Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

international.gc.ca

Inspection of the Canadian Embassy Tunis

PDF Version (315 KB) *

March 25 to 31, 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 Tunis from March 25 to 31, 2009. A previous audit of these programs took place in 2000.

The Embassy in Tunis is a medium sized mission with seven Canada based staff (CBS) and twenty-nine Locally engaged staff (LES). The Mission benefits from strong leadership, engaged program managers and dedicated staff at all levels.

Mission plans were in-line with Government of Canada and, departmental objectives and priorities. The Head of Mission (HOM) plays a very active role in all programs. This is due to the loss of the Political Economic Program Manager (PM) position in 2007, the 0.5 full time equivalent (FTE) Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) PM position and an FS-01 DFAIT position that liaised with the African Development Bank (ADB). The ADB was temporarily relocated from Abidjan to Tunis in 2003. Resources assigned to liaising with the ADB moved to Tunis as a result. These positions were terminated in mid-2008. The CIDA position was a fifty percent funded position (the other fifty percent came from DFAIT) and was a joint CIDA and IBD PM position. An LE-08 position has been created to replace the FS-01 position that liaised with the African Development Bank.

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

The Political Economic Program has undergone a significant restructuring since the loss of the PM. Its signature activity is the annual Salon d’Education, which brings together Canadian universities and prospective Tunisian students. It also does media monitoring, limited cultural events and visits support.

The IBD Program has seen many changes over recent years. There has been frequent turnover in the Program Manager/Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) position in the past two years. The loss of the CBS CIDA role and the FS-01 position also had impacts. That considered, the Program is well managed, focussed on results and benefits from the interest and involvement of the HOM.

The Consular Program, including the passport element, has a fairly low volume but is well managed. The possibility that direct flights from Tunis to Montreal may soon be in place (projected for 2011) could increase Consular workload in the near future.

Administration functions, led by the Management and Consular Officer (MCO) are also well executed although the Program has a high workload. Some procedural recommendations for improvement are noted with a view to enhancing an already sound operation. The imminent move to a new chancery (and the potential increase in the number of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) positions) will compound this situation. As the workload related to finalizing the construction of and moving to the new chancery increases, the Mission will likely require additional support in the form of a temporary duty MCO or Deputy MCO. Also, should the Mission staff increase through the implementation a CIC program expansion, additional support resources could be required.

A total of 50 recommendations are raised in the report; 47 are addressed to the Mission and three 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 29 have been implemented. For each of the remaining 21 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

This Inspection Report finalized on July 16, 2009 and approved by the Departmental Evaluations Committee on September 2, 2009.

Mission Management

1.1. Overview

1.1.1 The Embassy in Tunis is staffed with seven Canada based staff (CBS) and 29 Locally engaged staff (LES). The Mission is responsible for program delivery in Tunisia. It also provides some support to the mission in Tripoli. Mission management plans to review the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in the fall of 2009 with arrival of new heads of mission (HOMs) in both posts, as there have been changes in both locations since its last review in 2005.

1.1.2 Overall, planning and good collaboration among programs have resulted in a well functioning Mission. The main priority over the last few years has been the construction project to build a new chancery which should be ready for occupancy in early 2010. This new chancery has been designed to address the functionality, security and health and safety limitations of the current location.

1.1.3 The Mission’s committee structure includes: a Committee on Mission Management (CMM), Program Coordination Committee, Classification, Housing, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and LES. There is also an Official Languages Co-ordinator, a Training Co-ordinator and a Contract Review Board (CRB). The CMM (consisting of the Head of Mission (HOM) and program managers) and the Program Coordination Committee (which includes the CMM members and program LES) meet on alternate weeks and distribute minutes to all staff.

1.1.4 Communication was highlighted by staff as strong with regular meetings between the HOM and the LES Committee, all-staff gatherings, program meetings and weekly bi-laterals between the HOM and program managers (PMs). Messages of general interest are also forwarded to all staff.

1.1.5 Designated staff within the Mission have the capacity to provide services in both official languages as well as in Arabic. The majority of signage in the Chancery is in both official languages but a few signs require translation.

1.1.6 The HOM’s staff includes the AS-02 HOM Assistant, the HOM Driver and four Official Residence (OR) staff (Majordomo, Cook, Cleaner and Gardener).

Recommendations to the Mission

1.1.7 The Mission, in conjunction with the mission in Tripoli, should review and update the MOU between the two missions to reflect current arrangements and expectations. The MOU should be revisited annually.

1.1.8 The Mission should ensure all signage is in both official languages.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.1.7 In progress for December 2009. The section of the MOU dealing with visa services was reviewed in April 2009. Other sections of the MOU will be reviewed with the mission in Tripoli a few months after the new HOM arrives in Tripoli.

1.1.8 Implemented April 2009. The example identified during the visit of the Inspection Team was corrected. The Mission's Official Languages Co-ordinator will ensure that regular checks are conducted.

Political Economic Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The Political Economic (PE) Program in Tunis is overseen by the HOM who is supported by an LE-07 Communications, Education and Culture Officer and an LE-05 Communications, Education and Culture Assistant. The CBS Political Economic Program Manager (PM) position was deleted from the Mission’s resource profile in 2007.

2.1.2 The focus of the Program, formally entitled the Communications, Education and Culture Program at the Mission, is on Public Affairs programming, communications, media and political analysis, visits support and education promotion.

2.2 Management of the Program

2.2.1 The loss of the CBS PM in 2007 necessitated a greater involvement on the part of the HOM. He now directly supervises the employees in the Program and takes an active role in the management of planning, execution and performance measurement.

