developed a screening questionnaire to validate proposed events and activities against the CS objectives. This helps ensure alignment to the CS and provides justification for resource allocation.

2.1.6 The New Way Forward (NWF) has not been fully integrated into the Program. While the Program has developed a list of service providers, ***, for most aspects of activities and visits. The PM was exposed to the NWF at a regional conference but no training has been taken by her or her staff. At a minimum the on-line training that is available should be taken.

2.1.7 The NWF also requires that Program activities and expected results be documented and tracked with assigned responsibilities to staff. This is currently being done but on a verbal and undocumented basis. A more formal approach would benefit the Program in demonstrating performance and achievement of results. It would also be useful as a basis for formulating a developmental plan for the junior Officer ***.

2.1.8 The Secretary is classified as a LE-05 and, as the only local employee in the Program, is performing a wide range of duties some of which are at an ***. A review of her duties should be undertaken and, if warranted, a submission made to the Classification Committee.

2.1.9 While travel and hospitality budgets are adequate, the Program recognizes that more regional coverage is needed and would be undertaken if more resources were available. The addition next year of a GSRP position will allow greater regional coverage. Overtime for the Program is minimal and is compensated.

Recommendations to the Mission

2.1.10 The NWF methodology should be integrated into the Program’s planning and operations.

2.1.11 PE staff should undertake formal NWF training.

2.1.12 A formal developmental plan should be developed for the junior Officer.

2.1.13 The LE-05 job description should be reviewed and updated and if warranted, a classification assessment undertaken.

Mission Responses and Timeframes

2.1.10 The PE team is integrating the NWF tools and methodology in its work and planning. For example the service providers list is being developed and templates in response to service enquiries (either to deny or to refer) are used. Ongoing.

2.1.11 Implemented. As of May 21, 2009 both PE officers had completed the NWF on-line training. The LE Secretary is also looking into specific modules. The PE team will be pleased to participate in further training should the NWF organise such training for personnel abroad.

2.1.12 In progress. Performance Management reviews for every member of the team will be finalised by end of June 2009. The junior Officer's PMP will include a professional developmental plan inclusive of training interests.

2.1.13 In progress. A high priority for this Section is the revision of the work description, the actual tasks and the work volume of the LE-05 position in light of the new GSRP position. If reclassification is deemed appropriate the Mission will submit a request for the fall 2009 review, as per HQ timeline.

International Business Development Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The FS-04 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) is the Program Manager of the International Business Development (IBD) Program, and is supported by a FS-02 CBS Trade Commissioner (TC), an LE-09 TC, and two LE-05 Trade Commissioner Assistants (TCA). The Program’s financial resources are as follows:

Table 2: The International Business Development Program
2008/2009
Total$28,500
Client Service Fund (CSF)$18,000
Travel$2,500
Hospitality$8,000

3.1.2 ***.

3.1.3 The CSF is being spent per plan, although $6,000 has been returned as projects were not undertaken due to unforeseen circumstances.

Planning

3.1.4 In this environment, the assessment of markets for the establishment of priority sectors not only must examine the needs of the market, Canadian capabilities and Canadian interest in the market, but also consider the state allowance of market-share. The Mission needs to consider the niches where the three elements of the triangle are significant enough to encourage the local government to provide such market access.

3.1.5 While Headquarters observed that plans are addressing appropriate areas, it identified deficiencies in terms of priority sector identification and performance measurement. Specifically, the Mission has identified Tourism as a priority sector. While Tourism is a significant factor in the Cuban economy, the Mission is targeting infrastructure within the tourism sector. The annual plan ought to more accurately reflect this aspect of the priority sector being identified rather than the sector/market in general.

3.1.6 The plan for the Program demonstrates an activity based system of performance measurement, rather than results based supported by criteria that are specific and measurable. Activity based assessments have limited value as management information as they do not provide decision makers with sufficient information regarding the efficiency and effectiveness of the initiatives.

3.1.7 The STC indicated that he was not aware of the overall budget of the Mission and had not discussed the budgetary needs of his Program with the HOM or Management Consular Officer. The STC was not aware of the funds available for training for his Program.

3.1.8 The vision of the STC is clear, however there is a need to provide greater guidance to the team on the implementation of the strategic plan. Formal work-plans, making the strategic vision more operational should be developed for each individual.

3.1.9 Performance Management Program (PMP) objectives have not been established for all staff in the Program. Both Trade Commissioners have performance objectives; however the Trade Commissioner Assistants do not. The TCAs have drafted PMPs but as of yet have not had discussions on them with the STC.

3.1.10 The TCAs advised that job descriptions were not up to date and did not accurately reflect the roles and responsibilities of their positions. The PMP and job descriptions are ways in which the strategic outcomes are translated into operational terms, and should be current.

Communication

3.1.11 While there are clear lines of communications within the Section, regularly scheduled meetings do not always occur and that no records of meetings exist, which could be shared.

3.1.12 Team meetings provide a venue for regular guidance and feedback on operations, the activities of other team members, as well as information on initiatives of other programs within the Mission.

Performance Measurement

3.1.13 The STC has mandated the use of TRIO by the staff, however, the uptake of it has been significantly hampered by technical limitations of the network connection.

3.1.14 The low speed of the application and tendency to stop working has frustrated staff. Even before the implementation of TRIO, staff had expressed reservations to HQ that even the existing WinOnline application was problematic with the current network connection.

3.1.15 Program staff are maintaining multiple systems for recording trade activities. Where possible the TRIO application is used, however, some staff make use of WinMission, and others use a folder in their e-mail mailbox as a method of tracking activities.

3.1.16 The TCA primarily responsible for monitoring the HAVAN-TD mailbox has no efficient method of ensuring that enquiries are dealt with inside the five day service standard. At the moment, the TCA will set the follow-up flag for five days, and remind the responsible TC of the impending date. Unless the responding TC copies the TD mailbox on the reply, there is no way of tracking whether or not the enquiry was answered.

Training

3.1.17 The STC has indicated that staff receive required training, however timing for certain training (such as for TRIO) was taking place at inopportune times, i.e. when there were significant local trade activities such as the Havana International Fair (FIHAV). This was reiterated by staff.

3.1.18 Training plans for the Program have not been established for the LES. The STC needs to discuss the training needs of all staff and develop plans that address their developmental needs. The STC had indicated that there was an informal plan for the development of the *** . The *** indicated that the STC had asked *** no notion of what his training budget is.

3.1.19 All LES have the opportunity to partake of the French language training provided by the Mission. In general, LES have the ability to conduct basic business in French, and more advanced business in English and Spanish.

Recommendations to the Mission

3.1.20 The annual IBD plan should accurately reflect the priority sectors.

3.1.21 The IBD Program should incorporate results based measurements into their strategic plan.

3.1.22 The STC should discuss budget requirements with Mission Management as part of the overall Mission budgeting exercise.

