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Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

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Inspection of The Canadian Consulate General Dallas

(Including the Consulate in Houston)

(PDF Version, 243 KB) *

June 14 - 18, 2010

Table of Contents

Inspection Scope and Objectives

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

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

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

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


Executive Summary

An Inspection of Mission Management, the Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Common Services Programs was conducted in Dallas and Houston from June 14 to 18, 2010. A previous audit of these programs took place in November 2002.

This is a *** managed Mission where committees are used effectively and open communication is apparent. If there is one general area where improvements would be necessary, it is in the recording of objectives and results on hospitality diaries. With minor exceptions, the Mission is compliant with the Official Languages Policy Framework.

The Program Manager of the PERPA Program is on assignment from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The Program benefits from *** management practices and effective communications. The development of operational plans will enable the Program to better manage resources and priorities.

The IBD Program encompasses operations in Dallas and Houston, and has a well defined structure that allocates priority areas. The Inspection has identified the potential for issues to arise with regard to the coordination of strategy between the Structured Practice Groups and the North American Platform Program partners and the effects of multiple strategies on officers in the field. The Senior Trade Commissioner, having initially established contacts in the territory, will now need to focus on Program management in Dallas and Houston.

The Consular Program is *** managed, and meets service standards. It has established *** contacts with the local authorities and conducts annual outreach to the "Snowbird" community. The Program will have to improve internal controls over the tracking of passport stock and ensure that only an appropriately cleared Canada-based staff member fulfills the role of "approver" on passports.

The Mission's Common Services Program benefits from *** management and good communications within the team. Overall processes and internal controls are strong, with improvements necessary in areas such as file maintenance, management of fuel purchases, and claim verification. The Mission should also strengthen internal processes related to cash handling and contracting.

A total of 52 inspection recommendations are raised in the report; 48 are addressed to the Mission and four are addressed to Headquarters. Management has
responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the 52 recommendations, management has stated that 32 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 20 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.


Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Mission in Dallas is a medium sized mission with eight Canada-based staff (CBS) and 21 Locally-engaged staff (LES). It is responsible for departmental program delivery in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma, and has a satellite Consulate in Houston staffed by two CBS and two LES.

1.1.2 The major challenge for the Mission was the recent move of the Chancery in April 2010, resulting in some difficulties adapting to working in an open concept environment.

1.2 Mission Management

Key Mission Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
The Mission's strategic objectives are consistent with Government and DFAIT priorities and guide staff performance measurement objectives.X  
DFAIT programs have developed operational plans based on the objectives outlined in the country strategy and advice/guidance from Headquarters (HQ).X  
The Committee on Mission Management (CMM) is an effective forum to review and make decisions on mission and administrative policies.X  
Mission management maintains an active and productive dialogue with the Locally-engaged staff (LES) Management Consultation Board.X  
Mission Management ensures that employees remain informed of key priorities and administrative policy decisions.X  
Minutes of committee meetings, particularly CMM, are made available to all staff, as appropriate.X  
The Official Languages Policy is respected and promoted by Mission Management.X  
Canadian Public Service values and ethics are promoted and reinforced, and employees are aware of available support resources (values and ethics, staff relations).X  

1.2.1 The Mission has a well developed management framework that has been effectively implemented. It benefits from a *** management team which promotes open communications.

1.2.2 Plans at the strategic and operational levels are aligned with the priorities of both the Government and the Department and provide clear guidance to programs. Strategic plans are reviewed on an annual basis, whereas the operational plans are reviewed more frequently throughout the year in order to address changes in the environment.

1.2.3 The Mission holds weekly Committee on Mission Management (CMM) meetings and distributes minutes to all staff. The satellite office in Houston participates in the CMM and the quarterly all staff meetings via video link.

1.2.4 With the exception of the English only instructions for the Chancery Security Alert System (CSAS), and a uni-lingual English fee schedule in the Consular booth, the Mission respects the Treasury Board Secretariat's Official Languages Policy Framework and has demonstrated capacity to serve Canadians in the official language of their choice.

1.3 Management Controls

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.X  

1.3.1 With the exception of the Contracting Review Board (CRB), the management controls for the Mission are in place and operate effectively.

1.3.2 The CRB, as will be noted in the Finance section of this report (paragraph 5.4.11), did not meet in person, and was not providing an adequate challenge function.

1.3.3 As noted in paragraphs 2.4.2, 3.4.2 and 5.4.14 of this report, hospitality diaries do not always contain sufficient detail as to the objectives and evaluation of the event, nor do they always contain sufficient supporting documentation. These findings will be addressed in the relevant sections of the report.

1.4 Recommendations


Recommendation to the Mission

1.4.1 The Mission should ensure full compliance with the Official Languages Policy Framework.

Mission Action and Timeframe

1.4.1 Implemented June 2010. A French version of the Consular fee schedule has been placed in the Consular booth. French translations of the CSAS instructions have been placed at each CSAS station. The Mission will continue to ensure full compliance with the Official Languages Policy Framework on an ongoing basis.

