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Inspection of the Canadian Embassy Athens, Greece

(Version PDF, 585 KB) *

Nov 01 – 05, 2010

Table of Contents

Inspection Scope and Objectives

The scope of the Inspection included a review of Mission Management and the Political Economic, Commercial Economic, Consular and Common Services programs. The inspection objectives were to:

  • Assess the effectiveness of the leadership and management practices of the Head of Mission (HOM) and the Mission Management team;
  • Review the alignment of plans and activities, and program integration to Government of Canada and departmental objectives and priorities;
  • Assess the adequacy of management controls and systems, procedures and the reliability of information for decision making and accountability purposes;
  • Determine the extent of compliance with legislation, regulations and operating policies;
  • Evaluate the use of resources to determine that they are judiciously used and if value–for–money is received; and,
  • Make recommendations, where warranted, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Mission and its programs.

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

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

Executive Summary

An Inspection of Mission Management, the Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs, Commercial Economic, Consular and Common Services programs was conducted in Athens from November 1 to 5, 2010. The previous audit of these programs took place in 2005.

The review of overall Mission Management demonstrates that core management practices and controls are in place and operating effectively. The Mission has strong communication processes and staff are dedicated and knowledgeable. Management is aware of the need to develop a Business Continuity Plan and have indicated an intent to complete it.

The Chancery is on the Departmental priority list for relocation. The building does not meet current Canadian seismic standards, does not have *** and has inadequate fire exits from the building. As a result, all major projects for the Chancery have been postponed and the Mission and Headquarters are working to identify potential sites for a new chancery.

The Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA) Program is led by a *** Program Manager (PM) who is managing the Program ***. The Program will need to expand upon the strategic objectives identified in the Mission Planning and Reporting template to develop program–specific strategic and operational plans.

An *** Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) leads the Commercial Economic (CE) Program. Overall management of the CE Program is effective. The STC will need to scale back the Program's plan to work within the resource levels available. The STC demonstrated *** leadership when he stepped in to manage the Consular Program during a period when the Mission lacked a Management Consular Officer (MCO).

The MCO, *** Program Manager, manages both the Consular and Common Services Programs. A high level of service to clients was maintained during the period when there was no MCO at the Mission, due to the dedication and knowledge of key members of the team. The MCO has quickly gained a good grasp of the operations and understands the many activities for which her team is accountable. The next step will be to develop workplans for the Programs.

Since her arrival, she has implemented changes within the Consular Program to improve operations and strengthen communication. The Program was given Consular responsibility for Cyprus last year and, while they have recently received an additional position in the Section, they are still adjusting to the increased workload. Staff are providing a good level of service to clients, of which a significant part is for notarial services. However, some of these services may be beyond the Program's mandate and inconsistent with guidelines from Headquarters.

The Official Languages Act is respected and promoted by Mission management.

A total of 40 inspection recommendations are raised in the report; 39 are addressed to the Mission and one is addressed to Headquarters. Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the 40 recommendations, management has stated that 24 have been implemented. For each of the remaining 16 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.


Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Embassy in Athens is a small mission with seven Canada–Based Staff (CBS) and 24 Locally–Engaged Staff (LES). It is responsible for departmental program delivery in Greece and recently was given accreditation for Cyprus.

1.1.2 The Mission is led by a substantive EX–01 Head of Mission (HOM) in an EX–02 position. The Mission had been without a HOM for a year prior to her arrival. Currently on her second assignment as HOM, she is well regarded by her staff and has made significant progress in addressing certain management challenges. She has led the Mission through several difficult periods, such as a protracted period when the Mission lacked a permanent Management Consular Officer (MCO), the riots of December 2008, and frequent strikes and demonstrations.

1.2 Mission Management

Key Management Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
The mission's committee structure meets minimum requirements based on size (Health and Safety, Security, Contract Review, etc.).X  
Mission committees are meeting regularly and effectively discharging their governance responsibilities.X  
Program managers are provided regular financial/budget updates to facilitate effective management and decision making.X  
Security policies and regulations are respected and promoted under the leadership of mission management.X  
The appropriate authority participates in the quarterly reconciliation of passport inventory and signs for the assets on hand.X  
The appropriate authority reviews and signs–off on the mission's bank reconciliations on a monthly basis.X  
The mission has a plan to ensure the continuity of operations in the event of a major disruption or catastrophic event (i.e. Business Continuity Plan). X 
Mission hospitality guidelines are reviewed and updated annually by CMM.X  
Hospitality diaries are properly supported, demonstrate value–for–money and are used in alignment with mission objectives.X  
All employees have performance objectives set, annual appraisals occur, and a coordinated approach is taken to training and development.The appropriate authority ensures that all employees have performance objectives set and that annual appraisals occur.X  

1.3.1 Management controls are for the most part in place and operating effectively.

1.3.2 While the Mission does not have a formal Business Continuity Plan (BCP), the Management team is aware of the need to have one. The Mission is currently relying on the Consular Contingency Plan as an interim BCP and plans to develop a BCP.

