Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
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Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

Inspection of the Canadian Consulate General Miami

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May 2009

Table of Contents

Inspection Scope and Objectives

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

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

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

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

Executive Summary

An inspection of Mission Management, the Political Economic (PE), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in Miami from January 23 to 30, 2009. The previous audit of these programs took place in 2001. The Consulate General in Miami is a medium-sized mission with ten Canada-based staff (CBS) and 23 Locally-engaged staff (LES). In addition to all Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) programs, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) are also represented.

Overall, the Mission is well managed and DFAIT program planning documents reflect departmental and Government of Canada (GoC) priorities. Objectives effectively cascade down from Mission plans and have been incorporated into staff performance management plans (PMPs). Internal communication supports program delivery and effective linkages exist between programs, facilitating cooperation and collaboration. Budget constraints during the last year did, however, pose challenges to operations and, as a result, the Mission was unable to fund training opportunities for staff.

The business community in Miami maintains extensive links with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). A study commissioned by the Mission found that there are over 725 companies and trading houses in Miami that serve LAC markets. The assignment of a regional resource to Miami would allow better leveraging of this trading hub and ensure that resources assigned to Miami for work in the United States are not redirected. To function effectively, reporting relationships would need to be clearly defined between the North American and Latin American and Caribbean Branches. The position(s) would also require additional administrative support and travel and hospitality funds.

With the Mission’s growth over the last five years from a Consulate to a Consulate General, new systems and procedures have been put in place to better deliver and control operations. Staff are still adjusting, and it is important for Mission Management to demonstrate leadership and reinforce the need to adhere to departmental policies and procedures. It is equally important for management to ensure that the methods used to ensure compliance do not lead to conflicts or take away from the client service orientation of staff.

During the course of the Inspection, the Team identified a number of good practices. These good practices include the development of a Mission-wide external Communication Strategy; the development of a proactive Consular outreach strategy; and, the invitation of other Mission staff to program staff meetings.

A total of 50 inspection recommendations are raised in the report; 44 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 50 recommendations, management has stated that 28 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 22 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Consulate General in Miami is a medium-sized mission with ten Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 23 Locally-engaged Staff (LES). It is responsible for departmental program delivery in the State of Florida as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. All departmental programs are represented along with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Both partner department programs have regional responsibilities. The Mission experienced rapid growth under the Enhanced Representation Initiative (ERI), and sustained funding through the North American Platform Program (NAPP). The Mission has the capacity to provide services in both official languages as well as Spanish, which is widely used in Miami.

1.1.2 Overall, Mission and program planning documents are well developed and reflect departmental and Government of Canada (GoC) priorities. Objectives cascade down from Mission plans and have been incorporated into staff performance management plans (PMPs). To further reinforce broader Mission objectives, both internally and to external clients, the Mission has developed a Communication Strategy. The document contains key messages and instructions to staff on how and when to use them. Similar documents have been observed at other missions and are considered to be useful tools. The strategy has not, however, been fully implemented and greater efforts are required to integrate it into the activities of all mission programs.

1.1.3 The Mission’s governance structure includes the Committee on Mission Management (CMM), Occupational Health and Safety, Housing committees and a Contract Review Board. The Mission also has teams responsible for Emergency Response, Greening of Operations and social activities. A Classification Committee should be established, and management is encouraged to continue working towards a representative LES Committee. As the full CBS complement is now in place, there may be a need to revisit the allocation of corporate roles to ensure an appropriate distribution of work.

1.1.4 Communication within the Mission effectively supports program delivery. The CMM meets regularly and serves as a forum for decision making and identifying opportunities for cross-program collaboration. Minutes are distributed to all staff. Program staff meetings occur regularly allowing for regular discussion of topics from the CMM as well as revisiting program activities and objectives. There are effective linkages made between programs and, in some cases, program representatives are invited to sit in on other program staff meetings. This serves to educate both programs on objectives and activities and builds mutual understanding and respect for each other’s work. This practice should be expanded to include all Mission programs.

1.1.5 Interpersonal conflict was observed, however, between *** In some cases, the conflict at the *** strained relations between program staff, leading to misconceptions and a lack of understanding of other program objectives. Program managers should demonstrate leadership and cooperation to improve the quality of interactions. It is also important that all Mission programs better understand the work of their colleagues and how they all play an integral part in the attainment of Mission, departmental and GoC objectives. Failure to resolve these issues in the short-term could reinforce silos between programs.

1.1.6 To facilitate improved cooperation, the Mission is encouraged to build upon the above mentioned best practices and consider implementing other activities observed at other missions, such as learning sessions for all staff provided internally by program experts or by outside trainers. To improve project implementation, project planning sessions could also be held and include other program representatives (both program and administration). This would allow for early guidance on issues or timelines related to items such as public affairs and contracting, and ensure that other mission programs are able to plan for future workloads.

1.1.7 There is currently no LES Committee as the LES prefer to meet as a group. An LES Committee had been in place in the past, but was dissolved due to frustrations surrounding the resolution of key issues, such as the LES Handbook. The current project to review and update benefits and compensation information and consolidate LES Handbooks for the United States should put Mission Management in a better position to engage with LES. The Mission should encourage LES to move towards a representative Committee to facilitate the relationship with Mission Management and to address issues under the Mission’s control. As a best practice, it is recommended that the Committee meet with the Management Consular Officer (MCO) quarterly to discuss concerns and potential solutions and with the Head of Mission (HOM) semi-annually. This would also provide an opportunity for LES to raise concerns and for management to improve transparency through explanation of management policies, processes and rationale.

1.1.8 Job descriptions and PMPs were in place and up-to-date for all staff. PMPs for 2007-2008 have been finalized and staff have carried forward their responsibilities and objectives into their 2008-2009 PMP preparations. This allows managers and staff to revisit and amend current year objectives as priorities and/or the external environment change.

1.1.9 The Mission has also collated information from staff learning plans into one Mission-wide document. Due to budget constraints, however, the Mission has been unable to fund training. Efforts have been made to identify online, local or low-cost learning opportunities. Opportunities for on-the-job learning, such as conferences or joint-outreach programs, should be identified and considered as a part of staff training activities. There is also an opportunity to further leverage common learning needs of staff. For example, IMS read-only training for program assistants could be an opportunity for administrative staff to reach out, train and improve relationships with program staff. Online training integral to the transformation agenda, such as Political Economic Renewal and the New Way Forward, also provide an excellent opportunity for group learning and engagement on issues of importance to Senior Management.

