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Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

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Summative Evaluation of The Governance Model For Support to Missions Abroad

December 2009

(PDF Version, 403 KB) *

Table of Contents

Abbreviations, Acronyms and Symbols

AAFC
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada
ADM Council
Assistant Deputy Minister Council on Common Services Abroad
APD
Representation Abroad Secretariat, IPB
ARLU
Annual Reference Level Update
ASM
Mission Client Services and Innovation Bureau, IPB
CBS
Canada Based Staff
CBSA
Canada Border Services Agency
CFIA
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
CFO
Chief Financial Office
CIC
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
CIDA
Canadian International Development Agency
CORA
The Committee on Representation Abroad
CPPC
Costing Policy and Procedures Committee
CRA
Canada Revenue Agency
CSA
Common Services Abroad
CSAC
Common Services Abroad Charges
CSO
Common Service Organisation
DFAIT 
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
DG
Director General
DM
Deputy Minister
DMC
Deputy Minister Sub-Committee (DMC) on Representation Abroad
DND
Department of National Defence
DPR
Departmental Performance Report
GoC
Government of Canada
HC
Health Canada
HOMs
Heads of Missions
HQ
Headquarters
ICASS
International Cooperative Administrative Support Services system
IPB
International Platform Branch
IWGCSA
Interdepartmental Working Group on Common Services Abroad
LES
Locally Engaged Staff
MCOs
Management Consular Officers
CMM
Committee on Mission Management
Interdepartmental MOU
The Interdepartmental Memorandum of Understanding on Operation and Support at Missions
NRCan
Natural Resources Canada
OGD
Other Government Department
PAA
Program Activity Architecture
PHAC
Public Health Agency of Canada
PSC
Public Service Commission
PSU
Program Support Unit
PWGSC
Public Works and Government Services Canada
RCMP
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
RPP
Report on Plans and Priorities
RSC
Regional Service Centre
SUPP
Supplementary Estimates
TB(S)
Treasury Board (Secretariat)
TC
Transport Canada
The Framework for Change
The Framework for Planning and Managing Change to the Network
TORs
Terms of Reference
VAC
Veterans Affairs Canada
ZIE
Evaluation Division, DFAIT

Acknowledgements

The evaluation was prepared by ZIE with the technical expertise of Steve Mendleson and Lana Daxtator of Goss Gilroy Inc. The evaluation team would like express its heartfelt gratitude to all those who have contributed to this evaluation with their time, efforts and technical advice. We would like to particularly thank representatives of partners departments who have contribute generously to the preparation of the report.

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Executive Summary

This report presents the Summative Evaluation of the Governance Model for the operations and support for the network of missions abroad (Common Services Abroad), which was conducted during the period from April to August 2009.

Common Services: An Overview

The DFAIT Act grants the Minister of Foreign Affairs the powers, duties and functions to, among other matters, conduct all diplomatic and consular relations on behalf of Canada and to manage Canada's diplomatic consular missions. In accordance with the DFAIT Act and Treasury Board's (TB) Policy on Common Services, the department is mandated to manage the procurement of goods, services and real property at missions abroad. To this end, DFAIT maintains a global network of missions, which are considered as a whole-of-government asset. The network enables the Government of Canada (GoC) to achieve its international priorities and support international policy objectives and programs of other government departments (OGDs), crown corporations and provincial governments.

Common services, which are the infrastructure, staff and services required to maintain Canada's representation abroad, include: the provision and maintenance of office space; official residences and staff quarters; the hiring and support of locally engaged staff (LES); and the management of financial and personnel administration, contract services, information management and technology, security, and transportation services.

DFAIT charges partners for the common services provided in accordance with the TB Policy on Common Services.

DFAIT's International Platform Branch (IPB) was created on April 1, 2008, as a single window for common service delivery for all government departments operating within the diplomatic and consular framework. Within the IPB, the Representation Abroad Secretariat (APD) is responsible for coordinating the governance for the operations and support to the network of missions abroad. The governance structure which includes representatives of partners consists of a number of committees that can be grouped into two streams: an interdepartmental and a DFAIT stream.1 The interdepartmental stream is tasked with overseeing the delivery of common service delivery, advising on and overseeing the cost recovery process and advising DFAIT on necessary decisions. The DFAIT stream is tasked with the management of and oversight over operations and support to the network of missions abroad.

Evaluation Objectives and Approach

The objective of this evaluation was to assess the relevance and performance of the current governance model. More specifically, the evaluation examined the capacity of the governance model to ensure the provision of cost effective, responsive and high quality common services. The evaluation also examined the extent to which the coordination framework for planning and managing change supports the achievement of expected results. The study approach included a document review, interviews with the Chairs and members of the CSA governance committees, IPB service providers, external and DFAIT partners, and an international comparison of the U.S. government approach to the delivery of operational support services via the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) system.

Study Limitations

The focus of the evaluation was on the effectiveness of the HQ-based governance structure and its interface with the HQ IPB management structure. In terms of the interface with IPB management, the evaluation was limited to obtaining opinion-based evidence from key informants and did not include an assessment of the effectiveness of IPB management practices and operations. Currently, the Office of the Chief Audit Executive, DFAIT, is conducting a preliminary Survey of the Departmental Governance Structure.

In addition, the scope of the evaluation did not include a review or an examination of the effectiveness of mission level governance, management or service delivery, nor did it include a review of the satisfaction level of mission-based external or internal partners. No visits to missions were undertaken as part of this evaluation and hence interviews were not conducted with Heads of Missions (HoMs), Management Consular Officers (MCOs) or mission-based client representatives. However, key informants interviewed for the evaluation included former HoMs and MCOs.

Key Findings

Relevance

  • There has been a great improvement in efforts to address both DFAIT and whole-of-government priorities through the governance structure. The structure has also permitted the integration of the needs of other government departments into the planning and resourcing of operations and support for the network by DFAIT. However, some of the external and internal partners indicated their need to be better informed of relevant government-wide international policy priorities, in particular, countries which should inform their planning/needs for common services abroad.
  • At the operational level, external partners are generally satisfied that processes set out in the Framework for Change help to ensure that whole-of-government priorities are addressed. Specific mention was made of the effectiveness and usefulness of the Annual Consultation Meeting in which all partners and stakeholders participate, the opportunity for subsequent discussion and input by partners through the IWGCSA, and as required, by the Missions Operations Committee.
  • The Committee for Representation Abroad (CORA), a DFAIT stream CSA governance committee, also plays a key role in reviewing the results of the proposed position changes considered by the Annual Consultation Meeting. All stakeholders readily acknowledge the very important role of CORA and appreciate the very detailed analysis of position change requests conducted by the committee.
  • The governance and management structures for the operations and support to the network abroad through the IPB is in compliance with Treasury Board Policy on Common Services and aligned with the overall GoC strategic objectives.

Performance

1. Appropriate Oversight

  • The governance structure for the network abroad is generally working well, and is coordinated with the IPB management structure, even though it has only been in existence for a short time. However the evaluation team noted that the structure is complex, and not always well understood by all of the internal and external partners. There may be opportunities for streamlining the structure and improving communications which should improve operational efficiency.
  • The two key policy instruments utilized by the governance committees, the MOU and Framework for Managing Change, provide a good basis for whole-of-government coordination at the operational level.
  • Stakeholders are satisfied with the governance structure and believe that it represents a great improvement over how support to the network was managed in the past. The IPB management structure and other departmental and central agency oversight mechanisms are providing sufficient and effective oversight of common service delivery.
  • A corporate level performance framework for the branch has been developed and implemented, however, the performance framework for individual IPB bureaus and service delivery standards at the mission level are in varying stages of development and implementation. This has impacted on the capacity of the APD to report on results achieved and to determine the value of services provided with accuracy.

2. Achievement of Expected Results

  • The current governance structure for support to the network of missions abroad has contributed to better whole-of-government coordination, improved clarity and transparency in costing, as well as an increased ability to respond to partner/client needs. This is contributing to the goal of achieving high quality delivery of common services.
  • Technical, funding and other issues have delayed implementation of the automated costing tool. As a result, APD continues to rely on a semi-automated spreadsheet to prepare service cost estimates and partners do not have access to a costing tool that meets their needs. The tool is scheduled to be operational for the 2010-2011 fiscal year seasons.

The key strengths identified for the governance structure included the following:

  • Partner departments and organizations indicated that they are now much more involved in decisions and they feel that they can influence these decisions. This includes decisions on the number of positions and placements at missions.
  • The new MOU provides a good basis for the allocation of responsibilities and for defining the IPB role in the provision of common services.

In spite of the above there were areas where improvements can be made:

  • Some internal and external stakeholders do not have a clear understanding of the roles and functioning of the various governance committees. There is a need for clarification and improved communications on the structure, the roles and responsibilities of the various committees, and the decision processes.
  • For example, several external and internal stakeholders expressed a lack of clear understanding around what issues are to be discussed by what committee and at what point in the process, and what committee(s) have input versus decision-making authority. Although one of the responsibilities of APD is to identify and refer issues to higher-level committees, the basis and criteria upon which the IPB/APD identifies and refers issues to each committee need further clarification. Some efforts have been made to create a unified agenda for governance committees.
  • Regular turnover of governance committee membership and leadership contributes to the lack of understanding of the structure. This reinforces the need for clarification of mandates and roles and ongoing training and dissemination of information on the governance structure.
  • Stakeholders, in particular those external to DFAIT, opined that there is no central repository where agendas, minutes and decisions of each committee are kept. The APD confirmed that if this is to be done, additional resources would be required for translation into both official languages.
  • Although partners have some ability to influence decision making through the interdepartmental committees and through representation on the Operations Committee (CIDA and CIC only), DFAIT is the driver of policy and resource allocation decisions and has the final say in the management of support to the network. This means that external stakeholders must follow through with DFAIT committees at varying levels to ensure that any concerns they have are addressed in final decisions that are made.
  • The evaluation team observed, as well: that the structure is complex; that meetings take up significant time and resources, often for the purposes of information sharing; and that meetings are not necessarily decision-focused. As a result of our analysis we concluded that the structure could be reviewed, with a view to some simplification.

3. Partner Satisfaction

  • DFAIT's partners acknowledged that their ability to influence decisions concerning common services have increased, especially when compared to previous years, however, some partners have indicated that they are not clear about the decision-making processes and their precise role in these processes.
  • Partner departments are pleased with the improvement in client relations achieved through the efforts of the APD and the new governance structure. However, the evaluation team noted that the DFAIT level of satisfaction is less than that of external partners.
  • There are multiple mechanisms for problem solving at missions and headquarters. The mechanisms appear to be effective in resolving the issues and concerns of the common service delivery client/partners at the HQ level.