3.1.23 The IBD Program should establish operational plans for all staff.

3.1.24 The STC should ensure that all PMPs are completed.

3.1.25 The STC should ensure that all job descriptions for IBD staff are up to date.

3.1.26 The Program should hold regularly scheduled meetings, with minutes recorded and shared amongst staff.

3.1.27 The STC should ensure that formal training and development plans are established and maintained for all Program staff.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.1.20 Implemented April 2009. The IBD plan was updated to reflect strategic focus on a smaller, but realistic number of sectors: Construction, Health and Bio-Sciences, Oil and Gas, Agriculture and Agri-food.

3.1.21 Implemented April 2009. The IBD program was updated to include performance indicators regarding trade policy and negotiations, trade promotion/Canadian Direct Investment Abroad (CDIA), Foreign Direct Investment and Innovation Partnerships.

3.1.22 Implemented April 2009. Meetings held between STC and Mission Management as required based on operational needs of the IBD Section (e.g. budget requirements for FIHAV 2009 annual trade fair).

3.1.23 In progress for December 2009. Operational plans to be developed on ongoing basis throughout fiscal year according to IBD plan’s deliverables and unanticipated operational requirements (i.e. official visits).

3.1.24 In progress for January 2010. The annual PMP process is already started with CBS and will continue with all LES for target completion date within the fiscal year.

3.1.25 In progress for December 2009. All job descriptions for IBD staff to be updated within the fiscal year (pending final decision on a proposed new full-time equivalent (FTE)-credit financing position).

3.1.26 Implemented April 2009. Staff meetings are scheduled for every second Wednesday afternoon and minutes captured/shared through InfoBank.

3.1.27 In progress for January 2010. All training plans for CBS and LES to be completed within this fiscal year.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is overseen by the AS-06 Management Consular Officer (MCO) with day-to-day management exercised by the AS-04 Deputy MCO (Consular). The team also includes a LE-07 Consular Officer, two LE-05 Consular Assistants, and a LE-04 Consular Clerk. The Program is also supported by Honorary Consuls (HonCons) in Varadero and Guardalavaca.

4.1.2 A Consular sharing agreement is in place with Australia for the provision of emergency travel documents and financial assistance to Australian citizens. The Mission also provides limited services to Israeli citizens (advice and letters of facilitation).

4.1.3 Annually, the Mission provides approximately 200 passport services, processes approximately 50 citizenship applications and over 2,000 legal/notarial services. The Duty Officer Manual and the Consular Contingency Plan have both been updated recently.

4.1.4 Cuba is the fifth most popular holiday destination for Canadians as more than 800,000 Canadians visit the island yearly.

4.1.5 Despite serious deficiencies with the physical office environment, the Consular Program is well managed. Lack of a proper *** puts staff at risk (physical security and cash handling) as they must *** .There is no privacy for clients who must discuss private or sensitive matters. Offices are cramped and small and, due to lack of space, there are a number of instances where two employees share one office.

4.1.6 A major renovation project is planned which should alleviate concerns with health and safety, however, the renovations are expected to take at least 15 months to be completed. A short term solution must be found in order to improve the current working conditions for the staff.

4.2 Management of the Program

4.2.1 There is a Consular work-plan in place, and division of responsibilities are clearly defined with back-ups in place to deal with absences. Hiring of emergency employees has not been necessary, and staff feel they have adequate resources. All staff have attended training in Canada and have passed the passport certification course.

4.2.2 Although staff work in close quarters and communicate frequently with one another, and with the Deputy MCO (DMCO), there are no regular all section staff meetings. Responsibilities are well segregated with each staff member a specialist in his or her own area however, lack of regular meetings means that information is not always being shared.

4.2.3 All job descriptions are up-to-date except for that of the new LE-04 position which used to be a shared resource between Consular and Human Resources (HR). PMPs are in place and meetings are held twice annually with the DMCO to give feedback to the staff.

4.3 Client Service Delivery

4.3.1 Staff are *** and *** and the Program maintains good links with local authorities. All staff are *** and consular signage for the public is displayed in all three languages. Instructions, fees and hours of operation for notarial services are posted in the reception area and outside the Chancery main gate, but passport standards and fees are only communicated verbally and should be posted. As a best practice, a copy of the official receipt should also be displayed with a notice to clients to ensure that they receive a receipt when payment is made. The Program is meeting service standards for passport issuance.

4.3.2 The two HonCons are considered to be *** and necessary services. Consular staff and the HonCons communicate regularly and have a good relationship. ***.

4.3.3 The two largest tourist destinations for Canadians in Cuba are served by the HonCons. Both are involved in the tourist industry and have good contacts in the local community. The majority of Emergency Passports are issued in Veradero as tourists often do not have time to travel to Havana.

4.3.4 In view of the large number of Canadians who are on the island at any given time, it would be prudent to develop an evacuation plan in the event of a civil emergency or rapidly deteriorating security situation. The Mission Contingency Plan currently makes no reference as to how it would deal with the possibility of a mass evacuation of Canadian citizens from Cuba.

4.3.5 Feedback forms are made available to clients, however, feedback to date has been limited. The Mission should examine ways to increase the number of responses, such as including feedback forms when returning passports and citizenship cards to clients by mail and in person. HonCons should also be encouraged to find ways to make the forms more accessible to clients.

4.4 Internal Controls

4.4.1 All passports applications are reviewed and approved by the DMCO (Consular) and, in his absence, by either the DMCO (Property) or the MCO who have all passed the mandatory Passport Canada training.

4.4.2 The passport inventory is reconciled quarterly by the HOM and DMCO, monthly by the DMCO, and new stock is counted by the DMCO and an LES. As a best practice the Mission should ensure that the monthly reconciliation is completed in the presence of a second staff member and that both are signing the forms. A register of assets should be created to track the removal of passport stock from the High Secure Zone and to track movement of working stock among Consular staff. A reconciliation of passport stock was undertaken by the Inspection Team, and all assets were accounted for.

4.4.3 Each Honorary Consul is given a stock of Emergency Passports for which they sign, however, any time that Embassy staff visit an Honorary Consul, they should verify the passport stock and confirm that all assets are safeguarded appropriately.

4.4.4 ***.

4.4.5 The LE-04 Consular Clerk is responsible for cash handling, writing receipts and performing the weekly reconciliation and deposit to the Finance Section.

*** . The DMCO signs the receipt from the Finance Section to verify the correct amount has been deposited, which is a good practice.

4.4.6 Clients are leaving legalization/notarial documents with the guards at the Chancery main gate for pick-up by the Consular Assistant. Guards are also informing the clients of the need to pay with exact change. Representatives from Cuban institutions with many documents to legalize, pre-pay in the morning and only obtain a receipt when they return in the afternoon to retrieve their documents. The Mission should ensure that official receipts are issued at the time payments are made.

4.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

4.5.1 A short term plan to address the deficiencies in the working environment should be developed to improve the working conditions of the Consular staff.

4.5.2 Regular staff meetings should be held to facilitate information sharing within the Section and also to discuss Mission priorities and planning.