 


Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs Program (PERPA)

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The Program is *** managed by an FS-03 Program Manager (PM) who comes from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. She is supported by three LE-09 PERPA Officers, and an LE-05 Secretary/Researcher. The Program's operational funding, for fiscal year (FY) 2010-2011, is as follows:

FundAmount
Travel$14,500
Hospitality9,000
Advocacy22,000
North American Partnership Platform70,118
TOTAL$115,618

 

2.1.2 Staff are ***, with a PM who demonstrates *** management practices. One of the PERPA Officers, who has 21 years of experience at the Mission, is *** of the Program. The PM has recognized that over reliance on this officer may hamper the development of the two other LE-09 Officers. Through the application of strategies that address the issue, the PM has enabled the longer serving Officer to focus more on reporting and strategic issues, while at the same time providing the other Officers with experience and development opportunities in different fields.

2.1.3 The Program is responsible for a diverse set of activities. This includes political and economic advocacy, analysis and reporting, public affairs, academic relations, cultural events, and visits management and coordination. The Program has been active in the coordination and support of visits, taking a whole of Mission approach. In addition to the joint efforts at the Mission between PERPA and the International Business Development (IBD) Program for events related to the energy sector, the Program has provided support to other missions, such as to Los Angeles for the South by Southwest Music Festival.

2.2 Planning and Program Management

Key PERPA Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA) plans are aligned with the priorities and objectives outlined in the Country Strategy 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 Plans are aligned with the objectives of both the Government and the Department. In the development of the Strategic Advocacy Plan, the Program conducted internal and external consultations. It has also defined qualitative results-based measures and intends to develop quantitative measures beyond simple activity reporting.

2.2.2 Roles and responsibilities have been clearly defined within the Program. Between programs, however, in areas where there have been overlaps this was not always the case. The Head of Mission (HOM), on identifying a lack of clarity in the roles and responsibilities on issues shared by the PERPA and IBD programs, initiated a process to define ownership and enhance the whole of Mission approach of both Programs.

2.2.3 Prior to moving to the new Chancery, the Program held weekly formal meetings with minutes. The Program Manager reviewed internal communications, following the move, and has opted for a more frequent and informal approach. As a result, the team meets several times a week. This approach is effective as the PM noted that there has never been an issue of confusion or failure to act on directions. The PM has an office in the Security Zone, and makes an effort to circulate out into the Operations Zone as much as possible.

2.3 Implementation

Key PERPA Implementation CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Strategic objectives and plans have been translated into individual or team work plans. X 
Activities and initiatives are aligned with the Mission's key priorities and with the principles of the New Way Forward PERPA Renewal initiative.X  
Relations with other mission programs facilitate program delivery (i.e. public affairs).X  
The program develops and maintains a contact base that meets programs needs and objectives.X  
Program reporting is in-line with Mission and government objectives, timely and relevant.X  
The Program is meeting the three categories of public diplomacy; communication of events, reinforcement of an image of Canada over the medium term; and building a longer term understanding and relationship with the country.X  
The program facilitates a mission-wide coordinated approach to advocacy and common messaging.X  

2.3.1 The Program implements the Strategic Advocacy Plan through the use of individual work plans by some Officers, and application of the New Way Forward by the whole team.

2.3.2 Only one Officer has developed a formal written work plan. The Program Manager is working with the other officers on the creation a work plan.

2.3.3 The Program makes use of the New Way Forward and indicated that the approach provided valuable guidance in managing PERPA activities.

2.3.4 The Program is active in a whole of Mission approach to events, and partners with IBD. They have initiated some degree of joint strategic planning, although there is room for greater planning both at the strategic and operational levels.

2.4 Performance Measurement

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 outputs and objectives.X  
The PERPA Program assesses performance against their strategy / objectives and plans.X  
Hospitality diaries are maintained in a fashion that demonstrates value-for-money and alignment with priorities. X 

2.4.1 The Program has established qualitative key performance indicators in the Strategic Advocacy Plan, that allow the tracking of the achievement of objectives. Outcomes are recorded on the year's plan so that the PM may assess performance against the strategy.

2.4.2 For the most part, hospitality diaries are completed correctly. In
some cases the explanation of results achieved were not sufficient to accurately gauge
the utility of the event.

2.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

2.5.1 The PM should ensure that all Officers have individual work plans.

2.5.2 The PM should ensure that all hospitality diaries are complete and show outcomes of the event.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.5.1 Implemented July 2010. All PERPA Officers have individual work plans.

2.5.2 Implemented July 2010. Hospitality diaries are complete and show outcomes of the event.

 


International Business Development Program (IBD)

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The IBD Program in Dallas is managed by an FS-04 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC). The STC is supported by two FS-03 Trade Commissioners (TCs), (one position was vacant at the time of the Inspection). Additionally, there are three LE-09 TCs and two LE-05 Trade Commissioner Assistants (TCAs).

3.1.2 The IBD Program in Dallas also encompasses the operation in Houston, which is comprised of one FS-03 TC/Head of Office, one FS-02 TC, one LE-09 TC and one LE-05 TCA. Since the departure of the previous STC in Dallas, the Head of Office in Houston had been reporting to the HOM. Once the TC/Head of Office departs Houston *** and a successor is in place, reporting will revert to the STC. Issues related to the Houston office can be found at the end of this section.