4. Efficiency

  • The role of the governance committees in ensuring resources for common services are appropriately aligned with priorities varies, according to the nature of the cost. For example, the governance committees play little to no role in deciding on internal DFAIT resources for staffing IPB at HQ. The governance committees review the basis for cost recovery by DFAIT for services; however, once the basis for charges are agreed to, the costs charged to each department are levied on the basis of the number of Canada-based and local staff deployed in each mission by each client department. Property related costs that were established by historical lease/buy/build decisions made by DFAIT are paid for through an overall allocation by Treasury Board. New property additions to each mission are discussed by an interdepartmental Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) level committee that advises IPB ADM.
  • Most partners, both external and internal, small and large, feel that good efforts are being made by the IPB management, the governance committees and the mission level management teams to ensure that resources for operations and support to the missions are allocated in the most efficient and appropriate manner.
  • Partner departments are of the view that they are receiving better value-for-money for operational support services at missions than in previous years. However, the ability to assess best value is difficult. It is critical for both IPB and partners to sufficiently track the necessary financial and performance information.
  • Internal and external partners, as well as representatives of the IPB and APD, expressed concern related to the ability of DFAIT/IPB to continue to provide common services to meet the growing needs of partner/clients under the current cost structure. Concerns were also raised by some as to the adequacy of IPB internal resources to manage the ever-increasing workloads.

Comparison to the United States' International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) system

The approach to common service delivery by other countries varies considerably. The American ICASS system is the most comparable in that it involves a dedicated organization to administer and manage common services across government. Although the ICASS approach does not necessarily provide a more efficient use of common service resources compared to the DFAIT/IPB approach, the decision structure appears to be more streamlined, and involves a less complex committee structure, However, it is worth noting that the ICASS approach only deals with standard routine mission operating costs and does not deal with property, IT and security - a major proportion of mission expenses.

Recommendations

Recommendation 1: Clarifying the Decision Structure

IPB should review the decision structure with a view to ensuring that roles and responsibilities are clear, and that the decision processes are well defined. As part of this review, IPB should examine opportunities for simplification especially from the client perspective.

IPB should document and communicate the structure, roles, responsibilities, authority and linkages of the various committees in the governance structure.

Recommendation 2: CSA Costing Framework

IPB should implement a review of the costing framework as required by the Treasury Board to ensure that the common service charges invoiced are sufficient to cover all common services provided as well as cost increases in the future. IPB should ensure that the automated costing tool is implemented as soon as possible.

Recommendation 3: CSA Services Directory

IPB should clearly document, in a central document or location, the respective charge for each common service available or potentially available, the basis for determining the charge, and the promised service delivery standard (once these are established).

Recommendation 4: CSAC Funding

IPB should clarify and document the criteria used to allocate Common Services Abroad Charges (CSAC) funding and the level of CSAC positions that have been provided as per the CSAC policy.

Recommendation 5: Communications Strategy

IPB should implement a communications strategy that ensures that all pertinent information on the policies, procedures, structures and other communications relevant to partners are made available on a timely basis and in appropriate formats.

Recommendation 6: Performance Management

IPB should ensure that service delivery standards are developed as a basis for performance measurement. As well, performance measurement frameworks for each IPB bureau and for each mission should be developed and implemented.

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1.0 Introduction

This report presents the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the Summative Evaluation of the Governance Model for DFAIT support to the network of missions abroad. In compliance with Treasury Board's new Evaluation Policy, which requires 100% coverage of all direct programs spending within a five-year cycle, the Evaluation Division (ZIE) has developed a Five-Year Evaluation Plan (2008-2013). The requirement for this evaluation was identified as part of ZIE's Five-Year Evaluation Plan.

1.1 Background and Context: DFAIT Support for the Network of Missions Abroad

The Department of Foreign Affairs Canada (DFAIT) promotes Canada's interests, protects the security and prosperity of Canadians, and advances the Canadian values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. DFAIT works towards the achievement of three strategic objectives: Canada's International Agenda; International Services for Canadians; and Canada's International Platform.

The third strategic outcome is related to the department's obligations set in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act (the DFAIT Act). The DFAIT Act grants the Minister of Foreign Affairs the powers, duties and functions to conduct all diplomatic and consular relations on behalf of Canada, to coordinate the direction given by the Government of Canada to heads of Canada's diplomatic and consular missions, and to manage Canada's diplomatic consular missions. In accordance with the DFAIT Act and with Treasury Board's (TB) Policy on Common Services, the department is mandated to manage the procurement of goods, services and real property at missions abroad. These common services are mandatory for departments to use when required to support Canada's diplomatic and consular missions abroad and optional for departments to use when required for other program purposes.

To deliver on this mandate, DFAIT maintains a global network of 173 missions in 107 countries. This global network, considered as a Whole-of-Government asset, enables the Government of Canada (GoC) to achieve its international priorities and support international policy objectives and programs of other government departments (OGDs), crown corporations and provincial governments. As of March 31, 2009, just over 7,600 personnel were working in Canada's missions, including both Canada-based staff (CBS) and locally engaged staff (LES). Approximately, 67% of them were DFAIT employees, and the remaining 33% were employees of 32 partner departments2 crown corporations, provincial governments and other organizations.3

DFAIT support to the network of missions abroad consists of the infrastructure, staff and services required to maintain Canada's representation abroad and include the following:

  • The provision and maintenance of office space, official residences and staff quarters;
  • The hiring and supporting of locally engaged staff (LES); and
  • The management of financial and personnel administration, contracting services, information management and technology, security, and transportation services.

Common services support by DFAIT is provided at two levels. At the Headquarters level, the department manages and delivers common services to all federal departments and partners with representation at Canada's missions abroad. At the Mission level, DFAIT ensures that common support services are in place at missions and coordinates them on site to support the operations of the network of missions for all Government of Canada departments and agencies as well as that of other partners with representation at the missions.

1.2 Program Objectives, Governance and The Management Framework for Support to Missions Abroad

On April 1, 2008, DFAIT created the International Platform Branch (IPB) as the single window for common service delivery for all government departments operating within the diplomatic and consular framework. IPB is responsible for the planning and provision of common services at all overseas missions, with the exception of security services, which are the responsibility of the ADM, International Security Branch.

IPB is headed by the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM), who reports to the Deputy Minister (DM) of Foreign Affairs. The ADM, IPB is a member of DFAIT's Executive Council. IPB includes seven bureaus, each headed by a Director General who reports to the ADM, IPB.4 The Director General of each IPB bureau has established internal management structures and advisory groups, as required, supporting his/her efforts to achieve the performance and financial commitments agreed upon with the ADM, IPB. Financial support and advice is provided to each IPB bureau by IPB's Branch Corporate Services which works very closely with and is supported by DFAIT's Chief Financial Officer. The key senior management structure within IPB is the IPB Management Committee, which includes the seven IPB Directors General. The committee is chaired by the ADM, IPB, and meets weekly.

One of IPB's seven bureaus, the Representation Abroad Secretariat (APD), is responsible for coordinating the delivery of common services through the CSA governance structure. The Common Services Abroad (CSA) governance structure includes two streams: an interdepartmental stream with ultimate authority resting with the DM Committee for Global Trends, which is co-chaired by the DM of Foreign Affairs and the President of CIDA; and an internal DFAIT stream, with ultimate authority resting with Executive Council, the department's senior Management Board.

The interdepartmental stream of the CSA Governance structure includes the following three committees:

  • The Deputy Minister Sub-Committee on Representation Abroad (DMC);
  • The Assistant Deputy Minister Council on Representation Abroad (ADM Council); and
  • The Interdepartmental Working Group on Common Services Abroad (IWGCSA).

There are three internal DFAIT committees included in the CSA governance structure:

  • The Missions Board and its sub-committee, the Missions Operations Committee;
  • The Committee on Representation Abroad (CORA) Committee; and
  • The Costing Policy and Procedures Committee (CPPC).

The CSA Governance structure is illustrated below in Figure 1.

Figure 1: CSA Governance Structure

CSA Governance Structure

Key CSA Policy Instruments

Although there are numerous IPB-specific and DFAIT corporate policies that are utilized to support the management and delivery of common services, the four key policy instruments are:

  • Treasury Board's Policy on Common Services;
  • The Interdepartmental Memorandum of Understanding on Operation and Support at Missions, February 2009 (the Interdepartmental MOU);
  • The Common Services Abroad Charge (CSAC) Operating Policy; and
  • The Framework for Managing Changes to the Network (the Framework for Change).

A brief overview of these policy instruments is provided below:

  • The objective of Treasury Board's Policy on Common Services is to ensure that departments and agencies can acquire responsive, cost-effective support from Common Service Organizations (CSO's), like DFAIT, for their program delivery.
  • The framework agreement underlying all of the governance activities of common service delivery is the Interdepartmental MOU. The newly updated February 2009 version of this framework agreement was developed jointly by DFAIT and the partner departments. The Interdepartmental MOU details roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of DFAIT and all of the stakeholders, as well as the principles and operational guidelines for the management and administration of common services and matters related to Service Delivery Standards, financial arrangements, cost recovery and other matters.
  • An April 2007 Operating Policy establishes the framework for managing the CSAC, which is a funding program to augment the common services support capacity at missions where incremental growth in program personnel has occurred. In its current form, the CSAC is not intended to supplement DFAIT HQ common services or activities. The intent of the policy, and basis for the CSAC calculation, is that there will be one common service position in each mission to support every four program positions.
  • The Framework for Managing Changes to the Network policy statement, a newly revised version of which was released in August  2009, sets out the process and requirements for determining what DFAIT or partner program positions can be deployed to missions abroad in order to support whole of government and DFAIT priorities.
Fees, Costing and Financial Matters

As of June 2009, DFAIT's common service partners are subject to eight types of charges.5

The TB Policy on Common Services governs the recovery of costs for the provision of common services to partner departments. The amounts charged by DFAIT are based on the requirements of the TB policy and the Five Costing Principles6 ratified by IWGCSA in March 2005. Common service charges are established by DFAIT after discussion and consultation with the IWGCSA, and are approved by TB.

The basis for each DFAIT common service charge to partners varies. Some charges are actuals based on external service contracts, others are estimates or averages (regional, global or mission specific) based on historical expenditures and others are based upon some assumed level of activity or volume (for example moving costs are based on the assumption of a family of three). As well, some charges are applicable only in certain instances. For example, some charges are applicable only to incremental positions established post-20047 while others may be applicable depending upon the position classification or how close the mission is to capacity.

Other key elements of the common service charges and financial arrangements include:

  • At the time of post creation, DFAIT and each client agree upon the total applicable charges that will be in effect for the duration of the position.
  • Any cost increases thereafter are either absorbed internally by DFAIT, covered by TB based on pre-established arrangements (for example, foreign inflation in excess of Canadian domestic inflation, foreign currency fluctuations, and lease increases), through application by DFAIT to TB, or through negotiation with partners; and
  • In terms of payment to DFAIT by partner departments, first year charges are transferred via Supplementary Estimates (SUPPS A or B), second year funding is transferred either through the SUPPS or through the Annual Reference Level Update (ARLU), and subsequent year funding is captured through the ARLU.

1.3 Evaluation Objectives and Scope

The objectives of this evaluation were to review the current governance model and assess its capacity to ensure the provision of cost effective, responsive and high quality common services, and to examine the extent to which the coordination framework for planning and managing change allows the achievement of expected results.

The issues identified in the Terms of Reference (TORs) included relevance and performance.