1.1.10 Overall, hospitality claims were in-line with program objectives and compliant with departmental Policy. There were, however, some areas for improvement identified, particularly in the demonstration of value-for-money on hospitality claim forms. The Mission can achieve this by ensuring all staff clearly state the linkage to program objectives, as defined in the Mission Strategy or program plans, and by providing a more fulsome evaluation of the event, identifying objectives advanced and any follow-up actions that will result. This is particularly important for marquee events where the Mission invests significant resources to target important and difficult to obtain contacts. The Mission was also reminded that only the HOM can provide hospitality to all Mission staff, and that this should be restricted to one event per year.

1.1.11 *** the allocation of hospitality funds to honorary consuls. A review of files indicated that proactive efforts are required to educate one of the honorary consuls and his staff on the appropriate methods to account for and claim hospitality expenses. For events where a Mission program or staff member shares costs with the honorary consul, a more coordinated approach is required.

1.1.12 In a few cases, oversights were noted regarding the application of account verification, controls on travel and hospitality claims. Expenses that were not eligible or not properly supported were accepted by the Finance Section and ultimately signed off by those with Section 34 and 33 signing authority. In other cases, partial expenses or receipts requiring explanation were not explained on the forms by clients. File reviews and discussions with staff indicated that such questions were not raised by Finance staff. An expanded sample of three months of Mission accounts was reviewed after the completion of fieldwork. The problems identified above were restricted to travel claims, and not widespread. In particular, the Mission should ensure that:

  • Proof of payment is included in the event of employee purchased airfare;
  • Boarding passes are attached;
  • Original Travel Authorities are included; and,
  • Only travel related expenditures for the period in question are reimbursed.

1.1.13 The application of the above controls should be done consistently by the Accountant and reviewed by those signing Section 34 and 33. There does not yet exist, however, a generic mission account verification checklist for certain repetitive transactions, such as travel and hospitality. Such checklists are, however, in use at headquarters (HQ) and would facilitate more effective and consistent application of these controls at missions.

1.1.14 Discussions with managers indicated that those claimants who make mistakes or do not properly claim and account for expenditures are known. In such cases, disciplinary action should be taken.

1.2 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

1.2.1 The Mission should institute a Classification Committee.

1.2.2 Incomplete or incorrectly completed travel claims should be identified by the Accountant during the audit process and returned to the authorizing manager.

1.2.3 Mission managers should ensure due diligence in exercising their delegated signing authorities.

1.2.4 Mission Management should ensure that disciplinary action is taken where consistent issues with adherence to Mission policies and time lines are identified.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.2.1 Implemented. The LES Classification Committee was established in February 2009. The Mission has just received terms of reference and a mandate from the mission in Washington. Members will become familiar with their roles and responsibilities.

1.2.2 Implemented April 2009. This issue of poorly completed claims has been discussed by HOM with program managers. The Accountant has been advised that incorrect claims are to be returned to program managers for due diligence follow-up. Furthermore, a document is in draft format explaining the financial process and outlining service standards.

1.2.3 In progress for April 2009. As mentioned in 1.2.2, a procedural document is in draft format explaining the process and procedure that Mission managers must perform when signing under the Financial Administration Act (FAA).

1.2.4 In progress. The HOM has instructed program managers to comply with accepted policies and procedures associated with advances and claims. Program managers supervising employees who routinely submit inaccurate claims have started documenting for potential disciplinary action with an expectation that unacceptable practices will be corrected.

Recommendation to the Corporate Finance Bureau (SMD)

1.2.5 SMD should develop standard account verification control checklists for mission accountants to use when reviewing key repetitive transactions, such as travel and hospitality claims.

Mission Action and Timeframe

1.2.5 SMD will develop an action plan to address the issues raised in the report in conjunction with Financial Operations, International (SMFF) and Departmental Financial Reporting (SMFQ).

Political Economic Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The Political Economic (PE) Program in Miami is responsible for the state of Florida and the territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The PE Program is led by an *** FS-03 Manager and supported by an LE-09 Political Communications Officer, an LE-09 Cultural and Academic Affairs Officer and an LE-05 Program Assistant. The incumbent LE-09 Political Communications Officer is on *** and an LES from the Consular Program is acting as the temporary replacement. The LE-09 Cultural and Academic Officer and LE-05 Assistant have both joined within the past year. The Program’s financial resources for 2008/2009 have been allocated as per the table below.

Table 1: Program's financial resources
North American Partnership Platform (CAD)$50,185

2.1.2 As defined in the Mission Strategy, the Program works in cooperation with other Mission programs to strengthen cooperation with North American partners in support of shared goals, increase visibility of Canadian interests and develop stakeholder networks. The Program also plays a part in delivering services to Canadians, particularly in the areas of political and public affairs.

2.2 Management of the Program

2.2.1 The Program benefits from a good level of formal and informal communication, both within the Program and with other Mission programs. Weekly Program meetings are held based on an agenda, and minutes are taken and shared among staff. This is a best practice as it ensures discussion is focussed, and that key activities, decisions and responsibilities are formally communicated.

2.2.2 Cooperation with the International Business Development (IBD) Program is encouraged by the Program Manager (PM) and included as a component of the Cultural and Academic Affairs Officer’s PMP. PE staff are occasionally involved as observers in IBD Program meetings to ensure both programs are well informed of the other’s activities and priorities.

2.2.3 There is a good level of engagement and support from the HOM, and the Program leverages her position effectively to support PE activities. The HOM acts as a backup to the PM, makes herself available for key engagements and speaking opportunities and uses the expertise available within the Program to pursue Mission objectives.

2.2.4 The Program has developed a Strategic Communications document for use by all Mission programs. This is seen as a useful tool as it helps to promote key strategic and pre-approved messages during outreach activities. While the document has been shared with all Mission staff, it has yet to be implemented. Internal outreach and discussions would provide programs and staff with an opportunity to ask questions and identify how it can be put to use in terms of their activities. The Mission will have to ensure that the document remains current as events, priorities and key messages change.

2.3 Planning

2.3.1 The planning of activities for the Program is thorough and reflective of a strong knowledge of the environment in which the Mission operates.

2.3.2 The *** new Cultural and Academic Affairs Officer benefits from previous experience working in similar positions in Canadian missions in ***. The academic environment in Florida, however, is different from that encountered in *** this area. There is an opportunity to expand beyond traditional Canadian Studies promotion to incorporate activities that could help support IBD innovation objectives and expand networks.

2.4 Implementation and Performance Measurement

2.4.1 The Program has been performing strongly as evidenced by the quality of the events and initiatives in which it participates. It has sought and secured collaborative arrangements for events with other foreign missions in Miami and has liaised and cooperated with regional (Latin American) Canadian missions.