1.4 Recommendations to the Mission

1.4.1 The Mission should ensure that staff members are made aware of the purpose of classification exercises, as well as the process and procedures.

1.4.2 The Mission should ensure that a Business Continuity Plan is developed.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.4.1 Implemented February 2011 – Program Mangers discussed classification issues with staff members as appropriate, consistent with previous discussions on the same subject. Clarifications were also provided regarding the SR400 process which included a submission for increased capacity for the Commercial Economic Program.

1.4.2 In Progress for July 2011 – Mission Security Committee initially discussed the need of BCP before the inspection. Template was obtained and discussed at the CMM on April 18th, 2011. Work on the BCP is now in progress.


Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA)

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The PERPA Program is managed by a first–time FS–03 Program Manager (PM) who is supported by an LE–09 Political and Public Affairs Officer and an LE–06 Political and Public Affairs Assistant.

Key PERPA Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
PERPA plans are aligned with the priorities and objectives outlined in the Mission Plan (MPR System) and informed by departmental and geographic bureau guidance and objectives.X  
PERPA plans outline intended outcomes and results are measurable. X 
Officer roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and have been communicated to all staff.X  
Internal communications within the program effectively support program delivery.X  

2.2.1 The Program benefits from a PM who demonstrates an understanding of core management practices. Effective communication and an understanding of planning processes were demonstrated during the Inspection.

2.2.2 The PM was posted with only the Program Manager Abroad and delegated signing authorities training. As New Way Forward, Advocacy and other PERPA stream training were not identified as mandatory, the PM was not given the time to complete this training prior to her arrival in Athens. The PM was also not provided handover materials that outlined the current state of Program initiatives, past activities and results, and identified key contacts. These will need to be developed for her successor.

2.2.3 The PERPA sections of the Mission Planning and Reporting (MPR) system were developed by the previous PM and, although limited in scope, are aligned with Mission and Department priorities. The PM identified the need to undertake an environmental scan, review the current objectives and sample plans from other missions in an effort to further refine the Program's strategic plan.

2.2.4 This will allow the PM to expand upon PERPA objectives in the MPR through consultation with the HOM and Headquarters (HQ). This strategic plan can then form the basis of an overall operational plan which identifies specific activities or initiatives, defines a clear alignment to priorities, highlights resource needs and partnering opportunities, and clarifies risks and mitigating strategies.

2.2.5 While the MPR has identified criteria to measure success, it is predominantly quantitative in nature. In order to serve as a more effective tool to manage for results, further development of qualitative criteria will be necessary.

2.3 Implementation

Key PERPA Performance Measurement CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
The PERPA program has an established performance measurement system in place to monitor activities towards the achievement of objectives. X 
The PERPA program assesses performance against their strategy / objectives and plans, and provides a high–level assessment of performance through the MPR system at the end of the fiscal year. X 
Hospitality diaries demonstrate value–for–money and alignment with priorities.X  

2.4.1 As noted in paragraph 2.2.5, the MPR has identified predominantly quantitative criteria to measure results. While these provide an understanding of the level of activity or participation, they do not provide a means to gauge the effectiveness of the activity or initiative in relation to the objectives of the Program.

2.4.2 The Program will need to consider short, medium and long term criteria that reflect both quantitative and qualitative results. The short term performance measures will be of primary use to the PM as they assess the utility of events or initiatives through "lessons learned" analysis and aid in revisiting the operational plan. Medium to long term performance measures can be of use in the operational plan, but will be most useful in assessing performance through the MPR at the end of the fiscal year.

2.5 Recommendations to the Mission

2.5.1 The Program should revisit the Political Economic sections of the MPR.

2.5.2 The Program should ensure that the operational plan and individual work plans are aligned with the MPR.

2.5.3 The Program Manager should develop a short term individual work plan.

2.5.4 The Program Manager should establish set quiet hours to address training needs and administrative requirements.

2.5.5 The Program should identify short, medium and long term criteria (both quantitative and qualitative) for management of the Program and annual performance reporting.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.5.1 Implemented March 2011 – The Political/Economic sections of the MPR were revisited in March 2011 and as a result MPR reporting for 2010–11 included qualitative measures. Beginning 2011–12, the MPR will be closely aligned with PERPA planning and HOM PMA.

2.5.2 Implemented November 2010 – For FY 2010–11, work plans were aligned with the PERPA operational plan. For 2011–12, full alignment with the MPR will be achieved.

2.5.3 Implemented January 2011 – Work on an individual work plan began in September 2010 and was translated into a full PERPA Plan completed in January 2011, including consultations with HOM, program staff and other programs.