2.2.2 Upon the loss of the PM position, the remaining LES position job descriptions were revised and reclassified to reflect the need for the staff to work more autonomously and at a higher level. The transition has taken some time to achieve. While the HOM does provide regular feedback and direction, not surprisingly it was difficult for the LES to adapt to working without continuous direction and supervision.

2.2.3 The Mission currently has two LES positions who are working on legacy bilateral and current regional Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) projects. They currently manage the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) ***. In its current structure, the Program it will not be able to assume this additional responsibility without compromising current activities. A contractual resource may be required to manage the CFLI.

2.3 Planning

2.3.1 Planning for the Program is focussed on the larger event for which it is responsible. The Education Salon is the largest single event that the Program manages. Plans for cultural events are handled on a more reactive basis as opportunities present themselves. Media and political monitoring and analysis is done on an ongoing basis.

2.4 Implementation

2.4.1 Program activities are limited by resource availability, both human and financial. That considered, the Program is still able to perform strongly in the areas that it focusses on. The Education Salon, the marquee activity for the Program, is a well attended event, both by the Canadian university and Tunisian student populations. There are approximately 2,000 Tunisians studying in Canada, and approximately 500 more are added each year.

2.4.2 Political and media analysis is an ongoing function of the Program. The loss of the CBS position has reduced the level and depth of reporting that can emanate from the Program. The HOM does submit reports to HQ when events in the country warrant analysis, ***. The LES in the Program do extensive local and external media monitoring to identify issues of potential relevance to Canada. A Revue de Presse is completed twice per month that includes a summary of each pertinent article identified and a weblink to the full article. While the Revue de Presse does not contain the level of synthesis and analysis that a formal report would, given the context, it is an effective way to relay relevant information to Departmental and Government stakeholders.

2.4.3 Cultural events are managed by the Program on an infrequent basis. Musicians have been invited to perform at various festivals. The Program attempts to leverage opportunities that present themselves, such as inviting a performer to Tunisia who is already planning to be in the region. The Program also participates in a Dictée event on the Journée de la Francophonie in conjunction with other member country missions in Tunis. This is seen to be a way to leverage partners and share costs associated with cultural activities.

2.4.4 Hospitality funds have not been devolved to the LE-07 Officer in the Program. To support the expectation that he operate more autonomously, these funds could help to reinforce his contact base and the notion that he must plan and organize events on his own volition.

2.4.5 New Way Forward/PE Renewal principles are generally understood by Program staff. Concrete steps to implement the core service model into operations (such as the identification of alternate service providers) has begun but has not yet been finalized. It will be important that the Program examine how planning and operations can be modelled on these principles.

2.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

2.5.1 The HOM should consider giving a hospitality allocation to the LE-07 Officer in the Program to reinforce accountability and the need for proactive planning.

2.5.2 Program staff should complete all available New Way Forward training and formally consider ways to implement the core service model within the Program.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.5.1 Implemented June 2009. The Mission has reintroduced this practice. Hospitality events will be pre approved by the HOM.

2.5.2 In progress, the staff is to complete the training in June 2009. Full implementation of the core service model within the Program will follow.

International Business Development Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The International Business Development (IBD) Program in Tunis is managed by an FS-03 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) who is supported by an LE-09 Trade Commissioner, LE-08 Trade Commissioner (doing African Development Bank (ADB) work) and an LE-06 Trade Commissioner Assistant. The STC also administratively supervises two Locally-engaged CIDA officers.

3.1.2 The composition of the Program has undergone significant change in recent years. The Program is currently being managed by its third STC (FS-03) in the past three years. It also lost an FS-01 CBS resource in 2008 which used to focus on the ADB file (replaced by the current LE-08 position). The STC position was previously half funded by CIDA (this was withdrawn in 2008) and managed both the IBD and CIDA programs. Two CIDA LES remain in the Mission, and are situated within this Program until 2011, to deal with regional and legacy bilateral projects.

3.1.3 Canadian exports to Tunisia amounted to approximately $87.7 million (M) in 2008. Export figures have fluctuated over the past three years, but are on an upward trend ($64.7M in 2006 and $110.6M in 2007). Tunisia is Canada’s 81st largest export market. Imports from Tunisia totalled $41.2M in 2008, a decline from the two previous years ($67.5M in 2006 and $49.8M in 2007). Tunisia is the 93rd largest exporter to Canada.

3.1.4 Certain factors affect Canadian companies’ competitiveness in the Tunisian market. Tariffs are placed on most imports to Tunisia. These tariffs were recently reduced but still represent a barrier to increased exports to this market especially considering that Tunisia has a Free-Trade Agreement with the geographically proximate European Union which came into force on January 1, 2008.

3.1.5 Priority sectors for the 2009/2010 fiscal year are Energy, Services and Capital Projects, and Bio-industries. The number of priority sectors was reduced from five to three for the 2009/2010 fiscal year. Another de facto priority sector for the Program is the ADB liaison work. While not a typical sector, this bank (temporarily located in Tunis) tenders a significant number of projects which can be bid upon by Canadian companies. Information on these tenders are sent to IBOC (International Business Opportunities Centre), regional Canadian missions, regional offices and companies.

3.2 Planning

3.2.1 A concerted effort was placed on the planning process for the 2009/2010 fiscal year. Priority sectors were rationalized and concrete targets are now established for the Program.