2.4.2 These events have allowed the Mission to leverage the networks and contacts of other local missions and broaden the audience for Canadian artists. They have also provided better value-for-money by sharing the costs of venues and promotional activities. An example of partnering with regional missions includes the Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance and the Consulate General of France at the Miami Book Fair International to constitute Le Pavillon Francophone. Another example is the Miami International Arts Cocktail where the Mission collaborated with nine other Consulates to produce a showcase of each country’s artists.

2.4.3 The Program has also worked with regional Canadian missions. An example of this is the HOM’s involvement as a guest speaker at the regional conference of Latin American HOMs. Given Miami’s unique nature as a gateway to Latin America, collaboration is essential to understanding and evaluating common issues and areas for further integration and mutual support.

2.4.4 Representatives of the New Way Forward (NWF), the PE Renewal initiative, recently visited the Mission to provide a presentation on the principles of the NWF. Staff had a general awareness of the potential changes related to this initiative, but had not fully incorporated these principles into their operations. Some elements had been actioned (i.e. the development of a list of alternate service providers), but the full suite of core principles had not been implemented. It is important that Program staff complete the on-line training module and discuss ways to incorporate the remaining elements of the NWF into plans and operations.

2.4.5 Program staff have been using the event evaluation template developed by HQ after key events. These evaluations are well detailed and help the program review the usefulness of contacts established and the way in which the event furthered Program and Mission objectives.

2.5 Recommendations for the Mission

2.5.1 The Strategic Communications document prepared by the PE Program should be formally rolled-out to all Mission programs and staff.

2.5.2 The Academic Relations Officer should consult with the IBD Program on innovation objectives in the development of her outreach plans.

2.5.3 Program staff should complete the NWF on-line tutorial and begin implementation of the core principles of the initiative into Program operations.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.5.1 In progress for June 30, 2009. The whole-of-Mission Strategic Communications document ("2008 Strategic Communications Plan") will be updated for 2009 to reflect changes in the environment and in Canadian government, DFAIT and Mission messaging and be formally rolled out in a meeting with each Mission program (IBD, Management and Consular, CBSA, RCMP).

2.5.2 Implemented and ongoing. The Academic Relations Officer regularly communicates with the individual officers in the IBD Program in the development of the university outreach plans; the PE Section has recently returned to the relevant officers in the IBD Section to be sure that we understand their innovation objectives and incorporate them into the academic outreach, particularly with high-capacity research institutions in Florida.

2.5.3 Implemented February 28, 2009. All staff in the PE Section successfully completed the New Way Forward on-line tutorial. We continue to apply the core principles of the initiative to our operations, and welcome further advice and support from the New Way Forward: Political Economic Renewal Initiative (GEMX).

International Business Development Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The IBD Program in Miami is managed by an FS-04 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC), and is supported by four Trade Commissioners (one FS-03 and three LE-09s) and two LE-05 Trade Commissioner Assistants (TCAs). Priority sectors include information technology, “green” construction, renewable energy, life sciences, the agri-food industry, bio-energy and foreign direct investment (FDI) attraction. Consumer goods, aerospace and defence are covered on a reactive basis. The Program is also participating in two global value chain (GVC) studies. Based on an analysis of TRIO, the Program’s performance has been above average for the United States, both in terms of number of clients served and services provided. The Program did, however, experience a slowdown in 2007 2008. The Program’s financial resources are as follows:

Table 2: IBD Program in Miami
Client Service Fund (CSF)$20,450
North American Partnership Platform (NAPP)$90,300

3.1.2 According to the 2008-2009 Business Plan, Florida has the fourth largest gross domestic product (GDP) in the U.S. ($600 billion) and is increasingly turning toward the knowledge economy; mainly life sciences, information technology, aeronautics and defence, and the professional and financial services fields. Canada is Florida’s largest international economic partner with trade in goods reaching $8.1 billion in 2007, a 23% increase over 2006. More than 200 Canadian companies are present in Florida and it is estimated that 404,750 jobs depend on trade with Canada. Tourism is also a major factor with approximately 2.5 million Canadian tourists spending approximately $2.1 billion in 2007.

3.2 Management of the Program

3.2.1 The STC has established clear objectives and communicates them effectively to his team. Staff are motivated and the team has a good reputation within the business community, as observed during interactions with local contacts. The HOM provides support to the IBD Program and has contributed significantly to its success.

3.2.2 Each member of the team has a PMP and a training program for the current year, with the exception of one local employee. While TRIO is used by most officers, one employee does not use TRIO on a regular basis. This shortcoming should be discussed with the employee, remedied and included in the PMP.

3.2.3 The Program has biweekly meetings at which officers report on the status of their respective files. The STC also holds regular individual meetings with his officers to review progress and provide advice. *** not only for recording his own activities, but also for management purposes. When used *** , TRIO can be an effective tool to track both officer and program performance by generating quarterly reports on services provided, outcalls, interactions, and the status of files handled, etc.

3.2.4 The InfoCentre functions efficiently both in sorting requests coming from general email inquiries and in managing the contact lists and relevant documents for officers. Most of the information is current and covers a good portion of the Program’s needs. The Inspection Team suggests, however, that the InfoCentre contact the regional offices to obtain promotional material from provinces and municipalities in the context of investment outcalls. The InfoCentre would improve its ability to track and monitor budgets if read-only access were provided to the Integrated Management System (IMS). An IMS coaching session should be held to ensure the TCAs are able to obtain the correct information.

3.2.5 The IBD Team cooperates *** with the Political Economic Program. This is facilitated by a good understanding of overall Mission objectives and the occasional presence of PE staff at IBD Program meetings. This ensures staff remain informed of activities and objectives, and identify ways to cooperate at the operational level. There is also an *** relationship with the Honorary Consul based in Tampa Bay, and officers make good use of his network to further program objectives.

3.2.6 There is room for improvement, however, in the Program’s relationship with the Administration Program ***. On the part of the IBD Program, greater attention should be paid to timely and accurate travel and hospitality claims. There should also be early consultation on major projects and contracting needs to ensure Administration remains informed of Program plans. A continuous, open dialogue should be established with the Administration Program to avoid misunderstandings.

3.2.7 In the context of Miami, there would be merit to revisiting the language profile of certain positions to include Spanish. It should be mentioned that most of the Program’s employees already have a working knowledge of Spanish.

3.3 Planning and Implementation

3.3.1 The integrative trade approach is well understood by the team and has been in place for several years. *** . At the time of the Inspection visit, the Program was in the process of developing an investment outcall program for all officers. The Program is involved in innovative sectors, which facilitates the horizontal collaboration between officers and the functional expert. However, the FS-03 would benefit from being included on communications related to the Technology Partnering Officer (TPO) network. This would help the Officer and the Program remain informed of science and technology programs and policies in Canada.