2.5.4 Implemented January 2011 – Quiet hours were implemented the first week of January 2011. Four hours per week were allotted to each of the PM and the PERPA officer, and two hours per week to the program assistant.

2.5.5 Implemented January 2011 – Using a PERPA planning template from another mission, a full PERPA plan including performance criteria was developed in consultation with the HOM and other Program Managers. PMP commitments were adjusted accordingly.

2.6 Recommendation to the Canada Foreign Service Institute (CFSI)

2.6.1 CFSI, in conjunction with the Assignment and Pool Management Division (HFP), should identify essential or mandatory baseline training for each stream, to ensure that new program managers have the necessary preparation to manage their programs effectively.

CFSI Action and Timeframe

2.6.1 Once an officer is selected for an assignment abroad as program manager, an email is sent by CFSA, noting the list of mandatory or highly recommended courses for all program managers, including the Essentials of Managing in the Public Service, Training on the Sub–delegation of Staffing Authorities, Program Managers abroad and Supervision at the Mission. The message provides them with the names of CFSI managers by training programs so that each officer can obtain personalized information on the training preparing them for their specific responsibilities. Upon request, training managers at CFSI provide a list of required or highly recommended courses by program, such as the Global Learning Initiative course for commercial program managers, and the New Way Forward for political officers. Some agents contact our managers, others do not. It should be noted that all officers have direct access to the electronic Pre–Posting Training Planner and Learning Roadmaps for each stream that are available on the intranet of the Institute of Foreign Service.

The officers in each stream have access to a full range of courses during their careers. In these lines of courses we find courses that develop the skills of officers, for example Creating Powerful Presentations, Writing for DFAIT, or on negotiations, and courses that touch more on knowledge, such human rights, energy issues and economics. Please refer to the Learning Roadmap for more details.

Please note however, that very few courses are mandatory and it is up to each officer to take charge of their development plan and their pre–posting training according to their needs and requirements for the position he or she will have to fill.


Commercial Economic (CE)

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The Commercial Economic Program in Athens is managed by an *** Senior Trade Commissioner (STC), supported by an LE–09 Trade Commissioner and two Trade Commissioner Assistants (LE–06 and LE–05).

3.1.2 In recent years, the Mission has dealt with a succession of gaps of leadership in the Common Services and Consular programs. During the most recent period, the STC devoted a significant portion of his time to the management and oversight of the Consular Program. With the arrival of the new Management Consular Officer in the summer of 2010, the STC has been able to re–focus his time onto CE management.

Key CE Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Program objectives reflect departmental plans and priorities, including partner departments where applicable.X  
Performance targets are defined, clear and measurable.X  
Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and have been communicated to all staff.X  
Internal program communication effectively supports program delivery.X  

3.2.1 The CE Program makes use of appropriate planning mechanisms, identifying priority sectors through reviews of needs, capability and interest. The Program is, however, having difficulty in managing within its resource base.

3.2.2 Since 2008, the STC has been attempting to re–structure the Program in light of the transfer of an LE–09 position out of the Mission in 2007. The Program had approached Headquarters with two separate reclassification options that it believed would address its perceived needs in relation to its established Commercial Economic Plan (CEP).

3.2.3 In both cases, the Europe and Eurasia Commercial Relations Division (GUC) informed the Mission that positions would not be reclassified and that the Program should review the CEP to ensure that tasks assigned reflect current classification levels. GUC has also indicated that the Mission could use the Strategic Review 400 (SR400) process to try to expand its capacity in order to deal with the demands resulting from the CEP.

3.2.4 While the STC has revised the priority sectors in response to the loss of the resource, there continues to be greater pressure on the team than the configuration can handle. The STC should therefore re–examine the plan and scale it back to meet the resources available to the Program.

3.3 Implementation

Key CE Performance Measurement CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Tools and mechanisms are in place to measure and monitor performance of the program.X  
Program employees are involved in the performance measurement process.X  
Hospitality diaries are maintained in a fashion that demonstrates value–for–money and alignment with priorities.X  

3.4.1 The Program primarily makes use of quantitative criteria for performance measurement, as this is the nature of the tool available for monitoring (TRIO). Consideration should also be given to developing and using qualitative criteria in the medium and long term as a complement to the quantitative criteria. These can be recorded in reports and hospitality diaries so that Program Managers, HQ and staff have an understanding of not just the level of activity, but also the potential value of the event.

3.4.2 The Program demonstrates an understanding that there are external factors will have an impact on the achievement of certain success indicators and that these are areas outside of the Program's control.