3.2.2 Surveillance and monitoring of both non-priority sectors and Canadian capability figure in the Program’s plans. Outreach and client acquisition are planned for and acted upon, as evidenced by recent trips to Canada by Program staff. The Program should continue to take concerted and formal steps to ensure continuity in these activities so that employees continue to broaden their knowledge base and serve as a source of timely information and analysis for Mission Management and other stakeholders.

3.3 Implementation

3.3.1 TRIO was recently installed at the Mission. Members of the staff are trained, and efforts are currently underway to implement the software. The Program plans to fully implement TRIO by the summer of 2009. Once fully implemented, TRIO can be used by the STC to monitor Program performance.

3.3.2 The Officer working as the ADB liaison has been using TRIO to record activities. Given that the business opportunities identified by this Officer are located in other countries, care must be taken to ensure that what is being recorded in TRIO gives sufficient credit to the work of the Mission and does not record activities as having been generated by other posts. Other posts with similar positions may have models that can be employed by the Program.

3.3.3 The Program has been active in pursuing its objectives through travel and outreach. Budgets for travel, the Client Service Fund (CSF) and hospitality are adequate. It was noted that the CSF had been used to travel to trade shows in third markets. It is important that this be done only when there is a persuasive argument to do so (in accordance with the CSF Guidelines). For future CSF expenditures of this nature, approval from the HOM should be sought and a justification recorded on the expenditure file.

3.3.4 Hospitality allocations have not been devolved to Program officers. The provision of these would reinforce their personal accountability, autonomy and the need for proactive planning.

3.4 Communication

3.4.1 Communication within the Program is considered to be strong. Weekly staff meetings are held and minutes are kept. Staff found the STC to be accessible and helpful.

3.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

3.5.1 The Program should develop a formal plan to monitor and periodically report on activity in non-priority sectors.

3.5.2 The Program should consult with missions that have positions similar to the ADB liaison position and with HQ TRIO specialists with respect to the proper recording for these types of activities in TRIO.

3.5.3 The use of CSF for travel to third markets, or any other exception-based use of CSF (as defined by the CSF Guidelines) should be approved by the HOM with a documented rationale placed on the expenditure file.

3.5.4 The Program should devolve some hospitality funds to the officers in order to reinforce accountability and the need to plan and act autonomously.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.5.1 Implemented. The IBD Program has created a file and put in place procedures to ensure that these developments are recorded, investigated and documented. The Program also does a Quarterly Reports on Results and semi monthly media monitoring reports (Revue de Presse).

3.5.2 In progress for July 2009. The Mission has consulted with other Offices of Liaison with International Financial Institutions (OLIFI) who have shared their practices with the Mission. These will be adopted by Tunis. HQ TRIO specialists were also apprised of this situation.

3.5.3 Implemented June 2009. This requirement has been brought to the attention of the IBD Program Manager and staff who will ensure that the CSF Guidelines are followed.

3.5.4 Implemented June 2009. The Mission has reintroduced this practice. Hospitality events will be pre approved by the Program Manager.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Section is managed by the Management and Consular Officer (MCO) with the help of an LE-07 Consular Officer, who dedicates 60% of her time to that function. ***. The Receptionist provides assistance for the passport program and she will be leaving to take a position in the Immigration Section in May 2009. Her replacement will undergo training to maintain this distribution of tasks. ***. The mission will have to manage this transitional period through the MCO’s ongoing commitment.

4.1.2 The Program covers the national territory for Australia, both for consular cases and for the issuance of emergency passports.

4.2 Program Planning and Management

4.2.1 Although the Mission covers a relatively peaceful territory, the Consular Program recognizes the importance of emergency preparedness plans. *** . The MCO is waiting to meet with his local counterparts to more closely detail agreements with like-minded countries. The pandemic response plan dates back to 2007, and the most recent version of the current officer’s guide was completed in late 2008.

4.2.2 The Mission was supposed to organize a district officers’ conference in February 2009, but it was postponed until May 2009. The last conference dates back to 2007. The MCO wants to hold a subsequent conference in partnership with the British and American consular teams. This initiative, if it materializes, will be beneficial and will probably serve as a best practice.

4.2.3 *** the training planned for the Consular Section will mostly take the form of mentoring for the new receptionist and the future replacement. The regional consular conference in January 2008 and the passport seminar that was recently held in Tunis were venues for constructive exchanges with regional colleagues. None of the current employees has received official torture awareness training.

4.2.4 The physical organization of the Chancery is not adequate for consular services, if only for the fact that the Consular Officer’s office is not on the same floor as the Consular Section’s reception area. The new, modern building suited to all of the Programs’ needs will resolve the irritants relating to the work environment.

4.2.5 The Mission recently carried out an inventory of the seals in safekeeping. An annual reconciliation will now have to be performed.

4.3 Client Service and Passport Service Delivery

4.3.1 The Mission deals with *** few consular cases. The Travel Report outlines the risks behind the majority of cases. The HOM devoted considerable time and effort to the Program during the transition in 2008 between the two MCOs with the result that sustained efforts could be made to ensure that cases were resolved and knowledge was transferred smoothly. The HOM continues to provide satisfactory support to the Program, and employees appreciate his contribution.

4.3.2 Thanks to the employees’ language credentials and bilingual posters, clients are clearly served in the official language of their choice. *** .

4.3.3 The Mission hands out a feedback form after each service and a considerable number of forms is completed. They are sent to Headquarters, as required. The vast majority are *** positive and praise the officers’ efficiency. The Mission should install a box where completed feedback forms can be dropped off.