3.3.2 The choice of priority sectors was based on an analysis of market possibilities and Canadian capacity to take advantage of business opportunities. Officers have a good network of local and Canadian contacts, whether with regional offices, provinces or industry associations. The Program works closely with a number of missions in the U.S., and occasionally with those in Latin America and the Caribbean. An employee’s recent participation in a meeting in Guatemala with colleagues from Latin America resulted in reinforced ties between Miami and these Missions with regard to renewable energy.

3.3.3 Given the emphasis placed on the environment and clean energy by the new U.S. Administration, ***. At present, these two sectors are currently the responsibility of two separate officers. The STC should review the way the Environmental Industries are covered to ensure optimum use of the resources in the Section and provide seamless client service.

3.3.4 As renewable and bio-energy could be made a priority by numerous Canadian missions in U.S. it will be important for the Department to have a coordinated approach. The North American Commercial Affairs (GND) and Global Business Opportunities Bureaux (BBD) could develop an industry strategy modelled after the life sciences sector strategy. This would establish a common strategy and facilitate the development of networks among U.S. missions.

3.3.5 Several officers work with venture capital managers in their territory. They were, however, unaware of the existence of an officer embedded within the Canadian Venture Capital Association in Toronto.

3.3.6 At the time of the Inspection, officers were unaware of the memorandum dated January 9, 2009 regarding the challenges the recession has presented for the Trade Commissioner Service. The STC should communicate this message to the officers and ensure that it is incorporated into sector action plans.

3.4 Program Performance

3.4.1 A recent study completed by the Strategic Trade Planning and Performance Management Division (PDC) based on TRIO numbers, observed that Miami was one of a few Missions in the United States that has experienced constant growth in terms of clients served and services provided from 2005-2006 to 2006-2007. Although a portion of that increase can be attributed to the receipt of an additional resource in 2005 2006, Miami has remained above the U.S. average with regard to the ratio of services provided to number of employees.

3.4.2 Mid-year results for 2008-2009 indicated that the Program is well positioned to reach its objectives in terms of “out calls” (102 of the 157 expected). The number of services provided, however, present some challenges (68 of the 187 expected), based on MARCUS (Measuring Achievements and Results by Canada in the U.S.) performance figures compiled by HQ. The STC was aware of this challenge and monitors the indicators closely with the HOM.

3.5 Gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean

3.5.1 Miami is home to a large number of companies that serve Latin America and the Caribbean. A study commissioned by the Mission identified more than 725 companies and trading houses in Miami that serve Latin American and Caribbean markets. This presence makes Miami a hub for logistics and professional services (lawyers, architects, engineers, etc.). This gateway role has not gone unnoticed by the Canadian business community, as the above-mentioned study is one of the most frequently downloaded documents on the Virtual Trade Commissioner website in the U.S. Miami’s attractiveness is bolstered by its stable *** legal system and a complete range of professional services. Recently signed free trade agreements with Colombia, Peru and Costa Rica, and negotiations with the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and Panama should present new business opportunities for Canada, and it will be important to analyse Miami’s role in this.

3.5.2 The Program has taken steps to obtain extra resources for better coverage of this trading hub and to maximize the economic benefits for Canada. Additional resources will be required as the Program is not resourced to meet the needs of its territory while at the same time addressing the needs of a Latin America trading hub. The resource requirements, however, would be modest and could include an officer and an assistant.

3.5.3 Of primary importance will be the governance structure under which such a resource may operate. It will be important for the North American (GNM) and Latin American and Caribbean (GLM) branches to identify what business model would best suit the objectives of the position. In particular, it will be important to determine:

  • Whether the position is a Latin American or North American resource;
  • What accountability this position would have to the HOM and STC in Miami;
  • How the resource would interact with Latin American and Caribbean missions; and,
  • The appropriate travel budget to ensure the position is able to carry out its mandate without adversely affecting Miami’s ability to cover its territory.

Whichever model is chosen, careful attention will be required to avoid a confusing reporting relationships with Headquarters.

3.6 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

3.6.1 The STC should incorporate the use of TRIO into all staff PMPs.

3.6.2 The STC should expand the existing performance measurement tools to include quarterly TRIO reports.

3.6.3 The Program should examine how the Environmental Industries is covered.

3.6.4 The STC should work with the Administration Program to ensure that his staff are properly aware of departmental and Mission policy requirements, particularly regarding travel, hospitality and contracting.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.6.1 This will be incorporated into staff PMPs for fiscal year (FY) 2009-2010 (May 30, 2009).

3.6.2 Implemented April 7, 2009. The STC has begun pulling consolidated reports from TRIO and will reflect "quarterly TRIO review" explicitly in the business plan to be reviewed by all IBD staff.

3.6.3 Implemented April 2009. The "bio-energy file" is already under one officer (completed). With regard to the "alternative energy" file, the STC has met and discussed with individual officers, North America Commercial Relations (GNC) and Investor Services (BIS) the appropriate breakdown and division of responsibilities for what will now be the "CleanTech/Alternative Energy" file (solar and wind complementing green building) and the bio-energy file (agricultural and bio-based energy only). Both officers will deal with the full spectrum of integrative trade within these sectors.

3.6.4 This has been discussed with each staff member and will be explicitly documented inside their PMPs for FY 2009-2010. (May 30, 2009).

Recommendations for GND

3.6.5 The United States Bureau should ensure that the Trade Commissioner responsible for innovation in Miami becomes a part of the Technology Partnering Officer (TPO) network.

3.6.6 GND should review the merit of adding Spanish to the linguistic profile of IBD positions in Miami.

3.6.7 GND, in consultation with BBD, should consider developing a renewable and bio-energy strategy for the U.S. to ensure a consistent approach and to help build networks among missions.

3.6.8 In event that a Latin American Gateway role is assigned to Miami, GND should engage with Latin American and Caribbean Branch to determine the most appropriate business model.

GND Actions and Timeframes

3.6.5 The TPO network would greatly benefit from increased engagement of the Miami Trade Commissioner responsible for innovation. GND will ensure that all trade commissioners in the North America IBD network that have a role in promoting innovation linkages are more integrated into the TPO dialogue and action coordination network. This action will be carried out once the new crew of TPOs arrives at U.S. missions during the 2009 rotation and once they have begun to integrate their work with the wider innovation-focussed officer network.

3.6.6 GND will consult with Assignment and Pool Management Division (HFP), NAPP partners and Centre for Language Training (CFSL) to explore the merit of adding Spanish to the linguistic profile of IBD positions in Miami. This action will be carried out by October 2009, in time to prepare for the next rotation.