Although this report addresses the issues identified in the Terms of Reference (ToR), the issues have been re-organized in this report so that the findings can be presented in the most concise and logical way.

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2.0 Evaluation Methodology

The objectives of this evaluation were to review the current governance model and assess its capacity to ensure the provision of cost effective, responsive and high quality common services, and to examine the extent to which the coordination framework for planning and managing change allows the achievement of expected results.

The issues identified in the Terms of Reference (TORs) included relevance and performance.

Although this report addresses the issues identified in the Terms of Reference (ToR), the issues have been re-organized in this report so that the findings can be presented in the most concise and logical way.

2.1 Evaluation Design

The study approach included a document review, interviews with Chairs and members of the CSA governance committees, IPB service providers, external and DFAIT partners, and an international comparison of the American common service delivery approach, the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) system).

2.1.1 Comparative Study

The international comparison study focused on an overview of the systems and structures utilized by the United States to identify what approaches were most comparable to the DFAIT system and thus, most useful to further explore. The common service delivery mechanism for the US government is the United States International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS). The comparison study included a review of ICASS documentation and interviews with two senior managers at the US Embassy in Ottawa.

2.2 Data Collection

2.2.1 Evaluation Matrix

The key evaluation issues are identified in an evaluation matrix. This matrix forms the foundation for addressing the findings to the issues, key questions, indicators, and sources of data.

2.2.2 Lines of Evidence

Documents reviewed included the background documentation for CSA, including Terms of Reference of Committees, meeting minutes (all minutes and agendas for three most senior committees for 08/09 and 09/10 and selected minutes and agendas for the other three committees), the Annual Report on Common Services Abroad, the newly approved February 2009 version of the Interdepartmental MOU, documents related to the DFAIT Transformation Agenda, the results of client satisfaction surveys conducted in the last several years, the new co-location funding framework, strategic review documents, IPB policies and documents related to costing and cost recovery and other relevant miscellaneous documents and correspondence provided by DFAIT and non-DFAIT interviewees.

2.2.3 Key Informant Interviews

A total of 35 interviews were conducted during the period of May to August 2009. The data analysis phase was completed during the period from July to September 2009.

2.3 Limitations

The focus of this study was on the effectiveness of the HQ-based CSA governance structure and its interface with the HQ IPB management structure. The present configuration of the governance structure has been in existence for just over a year and continues to evolve and mature, thus some challenges were encountered in conducting the evaluation in the midst of ongoing change.8

In terms of the interface with the IPB management, the study was limited to obtaining largely opinion-based evidence from key informants and did not include a review or an assessment of the effectiveness of IPB management practices and operations. Because it is based on key informants opinion, some of the responses are general or reflecting on a specific case or experience. All efforts were made to clarify and validate the information gathered.

The study was HQ-based. The scope did not include a review or an assessment of the effectiveness of mission level governance, management or service delivery nor of the satisfaction level of mission-based external or external partners.

No visits to missions were undertaken as part of this evaluation and hence no interviews were conducted with Heads of Missions (HOMs), Management Consular Officers (MCOs) or mission-based client representatives. However, key informants interviewed for the evaluation included former HOMs and MCOs. Comments made in relations to the CSA management at missions are based solely on the opinions of key informants interviewed who have the knowledge of and experience working at missions.

Nevertheless, the evaluation team believes that the interview coverage was adequate to provide a balanced assessment of the governance framework from the HQ perspective. As a result the findings and recommendations have a solid basis in the interview and documentary evidence.

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3.0 Relevance

3.1 Alignment and Compliance

The following issues related to relevance are addressed in this section:

  • Alignment with DFAIT and whole-of-government Priorities; and
  • Compliance with TBS Policy on Common Services.

3.1.1 Alignment with DFAIT and Whole-of-Government and Priorities

Finding # 1:

There has been great improvement in efforts to address both DFAIT and whole-of-government priorities. The governance structure has permitted the integration of the needs of other government departments into the planning and resourcing for the network by DFAIT. However, some partners indicated their need to be better informed of relevant government-wide international policy priorities which should inform their planning/needs for common services abroad.

Both external and internal partners/stakeholders are pleased with the progress that has been made in ensuring that decisions related to common services facilitate achievement of Canada's whole-of-government priorities. Representatives of external partner/clients were very clear in their position that prior year decisions related to support to the network were based largely on DFAIT priorities, and the approach and mindset has dramatically changed since the establishment of the IPB and the new governance model.

On the other hand, interviews with the DFAIT geographic bureaus indicated a lack of knowledge of how the governance model works and, therefore, concern that DFAIT priorities are not being given sufficient consideration in decision making for resourcing of the common service support at missions abroad. Several informants from DFAIT's geographic bureaus acknowledged that this concern may be due, in part, to transitional issues and the recency of the creation of IPB. This has resulted in some resistance to change on their part in adjusting to the transfer of common service budget authority to IPB and to their new role as a partner department "client."

At the operational level, external partners are fairly satisfied that processes set out in the Framework for Change help to ensure that whole-of-government priorities are addressed. Specific mention was made of the effectiveness and usefulness of the Annual Consultation Meeting in which all partners and stakeholders participate, the opportunity for subsequent discussion and input by partners through the IWGCSA, and as required, by the Missions Board Operations Committee. The CORA, a DFAIT stream CSA governance committee, also plays a key role in determining the results of the proposed position changes considered by the Annual Consultation Meeting. All stakeholders readily acknowledge the very important role of CORA and appreciate the very detailed analysis of position change requests conducted by the committee.

CIC and CIDA each have representatives on the Missions Operations Committee. Interviewees from both departments, which also have a significant presence at the missions abroad, believe that this provides them with a much better linkage to and understanding of the DFAIT decision processes.

Some concerns were raised and suggestions were made by internal DFAIT and external departmental clients with respect to improving the ability of CORA to ensure that the various departmental priorities are met:

  • At least one large external partner believes there is a need for representation of partner departments on CORA, at the very least, in instances where CORA must deal with competing priorities, to ensure that their views are properly considered;
  • Several representatives of DFAIT geographic bureaus indicated the importance of having representation on CORA by the right level of staff, in order to ensure that their requirements are sufficiently considered as part of the CORA process. A similar observation was made by external departmental stakeholders, who do not feel that the IPB staff that represent them always have enough weight in CORA discussions; and
  • Both external and internal partners noted that they are not always aware of or are informed of the policy basis and criteria used for decisions made by CORA for position change requests that were not resolved during the Annual Consultation Meeting. This may be a result of unclear communications, or the fact that clients are not explicitly made aware of decisions taken and the rationale for these decisions.
Finding # 2:

Whole-of-government international policy priorities that should drive the needs and planning for common services abroad of individual government department is not well communicated to departmental stakeholders.

Although DFAIT geographic Bureau representatives indicated that whole-of-government policy papers are prepared for the priority countries to Canada:

  • A number of key informants are either not aware of these documents or did not feel they were sufficient to serve as a basis for longer term whole-of-government planning; and
  • Representatives of smaller partners are not aware of the existence of such policy papers and/or do not have access to them, which makes it difficult for these partners to ensure that their plans and programming support and fit within a whole-of-government context.

3.2 Alignment with the TB Policy on Common Services and Alignment with the GoC Strategic Objectives

Finding # 3:

The management of common services abroad through IPB and the CSA governance structures is in compliance with the TBS policy and aligned with GoC strategic objectives.

Specific DFAIT roles, responsibilities and accountabilities are set out in the TBS Policy on Common Services. As briefly explained in Section 1.2, the objective of the policy is to ensure that departments and agencies can acquire responsive, cost-effective support for their program delivery.

It is the general view of external partners, DFAIT, and TBS representatives that the Department is in compliance with the Policy on Common Services. Examples noted on compliance include the following: the mindset and approach has clearly shifted to meeting whole-of-government, rather than just DFAIT priorities; considerable effort has been put into developing a single window and client-focused model of service delivery; the extent and transparency of financial and performance reporting to partners is improving and increasing; and plans and initiatives are in place to streamline service delivery and to further develop and implement service delivery standards.

As described in the department's 2009-2010 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP), IPB activities related to common service delivery support achievement of DFAIT's third strategic outcome, Canada's International Platform: The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade maintains a mission network of infrastructure and services to enable the Government of Canada to achieve its international priorities DFAIT's strategic outcome, in turn, supports the Government of Canada's strategic outcome. Therefore the International Platform Branch and the management of the network of missions abroad are clearly linked to DFAIT's mandate and the Program Activity Architecture (PAA) and priority objectives of the department. The fact that DFAIT has a clear legislative mandate to manage the network has resulted in their assuming that retention of overall control and responsibility is a requirement for accountability purposes.

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4.0 Performance

Four areas of performance were addressed by this study including efficiency in terms of appropriate oversight, achievement of expected results, partner satisfaction.

4.1 Efficiency and Appropriate Oversight

In terms of the appropriate oversight, the following issues are addressed in this section:

  • CSA Governance, Management Structure and Policy Instruments;
  • Departmental Oversight; and
  • Performance Measurement.

4.1.1 CSA Governance and Management Structure and Policy Instruments

Finding # 4:

The CSA governance and management structures work fairly well, even though they have only been in existence in their present form for a short time. However, the mandate and roles of each committee are not always clear, nor are they well communicated and understood.

The focus of this study was on the effectiveness of the HQ-based CSA governance structure and its interface with the IPB management structure. Although views of members of the various committees were obtained, the study did not include an evaluation of the effectiveness of IPB management practices and operations.

Corporate, government, and aid development literature include many definitions of governance, but the most basic definition is that governance is the system by which an organization is directed and controlled. For example, the Institute on Governance (Ottawa) defines governance as "the process whereby … organizations make important decisions, determine whom they involve and how they render account." A well-known business author defines governance as "an internal system encompassing policies, processes and people which serves the needs of stakeholders by directing and controlling management activities with good business savvy, objectivity, accountability and integrity."9

IPB Management Structure

IPB is headed by the ADM, who reports to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. The ADM, IPB is a member of DFAIT's Executive Council. The Director General of each IPB bureau has established internal management structures and advisory groups to supporting his/her efforts to achieve the performance and financial commitments agreed upon with the ADM, IPB. The key senior management structure within IPB is the IPB Management Committee, which includes the seven IPB DG's, meets weekly, and is chaired by the ADM, IPB.

The Governance Structure for Support to the Network of Missions Abroad

IPB has established a Governance structure to direct and control common service delivery by DFAIT. However, the Governance structure includes somewhat parallel interdepartmental and DFAIT streams. It is our understanding that the interdepartmental "stream" is tasked with providing input to DFAIT decision making and to assist in exercising oversight of delivery of common services at the missions abroad. However, the interdepartmental stream does not exercise direct decision-making authority over major IPB decisions. These decisions fall under the accountability of the ADM of IPB. Major decisions thus cascade through what we have termed the DFAIT "stream." The DFAIT internal committees (Missions Operations Committee and Missions Board) have formal responsibility for the management and oversight of the network abroad. The structure is described in more detail below.