4.3.4 The Receptionist plays a vital role in the delivery of consular services, particularly for the receipt of passport applications. The consecutive promotion of two employees to this position creates a possible weakness for the Program. The incumbent must deal with many quick-tempered clients, often Canadians with a personal interest in immigration cases. A good practice is to draft a page of directives, which received the approval of the MCO and the head of the Immigration Section. More detailed directives do not exist at present.

4.3.5 The Mission is preparing to draft clear instructions for the benefit of guards outside the Chancery. This *** practice, if paired with an information session and periodic reminders, will contribute to quality service, day and night.

4.3.6 Employees have a reasonable understanding and make effective use of the COSMOS computer system. However, there is outdated information in the call priority list. The operations centre uses this information, and missions are responsible for keeping it up to date. Consular statistics are up to date, but the contribution by the Head of Mission and the passport approval officer’s replacement is not considered in COMIP (Consular Operations Management Information Program).

4.3.7 The Mission receives a moderate number of passport applications. They are issued within the standard turnaround times, with an adequate average of 10 days. The MCO or, in his absence, another trained Program Manager, reviews and approves all the cases. The manager will be leaving ***, since the Mission does not have a Deputy MCO position, it will have to find another CBS. Statistics show that provisional passports are issued much more frequently than emergency passports, which is in line with Passport Canada directives. The MCO keeps a small quantity of work in a secure location and a log system is in place.

4.3.8 At the time of its visit, the Inspection Team observed that the MCO carries out a reconciliation, which confirms the count and quality of the process. The Mission destroys applications as required after the third month and is preparing to eliminate emergency passports in accordance with official directives on April 1, 2009. The Mission damaged five identification labels in March, as the printer cartridge was defective. A new cartridge was ordered on an emergency basis. The Mission should use the automatic order function for passport products in COSMOS.

4.3.9 Revenues from the passport and notarial deed service are deposited in a cash register, then remitted to Finance daily . The procedures in place are appropriate.

4.4 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

4.4.1 An annual reconciliation of seals must now be implemented.

4.4.2 The Mission should develop a succession plan for the Consular Officer and preferably choose a candidate who is proficient in Arabic, as well as the two official languages.

4.4.3 The Mission should ensure that a review of the Consular Contingency Plans is carried out annually.

4.4.4 The Mission should ensure that the information contained in the COSMOS system is up-to-date.

4.4.5 The Mission should ensure that the MCO has received the new training on abuse awareness.

4.4.6 The Mission should install a box that only the MCO has access to where completed feedback forms can be dropped off.

4.4.7 The Mission should develop specific, detailed directives for the new Receptionist and provide client service training with an emphasis on how to deal with difficult clients.

4.4.8 The Mission should use the automatic order function for passport products in COSMOS.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.4.1 In progress for June 2009 and will be done annually in June.

4.4.2 In progress for January 2010. The Mission has had a succession plan in place since January 2009 which includes: a) the provision of training to the Public Affairs (CEC) Program Assistant (as back up to the LES Consular Officer) and the receptionists, and b) an open competition to be launched in January 2010 to identify a suitable replacement for the Consular Officer. Criteria will include local as well as official languages requirements

4.4.3 In progress, the next revision of the plan will be finalized in July 2009.

4.4.4 Implemented March 2009. The priority call list was corrected to reflect recent staff turnover.

4.4.5 In progress for fall 2009. The MCO will take this training as soon as practical and possible. The Consular Training Section (CLPT) advises that no course is scheduled for the next few months but that there may be a session offered in our region this fall.

4.4.6 Implemented, the boxes were put in place in May 2009.

4.4.7 In progress for August 2009. The new Receptionist was trained and given instructions pertaining to her responsibilities in April 2009. All staff members who are dealing with difficult clients have been instructed to take the online Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI) client services course within the next few months. In addition, resources permitting, the Mission will organise a group training session for all staff requiring training on how to deal with difficult clients.

4.4.8 Implemented March 2009.

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Administration Program is managed by an AS-05 MCO (currently being under-filled by an AS-04) assisted by ten LES. There is also a Regional Foreign Service Information Technology Professionals (FSITP). The Program provides services to partner departments, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Canadian International Development Agency. The MCO also has the responsibility of Mission Security Officer.

5.1.2 The MCO, who arrived at the Mission in the fall of 2008,***. The MCO was previously the DMCO in Kabul and there was approximately three weeks between his departure and arrival in Tunis. While the MCO is ***, there have been other instances when a short turn-around time following a posting in such environments as Afghanistan or other crisis locations ***. While there is direction to allow for a Adecompression@ period it does not appear to be consistently enforced.

5.1.3 Communications and teamwork within the Program were cited as good and the MCO has established objectives and plans. Overall the Program’s clients indicated that they receive good services from the Administration Program. The Service Standards were last reviewed in 2007 and, with the upcoming move to the new chancery in early 2010, these will need to be up-dated at that time to reflect any resulting changes.

5.1.4 As this is a one MCO post and with the imminent changes in processes and systems, as well as the growing pains of a new building, a temporary duty (TD) MCO should be assigned during this period to assist. The MCO is also evaluating what new indeterminate positions will be needed, given the building’s more sophisticated systems and larger foot-print. There will be a need to validate the Common Services budget level as certain contract services may also need to be augmented such as, security and gardening.