3.6.7 GND is already collaborating with BBD to support the development of a renewable energy strategy for the U.S. to ensure a consistent approach and to help build networks among missions. Under the CleanTech umbrella, North America Commercial Relations (GNC) already coordinates networks that cover green building, renewable energy and extractive industries (oil and gas). In collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), there exists a network of U.S. officers that are focussing on bio-energy-focussed opportunities. This work is ongoing.

3.6.8 GND supports this recommendation.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is managed by the AS-05 Deputy Management Consular Officer (DMCO) with oversight by the MCO. The DMCO is supported by an LE-08 Consular Officer and five LE-06 Consular Program Assistants, one of whom is currently on a acting assignment with the PE Program. The Consular Program is responsible for the state of Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. It is experiencing increased demand for services. It is estimated that over 2.5 million Canadians visited Florida in 2007. In particular, the growing Canadian “Snowbird” population presents unique challenges to the Program.

4.1.2 In 2008, the Program processed 2,872 regular, 298 temporary, and two emergency passports. On an annual basis, the Program also processes approximately nine notary services and 377 Letters of Facilitation. The Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) indicates that there are 335 Canadians registered in the Mission’s areas of accreditation. The Mission estimates the actual number of Canadian residents to range from 500,000 to 1,700,000, depending upon the season.

4.1.3 In October 2007, Passport Canada (PPTC) funded four LES passport examiner positions in Miami to help address the large volumes of passport applications received as a result of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). This pilot project was considered to be a success in terms of client satisfaction and employee morale. Two of these positions have been made permanent and were to be staffed following the Inspection.

4.2 Management of the Program

4.2.1 In preparation for Phase II of WHTI, the Mission is proactively soliciting clients to renew their passports. They are doing so by partnering with major Canadian businesses in Florida to hold passport clinics. The Program has also developed an outreach strategy and is using speaking engagements, organizations (such as the Canadian Snowbird Association) and the Connect2Canada website to disseminate information. This strategy has been developed to reduce the high demand and corresponding backlog that was experienced during the implementation of Phase I of WHTI.

4.2.2 The Mission has developed a Hurricane Contingency Plan that sets out procedures for business continuity, personal safety of staff and safekeeping of Crown-owned assets. The plan is considered to be a best practice and remains current via interactions with local authorities and experts in emergency preparedness. The plan is designed to ensure that business can be resumed as soon as possible after a natural disaster.

4.2.3 The Consular Officer is responsible for establishing and maintaining the majority of Program contacts. A database should be created to store and share these contacts within the Program. Standard protocols could also be documented to ensure appropriate entry of names and use of contact information.

4.2.4 An outreach schedule was developed for 2008-2009. Consular staff rotate participation in outreach events and serving clients at the Mission, ensuring all staff have an opportunity to perform both functions. An all-Mission calendar of events is currently being developed by the DMCO to ensure all programs are aware of upcoming events.

4.2.5 The client feedback form is generally being distributed at outreach events and with passport application forms. The practice amongst all staff, however, was not consistent.

4.3 Client Service Delivery

4.3.1 ***.

4.3.2 As a part of the passport pilot project, the Mission began accepting credit cards as a form of payment for consular service fees. Both clients and staff have experienced positive results, making payments easier and reducing the risk related to handling cash. Staff should be reminded, however, that other forms of payment, including Canadian currency, are acceptable.

4.3.3 Service standards and fee schedules were not posted in both official languages in the consular booth. As a best practice, a sample of an official receipt should also be provided. As there should be conformity regarding what is posted by Consular programs abroad, the Consular Operations Bureau and Passport Canada should work together to develop a standard form for use at all missions. A recommendation to this effect was made in the 2009 Inspection Report on Atlanta.

4.3.4 Headquarters expressed concerns regarding data integrity in consular reporting systems. The Consular Management and Information Program (COMIP) figures were considerably higher than those reported in the case management component of the consular software package (CAMANT). That data now reflects the actual number of cases following clarification by the Consular Informatics Division (CLC).

4.4 Internal Controls

4.4.1 Both the DMCO and the Consular Officer are exercising the passport approval function. As per instructions from Passport Canada, and with the exception of emergency situations, only certified CBS should verify original documents and approve passport applications prior to passport issuance. Given that the DMCO is often out of the office conducting outreach, the MCO should provide back-up.

4.4.2 The passport inventory is reconciled *** by the DMCO and *** with the HOM. The Mission should ensure, however, that the *** reconciliation is completed in the presence of a second CBS. Inventory of related documents and supplies was physically counted and reconciled as part of the Inspection and there was no variation in inventory levels.

4.4.3 Logbooks are currently used to track the use of working stock and include client names and document numbers. ***.

4.4.4 ***.

4.4.5 ***.

4.4.6 Approximately one out of every ten cancelled temporary passports are being returned to the client. All cancelled temporary passports should be retained by the Mission when exchanged for the regular passport, with an exception for certain cases, such as the presence of a valid visa in the temporary passport.

4.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

4.5.1 A consular contact database should be developed, maintained and shared among all staff.

4.5.2 Client feedback forms should be distributed to clients consistently by the Mission.

4.5.3 ***

4.5.4 Service standards, fee schedules and a sample of an official receipt should be posted in both official languages in the Consular booth.

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

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

4.5.7 ***

4.5.8 ***

4.5.9 ***

4.5.10 All temporary passports should be retained by the Mission, with the exception of certain cases regarding visas with remaining validity.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.5.1 In progress for summer 2009. The Consular Section has a WordPerfect document that provides names and addresses of Consular contacts. The document is amended annually. The Section will examine "Outlook" and other existing remedies to come up with a shared folder for all Consular staff. Until DFAIT develops a Departmentally approved contact management software, maintaining contact lists will continue to be an issue.

4.5.2 Implemented February 2009. Feedback forms are now available in the Consular waiting room. In addition, a poster advertising the Consular feedback form is posted in the waiting room. Feedback forms are being distributed with mail-outs.

4.5.3 In progress for May 2009. The Consular Policy and Advocacy Bureau (CLD) has been requested to provide the Mission with the policy and procedure documents on LOFs as it pertains to the U.S., specifically Miami. Upon receipt, the Mission will ensure compliance with policy, or obtain an official waiver from CLD.

4.5.4 Implemented February 2009. Service standards and fee schedules have been made available in the Consular waiting room in both official languages. A sample of an official receipt has also been posted.

4.5.5 In progress for April 2009. Given the volume of applications processed in Miami, ***, will allow us to conform to the approval policy. In the meantime the DMCO will approve passports.