3.1.2 Territory covered by the Program includes Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas. For FY 2010-2011 the Program's operational funding is as follows:

BudgetAmount
Travel$27,500
Hospitality17,500
Client Service Fund26,000
North American Partnership Platform144,300
TOTAL$215,300

 

3.2 Planning and Program Management

Key IBD 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  
Officer 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 Program has a well defined structure that allocates priority sectors to TCs. The CBS TC positions in Dallas are designated for an Investment Officer and a Technology Partnerships Officer (TPO) and as such they do not handle specific sectors, but rather support activities in any sector relevant to their areas of expertise. Priority sectors covered by officers have been in place for a number of years. The 2010/2011 IBD Plan did not include rationalization for priority sectors chosen. This does not suggest that they are not the appropriate sectors, but this analysis should be an annual feature in the IBD Plan.

3.2.2 Structured Practice Groups (SPGs) have been operating out of Headquarters for almost two years now and have been promulgating global strategies for their sectors. In addition to considering these strategies, IBD programs in the US must also factor in the priorities of the North American Platform Program (NAPP) partner departments (Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Western Economic Diversification, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Canadian Economic Development for Quebec Regions, the National Research Council and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada).

3.2.3 There is concern regarding strategy coordination among the SPGs and the NAPP partners. While the SPGs develop strategies through cross-Canada private sector consultation, NAPP partner departments develop their strategies through other means, in some cases with a specific regional perspective. Being the recipient of multiple strategies from different entities can cause confusion for officers in the field as they try to prioritize and plan activities. This is particularly challenging when the territory has been identified as a priority market by the SPG. In some cases, officers can choose to engage with one entity or the other to pursue an event or specific strategy. The officers often wonder which strategy should take precedence should there be opportunities in different sectors or sub-sectors that align with differing priorities, as articulated by either the SPG or a NAPP partner department.

3.2.4 The TPO has had to assume management responsibilities for long periods during his posting to Dallas. He has had to act for the STC during absences or between STC incumbents, which is to be expected. However, the current STC arrived without signing authority a situation which resulted in the prolongation of the period of time that the TPO had to exercise managerial oversight over Program expenditures. This responsibility has taken time away from TPO work and needs to be minimized to the extent possible in the future.

3.2.5 Since his arrival at the Mission, the STC has travelled throughout the territory, meeting with key contacts and establishing relationships. Although this is a positive step and should produce opportunities through his tenure, the focus on these activities has reduced the time available for him to devote to management. There is a need for *** management in the Program. Employees require more time *** from the STC to discuss activities and performance. It is also necessary that the Program be more timely with the submission of budget reports.

3.2.6 Program staff *** to have more regular interaction and engagement with the STC. A potential is to increase the frequency of staff meetings to weekly from bi-weekly. Another approach would be to institute regular bilateral meetings with Program staff. This will allow for focussed discussion on activities within their sectors, private discussions around performance management, and *** in their work. The management structure may have to be re-designed in order to allow the STC to focus more on the overall direction and administrative management of the Program.

3.3 Implementation

Key IBD Implementation CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Business plan objectives and those outlined in management's PMAs/PMPs and appropriately cascade down into officer PMPs.X  
The program utilizes TRIO to facilitate client relationship management. X 
Staff use of TRIO is monitored to ensure activities are reported appropriately and accurately reflect the work undertaken. X 
The InfoCentre function has defined objectives and responsibilities. X 

3.3.1 Program staff are *** in their sectors. The TCs are all ***. Business plans reflect a *** knowledge of the territory and of key developments that present opportunities for Canadian clients. Staff are aware of their responsibilities and deliverables, although more regular discussion on the status of plans and activities is required.

3.3.2 TRIO usage within the Program has to be improved. The Program is currently using software with similar characteristics with which staff are more ***. The result is that TRIO entries are not occurring in a timely, nor proper manner. TCAs are tasked with entering client information but no qualifying information is entered thereafter. Only qualified contacts should be entered into TRIO, not stacks of business cards obtained at an event or trade show.

3.3.3 While there is no InfoCentre formally established, the corresponding functions are handled mainly by the TCAs. TCAs provide budget and administrative support, undertake research and prepare materials for officers. One TCA provides support to the STC as a primary focus while the other spends more time assisting Officers. Officers are not certain what tasks they are able to assign to TCAs as supervisory relationships and utilization of the TCAs are not always clear.

3.4 Performance Measurement

Key IBD 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 STC is *** aware of the activities of IBD staff. As mentioned previously, there is a need for more regular oversight and dialogue around activities and progress towards the achievement of objectives. This, tied into more systematic and appropriate entries into TRIO, will serve as a basis for more regular and detailed performance discussion. The TRIO Dashboard would be an effective tool to begin using TRIO for performance discussion and management.

3.4.2 It will be important to strengthen the recording of objectives and evaluations in hospitality diaries. Explicit links to IBD Plan objectives should be made and conclusive evaluations should indicate the usefulness of the event.

3.5 Houston

3.5.1 The mandate of the Canadian Consulate in Houston is to provide IBD programming in that city. The Consulate is headed by an FS-03 Head of Office/Consul who is supported by an FS-02 TC, an LE-09 TC and an LE-05 TCA. The focus of the Program in Houston is the energy sector and some correlated sectors such as ocean (offshore) technologies.

3.5.2 Typically, the Head of Office reports to the STC in Dallas. Since the STC arrived in Dallas ***, the Head of Office has been reporting directly to the HOM in Dallas to allow the STC to focus on the Dallas operation.