4.5.3 Passport service standards, fee schedules and a sample of an official receipt should be posted in the reception area.

4.5.4 The Mission should include an evacuation plan in the Contingency Plan in the event of a rapidly deteriorating security situation

4.5.5 The Mission and HonCons should promote the completion of client feedback forms in order to obtain more information on the quality of services provided.

4.5.6 The Mission should ensure that two staff members participate in the monthly reconciliation of passports.

4.5.7 Registers should be created to track the removal of passport stock from the High Secure Zone and track movement of working stock among Consular staff.

4.5.8 When Embassy staff visit an HonCon they should verify the passport stock and confirm it is being safeguarded appropriately.

4.5.9 Personal information should be adequately safeguarded.

4.5.10 The Consular Clerk should transfer revenues to the Finance Section per the Manual of Consular Instructions.

4.5.11 The Mission should consider purchasing a programmable cash register as part of the renovation project to facilitate cash handling.

4.5.12 An official receipt should be issued to the client as soon as payment is made.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.5.1 The renovation of the Consular area is the top priority see 5.3.14 below.

4.5.2 Implemented May 2009. Staff meetings are held every second Thursday morning and continue to be held as required for Consular emergencies.

4.5.3 Implemented May 2009. Passport service standards have been posted in three languages. The fee schedules for all Consular services are posted. A sample of an official receipt is now posted with a reminder to clients to not leave without it.

4.5.4 In progress for July 2009. The Contingency Plan, including the evacuation plan, is being reviewed and this will be added into a revised version to be submitted to the Emergency Response Centre Division (CEC).

4.5.5 Implemented April 2009. The Mission continues to promote the completion of client feedback forms and is now committed to providing the forms to all clients. The HonCons have been reminded and provided with both hard copy and soft copy forms. The client feedback statistics for the fourth quarter of 2008 shows that only 15 other missions had more responses than Havana (with 158 responses and 94% of clients satisfied).

4.5.6 Implemented April 2009. The monthly reconciliation of passports is now conducted by the Consular Program Manager and the Consular Officer. The quarterly reconciliation continues to be done by the Consular Program Manager with the HOM.

4.5.7 Implemented May 2009. A register has been created to track the movement of passports, which requires the signature of those providing or receiving the passports.

4.5.8 Implemented May 2009. An inventory of each HonCon’s Emergency Travel Document (ETD) stock will be conducted during the visits of CBS to the HonCons, beginning with this month's visit to Guardalavaca by the Security Manager.

4.5.9 In progress for 2010. *** are to be included as part of the renovation project. In addition, it is planned that access to the new Consular section will be controlled.

4.5.10 Implemented May 2009. Revenues are now being transferred to the Finance Section as per the Manual of Consular Instructions.

4.5.11 In progress for 2010. The Mission will include a programmable cash register as part of the renovation project.

4.5.12 Implemented April 2009. Official receipts are now being issued to all clients at the time of payment.

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The MCO is ***. The Inspection Team recognized that Havana is a difficult environment to work in and presents several challenges to the efficient operation of the Administration Program. The requirement for the Program to plan for and monitor annual maintenance and materiel purchases is vital to the smooth operations of the Mission.

5.2 Human Resources

5.2.1 Day to day Human Resources (HR) activities are managed by the MCO with support from the LE-05 Personnel Assistant. The Personnel Assistant is using a computerized leave and attendance tracking system which provides a record of all employees employment status, leave balances, as well as salary data. Employee leave and attendance updates are provided to all program managers on a monthly basis. This is particularly important near the end of the fiscal year as employee leave balances must be managed properly to ensure cash-outs of unused leave are identified and budgeted.

5.2.2 PMPs have been completed for all Administration staff however some programs have not yet prepared PMPs for staff for the fiscal year 2008/2009 reporting period. Some job descriptions are out of date: eleven beyond five years old, five were not available, and ten had not been signed by the employee and supervisor.

5.2.3 The MCO does not have a *** for both DMCOs so that they are exposed to all areas under MCO responsibility. There is no Mission-wide training plan in place, which could be used to coordinate training requirements for all programs. This should be developed, reviewed and approved by the CMM on an annual basis.

5.2.4 The Administration Program, and Finance Section do not meet on a regular basis. Meetings are only held ad hoc when the PM feels that there is a need. There have only been two such meetings since the arrival of the MCO.

5.2.5 There are ongoing performance issues with ***. A Performance Improvement Plan should be implemented for this employee in an attempt to improve performance.

5.2.6 Contract guards are employed at the Chancery, Official Residence (OR) and Staff Quarters (SQ). The guards are hired through the Cuban government under an umbrella contract, as are all LES. The 80 guards then individually sign a separate sub-contract. Some of the longer serving guards have requested that they be treated as LES employees as they have been serving the Embassy for several years and wish to receive similar benefits as indeterminate staff.

5.2.7 EXT 208 (Locally Engaged Staff Employment and Pay Certificates) are prepared by the Personnel Assistant and sent to the Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (ALD) as changes to an employee’s employment status occur. A hard copy of this form, once it has been reviewed and signed by the MCO, should be maintained on the employee file.

5.2.8 A cross section of LES files were reviewed. A number of employee personal files contained position number file information. Files should be vetted and information maintained on the appropriate file. Some files contained competition data, which should be filed separately from the employee file. The filing cabinet used to store these files is located ***. It was noted that while the HOM is signing all letters of employment for term and indeterminate employees, the MCO has been signing letters of offer for emergency employment. All offers of employment should be signed by the HOM.

5.2.9 The Mission is using a checklist to guide Staffing Committee members regarding specific information to be maintained as part of the competition process, however some files lacked basic data such as a letter from the Committee to the HOM providing its recommendations following a competition. In some cases, no rating guide was present, identities of Committee members not recorded and some files lacked the signatures of Committee members on the final scoring grid.

5.2.10 Classification action files reviewed were well documented and the HOM signature was obtained for all classification action decisions.

5.2.11 Overtime budgets for LES have not been devolved to programs. This should be done once program and common service budgets have been finalized.

5.2.12 The Mission has an active Occupational Health and Safety Committee which meets on a regular basis. An issue which should be addressed to this Committee involves the ***.

5.2.13 The Mission has a contract for a Community Coordinator in place and is *** by the present incumbent. The contractor *** with incoming staff and *** the CBS community assisting them with ongoing issues. The Mission is extending the contract beyond the six months that Employee Services Division (HES) has allotted funding and is paying for the additional contract period from the Mission budget.

5.2.14 The Inspection Team met with three CBS spouses during the visit. Their main issue raised concerned the minimal weight provisions for “care parcels’ which are provided to staff and families at hardship missions. Spouses felt that the 55 kilogram limit which has been set regardless of family size was inadequate to address the requirements of families with small children, particularly given the lack of availability of basic family goods in Cuba.