3.5 Recommendation to the Mission

3.5.1 The STC should re–examine the CE plan and scale it back to match the resources available to the Program.

Mission Action and Timeframe

3.5.1 In Progress for May 2011 – Draft CE Plan for 2011–12 was submitted on schedule on February 11, 2011. It was developed to be consistent with resources available and was revised in late March 2011 following the reduction to Program's CSF funding. CE Plan will be further adjusted following feedback from headquarters which will be available by April 26, 2011. The CE Plan for 2011–12 will be finalized and submitted on schedule by May 13, 2011.

Mission submitted request under the SR400 process to expand the Program's capacity, as recommended by GUC. Submission received a favourable initial review but Mission is still awaiting final decision. CE Plan will be reviewed and adjusted as necessary following the completion of this process.


Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is managed by an AS–05 MCO who arrived at the mission only three months before the Inspection visit and is on *** as a Program Manager. She is supported by an LE–09 Senior Consular Program Officer, an LE–07 Consular Officer, an LE–07 Passport and Citizenship Officer, an LE–06 Consular Assistant and two LE–05 Passport Writer/Consular Assistants. There is also an Honorary Consul located in Thessaloniki, Greece. The Mission took over responsibility for the Consulate in Cyprus in October 2009 and a new Honorary Consul was appointed in Nicosia in July 2010.

Key Consular Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Consular work is planned and prioritized.X  
The Consular Contingency Plan is up–to–date.X  
The Duty Officer Manual is up–to–date.X  
The Mission has ongoing dialogue with key local authorities to facilitate program delivery.X  
Regular staff meetings are held to communicate new directives, set priorities, plan program and operational direction, and to ensure staff are aware of case management issues.X  

4.2.1 Overall, the Program is *** managed by the MCO. Communication is good within the Program and the MCO *** consults her staff on a regular basis. Since her arrival, she has implemented several changes to improve operations:

  • bi–weekly meetings with all Consular staff have been instituted;
  • each staff member has been given their own petty cash (which is used as a float) to improve accountability, rather than having all staff share one petty cash;
  • the Program has stopped using a drop box for passport and citizenship applications (now staff accept them in person); and
  • the MCO is available to meet clients herself when necessary.

These changes to the management of the Program are viewed positively by staff.

4.2.2 While Consular staff are knowledgeable and aware of their responsibilities and tasks, no documented workplan and/or regular list of tasks exist to guide staff and provide management with a basis for making decisions regarding workload and priorities.

4.2.3 The Mission was given Consular responsibility for Cyprus last year without additional incremental resources, and staff are still adjusting to the additional workload associated with this. A new LE–05 position has recently been created and staffed, which should help reduce workload pressures. Given the addition of this new position, the MCO and staff will need to assess work processes (see section 4.4) and the distribution of tasks so as to ensure efficiencies and determine how best to allocate work. The Program will also need to find a balance between maintaining adequate segregation of duties while reducing unnecessary duplication of tasks.

4.2.4 The Consular Program is responsible for obtaining overflight clearance for Canadian military aircraft. Staff noted that this is a time–consuming and high–volume task which can arise at the last minute, making planning and prioritizing a challenge. Time spent on this activity should be recorded in COMIP so that a workload analysis can be performed and discussed with HQ.

4.2.5 The Program spends a significant amount of time providing certification and notarial services. It maintains a file of the approximately 20 different letter templates that are most commonly used. Initial discussions with the Consular Policy and Initiatives Division (CLP) indicate that the Mission may be providing services beyond its mandate and, in some cases, providing services inconsistent with guidelines (e.g. providing letters in languages other than French or English). This represents a significant workload pressure for the Program and should be reviewed with CLP.

4.3 Client Service

Key Consular Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
A certified CBS signs–off on all passports, except in extenuating circumstances with the approval of Passport Canada.X  
Client documents and personal information are properly stored and secured. X 
Completed passport application forms and related documentation are securely destroyed 60 business days following the end of the month that they were submitted.  X
There are adequate segregation of duties for staff handling revenues. X 
Official receipts are issued to Consular clients and revenue is recorded on a record of fees received form.X  
Revenues are transferred to the finance section once $500 is reached (once a week if less than $500), a reconciliation is completed in the presence of the transferring employee and an official receipt is issued.X  
Upon reciept of new passport stock, two CBS verify the receipt of all assets, sign and return the transmittal note.X  
The primary inventory of passport blanks (temporary and emergency), identification labels, observation labels, stamps, and seals are stored according to official guidelines.X  
Movement of assets is recorded on an inventory log and initialled by the CBS custodian and the employee receiving the asset.X  
LES are allocated an appropriate working inventory that is controlled by a daily log (passports issued, spoiled, returned to safe storage) and unused inventory is stored securely at the end of each day. X 
Inventory is physically counted, reconciled and signed–off at the end of each month by two staff, one of whom must be a CBS.X  
The appropriate authority participates in and signs–off on quarterly passport inventory reconciliations.X  
Official seals and stamps are properly inventoried, secured and access provided to designated staff only.X  

4.4.1 There is a need to strengthen ***. In addition, all staff have *** making it difficult to hold staff accountable as no one is responsible for it. It was noted that there were *** observation labels held as working stock in the Section, which far exceeds the Program's needs.