3.5.3 Given that the office is identified as a Consulate, it attracts more than one Consular walk-in per day. The office is housed in an office suite complex where building management provides certain services, including reception. Consular walk-ins are met by a building receptionist and advised that Consular services are not offered in Houston. They are then simply given a sheet of paper with contact telephone numbers for different situations. Clearly, steps need to be taken to reduce the flow of visitors to this office, some of whom travel for hours to get there.

3.5.4 Administration for the operation in Houston is undertaken by Common Services staff from Dallas. There have been some issues with respect to financial and contract management, that have resulted from a lack of regular communication to Dallas on plans, activities and corresponding administrative needs.

3.5.5 Intra-office communications for Houston have been affected by the governance changes introduced in the past year. There should be more regular communication within the office and more oversight from and interaction with all programs in Dallas to ensure that operations are coordinated and roles and responsibilities are clear.

3.5.6 There is concern that the activities of the Head of Office in Houston have gone unrecorded over the past four years. There have been a very limited number of TRIO entries during this period. It is imperative that explicitly detailed handover notes are produced for his successor.

3.5.7 The budget for Houston does not flow through the Dallas IBD Program. This reduces the managerial oversight role for the STC and thus lessens control over the program.

3.6 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

3.6.1 The Mission should ensure that chosen priority sectors include a detailed rationale as to their selection in the 2011-2012 IBD Plan.

3.6.2 The Mission should ensure that managerial responsibilities for the TPO are minimized for the duration of his posting to Dallas.

3.6.3 The reporting structure for the IBD Program should be revised to create reporting levels such that not every IBD employee reports to the STC.

3.6.4 The STC should hold regular bilateral meetings with each IBD staff member, including those in Houston.

3.6.5 The use of TRIO by the Program should be improved from both a timeliness and compliance perspective. Only qualified contacts should be entered, and entries (other than baseline data) should be undertaken by Officers. All Houston staff, ***, need to ensure that interactions and activities are captured in TRIO.

3.6.6 The role of the TCAs should be clarified and their assignment to Officers on projects should by accompanied by clear instructions as to oversight and the level of support provided.

3.6.7 More regular and formal communication between Houston and the Dallas-based Common Service Program is required to identify needs early.

3.6.8 Detailed handover notes should be prepared by the Head of Office in Houston to compensate for the lack of information in TRIO.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.6.1 In progress for December 2010. This recommendation will be implemented in full when the Program starts the IBD Business Planning exercise for 2011-2012.

3.6.2 Implemented August 2010. The TPO will have adequate time to pursue his assigned duties without being hindered by managerial responsibilities.

3.6.3 In progress for November 2010. The Mission is considering options in this respect and will come up with an effective plan of action that takes into account Program requirements, performance management and career development needs.

3.6.4 Implemented July 2010. Bilateral meetings have been held with all IBD staff members at Dallas and Houston and this practice will continue on an ongoing basis.

3.6.5 Implemented June 2010. TCs have been instructed to enter all qualified contacts and interactions in TRIO with appropriate details for further tracking and for necessary follow-up action. TRIO Dashboard being used to track progress. TRIO use has gone up extensively in recent quarters, particularly Interactions and Events.

3.6.6 Implemented July 2010. This is clearly in line with the Mission's own expectations and was discussed at a recent team meeting for onward implementation.

3.6.7 Implemented July 2010. In line with the Mission's own practices and expectations and action has been taken regarding contract management and fund disbursements.

3.6.8 Implemented July 2010. Recently departed Houston Head of Office prepared detailed handover notes, including key contact details.

Recommendations to North America Programs and Operations Bureau (GND)

3.6.9 GND should engage with the Consular Operations Bureau (CND) to establish the parameters for managing Consular walk-ins to the Houston Consulate. At a minimum there should be standard operating procedures that deal with potential Consular scenarios that may occur at the Consulate.

3.6.10 GND should ensure that the budget for Houston's IBD activities flows through the Dallas STC for allocation.

3.6.11 GND should provide instructions to IBD programs in the US regarding the level of relative priority to attach to the Global Strategies of the Structured Practices versus the NAPP partner strategies within their sectors.

GND Actions and Timeframes

3.6.9 In progress for September 2010. GND is engaged in discussion with CND on the status of all Consulate offices in the United States, and is working to ensure appropriate services (including referral procedures) are provided to consular walk-ins. Specific instructions to Dallas/Houston will be issued in September, 2010.

3.6.10 In progress for September 2010. GND fully supports the integration of IBD planning (including related financial administration) under the authority of the STC. This will be reaffirmed in September, 2010.

3.6.11 In progress for September 2010. This recommendation suggests a misunderstanding by some staff at the Mission on how the NAPP partnership is mandated to function. It is not a network-wide problem. Clarifications will be issued to Dallas/Houston in September 2010.


Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is managed by the AS-06 Management Consular Officer (MCO) who is supported by an LE-09 Senior Consular Officer, an LE-06 Consular Assistant and an LE-05 Consular Assistant. The LE-05 Consular Assistant has only been in the position *** and is currently undergoing passport training. Once her certification is received, she will take over some of the passport duties, which will allow the LE-06 Consular Assistant to focus on her other functions.