OR Staff Issues

5.2.15 The Gardener at the OR works 48 hours per week while the Gardener at Chancery works 40 hours per week. *** .

5.2.16 OR staff are now receiving compensatory time in lieu of cash payments when they work overtime. They had previously been compensated in cash. The staff wish to, and are entitled to per the LES Handbook, to be paid for overtime worked as is the practice for all other non-office workers.

5.2.17 ***.

5.2.18 OR staff indicated that they currently have too much work to perform and that more work will be added when the “suite” above the garage is completed. They have suggested that another staff member be added to assist with household duties.

5.2.19 ***.

5.2.20 The HOM Driver is using his own vehicle to get to and from work.***. The Driver suggested that ***. Also, the HOM Driver indicated *** . The Mission should review the current practice regarding the drivers’ compensation.

5.2.21 The Inspection Team met with members of the LES Committee. Issues raised include:

  • The salary scale is currently set in CUC which is a soft currency not used outside of Cuba and may be withdrawn from use by the Cuban government. Staff would appreciate being advised of a contingency plan which could protect their purchasing power in the event of a change in official currency being used in Cuba.
  • Severance payments for staff are no longer applicable. Staff requested that a clear explanation be provided as to why this benefit was withdrawn in 2002.
  • The Committee expressed concern over the sub-standard working conditions within Chancery due to constant renovations and overcrowding due to increases in staff complements. They noted a lack of printers in certain areas and having to share printers between programs.
  • The transportation policy for LES pick ups and drop offs is a concern to some staff. The Inspection Team were advised that the policy was changed recently with little or no discussion with staff. Staff would like to revisit the current policy of “area” drop offs.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.22 The Mission should ensure that PMPs are completed for all employees on an annual basis.

5.2.23 The Mission should ensure that all job descriptions are reviewed and updated periodically.

5.2.24 The MCO should develop a formal training plan for the DMCOs.

5.2.25 The Mission should develop a Mission-wide training plan and present it to the CMM for approval and funding on an annual basis.

5.2.26 Regular meetings should be held for the Administration Program and its functional sections.

5.2.27 A Performance Improvement Plan should be implemented for the ***.

5.2.28 The Mission should consult Contracting Policy, Monitoring and Operations (SPP) concerning the current contract in force for the employment of security guards to determine if an employer/employee relationship exists.

5.2.29 The Mission should provide a *** for use by the Personnel Assistant.

5.2.30 The Mission should ensure that all letters of employment are signed by the HOM.

5.2.31 The Mission should ensure that competition files contain all relevant data concerning the competition and any follow up correspondence following the competition.

5.2.32 The Mission should devolve LES overtime budgets to program managers where applicable.

5.2.33 The Mission should address issues regarding the *** and his duties involving ***.

5.2.34 The Mission, in consultation with the Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (ALD), should review the issue regarding different hours of work for the ***.

5.2.35 The Mission should ensure that OR staff are allowed to be compensated in cash for any overtime authorized.

5.2.36 The Mission, in consultation with ALD, should review the need to ***

5.2.37 The Mission should assess whether more staff are required to perform duties at the OR.

5.2.38 The Mission should seek advice from ALD concerning benefits included in the letter of offer for the OR Cook.

5.2.39 The Mission should review the compensation for the HOM Driver following an analysis of the usage of his private vehicle.

5.2.40 The Mission should review the current practice of overtime compensation for the HOM Driver for after hour airport pick ups.

5.2.41 The Mission, in consultation with ALD, should address the issue of the LES salary scale being set in CUC and what contingency plans could be put in place should this currency be withdrawn from the market in the future by the Cuban Government.

5.2.42 The Mission, in consultation with ALD, should provide a clear explanation to the LES why the severance provision was removed as a benefit in 2002.

5.2.43 The Mission should meet with the LES Committee to discuss the issue concerning recent changes to the LES transportation policy.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.22 Implemented. The Personnel Assistant is to collect signed PMPs from early April to late June every year. The MCO is to file them.

5.2.23 Implemented and for early April-late June every year. The PMs will be advised once a year on outdated (over five years) job descriptions in their sections and reminded to take advantage of the employee-supervisor discussions during the PMP reviews to update them as required.

5.2.24 In progress for July 31, 2009 and on-going. Although the mentoring guideline for MCOs on their first overseas assignment do not completely apply, this document will be used to develop the training plan. Also, the MCO will review with DMCOs all relevant courses available online, agree on courses to be taken, make a list of those courses in the DMCO's PMP review, and free up required time at work to complete the courses.

5.2.25 In progress for October 2009. A database is being develop to include all required and desired training for employees. However, it is very difficult to find suitable training in Havana. This document will be presented to the CMM for approval.

5.2.26 Implemented April 2009. Meetings are held on Tuesdays at 9:00 AM. The MCO and Finance Section had been meeting daily but there are no formal minutes to these meetings.

5.2.27 Implemented May 2009. Mission Management discussed the issue with the employee who seemed to be receptive and implemented a follow-up plan to monitor future performance.

5.2.28 In progress for August 2009. The Mission will follow up with Contracting Policy, Monitoring and Operations (SPP).

5.2.29 In progress for July 2009. After the reallocation of offices in the Administration Section in the next months, HR will have a proper and independent room complying with approved security standards to keep HR files.

5.2.30 Implemented May 2009. HR Assistant to ensure that all Letters of Offer (Term/Emergency/Indeterminate) are signed by the HOM.

5.2.31 Implemented May 2009. HR Assistant to gather and file all relevant documents for competitions as recommended.

5.2.32 In progress for July 2009. MCO is planning devolution, reports on overtime budget will be ready to be provided to PMs on a monthly basis or as required.

5.2.33 Implemented April 2009. For the fumigators, the Mission (in consultation with the Mission doctor) will provide one litre of fruit juice per person per day of fumigation. Every six months, the Mission will guarantee an appropriate medical examination. The Mission doctor is looking into the feasibility of having this exam made at an appropriate clinic. The Mission is also reviewing the application of the provisions in the Occupational and Health Directives.

5.2.34 Implemented May 2009. The response from ALD: As long as the Mission can justify that the operational needs for two gardener positions are different, then it is not treating employees differently. When employees accepted the letter of offer, they automatically agreed to the operational requirement for the position. *** . Mission Management prefers to keep all staff at OR working with the same conditions.

5.2.35 Mission Management is acting according to the LES Handbook provision 4.7.3, “Overtime will be compensated for in cash or compensatory time off at the discretion of the Head of Mission. Compensatory leave not taken by March 31st will be paid in cash”.

5.2.36 May 2009 ALD’s response: The duties and responsibilities of the OR Senior Servant should be reviewed by the Mission. If the employee performs duties more in accord with a butler, the Mission should consider changing his job title to Butler. After reviewing duties and responsibilities conclusion was drawn that the Senior Servant duties and responsibilities as well as the abilities required for the position do not match those of a butler.

5.2.37 Implemented May 2009. It was concluded that at present the level of work at the OR is still the same as it used to be and no new staff is required.