4.4.2 Currently the cash drawer in the cash register is not used, as all staff members receive payment from clients and keep the funds separate from one another. Each staff member is also responsible for completing their own Record of Fees Received form (EXT119). To improve efficiency for the management ***the Mission should review the processes and consider centralizing *** responsibilities with one individual.

4.4.3 The implementation of petty cash accounts for all staff members who receive payment was a good initiative to improve accountability. ***.

4.4.4 Official receipts (in the form of a cash register tape) are issued to each client in their name.

4.4.5 While the filing system is well maintained and allows for easy retrieval of files/information, some files were almost 20 years old. Certain files also contained copies of all notarial services provided by the Program and included copies of all supporting documents, which do not need to be retained.

4.4.6 On a monthly basis, the Mission generates an aged case report for passports from the Passport Management Program (PMP) in order to ensure proper follow–up is made regarding pending applications. However, there is a backlog of passport worksheets that date from April 2010 that have not been scanned so the cases can be closed in the PMP system.

4.4.7 Observations regarding passport processing which should improve efficiencies and the protection of information include:

  • using the rejection letter templates with check boxes (provided by Passport Canada) rather than writing individual tailored letters;
  • providing clients with the pick–up date for their passports at the time of payment, instead of calling them when the passports are ready; and,
  • reviewing the current process of passport document retention to identify ways to reduce the risk of losing documentation such as applications in–progress, birth certificates or citizenship cards.

4.5 Recommendations to the Mission

4.5.1 The Mission should develop a workplan for the Program and undertake a review of duties and work processes to ensure processes are efficient.

4.5.2 The Mission, in consultation with CLP, should review the list of notarial services that are being provided to Consular clients to ensure that they are in line with departmental policies/guidelines.

4.5.3 Pamphlets and applications should be made available to clients in the waiting area and any information displayed should be up–to–date and continue to be in both official languages. Service standards, a fee schedule and a copy of an official receipt, in both official languages, should also be displayed.

4.5.4 Staff should enter dates into the PMP system according to established guidelines to ensure an accurate reflection of service standards.

4.5.5 ***.

4.5.6 ***.

4.5.7 The amount of working stock of observation labels kept in the Section should be reviewed.

4.5.8 Consideration should be given to having only one staff member responsible for receiving payments from clients each day, which would allow for the use of the ***.

4.5.9 The Mission should ensure the timely destruction of files and reassess the need to keep copies of notarial services.

4.5.10 The Mission should implement the following:

  • use of a rejection letter templates provided by Passport Canada;
  • provide pick–up dates for passports to clients; and,
  • improve the current method of securing working passport application documents.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.5.1 In Progress for December 2011 – A baseline workplan was developed in February 2011. Further development of this workplan is conditional on the review of the MCI (Manual of Consular Instructions) being undertaken at HQ. Meanwhile, the program's priorities are very well identified and communicated to staff, including through the PMP process.

4.5.2 In Progress for December 2011 – Consultation with CLP was done in February 2011. At that time, the mission was advised to wait for the revised MCI to come out. As instructed, mission is awaiting issuance of the revised MCI before proceeding further.

4.4.3 Implemented November 2010 – Up–to–date publications, applications, service standards, a fee schedule & a copy of an official receipt – all in both official languages – were made available in all waiting areas.

4.5.4 Implemented November 2010 – Both CLP and PPSD were contacted in order to resolve some of these inconsistencies. Issue has been rectified.

4.5.5 In Progress for July 2011 – A "dutch door" will be installed closing off the *** from the rest of the floor and restricting the rest of the embassy staff. The door will not be locked, which will permit occupant of the floor to access the fire exit if there is ever an emergency.

4.5.6 Implemented January 2011 – The *** Officer is now the sole custodian *** is the only Consular employee who has access ***.

4.5.7 Implemented November 2010 – The stock of observation labels was reduced ***.

4.5.8 Implemented November 2010 – The matter was given thorough consideration following the Inspection. However, it was determined that this procedure would not be practical given the division of labour.***.

4.5.9 Implemented June 2011 – Mission will only keep copy of the receipt for services and none of the notarized documents.

4.5.10 Following the Inspection debriefing:

  • Implemented June 2011 – The Consular section will now only use the established templates.
  • Implemented September 2010 – Pick–up slips with pick–up dates are provided to walk–in clients. The only clients called are those who have sent in their application by mail and wish to have a courier pick up their passport, instead of the mission putting it back in the mail. Clients are advised of the arrival of their passport and make appropriate arrangements to have it picked up by a courier company.
  • Implemented November 2010 – Working files are now placed in separate plastic envelopes. This procedure has improved the securing of working passport application documents.