5.1.5 The Mission and HQ will need to monitor workload demands in both the Administration and Consular programs if projected changes such as an increase in partner department staff and a direct flight from Tunis to Montreal are realized in the next few years.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.6 The Mission should review and update Service Standards following the move to the new chancery in winter 2010.

5.1.7 The Mission should develop and submit to HQ business cases for the new positions that will be required with the new chancery.

5.1.8 The Mission, in conjunction with Mission Client Services (ASM), should monitor the Common Services budget level for adjustments related to moving to the new chancery.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.6 In progress for October 2010.

5.1.7 In progress for July 2010. This was done for the new building manager and janitor positions. A submission will be made for the DMCO position initially on a TD basis.

5.1.8 In progress for September 2009. Budget estimates will be prepared by the end of the summer and the situation will be monitored closely over the next year.

Recommendation to the Assignment and Pool Management Division (HFP)

5.1.9 HFP, in conjunction with the Afghanistan Task Force (DFM), should ensure that staff returning from crisis postings are all provided with a suitable decompression period and appropriate support.

HFP Action and Timeframe

5.1.9 The Afghanistan Task Force has been working to finalize a decompression and reintegration package for employees returning from Afghanistan. Target completion date September 2009.

Recommendation to ASM

5.1.10 ASM, in conjunction with other HQ units, should consider providing temporary duty assistance to Tunis during the chancery move period.

ASM Action and Timeframe

5.1.10 The Mission has made a request for a TD MCO for Tunis, and ASM will discuss this requirement with the Physical Resources Bureau (ARD) to see what support they can offer as part of the overall project.

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 HR is managed by the MCO with the support of the Consular Officer. Given the small Administration and Consular programs, the MCO is developing strategies to ensure backups are trained and established. Overall, the HR practices at the Mission were sound and staff morale good. The LES indicated that it is beneficial for CBS to have had inter-cultural training before arriving.

5.2.2 In fiscal year 2008-2009, the Mission did not apply for a Community Co-ordinator contract, but now plans to submit a request to HQ to access funds for the upcoming summer posting season. The Mission Report was last up-dated in 2007 and the Program plans to contract a spouse to update it and highlight the impacts of the upcoming chancery move.

5.2.3 The Mission is also equipped with a mini-clinic and a contract Nurse who provides medical services. The Nurse noted that it would be helpful if CBS were to bring a copy of the family’s medical records to a post so that faster diagnosis can be made.

5.2.4 The LES Handbook was finalized in 2007 and distributed to all staff. With the relocation of the chancery outside Tunis’ city centre, it appears that some LES (mostly non-office staff) will have longer commutes to the new building. In conjunction with the Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (ALD), the Mission should review the transportation allowance given the upcoming change.

5.2.5 The LES Committee is developing new terms of reference to provide more structure to the Committee and help staff better understand its role. The Committee noted that there was good interaction with the HOM, who included the Committee as co-hosts of a staff event. As noted in other missions, the non-office staff highlighted the following as areas of interest:

  • being provided training in computer skills and regular access to a system;
  • finding opportunities to upgrade skills, preferably in Canada to better understand Canadian standards, equipment, etc.; and
  • having further incentives for long-serving employees, for example additional increment steps perhaps once every few years after reaching the top of the salary scale.

Recommendation to the Mission

5.2.6 The Mission should review the LES transportation allowance given the upcoming move to the new chancery.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.2.6 ALD has advised that such revisions normally take place in the context of a global benefits survey and as per departmental policy, this issue will be reviewed in the context of the next global employee benefits survey (2012).

5.2.7 The Mission has recently been working with ALD to ensure the Mission’s organization chart/files and ALD’s data match. While overall the Section’s files and documentation are well maintained, the following recommendations would complete the file requirements:

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.8 Position descriptions should be reviewed and updated regularly.

5.2.9 The MCO should be reviewing the EXT208 forms for accuracy and sign for approval.

5.2.10 The HOM should sign all letters of offer.

5.2.11 The Mission should ensure that all PMPs are completed for past years and by the deadline in future years.

5.2.12 The Mission should ensure that each HR file contains all the necessary documents to ensure completeness and transparency.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.8 Implemented May 2009. The position description, that was out of date, has now been updated.

5.2.9 Implemented April 2009. All EXT208 forms are reviewed and signed by the MCO. Originals are kept with the Accountant.

5.2.10 Implemented April 2009. The MCO no longer signs emergency employment letters which are now signed by the HOM.

5.2.11 In progress for June 2010. 2007 2008 PMPs have been prepared for all office staff at the Mission. The Mission will continue to use the PMP to assess performance against objectives for all staff and every effort will be made to complete the reports within required deadlines.

5.2.12 The Mission's HR files are usually kept in good order but the Mission will further refine its filing system to ensure that each HR file is complete.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The Physical Resources function is managed by the MCO with the assistance of the LE-08 Property and Materiel Officer and three non-office staff (Concierge, Préposé à l’entretien and Femme de ménage). There are also three Chauffeur/Messengers, supervised by the Administration/Finance Assistant. The Section has a client service orientation.

5.3.2 Over the past few years, the Mission, with assistance from HQ, has been maintaining and modifying the Crown-leased Chancery to make it as safe and functional as possible. The Mission is scheduled to move into the newly constructed chancery in early 2010, which will allow for more efficient operations. The Mission is supported by a Physical Resources Bureau (ARD) consultant in Tunis overseeing the construction project. As noted in 5.1.4, the Mission believes there will be a requirement for at least two additional positions to manage the new facility.