The Interdepartmental Stream: The interdepartmental stream of the Governance structure includes three committees at the DM, ADM and Director levels: The Deputy Minister Sub-Committee on Representation Abroad (DMC); The Assistant Deputy Minister Council on Representation for Common Services Abroad (ADM Council); and the Interdepartmental Working Group on Common Services Abroad (IWGCSA).

The mandate and roles of the CSA Governance interdepartmental committees are as follows:

  • DMC - to seek consensus and provide direction and coordination in the service of the Government of Canada's foreign policy priorities and the objectives and to promote the use of the common service platform;
  • ADM Council - to provide advice to the Deputy Minister of DFAIT on mechanisms to implement Canadian foreign policy through the Government of Canada's international platform and to approve the cost-structure of common services; and
  • IWGCSA - to ensure effective delivery of common service delivery by carrying out responsibilities including: evaluating the operation and implementation of the Interdepartmental MOU; providing advice on common services policy and delivery issues; serving as the dispute resolution body; and coordinating the annual plans for changes in positions at missions.

The DFAIT Stream: The DFAIT stream of the Governance structure includes three committees and one sub-committee at the ADM, Director General (DG), and Director levels: The Missions Board and its sub-committee, the Missions Operations Committee; the CORA Committee; and the CPPC.

The mandate and roles of the DFAIT Governance committees for common services abroad are as follows:

  • Missions Board - to provide an internal governance framework for mission management and make decision with respect to the management of missions;
  • The Operations Committee (a sub-committee of the Mission Board) - to focus on operational matters related to mission management including issues related to mission configurations or resourcing;
  • CORA - to provide a systematic review of all changes to personnel positions abroad, their cost implications and their associated funding mechanisms; and
  • CPPC - to discuss and reach a decision on costing policies and procedures which are approved via the inter-departmental stream.
Summary of Overall Findings

A review of documentation related to CSA policies, the CSA Governance structure, and the interface with the IPB management structure, as well as interviews with key stakeholders, identified the positives and negatives of the mandate, structure and functioning of the CSA governance structure. Interviewees believe that the creation of IPB has led to improvements in whole-of-government coordination via the transfer of authority and responsibility for the common service budgets from DFAIT program areas to IPB, the common service provider.

According to the interviewees, positive aspects of the governance structure for the network included the following:

  • The partner OGDs and organizations involved in the missions abroad are now much more involved in decisions that are made and can influence these decisions. For example, partner departments are directly involved in decisions on placement of staff in the missions through their membership in the IWGCSA;
  • The new MOU provides a good basis for the allocation of responsibilities and for defining the IPB role in provision of common services;
  • The membership of CIC and CIDA on the Operations Committee (DFAIT stream) is highly valued by these partners because it provides a formal and high level mechanism for participating in negotiation influencing Mission Operations and Mission Board decision making and for raising issues and concerns that cannot be resolved at the IWGCSA level; and
  • The general consensus is that CORA (DFAIT stream) works well and deals with very detailed and technical analysis. In the view of all external stakeholders, the CORA process has much improved in terms of taking a whole-of-government perspective, since the inception of IPB and through the Annual Consultation Process established in the Framework for Change.

The key weaknesses identified include the following:

  • Turnover of committee members leads to a constant need for communications, and training on the functioning of the IPB support to the network and the governance structures;
  • Unclear relationship among the various committees is problematic. Although stakeholders are, in general, satisfied that CSA governance committees are working together to ensure much better whole-of-government coordination than in prior years, several observations were made with regard to the need for better integration between the two streams to ensure that governance committee decisions are promptly and efficiently operationalized. Over the last year, the IPB/APD has adjusted the roles and functioning of the CSA committees and this has resulted in some confusion:
    • There is no central repository that clearly explains the role, mandate and authority of committee and that makes available the agenda, minutes and decisions of each committee; and
    • There is insufficient clarity around what issues are to be discussed and by what committee. Several external and internal partners expressed some confusion around what issues are to be discussed, by what committee and at what point in the process. Key informants indicated that it is also not clear what committee(s) have input versus decision-making authority. In addition, it is unclear what basis and criteria IPB/APD utilizes to identify and refer issues to each committee.
  • With respect to IWGCSA (interdepartmental stream), there appears to be some confusion on the part of key external partners around the consultative versus decision-making role of IWGCSA and the relationship of IWGCSA with other governance committees.

With respect to CORA (DFAIT stream), several concerns were expressed:

  • APD representatives are concerned that the effectiveness of CORA is being negatively impacted because DFAIT branches and bureaus are not ensuring that representatives with sufficient knowledge, experience and authority are participating;
  • Some DFAIT geographic representatives interviewed expressed a concern that CORA does not generally seek sufficient input from either the DFAIT geographic bureaus or the Heads of Missions (HOMs), and in addition, the decisions of CORA are not well communicated to these parties; and
  • With respect to CPPC (DFAIT stream), although several concerns were noted by stakeholders around costing issues, and this committee is tasked with reviewing and analyzing costing issues, most stakeholders, including key CIDA representatives, are not aware of the roles and activities of this committee. This might be due to the fact that recommendations of the CPPC flow to the inter-departmental stream and therefore are somehow hidden.
Finding # 5:

The two key policy instruments utilized by the CSA interdepartmental committees provide a good basis for whole-of-government co-ordination at the operational level.

The key policy instruments are the Interdepartmental MOU and the Framework for Change policy.

The new February 2009 Interdepartmental MOU is viewed as being much improved over the 2004 version, because of its increased detail and specificity. Stakeholders view the new MOU as providing a higher level of clarity and standard against which to discuss and assess the reasonability of services being provided and or costs being charged.

At the operational level, external partners are fairly satisfied that processes set out in the Framework for Change help to ensure that whole-of-government priorities are addressed. Specific mention was made of the effectiveness and usefulness of the Annual Consultation Meeting in which all partners participate, the opportunity for subsequent discussion and input by partners through the IWGCSA, and as required, by the Missions Board Operations Committee.

4.1.2 Departmental Oversight

Finding # 6:

The CSA governance structure and other departmental (including the IPB management structure) and central agency oversight mechanisms are providing sufficient oversight of common service delivery.

Although a review of HQ and Mission level management structures and oversight was beyond the scope of this study, discussions with stakeholders indicated that the financial and performance aspects of planning and delivering common services, including the monitoring of progress and risks, are being sufficiently overseen through several mechanisms:

  • The analysis, discussions and review carried out by the CSA governance committees (both the interdepartmental and DFAIT streams);
  • The analysis, review and reporting conducted by the DG of each IPB bureau, and the assessment and review done by the ADM, IPB;
  • Internal management structures and committees within each mission, including the work of the Committee on Mission Management (CMM); and
  • Departmental oversight mechanisms including Deputy Minister and DFAIT Executive Council level review and analysis of both IPB and mission level activities, finances and performance; Chief Financial Office (CFO) review and oversight of financial administration and management; reviews, evaluations, audits and studies conducted by the Chief Audit Executive Bureau and the Office of the Inspector General; and departmental reporting to Central Agencies and Canadians.

4.1.3 Performance Measurement

Finding # 7:

A corporate level performance framework for the branch has been developed and implemented, however, the performance framework for individual IPB bureaus and service delivery standards at the mission level are in varying stages of development and implementation. This has impacted on the capacity of APD to report on results achieved and to determine the value of services provided with accuracy.

The performance framework related to common services delivery encompasses three levels:

  • IPB branch level performance measures;
  • IPB bureau level performance measures; and
  • Mission level performance measures (or service delivery standards).

An initial IPB level performance framework, fully aligned with the department's PAA, has been developed and will be used to report on FY 09/10 performance in the Departmental Performance Report (DPR). Representatives of IPB are of the view that this performance framework will serve as an effective basis for monitoring and measuring IPB level performance.

Based on discussions with IPB personnel, the performance frameworks for each IPB bureau are in various stages of development and implementation. The anticipated implementation date of all IPB bureau level frameworks and the extent of integration with financial information are unclear.

With respect to service delivery standards at missions, APD representatives acknowledge that they are in varying levels of development and implementation in each mission, due primarily to lack of resources and competing priorities. External partners expressed some disappointment that mission level service delivery standards are outdated and that they do not receive routine and systematic reporting on the extent to which the standards have been met. External partners view implementation of service delivery standards at the mission level as being a very important and necessary part of operationalizing the new Interdepartmental MOU.

APD representatives are currently working with mission and IPB personnel to update service delivery standards in accordance with the February 2009 Interdepartmental MOU and to plan and facilitate systematic tracking and reporting on the extent to which service delivery standards are met. In the interim, APD personnel noted that some performance information is reported to partners through the IWGCSA and through the Annual Report on Common Services Abroad. A review of the minutes of the IWGCSA and of the 07/08 Annual Report indicates that the reporting of performance and financial information is not yet done in a systematic and comprehensive manner. For example, in terms of financial results, the Annual Report presents some financial information however it does not present a complete picture of total fees charged and received versus total DFAIT expenditures.

4.1.4 CSA Governance and Efficiency

Finding # 8:

Most stakeholders, both external and internal, feel that efforts are being made by IPB management, the CSA governance committees and the mission level management teams to ensure that common service resources are allocated in the most efficient and appropriate manner.

The role of the governance committees is to ensure that priorities are established for the allocation of resources. The governance committees review the basis for cost recovery by DFAIT for services; however, once the basis for charges are agreed to, the costs charged to each department are levied on the basis of the number of Canada-based and local staff deployed in each mission by each client department. Property related costs that were established by historical lease/buy/build decisions made by DFAIT are paid for through an overall allocation by Treasury Board. New property additions to each mission are discussed by an interdepartmental ADM level committee that advises IPB ADM.

The role of the CSA governance committees in ensuring GoC and Departmental resources are appropriately allocated varies:

  • The allocation of IPB HQ level resources is determined by DFAIT management, whereas effective utilization of resources is the responsibility of IPB management;
  • The allocation and utilization of capital funding at the mission level is driven largely by IPB's Physical Resources Bureau based on property and asset management principles and whole-of-government priorities and needs. The Mission Board and Operations Committee are involved in overseeing the appropriateness of resource allocation decisions made by the Physical Resources Bureau and the ADM Council on Representation Abroad is also consulted;
  • The allocation and utilization of resources to fund common service positions in missions is based on the Framework for Change and the CSAC policy. IPB's ASM and ASD units, as well as the CSA governance committees (most notably CORA and the Missions Board) play significant roles in ensuring the appropriate allocation of these costs;
  • The bulk of common service mission level operating costs are property costs for the mission's chancery and staff quarters. The property related costs are, for the most part, beyond the control of both IPB and the CSA governance structure, since the nature and magnitude of these costs (e.g. rent, lease payments, ongoing maintenance, minor capital and utility costs) are largely determined by build/acquire/lease decisions made by DFAIT, prior to the creation of IPB.

Responsibility for the administration and management of mission level operating costs rests with the management team in each mission and oversight and advice is provided by IPB's ASM. The Mission Board and the Operations Committee play a role in overseeing the appropriateness of the allocation of mission level operating costs, but this is done within the constraint noted above.