4.1.2 The Mission is responsible for the states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Kansas and provides approximately 64 passport services and processes 130 citizenship applications and 20 notarial requests yearly. There are 434 Canadian citizens in the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) database. The estimated number of Canadians residing in the states of responsibility is 40,000. The Mission utilizes the mechanism (Connect2Canada) developed by the mission in Washington through which US missions are able to communicate with Canadians in their areas of geographic responsibilities.

4.2 Program Management

Key Consular Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
The Consular Contingency Plan is up-to-date.X  
The Mission has ongoing dialogue with key local authorities to facilitate Program delivery.X  
The Duty Officer Manual is up-to-date and contains a list of hospitals, doctors, lawyers, dentists, etc., to whom clients can be referred.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 The MCO oversees the Program, while the day to day management falls to the Senior Consular Officer. The Senior Consular Officer has been at the Mission for *** and had previously worked at the ***. The Program is *** managed, both by the MCO and the Senior Consular Officer. Staff indicated that both have ***.

4.2.2 The Program holds formal meetings approximately every six months, or as required, but there is informal communication on a daily basis. All staff in the Program indicated that communication is sufficient and that they are kept up-to-date on new policies and procedures.

4.2.3 As part of the Mission Business Continuity Plan (BCP), an Emergency Response Team (ERT) has been established, including Consular staff. For Consular services, business suites in the city have been identified as possible alternate work sites.

4.3 Client Service

Key Consular Client Service CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Service standards are made available to clients in both official languages.X  
The Program monitors adherence to Service Standards and makes adjustments where necessary.X  
The Program has the capacity to provide services to Canadians in the official language of their choice.X  
The Mission promotes client feedback mechanisms and takes corrective action, when warranted.X  
The mission has provided the Honorary Consul (HonCon) with a mandate letter which establishes their role, responsibilities and accountabilities.N/AN/AN/A
The HonCon's performance is reviewed annually by the mission.N/AN/AN/A
There is adequate liaison/support from them mission for the HonCon.N/AN/AN/A

4.3.1 The Program is able to meet its service standards and strives to provide good client service. There are several federal prisons and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centre located in the state of Texas. Most prisoners are contacted by telephone, email or mail, although the Senior Consular Officer visits prisons where there are large numbers of Canadians present, or if there is a specific problem that must be addressed. The Senior Consular Officer has *** local contacts and visits the ICE detention centre at least annually in order to maintain his network. Communication with local officials is effective and the Mission is contacted when a Canadian is arrested in Texas. The Program also performs outreach to Canadians through its visits to the annual Winter Texas Extravaganza hosted by the "Snowbirds". The Program is able to serve clients in both English and French.

4.3.3 The Program offers a pre-screening service to passport clients. Passport applications are reviewed and clients are informed if information is missing. The client is responsible for sending their application directly to Passport Canada. Most passport activity through the Mission is a result of lost or stolen passports. In these cases, the majority of clients are local residents who are able to send an application for a new passport directly to Canada and do not require a temporary passport.

4.3.4 The Consular fee schedule is located in the Consular booth, but is in English only. The Program should ensure the documentation is available in both English and French.

4.3.5 A copy of the Official Receipt is not posted in the Consular booth. There is no duress alarm kick bar located in the booth.

4.4 Internal Controls

Key Consular Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
A trained Canada-based staff (CBS) with substantial control of the passport program is assigned overall responsibility to oversee regulatory compliance with Passport Canada's policies and procedures.X  
A certified CBS signs-off on all passports, except in extenuating circumstances requiring the function to be conducted by an LES with the approval role in the Passport Management Program (PMP).  X
Completed passport application forms and related documentation are held for 60 business days following the end of the month that they were submitted and then securely destroyed.  X
Upon receipt of new passport stock, two CBS verify the receipt of all assets, sign and return the transmittal note. (Form PPT 300 - Passport Receipt Form - to Foreign Operations (PPSP).  X
The primary inventory of passport blanks (temporary and emergency), ID labels, OBS labels, stamps, and seals are stored in 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 (passport numbers 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  
There are adequate segregation of duties for staff handling revenues.X  
Client documents and personal information are properly stored, secured, and disposed. X 
Official receipts are issued to Consular clients and revenue is recorded on the EXT 119 (Record of Fees Received Passport Consular Services).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  
Official seals and stamps are properly inventoried, secured and access provided to designated staff only.X  

4.4.1 Overall controls and process are in place, but some compliance issues need to be addressed. The Senior Consular Officer currently approves most passport applications. Although he is ***, all passports should be approved by a secret cleared CBS.

4.4.2 The HOM and Senior Consular Officer perform the quarterly passport inventory, and the Consular Officer and MCO perform the monthly passport inventory.

4.4.3 Passport stock is received and verified by the Senior Consular Officer and the MCO. Two CBS should receive passport stock. The Program maintains a log which tracks the transfer and issuance of working stock, there is no log to track stock received by the Mission or transferred to the Program by the MCO.

4.4.4 The Program destroys passport applications every six months. The Passport Canada directive states that completed passport application forms and related documentation should be held for only 60 business days following the end of the month that they were submitted and then securely destroyed.