Common Services

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Common Services Program is managed by the MCO, who is supported by two CBS, seven Locally–Engaged office staff and three Locally–Engaged non–office staff.

Key Common Services Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
An operational plan has been developed and incorporates key mission and international platform objectives, along with measurable expected results. X 
The program has documented and communicated administrative policies and procedures to guide management, staff and clients. X 
The Common Services program actively seeks to implement best practices, improve efficiencies and reduce operating costs.X  
There are regular staff meetings in the Common Services Program to review priorities for the period and to follow up the implementation of plans.X  

5.1.4 The MCO, who has been at the Mission for three months, has already impressed staff ***. Despite her short time at the Mission, she has a good grasp of Mission operations and understands the many tasks that need to be accomplished to ensure that the Mission runs as efficiently and effectively as possible.

5.1.5 In consultation with her staff, it will be important for the MCO to develop a workplan for the Program which identifies priority tasks and assigns resources and achievable deadlines. HOM support will be necessary to ensure that the MCO has the time and latitude to manage her programs, as there is a potential for burnout with so many tasks to be completed if the plan is not adhered to. Quiet hours would also assist the MCO to focus and concentrate on necessary activities.

5.1.6 New policies are discussed at the Committee on Mission Management (CMM) and are circulated by email and saved on InfoBank. They are also communicated and discussed at townhall meetings when necessary. However, in some cases, a lack of key guidelines has limited the MCO's ability to hold staff accountable for delegated responsibilities. Such directives are important as they guide both staff and clients and ensure consistent application of policies and procedures.

5.1.7 Communication within the Program is strong, with good formal and informal mechanisms in place. The MCO holds weekly meetings after the CMM, alternating between staff in the Consular and Common Services programs. Follow–up to meetings would be facilitated by sharing written records of decision (deadlines, assignment of work, etc.). Non–office common service staff are included in these meetings and communication with the Official Residence staff is effective.

5.1.8 The MCO has an open–door policy and is available whenever staff request ad hoc meetings. While it is important that the MCO is accessible, work–related issues are often raised one by one by staff. This can be disruptive and forces the MCO to make individual decisions on isolated issues. Weekly meetings with section heads should be instituted to review all work related requests as a group and allow the MCO to review progress on outstanding work.

Client Service

Key HR Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Responsibilities for human resource (HR) activities have been clearly defined, delegated and communicated to all staff.X  
LES have been provided with the most recent version of the LES Handbook.X  
The LESMCB is representative of Mission programs and levels and is utilized by both LES and mission management to facilitate communication.X  
An HR plan has been developed and submitted to headquarters (HQ).X  
A coordinated approach is taken with regards to training and a budget established.X  
Mechanisms are in place to monitor completion of employee's performance evaluations, CBS and LES.X  
Employee and position files are complete and maintained separately.X  
Job descriptions are up–to–date and signed by the incumbent and the supervisor.X  
The Mission records LES accrued leave, deductions and current balances.X  

5.2.2 Overall, HR management is effective and functioning well. PMPs are all up to date and the process is strongly supported by the HOM. Communications from the Personnel Officer are frequent and effective.

5.2.3 The Mission maintains an LES Committee in addition to having LES members on the Locally–Engaged Staff Management Consultative Board (LESMCB). There is a good representation of the different programs and position levels. The Inspection Team met with the LES Committee and the following issues were raised:

  • lack of transparency with the Total Compensation Review process;
  • worry that compensation packages would be reduced as is being done in the local public sector;
  • possible revision of Terms and Conditions of Employment due to reforms in local law;
  • concerns over possible position cuts as a result of budget cuts;
  • the location of the new chancery; and,
  • resolution of long outstanding classification requests.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

Key Physical Resources Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
The MPMP and MMWP are up–to–date and approved by the appropriate authorities at mission and HQ.X  
The appropriate authority allocates SQs based on the recommendation of the Housing Committee.X  
The Chancery is well maintained and a maintenance schedule is in place. X 
The Official Residens (OR) is well maintained and a maintenance schedule is in place. X 
The mission has an efficient process in place for receiving, processing and monitoring work orders. X 
Annual inspections are conducted to assess the state of the SQ and input into maintenance and acquisition planning. X 
The Mission's multi–year Capital Acquisition Plan is approved by CMM annually.  X
Local procurement guidelines have been established. X 

5.3.4 Staff in the Section would benefit from having a discussion regarding accountabilities and responsibilities, which would guide decision making. This would include a review of spending limits, authorities and guidelines for the use of petty cash, cheques and acquisition cards. While local procurement guidelines are generally understood by the responsible staff members, there are no written guidelines in place. This limits the MCO's ability to hold staff accountable for delegated responsibilities and has led to inconsistency in the process applied and in the documents maintained on file. Developing a standard process document would provide staff with clearer guidelines and ensure greater transparency in the procurement process.