Most stakeholders, including external and internal partners, feel that good efforts are being made by IPB management, the CSA governance committees and the mission level management teams to ensure that common service resources are allocated in the most efficient and appropriate manner.

Currently, as a result of the strategic review cuts, the DFAIT transformation agenda, and IPB funding base pressures, IPB is exploring and implementing various cost-cutting, transformations and streamlining initiatives designed not only to increase the efficient use of GoC and DFAIT common service resources and minimize IPB costs but also to cut common service delivery levels. External partners noted that the importance of and need for an active role by the CSA governance committees to oversee and ensure the appropriateness of these IPB-driven initiatives will become increasingly important in order to ensure that:

  • The continued appropriate allocation of common service resources;
  • The fees being charged to partners covers, but does not exceed, DFAIT costs; and
  • The services being provided are consistent with the Interdepartmental MOU and mutually acceptable mission level service delivery standards.

4.1.5 Best Value

Finding # 9:

Partner departments are of the view that they are receiving better value-for-money for common service delivery than in previous years. However, the ability to assess best value is difficult because neither partners nor IPB track and have ready access to the necessary financial and performance information.

The notion of "best value" refers to the attainment of goods and services that provide the best combination of quality, service and timeliness, at the lowest total cost over the useful life of the acquisition. Thus, assessment of best value requires the following information:

  • The needs and requirements of the client, the quality, service and timeliness of the product/service received, and the amount paid for the product/service; and
  • A comparative base against which to judge best value.

The key policy instruments at the disposal of the CSA governance committees to support achievement of best value include:

  • The Interdepartmental MOU (February 2009), which, at a high level sets out the agreed upon services to be provided to partners related to human resource management, property and material management and communication and information technology;
  • The mission level Service Delivery Standards which are intended to define the quality and timeliness of the services to be provided; and
  • The Common Services Abroad Charge policy which sets out the agreed upon level of support to be provided by common services personnel in each mission.

There is insufficient financial and performance information to specifically substantiate the cost of services provided versus target service levels. Neither the OGD partners nor IPB routinely track, analyze or have ready access to the service-specific, or consolidated services information. This includes: the amount paid to DFAIT; the number of positions that received the service; actual service/service levels provided; the quality and timeliness of the service(s) provided; and benchmark costs.

The amount paid by each partner department client in a given year, for specific service(s), and the ability to obtain this information is difficult because of the nature of the cost recovery and billing methods developed over the years by DFAIT and TBS:

  • Partners are billed annually only for services related to incremental positions during that year, rather than for all positions. Thus only the single-year amounts paid by partner departments are readily available; and
  • The amount charged for common services provided for each position is set at the start of each position and remains fixed. Once the total charge is set, the incremental charge for the new position is added to the ongoing total for the partner, becoming part of the total annual transfer to DFAIT, thus the amounts paid for common services provided to "non-incremental" existing positions each year, is included as part of on-going reference level of DAFIT.

This methodology was chosen in order to minimize the overhead that would be required to track specific costs. It also allows for TBS and DFAIT to manage risks bilaterally instead of having 20+ risk management arrangements with individual departments.

With respect to performance information, as discussed earlier, service delivery standards at the mission level are in varying phases of development and implementation. Comparative cost/service information for the various services by mission or region cannot easily be obtained, given the many differences in cultural, economic, political and geographic factors.

Despite the absence of integrated performance and financial information, the larger partners, such as CIC and CIDA, are of the view that they are receiving better value-for-money now than in prior years. In the view of CIDA representatives who are involved in common service financial matters, the amounts being charged by DFAIT are reasonable - they are even cheaper in some countries compared to CIDA's Program Support Unit (PSU)-related costs. Other partners, including DND, RCMP and EDC consider the cost structure expensive and would like better information on amounts charged, services provided and service levels achieved. Both external and DFAIT partners indicated some concern as to whether they are receiving value-for-money related to CSAC funding (for example, to what extent is the current 4:1 common service position ratio being met and are OGD personnel located in micro missions or off-site locations are receiving sufficient common service support).

In terms of assessing value-for-money, stakeholders noted the need for greater clarity on specific services available and the costing of each service; better linkage between amounts being charged and planned service levels; better reporting to partners on the extent to which mission level service standards are being met; client-specific reports on fees charged and services provided versus the DFAIT cost of providing the services.

4.1.6 Sustainability

Finding # 10:

Internal and external partners, as well as representatives of IPB and APD expressed concern related to the ability of DFAIT/IPB to continue to provide common services to meet the needs of whole-of-government under the current cost structure.

Internal and external partners, as well as representatives of IPB and APD expressed concern related to the ability of DFAIT/IPB to continue to provide common services to meet the needs of whole-of-government under the current cost structure.

Several concerns related to sustainability have been noted, including the following:

  • As a result of prior TB and DFAIT financial and other decisions, the current approach to cost recovery is based on incrementality and the underlying assumption that DFAIT's existing reference level is sufficient to fund the base or fixed costs of providing common services. A full cost review to identify both required base resource level and the actual incremental costs has not been done for at least five years and the consensus view is that DFAIT's existing reference level is not sufficient.
  • Client charges are determined and established at the start of each position and the charge remains unchanged throughout the duration of the position. As a result funding gaps are created between the amounts charged to partners and the actual expenditures. The cost increases, as well as any unfunded costs not captured by the cost calculations, are either absorbed internally by DFAIT, covered by the TB based on pre-established arrangements through application to the TB, and or through negotiation with the partners. However, in the absence of a systematic analysis and reconciliation of client charges versus actual expenditures, the extent to which incremental costs are being covered, and or the appropriateness of the charges is unclear.
  • Although DFAIT has long standing arrangements with the TB to make up specific funding gaps, including gaps related to foreign inflation in excess of Canadian domestic inflation, foreign currency fluctuations, and lease increases, there is a two-year lag before DFAIT receives the funding from the TB. In the past, DFAIT was able to cash manage the delay, however, this approach is no longer feasible given the extent of recent budget cuts experienced by the department;
  • The decision to cut some budgets in the interest of meeting shortfalls, in areas such as maintenance for missions and infrastructure, may be useful in the short term but may result in significant future increases in repair and maintenance costs and/or in shorter asset lifecycle.

Internal and external partners are fully aware of the IPB's funding pressures and the current disconnect between the full cost of delivering common services for whole-of-government and the total resources available though the existing DFAIT/IPB funding base and the fees charged to partners. We understand that IPB personnel are actively working with TBS, partners and through the CSA governance committees to ensure the sustainability of IPB and the delivery of common services. The TB has recently requested that DFAIT prepares a submission to review the cost and funding structure.

4.2 Effectiveness

In terms of the achievement of expected results, the following issues are addressed in this section:

  • Results Achieved to Date; and
  • Automated Costing Tool.

4.2.1 Results to Date

Finding # 11:

The current CSA governance structure has contributed to better whole-of-government coordination, improved clarity and transparency in costing, as well as an increased ability to respond to partner needs. This is contributing to the goal of achieving improved common services delivery.

The IPB management and the CSA governance structure have worked together to deliver on many output level results, the most important of which include:

  • The change in culture and recognition that common service delivery is a whole-of-government responsibility rather than a DFAIT-centric responsibility;
  • The transfer of common service budgets from DFAIT program areas to IPB so that management of all common service budgets is controlled by IPB, as common service provider;
  • Establishment of APD within IPB, to focus on client relations and serve as a secretariat to several of the CSA governance committees;
  • The establishment of a multi-level and two stream governance structure that can address issues that originates at the operational, strategic or whole-of-government levels;
  • Appointment of key external partners to the Missions Board Operations Committee;
  • Development, update and negotiation of the revised Interdepartmental MOU; and
  • Renewal and update of the Framework for Change to Networks Abroad policy.

The views of both the larger as well as the smaller external partners is that, for the most part, their requirements and needs are being heard and efforts are being made to meet them. For example, CIDA is very pleased with the increased level of support and co-operation being provided through the CSA governance structure and through APD related to CIDA's decentralization initiative and programming requirements in cities and regions where there is no existing or traditional DFAIT presence. Although CIC expressed several concerns, which are discussed in other sections of this report, CIC for the most part, is satisfied that their common service delivery needs are being met.

Representatives of DFAIT's geographic bureau (internal partner/clients) indicated that they are not entirely satisfied that their needs are being sufficiently considered in CORA. Their concerns may in part be due to the fact that they have less control over support services and the ability to shift budgeted funds between the common services and program at the missions, which is a major culture shift. DFAIT's geographic bureaus also cited concerns related to the adequacy of support and services being provided by CSAC funding for both their and external client programming. DFAIT geographic bureaus partners are of the view that the new common service delivery platform is not yet delivering on the promise of a decreased administrative burden on their bureaus in terms of responding to and resolving mission level concerns related to common service delivery and support. For example, one geographic branch indicated that they are still deluged with requests from their missions on administrative issues. In the view of the evaluation team, this is likely a result of DFAIT staff at HQ and at missions still not having a complete understanding of the new arrangements for management of the network.

The vision for DFAIT's support for the mission network is: an agile international platform; excellence in common services; value-for-money; and investment in IPB personnel. The expected results of DFAIT's support for the mission network are described in the departments 2009/2010 RPP as follows:

  • Headquarters level support: Common services and support are efficient and cost-effective in supporting Canada's representation abroad.
  • Mission level support: The department and its partners are satisfied with the provision of common services and the department is responsive in addressing Canada's evolving presence abroad.

As noted above, external stakeholders are generally pleased with the progress made by IPB and the CSA governance structure in ensuring that a whole-of-government, rather than a "DFAIT-centric" approach is being taken to the planning and delivery of common services.

In terms of agility, the general view is that IPB and the CSA governance structure are doing a good job, in most instances, of responding in a timely manner to changing client and whole-of-government needs. The ability of the CSA governance structure to address issues initiated at both the operational level and the most senior levels of government was noted. The ability of DFAIT to ensure that common service resources were quickly realigned and mobilized to support the recent Mexican visa requirements was noted as a good example of dealing with a "top-down" issue, and the successful development and negotiation between IPB and partners to develop the interdepartmental MOU was noted as a good example of a "bottom-up" issue.

With respect to excellence in service, stakeholders were unanimous in their view that service delivery has improved/increased since the establishment of IPB, however, in the absence of a comprehensive performance reporting system, stakeholders noted that the extent of that progress is unclear.

In terms of value-for-money, external partners are of the view that they are receiving better value-for-money than in the past. However the ability to properly assess best value is limited due, among other reasons, to the lack of performance reporting, including lack of reporting against agreed upon service standards at the mission level. The issue of "best value" is further discussed later in the report.

Both external and internal stakeholders noted concerns with IPB funding pressures and competing priorities that have limited the access of IPB personnel to sufficient training opportunities.