4.5.6 Implemented April 2009.

4.5.7 Implemented March 2009. Consular staff now include this information in ***.

4.5.8 Implemented April 2009. An inventory has been created, and will be reconciled at the start of each fiscal year.

4.5.9 Implemented March 2009. ***..

4.5.10 Consular staff have been reminded that all temporary passports should be retained by Mission.

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Administration Program is managed by an AS-06 MCO and supported by six staff: a Locally-engaged Information Technology Professional (LE-08), an Accountant (LE-07), an Office Manager (LE-07), an Administration Assistant (LE-05) and an HOM Driver. Program meetings are held bi-monthly and minutes are taken. Program planning is guided by the budget exercise, discussed in Section 5.4 of the Report, along with the cyclical requirements of each function. As a small team, the staff show flexibility and react to unexpected demands

5.1.2 Modelled on the Washington Intranet site, Miami has recently created it’s own site where it posts minutes of committee meetings and policies in order to improve transparency and service to clients.

5.1.3 The Mission has doubled in size over the last five years and therefore has had to implement more structures and processes. It has been a challenge for staff to adapt to a more procedural based environment and for Administration staff to find a balance between control and client service. The Program has started to provide training sessions on processes (for example contracting and travel/hospitality claim completion) which have generally been well received. Continued education/outreach to clients will be key so that all staff understand their responsibilities and accountabilities. As five years have passed since the establishment of Mission service standards, these should be reviewed and reissued, so that both staff and clients have a clear understanding of time lines as well as roles and responsibilities of all parties.

5.1.4 Due to performance issues currently being addressed by the Mission, the Program has re-allocated roles and responsibilities among staff. As a result, the Team was unable to make an assessment regarding the adequacy of the Program’s structure. Once performance issues have been addressed, responsibilities should be returned to the original positions. The Mission should take care not to place individuals in the position of being over-tasked without appropriate compensation.

5.1.5 The Administration Program has attempted to introduce a paperless filing system for records. This was cumbersome as some information was stored in paper files and some electronically. Some documentation was either not immediately available, or took significant time to assemble. As a result, the Inspection Team encountered difficulty in reviewing documentation, assessing processes and validating adherence to procedures. At a minimum, permanent classification, staffing and contracting files containing key documents should be maintained in one location for transparency and ease of reference.

5.1.6 The MCO has been providing the DMCO with exposure to certain administrative activities. The current process is not documented, and a structured mentoring plan should be developed to ensure that the DMCO can exercise key functions during MCO absences.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.7 Classification, staffing and contracting files should be maintained in an easily accessible and complete file.

5.1.8 Service standards should be reviewed, updated, approved by the CMM and re-communicated.

5.1.9 A structured mentoring plan for the DMCO regarding administration and other duties should be developed.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.7 Implemented March 2009. Classification, staffing and contracting files are all maintained in the unclassified registry. Electronic files for each position are also available as duplicates and for ease of reference and access under certain conditions.

5.1.8 In progress for May 2009. Service standards dating back to April 1, 2004 have been located and will be amended, approved by CMM and re-communicated to all staff.

5.1.9 Completed. Training in progress.

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 The HR function in the Mission is managed by the MCO who is assisted by an LE-05 Administrative Assistant. Given the Administrative Program’s attempt to move to a more paperless filing structure, it was difficult to assess staffing processes and validate procedures. However, a few points were noticed:

  • Internal candidates who applied to staffing and classification actions were not informed in writing of the results and their right to grieve;
  • Evaluation results of staffing actions were not consistently signed by all interviewers; and,
  • HOM approval along with the decision and name of selected candidate was not always kept on file.

5.2.2 The Mission is currently using Washington’s template for Letters of Offer, which does not include all the paragraphs required. The Mission should obtain the most recent version of the Letter of Offer template from the Locally Engaged Staff Relations Bureau (ALD).

5.2.3 The LES arrival checklist developed by the Mission is a good practice and includes items related to security, HR, Information technology and administration. This checklist could be expanded to include acknowledgement of the Code of Ethics, receiving health insurance plan and pension scheme information. A signed copy of this checklist should remain on the individual’s personnel file.

5.2.4 It was brought to the attention of the Inspection Team that varying payroll practices for Canadian LES were observed at posts in the United States ***. Following further research and after contacting HQ,***. This problem has since been resolved, but it is not known if other U.S. missions are following the appropriate procedures.

5.2.5 There is a perception of favouritism among some staff, and acting opportunities appear to not being transparently awarded. Therefore, the Mission should make an effort to inform staff of these opportunities as they occur and communicate the rationale for certain decisions, including those that are at the discretion of Mission Management.

5.2.6 The Mission has also made efforts to provide opportunities for spousal employment. However, the Mission has to be sensitive to perceived conflicts of interest and the appropriateness of reporting relationships. These perceptions could impact staff morale and the working environment in general.

5.2.7 During the meeting with CBS, concerns related to a posting in the U.S. were raised. Many of these concerns are similar to those found in other U.S. missions:

  • There is “culture shock” even though there are similarities in lifestyle;
  • The administrative support is limited in comparison to a more “foreign” posting due to private leasing, availability of safe transportation, etc.; and,
  • Given the North American environment and culture, at times it is challenging to create a Canadian community within a mission.

5.2.8 During the meeting with the CBS spouses, concerns were raised regarding the following items:

  • Restricted access to official language training;
  • Inability to access pension plans either in Canada or in countries where spouses have worked;
  • Need for a concise guide for CBS spouses (i.e. who to contact for guidance on getting professional membership fees paid);
  • Insufficient time (one week) for a house hunting trip to find a home, assess schools and complete all required paperwork;
  • Lack of support felt during the 2008 posting cycle (i.e. last minute posting confirmations); and,
  • Limited assistance when returning back to Canada.

5.2.9 While the current Mission Report did highlight some of the challenges of living in Miami, certain aspects may have to be strengthened (general need for families to have two cars due to lack of public transit and the requirement for cash deposits as U.S. social security numbers are required for credit checks). Mission staff should be more proactive in providing advice to newcomers, especially during the early days of the posting where stress can be higher. This could be achieved through:

  • Providing a list of doctors and contractors;
  • Holding a welcome session with CBS and their families to go over the incoming checklist, inform them of services provided by Mission as well as to discuss general administrative procedures;
  • Soliciting advice from recent arrivals on the quality of information provided; and,
  • Using a “buddy system” to provide incoming staff or spouses with guidance and advice on living in Miami.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.10 The Mission should contact ALD for the most recent letter of offer template.

5.2.11 The LES new employee checklist should be expanded to include employee acknowledgement of the Code of Ethics, and receipt of health insurance plan and pension scheme information. A signed copy of this checklist should remain on the individuals personnel file.