5.3.3 As there will be new fixtures, furnishings, etc. for the new chancery, the Mission plans to have a disposal sale for any unused items once the move is complete. The Mission will need to ensure that the Chancery distribution account (including storage items, tools, etc.) is up-to-date prior to the disposal sale and that a new one is created during the move. Individual office occupants will need to sign for assets within their control and common area assets should be signed off by an appropriate individual.

5.3.4 The Crown-leased Official Residence is functional for both living and representational needs. The garden is too small for large receptions but shows very well. The HOM makes good use of the OR for hospitality events and is open to other staff making use of it as well. The OR, while well appointed, was having some furnishings changed during the Inspection. The Mission plans to update its distribution account once the refurbishment project is complete. There is a proposed project to add an elevator near the main entrance to improve accessibility to the house. The HOM is paying for his personal share of services provided at the OR (satellite, internet, etc.).

5.3.5 The Mission’s Staff Quarter (SQ) inventory consists of six Crown-leased properties. Overall the SQs are well maintained and well furnished. There is one SQ distribution account still waiting for the signature of the occupant. One SQ has a water leakage problem which will be addressed during an absence of the occupants. The Section undertakes yearly inspection visits and to improve efficiency does an occupant survey prior to the visit. The Mission has identified three properties to be released over the next two years due to some inadequacies and distance from the new chancery. Some of the SQs are too large for the current family configuration and in cases such as these (or if under-housed) a justification for that housing decision should be noted on file. As lease renewals are renegotiated, the Mission plans to change the payment terms from annual to trimestrial.

5.3.6 The Mission currently has seven official vehicles but is planning to reduce that number to five. There is currently a shuttle service provided to the CBS for transport to and from the Chancery. Once in the new location, the Mission plans to eliminate this service as the building will be closer to the SQs and will have parking for the CBS.

5.3.7 The Mission has ordered the departmental work order system and believes it will improve the tracking and monitoring of outstanding work orders compared to its current system. As noted by other missions, the introduction of inputting all contracts and purchase orders into the Material Management (MM) module has workload implications that were not off-set by additional resources.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.8 The Chancery distribution account should be kept up-to-date and appropriately signed for.

5.3.9 Distribution accounts, as with occupancy agreements, for SQs should be completed and signed shortly after the arrival of the CBS employee.

5.3.10 Justifications for situations where occupants are over/under-housed should be retained in the property file.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.8 In progress for September 2010. The distribution account for the current Chancery will be updated after the move to the new chancery and before the sale of surplus assets in March 2010. The distribution account for the new chancery will be prepared in the fall of 2010 when the Mission has completed its installation in the new chancery.

5.3.9 Implemented June 2009. The case that was identified during the inspection visit has since been corrected.

5.3.10 Implemented June 2009. Taking advantage of staff turnover this year, the Mission (with the support of the Housing Committee) has taken steps to reduce the number of instances when such situations occur. When it is unavoidable, a note will be put on file as recommended.

5.3.11 To further improve the operations of the Section, the following recommendations should be implemented:

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.12 Upon receipt of new items the recipient should acknowledge that receipt (or transfer).

5.3.13 The Mission should ensure that a transfer document is completed when there is any movement of assets.

5.3.14 The Mission should ensure that authority from the Physical Resources Bureau (ARD) or the Information Management and Technology Bureau (AID) is obtained when considering donations of surplus equipment for which the original value is greater than $1,000.

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

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.12 Implemented June 2009. The Property Manager will ensure that, from now on, this is done systematically.

5.3.13 Implemented June 2009. The Property Manager will ensure that, from now on, this is done systematically.

5.3.14 Noted. The Mission will ensure that it complies fully with departmental policies.

5.3.15 Implemented April 2009. The CRB is involved in all contracts which require its review and approval. Contracts below thresholds where discretion is exercised (i.e. sole source) are brought to the attention of the CRB.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The MCO oversees the Mission’s financial management and is assisted by an Accountant, LE-07, and an Administrative and Financial Assistant, LE 04, who spends 50% of her time on accounting. ***.

5.4.2 *** Online access is available, although only information dating back 48 hours can be accessed.

5.4.3 Fund transfers from Headquarters to the Mission can take up to 10 business days before they are credited to the Mission’s account. According to the Bank of America, it takes this amount of time because Tunisian currency is not used much outside the country and the funds must transit via the Bank of Tunisia before being transferred to the bank with which the Mission does business. The Mission issues 30 to 40 cheques a month.

5.4.4 At Headquarters’ request, the Mission returned funds to Headquarters during the 2008-2009 fiscal year. Consequently, cuts had to be made to overtime and the use of emergency staff.

5.4.5 Program Managers do not use the FINSTAT reports prepared by the MCO and the Accountant, as they find it too tedious to read them. Instead, they use spreadsheets produced using EXCEL. Communication with the managers is more on an ad hoc basis and, most of the time, it concerns budget-related matters.

5.4.6 The HOM is aware of the correspondence circulating around the Mission, as he takes it upon himself to examine virtually all of the correspondence addressed to the Mission. He does not hesitate to ask questions before certifying the bank reconciliations submitted each month by the Mission to International Financial Operations (SMFF). The Committee on Mission Management participates in the budget approval process.

5.4.7 The Mission’s accounts were analyzed for the periods of September 2008 and January 2009. It was found that all of the revenues collected during those periods were actually deposited in the non-convertible account.

5.4.8 All of the expenses appearing in the convertible account are justified. A few minor corrections were made to the financial processes for better internal controls.