Factors that are impeding the success and co-ordination of common service delivery in Ottawa are:

  • Excessive IPB workload, funding pressures, employee turnover, and lack of time and resources to dedicate to training;
  • Inadequate communication is impacting the success and coordination of common services delivery;
  • Insufficient downwards communication within IPB to ensure implementation of common service delivery decisions;
  • Insufficient outwards communication by IPB to DFAIT partners and HoMs to ensure understanding and buy-in related to roles, responsibilities and accountabilities related to IPB management and delivery of common services in a whole-of-government context;
  • Lack of awareness and or communication of the criteria used and policy basis for decisions made by IPB and by the DFAIT CSA governance committees, including CORA business and matters related to the Annual Consultation Meeting;
  • Loss of momentum and/or corporate knowledge due to the large number of rotational staff in IPB units including APD and Mission Client Services and Innovation Bureau, IPB (ASM);
  • Difficulties in obtaining meaningful and reliable multi-year planning information from partners, whether due to lack of alignment of planning cycles or other factors, weakens the effectiveness of the Annual Consultation Meeting process and the long-term planning for common services delivery;
  • High turnover of land or lack of training provided for APD analysts who, among other aspects, are assigned responsibility for representing client needs in all CORA proceedings; and
  • Lack of a "menu" that clearly explains common services available, the cost of each service and the relevant service delivery standards.

4.2.2 Automatic Costing Tool

Finding # 12:

Technical, funding and other issues have delayed implementation of the automated costing tool. As a result, APD continues to rely on a semi-automated approach to costing and partners do not have access to a costing tool that meets their needs and that can demonstrate value- for- money to partner/clients.

Historically, DFAIT has relied on a largely manual and Excel-based approach to calculate the cost to partners for the delivery of common services. Due to many factors including the need for greater transparency and consistency in costing, the increasing volume and complexity of the calculations, the multiple sources of required data, and the level of effort required for each costing, as detailed in the Automated Costing Tool Requirements document, the need for a fully automated approach to the costing of common services was identified. The objective of the automated costing tool is two-fold: improve the efficiency, accuracy and timeliness of costing information prepared by APD and provide partners with a management tool to assess and predict the cost implication of various posting scenarios. The availability of the tool will permit departments to better understand the cost implications of increased resources at specific missions, and to better demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of various staffing scenarios.

External partners had expected that the tool would be ready for use at the start of FY 08/09 however, several interface and other technical problems were encountered when APD and several external partners began to pilot the tool. Representatives of APD explained that the automated costing tool has currently been put on hold due to competing priorities and workload, but the intent is that the technical issues will be resolved over the fall/winter 2009/2010 and the automated costing tool will be implemented in April 2010. Until the automated costing tool is implemented, APD must continue to rely on the semi-automated approach to costing and partners do not have access to a costing tool that meets their needs. This also means that they cannot as yet assess value-for-money of the common services support provided, and forecast accurately cost implications of additional personnel that they may be planned for the field offices.

4.2.3 Partner Satisfaction

The following issues related to partner satisfaction are addressed in this section:

  • Ability of Partners to Influence Decisions;
  • Communication and Client Relations;
  • Mechanisms for Problem Solving; and
  • Ability of Partners to Influence Decisions.
Finding # 13:

Both DFAIT and external partners have the ability to influence decisions concerning common services, especially when compared to previous years, however, some of the partners interviewed are not always clear on the decision processes and their precise role in these processes.

The following mechanisms have been established to enable partners to influence decisions concerning common services:

  • All partners are involved in the Annual Consultation Process established by the Framework for Change policy;
  • An APD analyst is assigned responsibility to bring forward and represent the needs of each client in all CORA proceedings;
  • In terms of governance committees:
    • All partners have representation on the three CSA interdepartmental governance committees, including the IWGCSA, as well as the ADM and DM level CSA governance committees;
    • Both CIDA and CIC are members of the Mission Board Operations Committee; and
    • External partners are invited, on an as required basis, to attend Mission Board meetings to share and present information related to their needs or concerns.
  • At the mission level, client representatives are included in each Committee on Mission Management.

In terms of their ability to influence decision making, both CIDA and CIC very much value their inclusion on the Operations Committee and see it as being vital to their ability to influence common service decisions being made by Missions Board. Other partners, such as DND, note the importance of the opportunity to present issues to the Missions Board. All external partners note the importance and value of membership on the DM and ADM level CSA governance committees to address strategic issues.

Although external partners are pleased with the numerous processes and mechanisms put in place to enable them to influence common service decisions, several concerns raised by external partners suggest that there is a lack of clarity around their role and authority (i.e., on what issues and at what point in the discussion partners are to be consulted and on what issues and in what instances do partners have decision making authority).

Although one of the responsibilities of APD is to identify and refer issues to higher-level committees, the basis and criteria upon which the IPB/APD identifies and refers issues to each committee need further clarification. Some efforts have been made to create a unified agenda for governance committees that describes the type of issues and level of committees. Nevertheless, both CIDA and CIC representatives expressed the need for more clarity of the consultative versus decision-making role of IWGCSA and/or the relationship of IWGCSA with other governance committees.

At least one major client expressed dissatisfaction that there is no direct link between IWGCSA and Mission Board. In such instances, the IWGCSA member must raise the issue internally with his department representative on the Operations Committee so the matter can eventually be referred to Mission Board.

One other area of concern noted by both external and internal partners is related to the APD analyst role. While the views differ, several partners noted that the ability of APD analyst to speak for them at CORA is limited due to high turnover in APD analysts and inconsistency in their skill set and training. From the APD perspective, personnel noted that the ability of the APD analyst also depends on the extent to which the client fully briefs the analyst on their needs and requirements. One large partner (CIDA) representative explained that the ability of the APD analyst to fully represent their views at CORA is inherently limited because APD analysts do not have the authority to negotiate and make decisions. On the other hand, representatives of another large partner (CIC) are fairly satisfied that their position can be represented by the APD analyst. In the view of DFAIT geographic bureaus representatives, partner requirements raised at CORA appear, in general, to be considered as secondary to the views of IPB representatives.

4.2.4 Client Relations

Finding # 14:

Partner departments are pleased with the improvement in client relations achieved through the efforts of APD and the CSA governance structure. The level of satisfaction is somewhat lower for DFAIT internal partners.

Elements of good client relations include: clearly defined expectations of service and cost, transparency and consistency in costing and decision making, a single and reliable point of contact, responsiveness to inquiries and concerns, follow through on decisions and promises, and ongoing, clear and accessible communication.

External partners provided many examples of how the CSA governance structure, IPB and or APD have contributed towards building high quality client relations, including:

  • The effectiveness of the governance structure, especially with respect to the role of the IWGCSA was demonstrated by the successful joint DFAIT/client negotiation and development of the February 2009 Interdepartmental MOU;
  • Creation of the role of the APD analyst as the "single window" point of contact for resolution of common service delivery issues is viewed as an excellent approach, but only if APD analysts are sufficiently trained and only if all parties are disciplined in ensuring that all issues flow through both the client designated single point of contact and the APD analyst, rather than reverting to reliance on personal networks or informal channels;
  • The enthusiasm and significant effort to support the needs of external partners by the current senior management of IPB/APD has had a very positive impact on improving client relations with external partners;
  • The inclusion of CIC and CIDA representatives on the Operations Committee and the resultant ability to influence decision making related to common service delivery, policy and costs;
  • The participation level and effectiveness of the IWGCSA in terms of being a venue for consensus building among the partners and for raising concerns related to implementation of the MOU; and
  • The implementation, through CORA, of the Framework for Change, which helps to ensure that all client requests are treated fairly and within the context of whole-of-government priorities

From the perspective of external partners, several other aspects are, however, negatively impacting client relations:

  • Although improving, several cost related issues are negatively impacting client relations. These include: uncertainty around costing versus what is actually charged, service levels and the relationship costs, charges and levels of service; and
  • There have been delays in implementing the automated costing tool to enable partners to better predict costs.

There have been also other issues including delays in providing information to partners, as well as inconsistencies in costing; communication from IPB/APD and the CSA governance committees to external and internal partners is not yet complete and the resultant communication gaps and weaknesses are negatively impacting client relations. Clients also do not always have easy access to upcoming agendas of governance committees; and finally to the decisions made by the various CSA governance committees on a timely fashion, including the policy basis of decisions.

DFAIT geographic bureaus representatives expressed frustration around several factors that are negatively impacting client relations between their bureaus and APD/IPB and the CSA governance structure. Several representatives noted that the cause for some of the frustration is likely due to resistance to change as a result of the transfer of budgets to IPB and other transitional issues, and to the geographic bureaus new position as one of multiple partners.

Representatives of DFAIT geographic bureaus noted that they are not being sufficiently consulted by APD and/or through the various CSA governance structures, to ensure that their (and the missions) views are used to inform decision making around common service priorities, delivery and resource allocation. There are instances where input is sought but where the deadline for input is so tight that there is insufficient time to consult with the appropriate missions. APD/IPB has indicated that all efforts are being made to ensure sufficient time is given to all partners to send their inputs and that information are shared in a timely fashion.

4.2.5 Mechanisms for Problem Solving

Finding # 15:

There are multiple mechanisms for problem solving at missions and headquarters. The mechanisms appear to be effective in resolving the issues and concerns of common service delivery partners at the HQ level.

The February 2009 Interdepartmental MOU identifies the following approaches for problem solving:

  • "Disputes or difficulties arising at the mission level shall be reviewed at the mission level, including, as required, discussion at the Committee on Mission Management (MMC) and or referral to the HOM. If still unresolved, issues should be escalated to APD and the headquarters unit of the applicable partner department;" and
  • "Issues related to the general implementation of the MOU are to be referred to APD and the partner department headquarters. APD will determine the necessity of raising the issue with IWGCSA."

External partners readily acknowledged the effectiveness of the IWGCSA as a forum for raising and discussing client disputes or difficulties and the usefulness of the APD analyst position as a point of contact for raising issues or concerns and for initiating a process for resolution within IPD. DFAIT geographic bureau expressed concerns with regard to the effectiveness of the APD analysts or the IWGCSA as mechanisms for raising and resolving their concerns.

External partners indicated that at the mission level, the resolution of disputes is sometimes complicated because of:

  • The reluctance of clients to complain to the HoM/MCO with whom they work on a daily basis; and
  • The lack of service delivery standards that could serve as a baseline for discussions.

Therefore mission level concerns are likely to be referred to HQ for resolution, which, although resulting in additional workload at HQ, are likely to result in more timely identification of systemic issues.

4.3 Comparison with Other Country Models

Finding # 16:

Although the ICASS approach does not necessarily provide a more efficient use of common service resources compared to the DFAIT/IPB approach, the decision structure is more streamlined and involves a less complex committee structure.

As part of this study a brief review of the approaches used by other countries for managing their missions abroad was conducted in order to identify what approaches were most comparable to the DFAIT system and thus, most useful to further explore. Given that the structures, set-ups and approaches to common service support vary widely from country to country, we were advised by APD that the closest comparable approach to the Canadian structure is the American system, entitled the ICASS system. ICASS serves as the delivery mechanism for common services for the American government.