5.3.5 Work performed by the Section is largely reactive in nature and the development of a workplan would guide staff and enable the MCO to monitor work and perform a workload analysis. Service standards would also help staff to manage client expectation, as well as workloads.

5.3.6 After two years with no turnover, the summer of 2010 saw the relocation of four CBS and the leasing of three new SQs. Although new leases were more expensive than existing ones, the new SQs are of better quality. One existing lease was also renegotiated and a reduction was obtained. The commute for most CBS is close to one and a half hours each way and proximity to both public transportation and amenities were cited as challenges in identifying suitable SQs. Three SQs were visited as part of the Inspection. Two were of good quality, while the third was significantly smaller and has had substantial problems with *** the supply of electricity and the *** over the duration of the lease. ***.

5.3.7 While the Chancery is on a priority list for relocation, it is uncertain when this will take place. In consultation with HQ, it will be important that a short and medium–term plan for the Chancery be developed. Service contracts are in place for the Chancery and OR. However, a documented maintenance schedule for both locations would enable the Program to more effectively monitor work and proactively plan/schedule for future requirements.

5.3.8 The departmentally approved electronic work request system has been purchased by the Mission but not yet implemented. Currently, work requests are received by email or verbally, creating the risk that some requests may be missed or non actioned. Clients advised that this has happened in the past, which may have contributed to the perception that the Section is not client–service oriented. The Mission plans to roll out the system within the next few months and this will greatly assist monitoring, as well as providing a client feedback mechanism.

5.3.9 Both the HOM and MCO have visited all SQs, with regular maintenance visits made throughout the year. However, no annual inspection of SQs is performed. Annual inspections of properties would provide valuable information which could feed into the maintenance and capital acquisition plans.

5.3.10 Currently, there is no maintenance workplan, nor is there a multi–year capital acquisition plan. There is therefore a risk that maintenance projects or materiel acquisition needs could be overlooked or go unfunded. The Section should be proactive and consult PMs regarding their program needs and CBS regarding SQ needs in order to develop plans. The plans and associated budgets should then be presented at the CMM for discussion and approval.

Client Service

5.3.11 Client perceptions of the Property Section and client relations in general need to be improved. Some clients noted that the Section is sometimes too rigid in its adherence to policy and not focussed on finding solutions. There have been some instances where requests have not been actioned, which has led to the feeling that clients must fight to get services. The Section will have to work to change this negative perception. The implementation of an electronic service request system and development of standards and guidelines will help to better manage client expectations with improved communications.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

Key Finance Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Financial procedures have been established to guide clients and Finance staff. X 
The section employs methods to minimize disruption (eg. setting of "quiet hours" and controlling access to the finance section).X  
The section has explored alternate methods to minimize transactions and reduce reliance on cash (i.e. acquisition cards, EFTs).X  
Payment runs are kept to a minimum, but are sufficient enough to allow for good client service.X  
Roles and responsibilities ensure adequate segregation of duties.X  

5.4.3 Staff are experienced, conscientious and take their roles seriously. They have advised that they are facing heavier workloads, mostly due to the split of budgets and more reporting requirements from HQ.

5.4.4 Although Outlook is used for reminders, no formal workplan exists for the Section. The creation of a workplan detailing tasks to be performed, the responsible staff member and deadlines for completion, along with the development of Mission specific service standards, would help guide staff and clients and assist in the monitoring of work. The possibility that both Accountants could be on extended leave at the same time, makes this type of planning and documentation even more important.

5.4.5 While financial procedures are well understood by staff, they should be better documented and communicated to clients. Staff roles and responsibilities should also include more emphasis on the challenge function when reviewing documents received from other staff members, to ensure compliance with policies and procedures. Implementation of these two recommendations will strengthen an already well functioning Section.

Client Service

5.4.6 Overall, clients are satisfied with services received from the Section. New procedures are communicated using emails. However, there is no central repository containing up–to–date information.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

Key IM–IT Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
An Information Management/Information Technology (IM–IT) workplan exists and includes regional activities. X 
The CMM or an IM–IT Committee provides direction and oversight for the IM–IT function.X  
The liaison between the mission, HQ and regional manager is effective.X  
IM–IT requirements in relation to business continuity planning (BCP) have been defined, implemented and tested. X 

5.5.2 The FSITP *** and understands well the work to be performed by the Section. IT support requests are coordinated through Remedy, with much of the work largely reactive in nature. However, to assist with planning major projects or improvement initiatives and guide the work of the FSITP, an IM–IT workplan should be developed. It would also enable the MCO to monitor work and perform a workload analysis.