5.2.12 The Mission should update and strengthen, where necessary, the Mission Report and any pre-posting information packages.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.10 All templates are those that have been provided by the mission in Washington for all U.S. missions. The Program has a number of templates for letters of offer depending upon the type of employment (emergency, term, indeterminate) and depending upon the nationality of the applicant (Canadian, American, third country national in consideration of their tax situation). The Mission has reviewed the ALD version and made an amendment to include a paragraph regarding the acknowledgement of the Code of Ethics as recommended by ZIV and have shared that information with the mission in Washington.

5.2.11 Implemented March 2009. The letter of offer template has been amended to account for acknowledgement of receipt of the Code of Ethics. The LES new employee checklist provides for confirmation by employees of the receipt of health insurance and pension scheme information under the section labelled "Employee Benefits Orientation". Signed copies are on LES personnel files.

5.2.12 Implemented March 2009. The Mission Report has been updated and for the first time translated in the French language. The reports were placed on the HQ web site on April 6, 2009. The reports are also available on the Mission Intranet site. Many website links are included in the report to provide new CBS with a wealth of information.

Recommendation to Locally Engaged Staff Relations Bureau (ALD)

5.2.13 ALD should review Canadian LES payroll practices in the U.S. to ensure that practices and processes are consistent and correct among all U.S. missions.

ALD Action and Timeframe

5.2.13 ALD has been following up with the mission in Washington to determine the payroll practices in U.S. missions for Canadian LES. The payroll software *** will be introduced in all missions across the U.S. in the 2009-2010 fiscal year. The introduction of that tool will standardize payroll practices in all U.S. missions.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The MCO has overall responsibility for physical resources, with day-to-day operations handled by the Office Manager. Due to performance management challenges mentioned in Section 5.1***. The Mission’s property portfolio includes a Crown-leased Chancery and Official Residence (OR). The nine staff quarters (SQs) are all privately leased, alleviating the Administration Program from a significant workload.

5.3.2 The lease for the current OR expires in ***, HQ will have to ensure that funding for ongoing maintenance and capital replacements is provided. The distribution account for the OR is up-to-date, but the Chancery inventory needs to be updated.

5.3.3 A visit to private-lease SQs confirmed that these were of a reasonable size and configuration. In general, staff reported that they were happy with the private leasing arrangement and were able to find suitable accommodation within the rent ceiling. ***. The Mission has, however, been occupied over the last few months with searching for a suitable ***. If a decision is made to buy SQs, the human resources provided to the Administration Program to maintain them will also have to be adjusted.

5.3.4 While the Mission Housing Committee (MHC) is active, ***. While not mandatory, *** should be present to provide advice and guidance, as well as serve as the primary liaison with HQ regarding MHC questions and concerns. A spouse should also be encouraged to participate in the MHC.

5.3.5 Through a review of disposal files, the Inspection Team observed that the HOM was not signing the official disposal records. All disposals records should be signed by the HOM, or the appropriate HQ unit, as defined in the Materiel Management Manual, Annex A: Authorities for the Disposal of Crown Assets at Missions. Any donations exceeding $1,000 must be referred to ARD for approval.

5.3.6 The Mission pays for services provided at the OR (cable, satellite, internet, phone) and requests reimbursement from the HOM for upgrades to the basic packages and for personal charges. Per the Property Manual, all employees are responsible for monthly user fees for cable television, satellite and internet services. These costs are compensated for under the Foreign Service Directives and the Mission should request reimbursement for all personal costs.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.7 The Chancery inventory should be updated and maintained.

5.3.8 *** more active advisory role in the Housing Committee and serve as the primary liaison with HQ.

5.3.9 The HOM, or appropriate HQ group, should sign off all disposal records, in line with the Materiel Management Manual, Annex A: Authorities for the Disposal of Crown Assets at Missions.

5.3.10 The Mission should review its process to ensure that reimbursements are made for all personal services provided at the OR.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.7 The Chancery inventory and the Chancery Works of Art inventory are up to date.

5.3.8 The Chair of the Housing Committee has been advised to invite ***to Housing Committee meetings. To attend the next meeting April 2009.

5.3.9 In progress for April 2009. All disposal records for the past three years have been reviewed and sign off by the HOM will be requested the week of April 13, 2009.

5.3.10 Completed March 2009. This pertains to the HOM only as all other leases are private leases and CBS pay for their own monthly user fees. The Mission has reviewed user fees for the Official Residence and confirms that the HOM pays for long distance phone charges and charges over and above the standard monthly fee for basic cable. This was initially decided in 2005 as the OR acts as an alternate site in the Hurricane Contingency Plan and requires a certain level of service to serve that purpose. ***.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The MCO has been delegated as the Mission Finance Officer (MFO) and is assisted by an LE-07 Accountant. The LE-05 Administrative Assistant’s current job description indicates that 55 percent of her time should be devoted to financial tasks. This is important as it provides for a better segregation of duties. ***. This limits her role as a back-up and, as a result, no payments are made when the Accountant is absent. *** so has not been able to have signing authorities delegated to him.

5.4.2 In order to reduce the number of incomplete/inaccurate travel and hospitality claims, the Accountant provided training sessions to staff regarding proper completion. With that same goal in mind, the Accountant is scheduled to visit the Honorary Consul in Tampa to provide similar training. The Program has also created a flowchart outlining the steps and responsibilities for the contracting process. Continued outreach of this sort is a best practice and should be continued.

5.4.3 For budgeting purposes, the MCO uses a spreadsheet, the Mission Budget Expenditure Plan (MBEP), to consolidate recurring expenses and comparison to the reference level amounts. The CMM reviews each general ledger item to determine the final allocations. For fiscal year 2008-2009, the reduction of the Mission’s reference level in addition to the new budget split of common services and program expenditures limited flexibility and made planning difficult.

5.4.4 In order to improve efficiencies, the Mission plans to provide an acquisition card to the Locally-engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP) to facilitate purchasing. The Mission should also examine increasing it’s use of Electronic Funds Transfers (EFTs) rather than cheques. Instances were noticed where the terms of payment in a contract were not followed. In one case, a member of the staff made an early payment with a personal credit card. Any payment made based on a contract should be made according to the payment terms.

5.4.5 Monthly budget reports are provided to each program, as well as on an ad-hoc basis. Providing read-only IMS access to program assistants would allow each program to monitor its funding more closely.

5.4.6 The Contract Review Board (CRB) meets virtually to review contracts over the $5,000 threshold. As a best practice the CRB should meet as a group quarterly to review a list of contracts awarded below the threshold for trends or potential contract splitting. A Spousal/Dependant Contract Committee is in place and meets on an ad-hoc basis. A contract recently let to a CBS spouse did not, however, go through this Committee.