ICASS is a system for delivering shared services. ICASS is supported in Washington by the ICASS Executive Board (consisting of 15 senior departmental representatives), which meets four times per year, and represents the highest level policy making body and the final court of appeals. The Washington-based ICASS Working Group (similar to the IWGSC) reports to the ICASS Board. The Working Group comprises the ICASS clients. It meets monthly to discuss policies and practices. At the working group meetings clients can discuss issues openly and then refer important issues to the ICASS Board.

The ICASS Service Centre is staffed and funded by members of participating agencies. The service centres in Washington and at the missions abroad report to a local ICASS working group and ultimately to the ICASS Board either at the mission level or in Washington.

Under the ICASS system, the US Government provides and shares the cost of common administrative support. Key features of the ICASS system are as follows:

  • ICASS is viewed as an inter-agency endeavour;
  • Use of ICASS services, with the exception of core services, is voluntary;
  • ICASS does not include services related to property; all property related matters are security driven and are managed by a separate organization;
  • A key principle of ICASS is "local empowerment" and thus, control and management of the delivery of common services rests largely at the mission level; and
  • In support of the ICASS principle of equity, clients are charged for services provided, based on a very detailed activity-based costing system.

ICASS representatives noted the following with regard to the activity-based costing approach:

  • The need to "count" workload is at times an onerous administrative burden;
  • Clients are provided with detailed invoices that clearly identify services provided versus the target service level and the total cost; and
  • Charges to clients are set with the intent of recovering all costs. This is accomplished by charging fees which vary per mission basis and by including both fixed and variable costs rather than just incremental/variable costs, in the calculation of "per unit of service." As a result, the cost per unit of service can dramatically change as users opt in and out of the service or as users increase or decrease their usage.

Our discussions with ICASS representatives in Ottawa and our review of ICASS-related documentation, did not suggest that the ICASS approach makes more efficient use of common service resources as compared to the DFAIT/IPB approach. Compared to the Canadian model, the ICASS decision structure is more decentralized, streamlined and involves a less complex committee structure, which could present ideas for the simplification of the current CSA governance.

The establishment of DFAIT of Regional Service Centres (RSC) in a number of locations to serve missions abroad is to devolve functions, authority and accountability from HQ to regions. It is also a cost saving measure. Similar to ICASS service centres at the mission level, RSCs could become a level at which some of the decisions regarding common services are devolved. This requires more in-depth analysis of the potential role of the RSCs that was beyond the scope of this evaluation.

Exhibit 1 below compares the ICASS structure to the DFAIT IPB structure.

Table 1: below compares the ICASS structure to the DFAIT IPB structure
Exhibit 1: Comparison of ICASS and DFAIT CSA Approach
ElementICASSDFAIT
Basis of cost sharingEach organization bears the entire cost of any overseas presenceDFAIT funded to provide base costs, other departments responsible for incremental costs
Basis of cost allocation
  • Detailed workload count system
  • Client billed for proportionate share of actual volume of service(s) provided (usage/total costs (fixed and variable) incurred
  • Estimated incremental charges based on historical costs/estimates/assumed usage levels
  • Assumption that DFAIT funded for base costs, clients charged for estimated incremental costs
Property-related costsOutside scope of ICASS systemIncluded in DFAIT CSA delivery and costing structure (capital and operating costs)
Common Service AgreementSigned between client and Chief of MissionSigned between client and DFAIT
HQ-based Governance structure
  • ICASS Executive Board (clients), meet 2x per year--highest level policy making body--final court of appeals
  • ICASS Working Group--reports to Board--client representatives, service provider representatives are ex-officio members - meets monthly to address ICASS policies and practices
  • Two streams--interdepartmental and service provider (DFAIT), six committees
  • DFAIT stream has decision making authority, interdepartmental stream influences decision making
  • Inter-departmental stream decides on costs and service standards.
Mission-based Governance structureCommon services council (ICASS Council) at each mission--clients approve ICASS budget (since they responsible for covering all costs)
  • Clients are members of Mission Mgmt Committee
  • Budget decisions made at HQ level, for most part
Secretariat
  • ICASS Secretariat-- Secretariat to both the ICASS Executive Board and the ICASS Working Group
  • Interagency-staffed and -funded office objective to facilitate the effective operation of the ICASS system.
  • APD, located within service provider organization (i.e., International Platform Branch)
  • Funded by DFAIT
  • DFAIT (i.e., service provider) funded and managed function
PrinciplesLocal Empowerment; Equity; Transparency; Customer Focus; Shared Services
  • Cost Effective and quality common services in partnership with departments with international programs (Feb 09 MOU)
  • Transparency and Regular Consultation
  • Consistent and Equitable Common Services

5.0 Conclusions

The objective of this evaluation was to review the current CSA governance model and assess its capacity to ensure the provision of cost-effective, responsive and high quality common services, and to examine the extent to which the coordination framework for planning and managing change allows the achievement of expected results.

Overall results

The evaluation concluded that the formation of IPB in 2008, and the allocation of common service budgets to the IPB to manage on behalf of DFAIT and OGD partners have been achieved. The key results intended for improving the CSA governance structure have also been achieved. These include: the creation of IPB and APD; the establishment of the CSA governance and IPB management structures; the transfer of DFAIT common services budgets from program budgets to IPB and the updating of key common service policies. These in turn have contributed to better whole-of-government coordination, improved clarity and transparency in costing, as well as an increased ability to respond to partner needs. Finally, this is contributing to the goal of achieving excellence in common services delivery.

In addition, the evaluation concluded that the governance structure that was established has permitted OGDs to provide important input into decisions on the common service support costs and resources at the missions abroad, and to work with DFAIT and other OGDs and organizations on placing additional staff into missions. As a result, there has been great improvement in the ability of DFAIT and the OGDs to address whole-of-government priorities. However, stakeholders are not always aware of the whole-of-government priorities that may be articulated by DFAIT, and utilized by the IPB and APD to inform decision-making.

There is evidence that the governance framework and the management framework for common services abroad ensures that the platform is in compliance with the Treasury Board Policy on Common Services.

Governance and Management Structures

Governance and management structures for support to the network of missions abroad have been established to ensure whole-of-government coordination. The CSA governance committees work fairly well even though they have only been in existence in their present configuration for a short time. We found that the two key policy instruments utilized by the CSA interdepartmental committees are the Interdepartmental MOU and the Framework for Change policy, and that they provide a good basis for whole-of-government co-ordination at the operational level.

A review of documentation related to CSA policies and the CSA Governance Committees and interviews with the chairs and committee members identified both strengths and weaknesses related to the mandate, structure and functioning of these committees. Overall, the evaluation team observed that the structure is complex; that meetings take up significant time and resources, often for the purposes of information sharing, and not always for decision-making. As a result of our analysis we concluded that the structure could be reviewed, with a view to seeking further streamlining of decision-making if feasible.

Oversight

Stakeholders are satisfied that the CSA governance structure, the IPB management structure, the management structure within each mission, and traditional departmental and central agency oversight mechanisms are providing sufficient oversight of common service delivery.

Performance frameworks

The evaluation team concluded that IPB level performance frameworks and mission level service delivery standards are in various stages of development and or implementation. The performance framework related to common services delivery encompasses three levels: IPB level performance measures; IPB bureau level performance measures; and mission level performance measures (or service delivery standards).

An initial IPB level performance framework, fully aligned with the department's PAA, has been developed and will be used to report on FY 09/10 performance in the DPR. The bureau and mission level performance frameworks are still under development.

Partner satisfaction

Although there remains room for improvement, external partners are satisfied with the improvement in client relations achieved through the efforts of APD and the CSA governance structure. Although very supportive of the IPD/APD organization and the CSA governance structure, internal DFAIT partners are less satisfied. This is attributed to the fact that formerly the geographic bureaus had much greater control over common service resources and delivery and, communications about the changes has not as yet been sufficient.

Efficiency

The evaluation team found that the role of the CSA governance committees in ensuring that resources for common services are appropriately allocated varies according to the type of cost. The Framework for Change and the CSAC policy establish a common framework for allocating resources related to common service positions.

Most stakeholders, including external and internal partners, feel that good efforts are being made by IPB management, the CSA governance committees and the mission level management teams to ensure that common service resources are being allocated in the most efficient and appropriate manner.

The evaluation team concluded that although stakeholders indicated that they are receiving better value-for-money than in previous years, there is still insufficient financial and performance information to substantiate the cost of services provided versus target service levels.

Based on discussions with internal and external partners, as well as representatives of IPB and APD, the evaluation concluded that there are justifiable concerns related to the ability of DFAIT/IPB to continue to provide common services to meet the needs of the whole-of-government within the current cost structure.

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6.0 Recommendations

Recommendation # 1: Clarifying the Decision Structure

IPB should review the governance and decision structure with a view to ensuring that roles and responsibilities are clear, and that the decision processes are well defined and understood. As part of this review, IPB should examine opportunities for simplification, from the client perspective especially.

At present the governance structure is not adequately understood by the DFAIT and external partners, in terms of roles, responsibilities and decision making processes and authorities as well as the interface with IPB management structures. This is partially due to the rapid changeover in staff in partner departments as well as DFAIT, and the fact that the existing documentation is fragmented, inconsistent and sometimes outdated.

As part of the process of clarifying the governance structure, there is a need to:

  • Review the clarity of the mandate for each of the committees and the clarity of decision processes for various types of decisions;
  • Define "partner categories" (i.e., partners with small, medium or large representation in the mission network) and establish expectations for role, extent of involvement in consultations, and authority for decision making;
  • Define what issues should be referred to what committees, and at what point in the decision cycle, and
  • Define and communicate what types of issues are intended to flow up, down or among the various committees and each committee's role in terms of influence and or authority.

Recommendation # 2: CSA Costing Framework

IPB should implement a review of the costing framework as required by the TB to ensure that the common service charges invoiced are sufficient to cover all common services provided as well as cost increases in the future. Also, IPB should ensure that the automated costing tool is implemented as soon as possible.

Treasury Board has had concerns with respect to the accuracy and adequacy of the "cost base" that was established in 2004 for common services. All fees since then have been charged and invoiced to internal and external partners on an incremental basis. However, questions remain as to whether the costs included in the base of 2004 adequately cover all costs and inflation in these costs since then. This is especially important in light of the upcoming increases foreseen in the size of the missions abroad, and the changing balance in DFAIT vs. OGD positions abroad.

As a result of weaknesses and inefficiencies in the partially-automated approach to costing utilized by DFAIT, the IPB undertook the development of an automated costing tool. Technical, funding and other issues have delayed the implementation of the automated costing tool by over a year, and as a result, IPB continues to rely on a partially automated and less approach to costing. Hence, partners do not have access to a costing tool that meets their needs.

Recommendation # 3: CSA Services Directory

IPB should clearly document in one location, and disseminate, for each common service available or potentially available, the respective charge for the service, the basis for determining the charge, and the service delivery standard.

Several partners noted that currently there is no single document or communication that clearly explains what common services are or are not available, the respective charge for each service, the basis for determining the charge, and the promised service delivery standard. Although such information is available from IPB/APD, the information is detailed in multiple documents and organized in several different ways. Presentation of all of this information in one place (website or document) would help alleviate confusion and misunderstanding between IPB and partners around service, costing and financial issues.