5.5.3 Although a formal IM–IT Committee is not in place, communications with Mission staff are very good. The MCO is involved in the function and is consulted about all program requirements. The FSITP attends the bi–weekly meeting with all Common Services staff. The FSITP also provides input into the Mission's budget planning process and assesses IT hardware and software requirements. The small size of the Mission allows for frequent communications with clients on any requirements.

5.5.4 The Mission is in the process of developing a Business Continuity Plan and has designated *** as the alternate command post (ACP). Some IT equipment is already on site and additional passport equipment will also be set up there. Once the set–up is completed, it will be important to test equipment regularly as part of the plan.

Client Service

Key IM–IT Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Back–ups are performed routinely and tapes are stored in a secure location away from the primary use area.X  
The mission has appropriate secondary communications in place and those tools are tested regularly.X  
Standardized practices and processes are in place to facilitate management and sharing of corporate information across programs. (e.g. e-mail best practices, effective folder structures).X  
Controls are in place to ensure the network acceptable use policy (NAUP) is respected (SIGNET and digital subscriber line (DSL) connections).X  
Employees formally sign out IT assets (mobility tools) and are advised of their accountabilities. X 
Surplus IT assets are disposed with the appropriate approvals per departmental policy.X  

5.5.6 Overall, IM–IT processes and controls were effective. Reminders are sent to staff regarding network acceptable use, and as a good practice the FSITP is planning to make a presentation at the next town–hall meeting on this subject. There had been some sharing of passwords in the past, but the issue was discussed with staff and it has not occurred recently.

5.5.7 An inventory of IT assets is maintained through the use of ITAMS and the FSITP reviews and updates the inventory on a regular basis. However, a sign–out register is not being used for equipment such as laptop computers provided to staff on loan. Disposal of surplus equipment is conducted by the Common Services Section.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.5.9 A workplan and service standards for the Section should be developed and shared with clients.

5.5.10 IT assets should be formally signed out by users and accountabilities communicated.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.9 In Progress for June 2011 – MCO & FSITP discussed this recommendation in April 2011. A workplan and service standards are now being developed and will be shared with clients.

5.5.10 Implemented April 2011 – The FSITP created a sign out/custodian form for all IT equipment on loan to LES & CBS. Staff were informed of this change and the forms are currently being used.


Appendix A : Mission Resources Fact Sheet

Physical Resources
AssetsCrown OwnedCrown Leased
Chancery1-
Official Residence1-
Staff Quarters-6
Vehicles4-

 

2009–2010 BudgetsProgram BudgetCommon Services Budget
Operating (N001)$228,115$1,204,055
Capital (N005)-$81,105
CBS Salaries (N011)--
LES Salaries (N012)$897,524$509,851
Total$1,125,639$1,795,011

 


Appendix B : Organization Chart

Accessible Organization Chart

Athens Organization Chart


Appendix C: Frequently Used Acronyms

BCP
Business Continuity Plan
CBS
Canada-based Staff
CMM
Committee on Mission Management
COMIP
Consular Management Information Program
CONPLAN
Contingency Plan
CRB
Contract Review Board
CSF
Client Service Fund
EFT
Electronic Funds Transfer
DMCO
Deputy Management Consular Officer
FSITP
Foreign Service Information Technology Professional
FTE
Full Time Equivalent Position
FY
Fiscal Year
GCS
Global Commerce Strategy
GVC
Global Value Chains
HOM
Head of Mission
HONCON
Honorary Consul
HQ
Headquarters
HR
Human Resources
HSZ
High Security Zone
IBD
International Business Development
ICT
Information Communication Technologies
IM-IT
Information Management - Information Technology
IMS
Integrated Management System
LEITP
Locally-engaged Information Technology Professional
LES
Locally-engaged Staff
LESMCB
LES Management Consultation Board
MCO
Management Consular Officer
MPMP
Mission Property Management Plan
NAAP
North American Platform Program
OR
Official Residence
OZ
Operations Zone
PERPA
Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs
PIF
Post Initiative Fund
PM
Program Manager
PMA
Performance Management Agreement
PMP
Human Resources – Performance Management Program
PMP
Consular – Passport Management Program
PRIME
Physical Resources Information - Mission Environment
ROCA
Registration of Canadians Abroad
S&T
Science and Technology
STC
Senior Trade Commissioner
STC
Senior Trade Commissioner
SQ
Staff Quarter
SZ
Security Zone
TC
Trade Commissioner
TCA
Trade Commissioner Assistant
TCS
Trade Commissioner Service
TRIO
The TCS’ Client Relationship Management System
ZID
Office of the Inspector General
ZIV
Inspection Division

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Date Modified:
2012-11-14