5.2.38 Implemented May 2009. ALD’s response: This is a “grandfather” rule, and it needs to be respected. An email dated March 26, 2004 indicated that there was a benefit review in 2003. In that review, ALD found that only one out of seven markers provided food allowance, so it was not common practice in the market to provide a separate allowance and there was no reference in local law obligating employers to pay. It was suggested by ALD to freeze the meal allowance and Mission Management concurred with the recommendation. Reasons to be explained to future employees, starting with the next indeterminate employee.

5.2.39 In progress for July 2009. The Mission is reviewing usage of personal vehicle of the HOM Driver to determine a fair compensation package.

5.2.40 Implemented. There was a misunderstanding, the HOM Driver confused official visitors pick-up and our local policies on CBS pick-up at airport where CBS are paying drivers directly and drivers do not charge overtime. Subject has been explained to HOM Driver.

5.2.41 The Mission raised subject with Latin America and Caribbean (GCD) in October 2008, but there has been no response so far. The Mission also raised the subject with ALD, which has responded as follows: Section 3.2 (3) of Locally Engaged Staffs’ Terms and Conditions Regulations established that unless the Deputy Minister directs otherwise, “the pay and benefit established pursuant to this section shall be expressed in the currency of the country in which the mission is situated”. Should a change occur in the official currency, salary will be adjusted accordingly.

5.2.42 ALD has noted that employees hired on or after 01 July 2002 only receive the applicable benefit under the Pension Scheme. However, it has been decided that employees hired prior to that date will continue to be eligible to severance pay. ALD will follow-up with the mission to ensure they have all the information required to inform LES on this issue.

5.2.43 In progress for September 2009. A survey of the LES using the transportation was conducted in January 2009, however, the results are inconclusive. On one hand, all employees would prefer being picked up at home, however this implies that others in the same vehicle have to leave earlier in the morning and arrive later at night. Also this will create more overtime for the drivers. The MCO to schedule a meeting with the LES Committee to discuss further.

Recommendation to the Distribution and Diplomatic Mail Services (APG)

5.2.44 APG should examine the weight provision for “care parcels” for families assigned to hardship missions where specific difficulties exist in obtaining basis provisions.

APG Action and Timeframes

5.2.44 APG is examining the issue and consulting decisions of the Executive Committee, which approved the weight allotment for personal mail in hardship posts, to determine next steps.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 Day to day property activities are managed by the AS-04 Deputy MCO (Property). He is assisted by the LE-07 Property Manager, a LE-05 Purchaser, a LE-04 Stores Manager, and seven LE-00 Maintenance and General Service Employees. The DMCO plays an active role in this function and holds regular meetings with staff to ensure daily work schedules are clearly identified and assigned.

5.3.2 The main Chancery is housed in an old stand-alone building which, in its current state, presents a number of space, *** and accommodation challenges. The main entrance to the Chancery compound does not have ***. The Consular Section is overcrowded and does not provide staff with minimum operational and *** facilities. Staff routinely provide services to clients *** which is contrary to standard operating procedures and clearly exposes staff to undue risk. It should be noted that one Consular staff member has already been the victim of an assault by a client. The Receptionist operates in an open area without a proper sound reducing enclosure. The walkway steps at the front gate area are broken in some areas which are a risk to staff or guests entering the Mission.

5.3.3 Service requests and work orders are sent to Administration by e-mail and are actioned by the Property Manager. The Mission has arranged for the purchase of the departmentally authorized Service Order Request System which will replace the e-mail forma. The Mission currently processes over 600 purchase orders per year (locally and through Canada).

5.3.4 An annual inspection of all SQ’s is conducted by the MCO, DMCO/Property and property staff. This provides the Section with valuable information regarding furnishings and equipment replacement and maintenance planning purposes. The Stores Manager maintains a list of furnishings and appliances currently in use for the purpose of inventory control and scheduling of replacements. This is used to plan for in-year requirements, however it should also be used to develop a multi-year capital acquisition plan which should in turn be tabled and approved by the CMM annually.

5.3.5 The DMCO/Property is not involved in the budgeting process for property related issues (rents, maintenance, purchases). He should be included in budget formulation and monthly FINSTAT reports.

5.3.6 A petty cash account, held by the Administration Assistant, was reviewed and reconciled. This account has to be replenished on a weekly basis due to the number of transactions being processed, many of which are requested by the Purchaser. The Mission may wish to consider providing a second petty cash account for the use of the Materiel Section.

5.3.7 While the HOM has visited most of the SQs, he may wish to visit all SQs prior to formally approving allocations to incoming staff. ***.

5.3.8 The Inspection Team visited the OR and four SQs. The OR is in good condition and is well maintained by staff which include a Senior Servant, a Maid, a Cook, and a Gardener. The Mission provides the OR with a variety of cleaning and maintenance supplies. The HOM is purchasing cleaning supplies to be used in the non-representational parts of the OR. Of the four SQs visited, three were houses and one was an apartment. While three of the SQs were considered to be well maintained, SQ 6530008 has serious water infiltration issues which were affecting several walls both inside and outside of the house. The Mission may wish to consider terminating the lease on this SQ when the current occupants depart in the summer of 2009. Given that newly built apartments are now available on the market, the Mission should consider leasing more apartments. Cost savings would be realized as these apartments would offer reduced maintenance, utility and security costs.

5.3.9 The SQ houses are equipped with stand-by generators. Fuel storage tanks are also provided although many do not have any sort of secondary containment facilities should there be a fuel leak in the main tank. There are no log books in place to track fuel consumption and generator usage. The lack of monitoring of generator fuel usage was raised in the audit of 1997 and the Mission had resolved to address this by October 1, 1997.

5.3.10 Crown asset disposals of surplus materiel is conducted through auctions to LES. Files reviewed were in good order and well documented, however it was noted that donations of Crown assets has occurred in the past where the HOM was not involved in the authorization process. As storage space is quite limited at the Chancery, the Mission leases space (a former SQ) where furniture, electrical appliances and other goods are stored.

5.3.11 Official vehicle and drivers logs are maintained for all vehicles (including the six motorcycles which are used by various staff members). Monthly verification and reconciliation of mileage driven and fuel purchases is conducted. The Head Driver maintains extensive vehicle usage and maintenance logs using an electronic database. The driver trip logs are maintained in a hard cover book which is reconciled by the Head Driver regularly.

5.3.12 The fine arts inventory is up to date and has been signed by the HOM. Occupancy agreements and inventory files were reviewed. Several inventories of SQs and the OR were only recently prepared and signed for by occupants.

5.3.13 The Mission Contract Review Board (CRB) is active and presently reviews all contracts with a value of $2,500 and above. The Mission may wish to consider raising this threshold while maintaining a policy whereby all spousal contracts, regardless of the amount, be vetted through CRB. Current practice is for the CRB to communicate via e-mail, and not meet in person.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.14 The Mission should consider temporary working accommodations for the Consular Program staff pending the renovations which are due to take place at the Chancery.