4.4.5 The Program uses a log to track services provided and revenues collected, but this form does not include the number of the Official Receipt provided to the client.

4.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

4.5.1 The fee schedule located in the Consular booth should be available in both English and French.

4.5.2 A copy of the Official Receipt should be posted in the Consular booth.

4.5.3 A kick bar should be installed in the Consular booth.

4.5.4 The MCO should approve all passports.

4.5.5 The Mission should consult Passport Canada to seek an exemption on an exceptional basis which would allow the Senior Consular Officer to approve passports during the absence of the MCO.

4.5.6 Passport stock should be received by two CBS.

4.5.7 The Program should put in place a log to track the receipt and transfer of passport material. This log should be signed by both CBS when passports are received and by the MCO when they are transferred to the Consular Program.

4.5.8 The Program should update their procedures to comply with the Passport Canada directive relating to the destruction of passport applications.

4.5.9 The Program's log should include the Official Receipt number.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.5.1 Implemented June 2010. A French version of the Consular fee schedule has been placed in the Consular booth.

4.5.2 Implemented June 2010. A copy of the Official Receipt has been posted in the Consular booth.

4.5.3 In progress. The Mission has contacted the Physical Security Implementation Section (ISRP) regarding the purchase and installation of a CSAS kick bar in the Consular booth. Completion date pending resolution of funding issues and scheduling by ISRP.

4.5.4 Implemented June 2010. The MCO will approve all passports except during periods of annual leave or sick leave.

4.5.5 Implemented August 2010. Foreign Operations (PPDM) confirmed via email on August 8, 2010 that the Senior Consular Officer is granted an exemption to approve passports in the absence of the MCO.

4.5.6 Implemented June 2010. Passport stock are received by two CBS.

4.5.7 Implemented June 2010. The above mentioned log has been implemented and placed in the passport shell in the secure area.

4.5.8 Implemented June 2010. Procedures have been updated, the Program will now destroy passport applications in accordance with Passport Canada directives.

4.5.9 Implemented June 2010. A new Program log has been implemented which references the Official Receipt number.


Common Services Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Common Services Program is managed by the MCO, who is supported by a team of six LES. The following table summarizes the resources available.

 TotalCBSLESLES Non-Office
General4121
Human Resources----
Physical Resources----
Finance2-2-
Information Management / Information Technology1-1-
Total7151

5.1.2 Overall, there is good communication within the team, and the MCO has established an operational work plan that allows him to better manage the way in which the Program achieves its objectives.

Program Management

Key Common Services Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
The program has developed an operational plan that incorporates key mission and international platform objectives, along with measurable expected results.  X
The program actively seeks to implement best practices, improve efficiencies and reduce operating costs.X  
Service standards have been established and performance is measured. 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 

5.1.3 The Program is client service oriented, and staff seek to work *** as possible. There is, however, a need for improvement in planning, communications and performance measurement.

5.1.4 Save for the Security function, there are no formal plans within Common Services at the Mission. The Security plan has defined key activities and general time frames, however it does not allocate resources and define outputs. The Program will have to begin developing operational plans in each section, and the MCO should develop an overall personal work-plan to allow her to address the various elements of her role.

5.1.5 The Program uses the generic 2004 Service Standards that had been established by Headquarters. Modification of the standards to fit the needs and capabilities of the Mission had not been done.

5.1.6 The Program meets on a monthly basis, primarily serving as a forum for the MCO to present relevant information from the CMM. Individual sections have their own ad hoc processes for sharing information, most of which involve irregular daily contact within the section and with the MCO. Only the Property Section meets regularly (on a daily basis) to discuss short, medium and long term activities and projects. The MCO attends these on a weekly basis.

5.1.7 Sections within the Program could benefit from more structure in the form of regular team meetings with the MCO, in order to maintain awareness of Management's expectations, and operational situations.

Client Service

Key Common Services Client Service CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Service standards have been established and communicated to clients.X  
Any hub and spoke relationships are governed by an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), outlining the roles and responsibilities of each mission. X 
Service standards reflect fair and equitable allocation and access to common services for all mission programs. X 
A mechanism is in place to solicit and receive client feedback and corrective action is taken when warranted. X 

5.1.8 The Mission provides Information Management / Information Technology (IM/IT) to the mission in Croatia. There is, however, no Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in place defining the roles and responsibilities of each mission.

5.1.9 As noted, the Mission uses the generic 2004 service standards. While these have been communicated to clients, they are out of date, and not tailored to the needs and capabilities of the Mission. Feedback mechanisms tend to be informal at the Mission and, while they do work, there is the risk that information may not be adequately communicated to management.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.10 The Program should develop operational plans in each section, and the MCO should establish an overall personal work-plan.

5.1.11 The Mission should ensure that generic HQ service standards are modified to fit the needs and capabilities of the Mission.

5.1.12 The MCO should ensure regular team meetings occur in all sections and within the Program.

5.1.13 The Mission should ensure that there is an MOU in place with Zagreb, defining roles and responsibilities for support.

5.1.14 The Mission should formalize feedback and corrective action processes.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.10 The Mission will consult HQ and regional centre on development of work plans for staff and MCO. The Mission has sought ZIV input on best practices they have seen at missions abroad, especially missions of similar profile. Upon receipt of relevant information from the different parties, the Program will develop appropriate work plans for employees and for the MCO, with full draft ready by January 2011. These may be prepared on an interim basis, and all will be in place for FY 2011-2012.