5.4.7 As mentioned in Section 5.1, the Administration Program’s attempt to move to paperless record keeping created challenges in conducting file review, including contracting processes. While some documents were eventually provided, the Inspection Team expects to see well organized contracting files that document and display adherence to contracting policy.

5.4.8 The Office Manager currently enters contracts over $5,000 into the Materiel Management (MM) module. All contracts should be entered into the MM module and the Mission should develop a plan to reach this goal. As only the Office Manager is able to create these entries, the Mission should designate and train a backup.

5.4.9 During the passport pilot initiative, the Mission began using credit cards for client payments. The amounts are fully credited to the bank account for easy reconciliation and at the end of the month a percentage of the revenue collected is charged for the service. Both the Accountant and the Consular staff expressed satisfaction with the use of credit cards for improving client service and efficiency.

5.4.10 As discussed in Mission Management, oversights were observed regarding the application of account verification controls on travel and hospitality claims. Expenses that were not eligible or not properly supported were accepted and ultimately signed off by those delegated Section 34 and 33 signing authority. In other cases, partial expenses or receipts requiring explanation were not noted on the forms by clients. File reviews and discussions with staff indicated that such questions were not raised by accounting staff. An expanded sample of three months of Mission accounts was reviewed after the completion of fieldwork and the problems identified above were confined to travel claims.

5.4.11 To improve controls and efficiency the following procedural enhancements should be instituted.

  • Two employees should count deposits and sign prior to the courier pick-up.
  • The monthly bank statement should be sent directly to the MCO and not the Accountant.
  • Section 34 and 33 signatures should be signed on either the claim form (i.e. hospitality form EXT-904) or the IMS printout, not both.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.12 The Mission should enrol the Administrative Assistant in the LES Accountants and Assistant Accountants course.

5.4.13 The DMCO should take the delegated signing authorities course.

5.4.14 The Administration Program should arrange for program assistants to be provided with read-only IMS access and a training session should be held.

5.4.15 The CRB should meet as a group on a quarterly basis to spot check contracts below the threshold and review the contract register.

5.4.16 The Spousal-Dependant Contract Committee should consistently review all dependent or spousal contracts and maintain a written record of decisions.

5.4.17 The Administration Program should designate and train a backup for the entry of contracts into the MM module.

5.4.18 The Administration Program should have two employees count and sign a deposit record prior to the courier pick-up.

5.4.19 The Mission should instruct the bank to send the monthly bank statement directly to the MCO.

5.4.20 Section 34 and 33 should only be exercised on one document (invoice, claim or IMS printout).

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.12 As soon as approved by HQ. The Mission has applied in the past to enrol the Administrative Assistant in the LES Accountants and Assistant Accountant's Course, but has so far been refused. The Mission will continue to apply.

5.4.13 In progress for May 1, 2009. Scheduled for the week of April 27, 2009 in Ottawa.

5.4.14 In progress for September 2009. The Mission’s program managers and the Mission Training Officer have been made aware of this training which is now available via distance learning by Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI). The MCO supports the training. All program assistants with IMS read-access requirements have been asked to take training to allow IMS access codes and background. This will be supported by coaching from the Accountant and Administration staff.

5.4.15 Noted and in progress for May 2009.

5.4.16 In progress for May 2009. The Spousal-Dependant Contract Committee has been rolled into the responsibility of the Mission Contract Review Committee. A written record of all decisions will be placed on the Miami Intranet site and the CRB file.

5.4.17 Implemented April 2009. The MCO has designated the Administrative Program Assistant (PA) to back up the Accountant and the Office Manager and the Accountant to back up the Administrative PA. Additional training will be required (see 5.4.12).

5.4.18 Noted and implemented April 2009.

5.4.19 Implemented April 2009. The bank has been informed and are complying.

5.4.20 Implemented March 2009. EXT1558 is being used for sections 33 and 34 sign off.

5.5 Information Management - Information Technology (IM-IT)

5.5.1 Overall, the IM-IT function at the Mission was providing effective service. There is room, however, to enhance formal planning and management oversight; notably the creation of a Mission IM-IT Committee. The Committee would help with longer-term strategies with respect to Information Management (e.g. the roll out of Infobank) and IT requirements (disposals, acquisitions and general Mission-wide IT training). The LEITP acknowledged that the oversight and support provided by HQ for technical matters and by the MCO for more general management issues were appropriate and ensured a well functioning operation.

5.5.2 At present, many of the services provided are considered low priority interventions, such as basic software support. In cooperation with PMs, staff that have routine problems related to computer literacy should be identified. These needs should be incorporated into the Mission-wide training plan and these employees should be directed to available tools (e.g. help functions, on-line tutorials offered by the Department) rather than always relying on the LEITP to address routine or basic needs.

5.5.3 Remedy and the IT Asset Management System (ITAMS) are supported by the LEITP and the Mission is seen to be proactive on identifying IT assets for disposal and seeking appropriate HQ approvals.

5.5.4 ***.This situation should be rectified as soon as possible.

5.5.5 Satellite phones are tested and can be used if necessary. ***.

5.5.6 A file cleanup day was recently held by the Mission and is considered a good practice. This is important as proper record keeping can be overlooked in organizations when workloads are high. As pointed out in Section 5.1, there is a need for improved file organization and maintenance. The continuation of this practice on a regular basis will help to ensure that files are organized and that disposals occur where required and permitted by policy.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.5.7 The Mission should consider implementing an IM-IT Committee.

5.5.8 Basic computer literacy and IM-IT training needs should be identified and included in the Mission-wide training plan.

5.5.9 ***.

5.5.10 The Mission should arrange for one satellite phone to be maintained on site and the other to be stored at an alternate location.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.7 The CMM has considered this recommendation and has decided to continue to manage IM-IT issues at the CMM.

5.5.8 In progress for May 2009. Recommendation forwarded to the Mission Training Officer for implementation.

5.5.9 Implemented March 2009. ***

5.5.10 Implemented April 2009. ***

Appendix A: Mission Resources Fact Sheet

Table 3: Mission Resources Fact Sheet of Physical Resources
Physical ResourcesOther
AssetsCrown OwnedCrown LeasedPrivate Leased
Official Residence-1-
Staff Quarters--9

Table 4: Mission Resources Fact Sheet of Financial Information
Financial Information 2008-2009
Operating Budget (N001)$1,700,000
Capital Budget (N005)$54,500
CBS Salary Budget (N011)$655,500
LES Salary Budget (N012)$1,139,566

Appendix B: Organization Chart

Organization Chart

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