5.3.15 The walkway steps at the front gate area of the Chancery should be repaired as soon as possible.

5.3.16 Service standards for property and maintenance requests should be developed and circulated to all clients as part of the introduction of the new Service Order Request System.

5.3.17 The Mission should develop a multi-year capital acquisition plan and present it to the CMM on an annual basis for approval.

5.3.18 The DMCO/Property should be included in budget formulation and monthly FINSTAT reports pertaining to property related expenditures and planning.

5.3.19 The Mission should consider providing a second petty cash account for use by the Materiel Section.

5.3.20 The Mission should ensure that the MPSS is involved in reviewing any proposed new leases of SQ’s prior to leasing.

5.3.21 The Mission should consider terminating the lease on SQ PR6530008 when the current occupants depart in the summer of 2009.

5.3.22 The Mission should arrange to install secondary fuel containment facilities for all properties which have generators.

5.3.23 The Mission should ensure generator fuel usage and maintenance logs are maintained similar to the logs used for official vehicles.

5.3.24 The Mission should ensure that authority from the Physical Resources Bureau (ARD) is obtained when considering donations of surplus furnishings and equipment which is originally valued at more than $1,000. The Information Management and Technology Bureau (AID) should be consulted regarding the donation of any computer equipment.

5.3.25 The Mission should ensure that inventories and occupancy agreements are completed and signed by staff within two weeks of occupancy of the SQ.

5.3.26 The CRB should meet occasionally in committee instead of only via e-mail as is the current practice.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.14 In progress. Contract awarded June 4, 2009 and according to Fit up and Renovations Services’ (ARPA), the delivery date for bullet resistant glass and door is up to 20 weeks and should arrive in November 2009. It is expected that the Consular Section will be in the new location with a proper Consular interview booth by March 2010.

5.3.15 In progress. This is not a repair, what appears to be a broken step is actually a piece that needs to be removed to accommodate wheelchairs. Modifications to improve on original design to be done by July 31, 2009.

5.3.16 In progress for October 2009. Service standards will be developed.

5.3.17 In progress for August 2009. A capital acquisition plan is being developed.

5.3.18 Implemented as of April 1, 2009.

5.3.19 Implemented as of April 1, 2009.

5.3.20 Implemented April 2009. The MPSS will be involved in reviewing new SQ acquisition. Please note that the MPSS is included in the Housing Committee for this purpose since September 2008.

5.3.21 The HOM, the Housing Committee, the MCO and the DMCO all agree that this SQ is excellent and can be repaired to address all concerns raised by the Inspection Team. However, Mission Management is looking at replacing other SQs (#56 and #63 are priorities).

5.3.22 In progress. Work to be completed at Chancery and OR by December 31, 2009, already approved by the Property Maintenance and Operations Section (ARAF). Work at SQs to be implemented by August 31, 2010, subject to ARAF approval.

5.3.23 Implemented as of April 1, 2009

5.3.24 Implemented as of April 1, 2009

5.3.25 Implemented as of April 1, 2009

5.3.26 Implemented April 1, 2009. Next meeting is planned for September 2009 when new members of the Committee arrive in summer 2009.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The Finance Section is managed by the MCO who is assisted by an LE-07 Accountant and an LE-05 Assistant Accountant.

5.4.2 Cuba is a cash based society which presents many unique challenges to Mission operations that are not found in most other locations. Few payments are made using cheques, and therefore the accountants must spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for and carrying out the weekly bank run in order to ensure enough cash is on hand to meet Mission requirements for the week ahead. Time spent counting and distributing cash payments is also very onerous, and the risk to staff who must transport and assume responsibility for large amounts of cash is also of concern. Cash distribution to vendors, LES for salaries, CBS and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) clients, etc, has resulted in a high volume of traffic in and around the Finance Section.

5.4.3 The Assistant Accountant *** and is replaced by a term employee who has only had on-the-job training on a limited number of tasks. As a result, the Accountant is unable to take extended leave. This is a risk not only to the Mission as the Accountant has had to assume a more significant role resulting in a lack of segregation of duties, but also because there is the risk of “burn-out” for the Accountant.

5.4.4 The main focus of the Section is the bank run, and most services are dependent on this occurrence. Staff must submit their payment requests by the deadline in order to ensure cash will be available to them during the week. The bank run is performed ***. It is common knowledge that the bank run ***. Although the cash is counted upon arrival at the Chancery, the Accountant does not always have time to oversee this process, in which case only the Assistant Accountant performs it.

5.4.5 CIC refunds owed to clients are numerous (six to eight picked-up per day) and a spot check found 40 envelopes waiting to be picked-up, some of which had been ***. It was unclear how these funds were being monitored. The Finance Section should work with the Immigration Program to find ways to improve controls and reduce the workload and any potential disruption to the Finance Section.

5.4.6 The Section’s workload has also resulted in routine tasks not being completed in a timely manner, or in some cases not at all, such as entry of CIC and Consular revenues into Integrated Management System (IMS) and verification of vendor payment records. The CIC cashier has not always been transferring revenues to the Finance Section when the amount is over the limit. This control will only be of benefit if the Finance Section is able to enter the funds into IMS in a timely manner. Currently, all revenue transactions are only entered into IMS once per month.

5.4.7 The Mission should consider hiring a cashier who would be extremely helpful in alleviating the workload in the Finance Section as well as ensuring proper segregation of duties. The accountants could then spend their time focussing on financial duties versus the time consuming and clerical aspects of cash banking. The Accountant would also no longer have to handle cash, especially as she already has a great deal of oversight/control.

5.4.8 Payment for the 80 contract guards is placed in individual envelopes, but in order to save time, all of the envelopes are given to the Head Guard for distribution, and the money is not counted at hand-over. This practice not only places the Head Guard at risk but also places him in a position of power over his colleagues. A lack of privacy was noticed when both LES and guards signed for receipt of salaries as all staff are listed on the same document.

5.4.9 The network connection at the Mission is insufficient, which greatly impacts the Finance Section in their use of the IMS. The accountants sometimes input data without being able to see what they are typing on the screen due to the slow response times, resulting in errors and inefficiency of operations.

5.4.10 Monies *** include the cash account, immigration refunds, consular and immigration revenues not yet entered into IMS and payments for vendors, CBS and HonCons. *** . This practice is not secure especially considering the amount of money and number of different cash parcels being held.

5.4.11 *** which needs to be opened daily for other purposes. The Inspection Team questions if this amount is adequate for use in an emergency situation such as an evacuation.

5.4.12 Budgeting is extremely difficult as the Mission is uncertain whether or not sufficient funding will be provided by Headquarters, and if and when it will be received. The Mission has also never been funded on a reference level basis for various big ticket items, such as the guard contract, which means that the Mission is forced to cash manage large payments. It is estimated that over 100 hours had already been spent manipulating the budget, committing and de-committing funds, to ensure funds were available for routine operational expenses and to cover non-discretionary payments. It should be noted that local conditions dictate that funds received late in the year cannot always be used, as even the most basic items must be imported from Canada.