5.1.11 The Mission specific service standards established in fall 2009. All Common Services staff providing services to clients are currently reviewing their section's standards to ensure information is still accurate. 2010 modifications scheduled to be approved by the CMM for September 2010.

5.1.12 Implemented summer 2010. As most sections in Common Services have one employee, meetings with individual employees take place once a week. In cases where there are multiple employees in a section, section meetings are now being scheduled once a month.

5.1.13 In progress for September 2010. The Mission is in consultation with Regional Service Centre (RSC) and the mission in Vienna for input on format of Hub/Spoke MOU for IT.

5.1.14 In progress for September 2010. The Common Service team will discuss methods of client feedback and set-up a system to formalize the process. Corrective action processes and deadlines for response will also be determined.

THE ABOVE IS BUDAPEST

THE BELOW IS THE CONTINUATION OF DALLAS/HOUSTON

5.2 Human Resources (HR)

5.2.1 The HR functions at the Mission are the responsibility of the MCO who is assisted by the LE-05 Administrative Assistant. Over the past year, the Mission has undertaken five staffing actions and one classification action.

5.2.2 The Mission has developed a number of HR policies and guidelines, that deal with such issues as dress code, leave without pay, excess annual leave, etc. These policies and guidelines are posted on the Policy Central page of the Mission's Intranet site and are made available to all staff. The Mission is continuously updating policies and guidelines using information found on the Washington mission's LES Portal.

Program Management

Key HR Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Responsibilities for the human resource 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 LES MCB 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 HQ.X  
A mission training coordinator has been appointed and budget established.X  
Mechanisms are in place to monitor completion of employee's performance evaluations, CBS and LES.X  
Personnel and position files are complete and maintained separately.X  
Job descriptions are up to date and signed by incumbent and supervisor. X 
The mission records LES accrued leave, deductions and current balances.X  

5.2.3 Overall, the HR function is *** managed. *** communication in the Section is good, supported by weekly meetings between the MCO and the Administrative Assistant to discuss workload and operational issues.

5.2.4 The Inspection Team met with members of the newly created Locally Engaged Staff Management Consultative Board (LESMCB). An LES Committee was previously in place and it was decided by staff to keep this Committee to meet with all staff to allow them to voice their concerns prior to LESMCB meetings. The LES indicated that they are still concerned about compensation and benefits issues and are awaiting the new Terms and Conditions of Employment for LES.

5.2.5 The Mission has created a Training Committee that analyses training needs, using the information derived from the Performance Management Program (PMP), and allocates the training budget accordingly. A Training Coordinator has also been nominated to help staff obtain more information on specific training sessions and to act as a channel between staff and the Committee.

5.2.6 The majority of position descriptions are current with a few exceptions, and the Mission is updating position descriptions prior to staffing actions. However, some long-standing employees's descriptions are out-of-date. The Mission started to update all Common Services position descriptions in 2009, but ceased at the request of the Mission in Washington who is carrying out a regional classification review.

5.2.7 The Mission uses the ABRA program (an all US HR Management System), that is administered by the mission in Washington, to manage LES leave requests and balances. Monthly reports are sent by the Administrative Assistant to all PMs. To reduce the number of errors in ABRA, the Administrative Assistant is developing a training session to give to LES and PMs.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

Key HR Processes and Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
The mission maintains written records of each staffing action in-line with the requirements established by the International Platform Branch Human Resources Services Bureau (ALD). X 
Letters of Offer are signed by the appropriate authority.X  
New LES and CBS employees are provided with an information package on the working conditions, benefits and regulations pertaining to employment at the mission.X  
Classification action files demonstrate adherence to departmental procedures and contain the required documents and approvals. X 
Employees concerned are advised in writing of the Classification Committee's decision and of their rights to grieve. X 
Staff are aware of and comply with the Values and Ethics Code and have signed a document certifying that they have read and understood this code. Staff should be reminded on an annual basis.X  
Mission signage is provided in both English and French and a bilingual Official Languages Co-ordinator has been appointed. X 
The mission has sufficient capacity to communicate with and provide services to the public, both orally and in writing, in both official languages.X  

5.2.8 Overall, HR processes and internal controls were adequate, with some improvements required in file maintenance. The review of five staffing action and three classification files was conducted and indicated that they were mostly complete, although a few items were not included. In some cases no rationale for staffing actions was included in the files, the evaluation criteria were missing and no evidence that candidates had been informed of results in writing. The information needed was available, but it had been placed in the wrong files. A checklist attached to the file folder may assist in keeping complete files.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.9 A review of the HR filing system should be undertaken to ensure that the appropriate documentation is kept in the proper files.

5.2.10 A checklist for each type of HR action should be created and attached to each folder.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.9 Implemented August 2010. The MCO and HR Assistant have reviewed the HR filing system to ensure completeness of files.

5.2.10 In progress for September 2010. The MCO and HR Assistant are currently developing checklists for each type of HR action. Checklists will be attached to the inside of each folder as recommended.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The Physical Resources functions at the Mission are the responsibility of the MCO who is assisted by the LE-05 Administrative Assistant. The Section maintains a Crown-leased Chancery, a Crown-owned Official Residence (OR) and two official vehicles in Dallas. All CBS staff accommodations are privately leased with little involvement from the Mission required. The Section also has Crowned-leased office space in an executive business centre, privately-leased Staff Quarters (SQs) and one official vehicle in Houston.