Recommendation # 4: CSAC Funding

IPB should clarify and document the criteria used to allocate CSAC funding and the level of CSAC positions that have been provided as per the CSAC policy.

In accordance with the CSAC Operating Policy, one of the fees that partners are charged related to staff posted abroad is the CSAC charge. The CSAC charge is intended to cover one quarter of the cost to place a common service position in each mission, based on the premise that for each four program positions, there should be one common service support position. Several issues concerning the CSAC charges were raised:

  • There does not appear to be routine reporting by IPB internally or to partners concerning how the CSAC funds are being utilized and to what extent the CSAC 1:4 service level ratio is being met; and
  • The process and criteria used to allocate CSAC funding (and thus the establishment of CSAC positions) is unclear or not clearly documented.

In the absence of the above information, the view of several senior level external and internal partners is that the one support position to four program staff is not being met and therefore the extent to which they are receiving good value for the CSAC charges levied is unclear. In June 2009, an enhanced CSAC was approved at the ADM Council to fund the HQ component of common services.

Recommendation # 5: Communication Strategy

IPB should implement a communications strategy that ensures that all pertinent information on the policies, procedures, structures and other relevant communications for partners is made available on a timely basis and in an appropriate format.

IPB should be proactive in ensuring that partners have access to clear communications that are clear, timely and accessible. The strategy should ensure that partners are aware of operational and other policy changes that are made and the implications for them.

In terms of content, the information to be communicated should include the following key elements:

  • A general overview of the whole-of-government strategic international policy within priority countries and regions identified by the government, or by individual departments;
  • The governance and decision structures as well the criteria and procedures utilized to address operational issues through APD and IPB;
  • The agendas, proceedings and decisions of the CSA governance committees;
  • The common services available and applicable information related to costing and service levels, as detailed in Recommendation 2;
  • The extent to which performance levels and service delivery standards have been achieved;
  • A comparison of actual DFAIT common service delivery-related expenditures to common service fees charged to partners; and
  • The criteria used to allocate CSAC funding and the level of CSAC positions that have been provided as per the CSAC policy.

Recommendation # 6: Performance Management

IPB should ensure that performance measurement frameworks for each IPB bureau and service delivery standards for each mission are developed and implemented.

Although IPB has developed and implemented a corporate level performance framework for the branch, the performance framework for individual IPB bureaus and service delivery standards at the mission level are in varying stages of development and implementation. Thus, partners do not have sufficient performance information to assess the adequacy of services being provided nor the extent to which they are receiving best value.

7.0 Management Response And Action Plan

Table 2: Management Response And Action Plan
RecommendationsManagement Response and Action PlanResponsibility CentreTime Frame
Recommendation 1:

Clarifying the Decision Structure

IPB should review the governance and decision structure with a view to ensuring that roles and responsibilities are clear, and that the decision processes are well defined and understood. As part of this review, IPB should examine opportunities for simplification, from the client perspective especially.

Associated Findings: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 11, 13, 16

  • A draft policy framework document has been developed which identifies the core policy responsibilities of each governance committee.
  • A road map to governance will be developed in graphical form to guide stakeholders as to which types of issues are to be addressed by each committee.
  • A network -governance annual town hall meeting will be held each year to educate new and current members on the road map and policy framework. The first is planned for January 2010.
  • All documents will be part of an enhanced communications strategy to all stakeholders via our internet website.
  • APD and other ACM managers will continue to promote and educate on governance as part of their ongoing outreach schedule - see ACM communications calendar.
APD

Committee Chairs

Documents will be approved by governance committees in early 2010.

Town hall meeting - Jan 2010 and annually thereafter.

The website will be updated in early 2010 when documents are approved.

Communications will go out to stakeholders thereafter and as part of existing Branch communications efforts.

Recommendation 2:

CSA Costing Framework

IPB should implement a review of the costing framework as required by the TB to ensure that the common service charges invoiced are sufficient to cover all common services provided as well as cost increases in the future. Also, IPB should ensure that the automated costing tool is implemented as soon as possible.

Associated Findings: 8, 9, 10, 12

  • The Interdepartmental Working Group on Common Services Abroad, the ADM Council on Representation Abroad, and the management committee of the International Platform Branch have already been engaged on this since the summer of 2009.
  • The IWGCSA will be the steering committee for the project and the ADM Council will recommend the TB submission to the DM Sub-Committee on Representation Abroad. Missions Board, Mission Operations Committee and the DFAIT Executive Council will be consulted.
  • A consultant is in the process of being hired to assist with preparing the omnibus Treasury Board submission at a cost of approximately $100K.

ACM

AAM

APD

Consultant to be hired by Jan 2010. Will take one-year to prepare. This very large and detailed submission will essentially involve seven to nine major components covering approx. $1 billion annually. TBS has indicated they wish the Comptroller General's Office to consult as well.

Submission is due Winter of 2010-11.

Recommendation 3:

CSA Services Directory

IPB should clearly document in one location, and disseminate, for each common service available or potentially available, the respective charge for the service, the basis for determining the charge, and the service delivery standard.

Associated Findings: 5, 8, 9, 15

  • This document will only be available after the substantive work done under Recommendation 2. The service directory will be published on the internet website and used in the communications strategy.
  • Service standards for each mission already exist and are posted on the web.
  • Each individual position costing will present itemized costs.

APD

Winter 2010-2011.
Recommendation 4:

CSAC Funding

IPB should clarify and document the criteria used to allocate CSAC funding and the level of CSAC positions that have been provided as per the CSAC policy.

Associated Findings: 5, 8, 9, 10, 15

  • There is routine high-level reporting of the CSAC charge in the Annual Report on Canada's Network Abroad.
  • There was detailed position by position reporting on CSAC collection and utilization when the CSAC charge was re-endorsed by the IWGCSA and the ADM Council on Representation Abroad in 2007.
  • The latest detailed, position by position report was just released to the partnership in December 2009.
  • The process to allocate CSAC was described and endorsed by the ADM Council on Common Services Abroad in the summer of 2009. The Common Services Model is now the methodology used to allocate CSAC funding. A description of it is available on the internet website.
  • Using the Common Service Model, a mission by mission review was conducted in 2009 of all 2000+ common service positions abroad. Europe is the only outstanding region and it is scheduled for review in Q1 of FY 2010-11.

APD

Substantially done.

Europe to be completed by the end of Q1 2010-11.

Recommendation 5:

Communication Strategy

DFAIT should implement a communications strategy that ensures that all pertinent information on the policies, procedures, structures and other relevant communications for partners is made available on a timely basis and in an appropriate format.

Associated Findings: 2, 4, 11, 14, 15

  • The communication of country strategies and whole of government policy priorities will take on a more prominent role in the framework process with more proactive communication of these documents. Given that they are classified, this may constrain distribution. Also, many areas of policy priorities are undeveloped.
  • The Policy and Planning Board of DFAIT will discuss with other government departments about how to best consult and communicate in terms of the government's foreign policy priorities and the intersection of programs with individual departmental mandates.
  • While it is economically unfeasible to provide a central repository of agendas, documents and minutes, a summary of decisions will be created, translated and posted on the internet website.
  • The already existing informal unified governance committee agenda document will be enhanced and better promulgated. Departmental standards set by the Corporate Secretary for agendas may need to be relaxed to allow for a unified document.
  • See annual Governance Town Hall item under Recommendation 1.
  • The existing annual report will be modified to cover more closely the key elements specified in the recommendation, according to the results of the TB submission under Recommendation 2.
  • The assistant position to the DG of the Representation Abroad Secretariat will be converted to an Interdepartmental Governance Coordinator position to improve communication and coordination of governance committees. Given scarcity of funding and relative priorities, there will no longer be an assistant to the DG and the bureau will make due.
  • Add a value for money statement on all costing.
Chair, Policy and Planning Board

APD

Corporate Secretary

Country Strategy and foreign policy consultation - TBD

Summary of Decisions - February 2010 to start and then ongoing.

Unified agenda - updates to start February 2010 and then ongoing.

Governance Town Hall, January 2010 and then annually.

Annual report for 2009-2010 to be modified to expand on key elements.

New job description is underway and should be finalized by February 2010.

Costing season 10/11.

Recommendation 6:

Performance Management

IPB should ensure that performance measurement frameworks for each IPB bureau and service delivery standards for each mission are developed and implemented

Associated Findings: 6, 7, 9

  • Basic service standards for all missions have been in place since 2006.
  • With a series of budgets cuts in 2009, missions are currently reviewing these standards and for larger initiatives, the standards are being reviewed at the IWGCSA.
  • Full performance measurement frameworks and service deliver standards for all elements of all bureaus and all 173 missions will take a considerable amount of time and resources but does need to be accomplished.
  • ACM will generate a plan, in cooperation with the CFO and ADM Security, as part of the TB submission in Recommendation 2.
All ACM units, Security Bureau, CFO and all MissionsIn stages by 2012.

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Footnotes:

1 The interdepartmental stream of the CSA Governance structure includes three committees: The Deputy Minister Sub-Committee on Representation Abroad (DMC); the Assistant Deputy Minister Council on Representation Abroad; and the Interdepartmental Working Group on Common Services Abroad (IWGCSA). There are three internal DFAIT committees included in the CSA governance structure: the Missions Board and its sub-committee, the Missions Operations Committee; the Committee on Representation Abroad (CORA); and the Costing Policy and Procedures Committee (CPPC). Another sub-committee of Missions Board has subsequently been created: LES Governance Committee. Its operations were not part of this evaluation.

2 Currently the network comprises of 32 partners programs including 22 federal departments: AAFC, CBSA, CRA, CFIA, CIDA, CSA, CIC, DFAIT, DND, Finance, HC, Justice, NRCan, PHAC, PSC, PWGSC, RCMP, TBS, TC, Industry Canada, Privy Council and VAC.

3 Crown Corporations and provinces include: Québec, Ontario, Alberta, Bank of Canada, Export Development Corporation and Canadian Commercial Cooperation. Others include programs of foreign countries such as Australia and Israel.

4 The seven IPB bureaus are: Branch Corporate Services and Diplomatic Mainland Logistics; Human Resources and Locally- Engaged staff; Information Management and Technology Bureau; Mission Client Services and Innovation; Physical Resources Bureau; Foreign Services Directives; and the Representation Abroad Secretariat.

5 The eight charges are: Salaries and Benefits; Transfer Price (Employee Benefits Charge); Mission Operating Expenditures; Capital Expenditures; the Common Service Abroad Charge (CSAC); HQ - Information Technology; HQ - Human Resources; and Property Growth Charges.

6 The five costing principles are: transparency, consistency, equity, rule of law, and risk.

7 On March 31, 2004, the framework for incremental growth was formalized via the first inter-departmental MOU. Previously there were a series of bilateral MOUs.

8 Governance structures have been in place since 2000 and have evolved since that time.

9 A Board Culture of Corporate Governance, Gabrielle O'Donovan, Corporate Governance International Journal, Vol 6, Issue 3, 2003.

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Date Modified:
2012-11-22