5.4.13 It was observed in the 1997 Audit that there was a need to tighten cash management at the Mission after an analysis of a six month period showed excessive book and bank balances. Large bank balances continue to be held at the end of each month as well as excess funds being held in the cash account. Time spent managing cash and the budgets results in not enough attention being paid to accurately performing the weekly and monthly forecasts.

5.4.14 The MCO undertakes all budgeting and FINSTAT preparation with assistance from the Accountant. Neither DMCO is involved in the process. Budgets have not been established for maintenance, Information Technology purchases or LES overtime which makes planning very difficult for managers. It was also observed that monthly reports were not provided to PMs.

5.4.15 Neither the MCO nor DMCO/Property, who are signing financial documents, were sure of how weekly and monthly forecasts were established by the Accountant. Due to the workload in the Finance Section, documents for signature are often not received in a timely manner. As a result, signatories occasionally feel that they do not have the time to fully review that which they are signing off against sections 33 and 34 of the Financial Administration Act.

5.4.16 The Finance Section has quiet hours, however staff are often interrupted by other LES due to shared access to the printer located in the Finance Section. The Personnel Assistant feels it is more secure to print Protected information using this printer, and it is the only one configured to print purchase requisitions for the Purchaser.

5.4.17 The Mission is utilizing the Material Management Module (MM) of IMS, per the new contracting framework, however there is little segregation of duties as it is the Accountant who is performing almost every step of the process in IMS: Purchase Orders, goods receipts (DMCO authorizes), invoice input and payment.

5.4.18 The petty cash held by the Administration Section is utilized frequently, especially by the Property Section, and the cash is often depleted within a week, resulting in money not always being available to reimburse petty cash expenses. As a result staff are often making payments from their own pocket for purchases and for immediate payments to contractors for services rendered (which is the norm in this environment).

5.4.19 A sample of the Mission accounts was reviewed, and it revealed that not all entries are performed before payments are issued, that entries were not always accurate and detailed, and that adjustments were being entered as a lump sum rather than as individual items. It was also observed that supporting documentation was not always present for bank deposits, transfers, and travel and hospitality claims.

5.4.20 In examining hospitality files, it was noted that the per head amounts were last updated in 2007 and require review.

5.4.21 While there is regular contact between the bank and the Mission, the MCO has only met the bank representative once at the beginning of his posting, and he does not receive the bank statement directly. The bank statement is sent by email to the Accountant daily, and a loose page hard copy is picked up during the weekly bank run.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.22 The Mission should ensure that there is a trained back-up on site for the Accountant.

5.4.23 The Mission should monitor the workload placed on the Accountant during the absence of the regular Assistant Accountant.

5.4.24 The timing and route used to perform *** should be varied ***.

5.4.25 The cash received from the bank should be counted by two staff members.

5.4.26 The Mission should explore the possibility of hiring an outside security company to transport money from the bank to the Mission.

5.4.27 The Finance Section should review processes and controls surrounding immigration refunds, and assess the need to prepare and hold cash until time of pick-up.

5.4.28 The CIC cashier should be transferring revenues to the Finance Section when the amount is over the limit.

5.4.29 The Mission should consider hiring a cashier.

5.4.30 A neutral party should be distributing the salary to the guards. Cash should be counted every time it changes hands.

5.4.31 Privacy should be ensured so that salary information is not visible to all staff.

5.4.32 *** .

5.4.33 The *** should be kept in the High Secure Zone (HSZ).

5.4.34 The amount of the ECP should be re-evaluated.

5.4.35 The MCO should involve the DMCOs in budgeting and FINSTAT preparation.

5.4.36 Workload pressures and distribution of tasks should be reviewed to ensure that enough attention can be paid to important functions such as accurate forecasting, timely entries into IMS and verification of payments.

5.4.37 The DMCOs should be more involved in the budget process, and input should be solicited from the other PMs.

5.4.38 Individuals exercising signing authorities should ensure compliance with sections 33 and 34 of the Financial Administration Act.

5.4.39 The Mission should look into purchasing a stand-alone printer for the Personnel Assistant and designate another printer for printing IMS documents outside the Finance Section.

5.4.40 The Mission should ensure adequate segregation of duties regarding use of the MM module, and roles in IMS should be respected in the event staff responsibilities change.

5.4.41 A second petty cash should be created to facilitate payments in the Property Section.

5.4.42 The Accountants should ensure that:

  • Payments from the cash account are entered into IMS before payments are made.
  • Entries in IMS are accurate, text is detailed and items are being entered individually and not as a lump sum, especially for adjustments; and,
  • Supporting documentation is always attached for bank deposits and transfers, payments, and travel and hospitality claims.

5.5.43 Per head amounts used for hospitality should be reviewed on an annual basis.

5.4.44 Regular contact with the bank should be maintained to ensure the MCO is known as the primary contact at the Mission.

5.4.45 The Mission should arrange with the bank to receive the bank statement in a sealed envelope which should be given directly to the MCO for review.

5.4.46 The following recommendations are based upon general observations and are made to enhance management at the Mission

  • The CMM should approve the annual budget;
  • The Finance Section could facilitate the planning process for PMs and Section Heads by creating budgets for each section/area; and,
  • Consideration could be given to providing each program assistant with training on IMS, and read-only access to the system.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.22 Implemented. Assistant Accountant, returning June 29, 2009, is fully trained and can fill in Accountant position.

5.4.23 Implemented March 2009. The Mission hired a contract cashier to reduce workload of the Section. The Mission is presently conducting the Common Service Model implementation and will use this opportunity to obtain position of Cashier.

5.4.24 ***

5.4.25 Implemented March 2009. Cash is being counted by Assistant Accountant and contract cashier or by Assistant Accountant and Accountant.

5.4.26 Issue has been explored. An outside company will not agree to comply as sometimes staff have stayed at the bank for more than two hours or work overtime in order to guarantee getting the money.

5.4.27 In progress. A solution is sought in collaboration with Financial Operations, International (SMFF). A possibility could be to *** until the applicant shows up.

5.4.28 Implemented March 2009. Immigration is providing the Finance Section with the fees every time the*** limit is reached. The Finance Section is entering this information once a week and providing the Immigration Section with weekly reports. The Mission is following guidance provided by SMFF so that if the amount does not exceed *** per week, a once per week entry is sufficient. When a cashier is hired and trained, it will be done more often.

5.4.29 In progress June 2009. Cashier hired under contract as of March 2009. Waiting for indeterminate position as per 5.4.24 above.

5.4.30 In progress. Should be assigned to the cashier, however, due to location of the Accountant’s office, to receive more than 80 contract employees who need to be escorted in the offices is not practical. A solution is to be developed and included in the renovation project. There were two points when money change hands:

  1. when the Head Guard pays the contract guards and the cash is counted when it changes hands, and
  2. when there is reimbursement of personal phone calls. As of June 2009, the guards now fill a statutory declaration for the personal phone calls in advance and the amount is deducted from the salary at the source.