5.4.9 ***. The Mission also issues cheques to suppliers who insist on having the exact amount, i.e., with three decimal points, as the dinar is divided into thousandths. Official receipt booklets are kept by the MCO. There is a control ledger to keep track of money in and money out. They are kept in a safe location.

5.4.10 At present, consular revenues are received by the Consular Officer and the Receptionist. Official receipts are delivered to clients. These two persons can perform all of the tasks on the cash register, including reconciliation and cancellation of transactions. However, receipts cannot be issued to clients from the cash register. The Mission should acquire a new cash register. Before doing so, it was suggested to the Mission that it get in touch with our embassy in Rabat to determine whether the equipment and system in place there could be used in Tunis. If so, the Mission would derive major benefits.

5.4.11 Expenditures relating to hospitality costs and travel were analyzed. The Mission must make a few corrections. The seven petty cash funds were verified and they are all in good order.

5.4.12 At the moment, the Administrative and Financial Assistant receives invoices to apply for a Value Added Tax (VAT) refund. Invoices are submitted to her, and she checks them to make sure they contain the proper information, makes a photocopy and forwards everything to the authorities concerned. This is not her responsibility, however.

5.4.13 It is suggested that the Accounting Section, with the MCO’s assistance, provide all Mission staff with a training workshop on the VAT and the procedure for completing a travel claim. In addition, the Mission might remind staff there is an online training course on the Travel Directive, accessible via the intranet under ATravel@ under the AQuick Links@ tab.

5.4.14 The agreement with the bank could not be traced. A request was made to the bank, and it sent the Mission a document entitled AConditions préférentielles,@ which does not detail the agreement.

5.4.15 At present, *** has not undergone training to make data entries in the MM module for purchase orders. They are made by the Administrative Assistant.

5.4.16 The drivers each have a card for the gas company with which the Mission does business. A gas voucher system is in effect for CBS. The Mission will experiment with the use of a gas company card with two CBS members. If the experiment is conclusive, all CBS will use a card once all gas vouchers have been used up.

5.4.17 The Mission has an acquisition card, but it is not used, as most suppliers do not accept it or do not have the equipment needed to do so. The cultural preference is for cash payments.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.18 ***. The Accounting Section will keep a *** supply on hand for operational needs.

5.4.19 The Consular Officer will perform a reconciliation of the Receptionist’s documents and will approve any cancellation.

5.4.20 The MCO will perform a reconciliation of the Consular Officer’s documents and will approve any cancellation.

5.4.21 The section should get in touch with Rabat to determine whether the equipment and system used by Rabat for consular services could be used at the Mission. It will be necessary to acquire a new cash register if Rabat’s system is not suitable.

5.4.22 For the VAT, invoices must be verified and photocopies made by the applicant and delivered to the assistant.

5.4.23 The Accounting Section should give a training workshop on the VAT and the procedure for completing a travel claim.

5.4.24 The agreement with the bank will have to be reviewed to determine whether it is possible to include EFT payments, direct deposits, have an account for revenues from immigration services and, perhaps, consular services where clients would deposit charges, and ensure that an original copy, duly signed by both parties, is retained with the Mission’s accounts.

5.4.25 ***

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.18 Agree and implemented April 2009.

5.4.19 Agree and implemented April 2009.

5.4.20 Agree and implemented April 2009.

5.4.21 In progress for September 2009. Rabat has been contacted, an evaluation of their system will be completed and the system will be implemented if feasible.

5.4.22 Implemented April 2009. CBS staff have been informed of this adjustment to the process.

5.4.23 Implemented May 2009. Each CBS staff member is briefed on the procedures for VAT claims upon arrival. All Mission staff members have been invited to take the CFSI online course on the Travel Directive.

5.4.24 In progress for October 2009. The Mission initiated these projects in January 2009. The agreement with the bank will be reviewed and completed when these projects are ready for implementation.

5.4.25 In progress for December 2009. ***

5.4.26 The processes and procedures in place under the Program are deemed to be satisfactory, although certain improvements could be made based on the recommendations.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.27 When immigration revenues are delivered to accounting, the Immigration Section must attach the yellow copy of the POS+ reconciliation tape to the documentation . If payment is in CAD, attach the yellow copy of the POS+ receipt delivered to the client.

5.4.28 EXT 52 forms will have to be completed properly, i.e., if a guest list is attached, ensure that detailed information is provided, including the name, organization and the guests’ positions, and indicate the location of the event, such as the Official Residence, the name of the restaurant, etc.

5.4.29 If a traveller pays for the plane ticket, the Mission must ensure that he or she includes proof of payment for the ticket with his or her claim.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.27 Implemented April 2009.

5.4.28 Implemented April 2009. The Mission will ensure that EXT 52 forms are completed in accordance with Departmental standards.

5.4.29 Implemented April 2009. A note was sent to all staff to ensure that they are aware of this requirement. The person signing under Section 34 will ensure compliance.

5.5 Information Management Information Technology (IM-IT)

5.5.1 Under the MCOs’ jurisdiction in the respective missions, the regional Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) is based in Tunis and covers Tripoli, Rabat and Algiers. Tunis saw its IT LES position abolished in February 2009 and had to redistribute the tasks to various employees. Most of these tasks were assigned to the FSITP. Cell phone management, IT supply procurement and management of photocopier maintenance were assigned to Administration. The FSITP therefore focuses on more technical priorities and client service. The long-term consequences of staff cuts will have to be monitored, particularly after the Chancery moves.