5.4.31 In progress. Employees can not see names of other employees when signing the pay-list. A more formal solution will be sought while being cognizant of the amount of time necessary for the preparation of individual stubs.

5.4.32 Implemented May 2009. *** every time staff leave the office. An additional safe is being purchased for the cashier. Also, the door to the office will be changed during *** Specialist presently doing survey at the Mission (May 25-29, 2009) but there is no date yet for implementation.

5.4.33 In progress for September 2009. HSZ is presently being cleaned and re-configured, once done, a drawer with a ***, will be dedicated to MCO’s ECP.

5.4.34 In progress for August 2009. ECP will be re-evaluated and authority sought if increase is needed.

5.4.35 Implemented as of April 2009.

5.4.36 Implemented April 2009. DMCO/Property has been involved in budgeting since April 2009. Also the hiring of a part-time contract cashier provided the Accountant with more time to spend on forecasting functions. When the Assistant Accountant returns to work and the Cashier position is created the workload could be re-distributed (July 2009).

5.4.37 In progress for September 2009. The DMCO is already involved, PMs are involved except for overtime budget (see 5.2.31 above).

5.4.38 Implemented April 2009. Accounting documents are reviewed by individuals before signing.

5.4.39 Implemented April 2009. Printer purchased and installed. Other printers to be used for IMS printing will be configured in August 2009, as the Mission is now without a Foreign Service Information Technology Professional and is being served remotely. The three printers will be located in each building to be used by the head of program assistants.

5.4.40 In progress for August 2009. Training in progress for the Human Resources Assistant to enter the POs in MM.

5.4.41 Implemented April 2009. A second petty cash was issued to the Property Assistant (LE-04).

5.4.42 Implemented April 2009. Payments are entered into IMS, before the payments are made for all accounts not only for cash account. Entries in IMS are accurate and detailed text is included, even the lump sum entries, like the funds in transit, contain several lines with detailed information. All accounts documents contain the proper documentation and for the SD document for the Immigration account a copy of the slip from the bank will also be attached to the SD document with the original to the funds transfer document.

5.4.43 In progress for June 2009. Under revision, CMM approval pending.

5.4.44 Implemented May 2009. Regular meeting implemented

5.4.45 Implemented May 2009. This was requested in the 5.4.44 meeting and the Mission will continue to remind the bank of this requirement.

5.4.46 In progress and ongoing.

  • CMM approved budgets, it will be duly noted in future;
  • The Mission is considering general observation in order to improve general financial management of the Mission; and
  • CIDA and CIC already have read-only access to IMS. Training will be needed for IBD and PE assistants.

5.5 Information Management - Information Technology (IM-IT)

5.5.1 The Mission’s IM-IT service is provided by a CS-02 Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) resident in Havana.

5.5.2 While the Mission is *** by the FSITP, no formal work plan has been established, with priorities laid out and agreed upon by the FSITP and the MCO who is accountable for IM-IT at the Mission. It was also observed that there was *** for the FSITP.

5.5.3 ***.

5.5.4 It was further observed that the Mission does not have an IT Committee, which would communicate key IM-IT issues to the MCO and FSITP, assist in the development of an IM-IT workplan and business continuity plan.

5.5.5 Regular meetings between the MCO and FSITP with records of decisions are not occurring. This could result in key information not being clearly communicated or key activities not being addressed.

5.5.6 It was noted that the FSITP has promoted use of the central help desk facility in order to better manage IT support in the Mission. Its use results in support tickets being created, which in turn allows for better monitoring of levels and service standards.

5.5.7 The Mission currently has a 384kbps internet connection through a Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satellite connection. Due to the nature of VSAT connections, network latency is at a minimum 600ms. The Mission itself, during a period of review in January 2009, had on average latency of 660ms. While this is considered to be normal for such a connection, it needs to be considered in conjunction with the limited bandwidth of the Mission, and the increasing capacity needs of systems implemented at post.

5.5.8 The introduction of network based applications such as IBD’s TRIO has had an impact on the Mission beyond that observed in other missions. Not only are IBD users not able to make efficient use of the TRIO application, but significant impact has been felt by the Finance Section when using IMS. Users of TRIO have remarked that desktop systems “hang”, “freeze” or “crash” at times when using the application, and IMS users have noted significant delays in screen updates as data is keyed in.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.5.9 The Mission should formulate an IT operations plan, with resource allocations.

5.5.10 ***.

5.5.11 The Mission should establish an IT Committee with regular meetings and formal communications processes for the Committee.

5.5.12 The MCO should ensure regular meetings with the IM/IT resource to ensure that the needs of the Mission are being met, and that there are formal records of decisions to ensure that all issues are understood and addressed.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.9 In progress for October 2009. The Mission is presently looking at an example of an IT operation plan. ***.

5.5.10 The Mission has found a solution to compensate for the difficulty of having off-site internet connection that permit Outlook Web Access (OWA), COSMOS (Consular system), remote access and other essential applications. Kits needs to be developed with basic supplies needed to operate off-site.

5.5.11 Implemented April 2009. The FSITP is included in weekly Administration meeting which includes Consular, Security, Property, Finance and HR. The Mission also has a Virtual Web Committee chaired by the junior GR Officer which includes all programs of the Mission. Any IT issue raised in this last Committee is brought to the attention of the MCO and FSITP.

5.5.12 Implemented April 2009. The FSITP and MCO meet weekly in the Administration meeting, other ad-hoc meetings happen through out the week as needed. Any decision or issue will be documented accordingly.

Recommendation to AID

5.5.13 Headquarters should examine the network connection that the Mission has been provided and ensure that it is sufficient to address the requirements of the applications installed at the Mission.

AID Action and Timeframe

5.5.13 Infrastructure Technologies (AIT) has examined the utilization and performance of the network connection and determined that an upgrade is justified in this case based on position count and our established standards. An upgrade has been ordered and is expected to be in place by the end of June 2009. It must be noted that part of the application performance issues experienced at the Mission is related to network latency resulting from the use of a satellite link, which is the only realistic option for Havana at this time. While this upgrade will help with capacity, it will not improve the latency characteristics.

Appendix A: Mission Resources Fact Sheet

Table 3: Mission Resources Fact Sheet of Physical Resources
Physical Resources (Havana)
AssetsCrown LeasedCrownOwned
Chancery-1
Official Residence1-
Staff Quarters-15
Storage-1
Vehicles14-

Table 4: Financial Information in Havana
Financial Information 2008-2009Havana
Total$4,236,937
Operating Budget (N001)$2,354,000
Capital Budget (N005)$289,818
CBS Salary Budget (N011)$809,300
LES Salary Budget (N012)$783,819

Appendix B: Organization Chart

Organization Chart


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Date Modified:
2012-11-14