5.5.2 The current FSITP arrived in summer 2008 *** . He *** made the transition while undertaking projects and reducing the number of pending work orders Planning, Program Management and Client Service

5.5.3 The Mission has a summary work plan in place for the current year with regular trips to the missions on an alternating basis and one visit scheduled monthly. Managing overtime is a challenge, and the Mission will have to draw from best practices. The MCO and FSITP do not meet on a formal basis to discuss the Program, but the FSITP participates in weekly discussions among administration employees.

5.5.4 While the FSITP is away, in addition to Headquarters’ assistance line, the MCO is responsible for smooth IT operations. To guide him in this task, the FSITP created simple lists of current procedures, including how to change tapes.***

5.5.5 Starting with the current fiscal year, the FSITP will have full management of the budget that is assigned to him for Programs needs for a period of two years. This is a good approach.

5.5.6 In the absence of official service standards approved by senior management, the Program informed its internal clients by email of realistic expectations and service conditions. The FSITP is available and keeps his door open, but Tunis and the region’s missions cannot expect service to be as fast for non-urgent requests. The Remedy system is used to manage service requests and provides reminders for certain periodic tasks. In addition, the FSITP writes down the tasks he has performed daily in an agenda.

5.5.7 The Headquarters procurement service (Shop@DFAIT) is used for the Mission’s orders. However, the Mission has been waiting for software since January and February 2009.

The Information Management and Technology Bureau (AID) comments:

The situation has since been corrected. The Mission has been provided with the two software applications in question.

5.5.8 IT training is outsourced to a consultant and the Mission has planned development sessions for the fiscal year on the use of Excel spreadsheet software, as it is currently used by a number of employees.

Policies and Standards

5.5.9 With the use of ITAMS (Information Technology Asset Management System B Remedy), the Mission maintains an inventory of IT equipment. An audit of the records revealed that some monitors were probably sold at a recent auction, but they still appear on the Chancery’s inventory list. Neither items that are in work areas nor the FSITP’s tools were the subject of user accountability procedures. In addition, many IT items are not used in the missions, for example, an oscilloscope kept on a shelf.

5.5.10 At the moment, telephone calls and faxes are not controlled in any way. Following the example of the region’s missions, administration plans on limiting long-distance calls to some of the Chancery’s fixed lines.

5.5.11 The Mission has instituted what may prove to be a best practice: the systems’ motherboard is changed twice a year on a preventive basis.

5.5.12 The FSITP asked HQ to consider the following areas of concern:

  • FSITPs are not given sufficient authority to make changes that are sometimes necessary (administrator function, for example, to change port speed). Consequently, they have to deal with the essential services section, which can sometimes take up to three days for a response. A 24 hour assistance service should exist for IT specialists so they are able to deal with problems in real time.
  • It is difficult to report to two superiors: the Client Support Regional Manager (CSRM) and the MCO.
  • The CSRM should have an assistant who can take the time to make sporadic visits to missions.

Information Management

5.5.13 The Mission uses a shared drive, which is reasonably well organized. The MCO and FSITP have begun the transition towards a majority use of InfoBank, which will be available at the Mission in late 2009. A clean-up and migration of documents on the shared drive will be carried out in the first months of the new fiscal year.

5.5.14 The Internet site complies with standards, the information seems up-to-date and is presented in both official languages at all times . It was found that at least one of the hyperlinks was broken and an obsolete term (watch office) was used in the Consular Section.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.5.15 A list of items for sale should be compiled, and the items should be set aside and struck from the inventory once they are sold.

5.5.16 ***

5.5.17 The Mission should institute call controls.

5.5.18 The Mission should verify the information on the Internet site.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.15 In progress for March 2010. Items that are surplus are marked as such in the Mission's IT inventory. The equipment has been set aside and the sale of surplus IT assets will take place in 2010 after the move to the new chancery.

5.5.16 In progress for June 2010. ***

5.5.17 In progress for October 2010. The Mission will review its current controls with a view to implementing controls similar to those in place in neighbouring missions.

5.5.18 Implemented April 2009. Issues identified during the visit were corrected. The Mission's Internet site is regularly reviewed by the Public Affairs (CEC) Assistant for accuracy.

Recommendation to AID

5.5.19 Headquarters should maintain communication with missions ordering equipment and software with regard to wait and delivery times, as well as delays if applicable.

AID Actions and Timeframe

5.5.19 Procurement, Contracting and Asset Management (AICP) recently made changes to Shop@DFAIT (Achetez@MAECI) so that clients could check the status of their orders; in this way, situations such as those experienced by the Mission should be prevented. These changes will also enable clients to check the status of any order. Further improvements in terms of functionality (delivery times, automatic reminders, etc.) will be considered for future versions. A broadcast message will be sent to all employees some time in August to announce the new functionality, along with instructions for checking order status.

Appendix A: Inspection Scope and Objectives

Table 1: Inspection Scope and Objectives of Physical Resources
Physical Resources
AssetsCrown LeasedCrown Owned
Chancery11 (until 2010)
Official Residences-1
Staff Quarters-6
Vehicles7-

Table 2: Inspection Scope and Objectives of Financial Information
Financial Information 2008-09
Operating Budget (N001)$840,202
Capital Budget (N005)$77,625
CBS Salaries Budget (N011)$492,560
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$671,703
Total$2,082,090

Appendix B: Organization Chart

Organization Chart


* If you require a plug-in or a third-party software to view this file, please visit the alternative formats section of our help page.

Footer

Date Modified:
2012-11-16