Program Management

Key Physical Resources Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
The MPMP and MMWP are up-to-date and approved by the appropriate mission and HQ authorities.X  
The appropriate authority allocates SQs based on the recommendation of the Mission Housing Committee.X  
The Chancery is well maintained and a maintenance schedule is in place.X  
The Official Residence (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.N/AN/AN/A
The mission's multi-year capital acquisition plan is approved by CMM annually.  X
Local procurement guidelines have been established and include direction on obtaining supplier discounts.X  

5.3.2 The Section is *** run and client service oriented. As all SQs are privately leased, the Mission receives very few service requests and has decided not to invest in an electronic service order request system. Requests are received via e-mail, which is sufficient for the 50-75 requests per annum.

5.3.3 The Mission Property Management Plan (MPMP) will be updated shortly as part of the annual process. The Physical Resource Information - Mission Environment (PRIME) database is current although there are several areas where information has been incorrectly entered (size of properties, rooms, etc.) This should be reviewed and corrected during the next scheduled update.

5.3.4 The Mission has recently moved to a new Chancery and was equipped with new furnishing schemes. A detailed inventory, with pictures and bar codes has been created for all Chancery assets and is updated when necessary. Fine Arts inventories for the Chancery and OR have recently been updated, signed by the HOM and copies sent to Physical Resources Bureau (ARD). While the Fine Arts inventory has been signed by the HOM, no OR inventory or occupancy agreement has been signed since his arrival.

5.3.5 The layout of the new office space was conducted using the Public Works and Government Services Canada fit-up standards. The configuration of the work space and cubicles was not optimal nor was it conducive to effective work in that staff in some cases did not have enough privacy to allow sufficient concentration on tasks and conduct business. Higher partitions, a better dispersion of cubicles, or additional meeting or privacy rooms, could better meet operational requirements.

5.3.6 The Mission does not have a multi-year capital acquisition plan. However, the need for capital replacements is reviewed prior to the HOM turnover. While needs are evaluated every four years, this does not allow for multi-year budgeting.

Client Service

5.3.7 The Section uses service standards developed by the mission in Washington. These are made available to all staff on the Intranet site and are usually met. No formal follow-up mechanism is in place, although clients usually convey their feedback to the MCO or Administrative Assistant.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

Key Physical Resources and Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
An inspection is conducted by new SQ occupants and a mission representative within 30 days of occupancy, after which occupancy agreements and distribution accounts signed.N/AN/AN/A
A percentage of the costs for OR supplies has been established and regular reimbursements are made.X  
Costs of damages resulting from occupant negligence are recovered.N/AN/AN/A
Records of assets in storage are maintained on an ongoing basis and verified annually. The Mission maintains a dollar value of stored assets.N/AN/AN/A
Chancery, OR, and SQ assets are appropriately safeguarded, inventoried, and controlled. X 
Disposals are appropriately authorized and follow Departmental guidelines. X 
Vehicles logs are appropriately completed, demonstrating that use was for official purposes.X  
Vehicle logs and mileage are verified monthly by a CBS to reconcile usage to gas purchases as well as monitor vehicle performance.  X

5.3.8 Overall, internal controls were effective. There were some issues though in the management of fuel purchases and assets disposals. No mileage and fuel purchase reconciliation is performed, and gas purchases are made using a gas card ***.

5.3.9 Multiple disposals of assets, including donations, were undertaken in the past three years. Most records carry appropriate authorizations, with the exception of some Information Technology (IT) items. For disposal authorisations, the purchase price was not listed so that a determination of a fair value could be assessed. In the case of IT equipment to be donated, appropriate authorizations from HQ was not obtained.

5.3.10 All CBS have entered into private-leases for their accommodation. The Mission sets rent ceilings through an analysis of the market and provides this information to the Housing Committee for approval by the HOM. All SQs were within rent ceilings and were suitable for the needs of the families.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.11 PRIME data should be reviewed and updated.

5.3.12 The Mission should ensure that inventories and occupancy agreements for the OR are completed and signed by the HOM.

5.3.13 The Mission and ARD should evaluate the present situation and discuss what options would be available to rectify the lack of privacy to accommodate present operational requirements.

5.3.14 The Mission should develop a multi-year capital acquisition plan and table it at the CMM on an annual basis.

5.3.15 The Mission should ensure that verification and reconciliation of all official vehicle usage and fuel purchases and consumption is conducted on a monthly basis using the EXT-159 (Vehicle Operating and Maintenance Report).

5.3.16 The Mission should ensure that proper forms are completed and proper authorisations are obtained before disposing of surplus equipment and furnishings.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.11 In progress for November 2010. PRIME data is being reviewed and will be fully updated prior to the submission of the next MPMP.

5.3.12 In progress for October 2010. The HOM signed the OR inventory prior to his departure in August 2010. Upon the arrival of the new HOM in fall 2010 both the OR inventory and occupancy agreement will be completed and signed.

5.3.13 In progress for December 2010. The Mission has had discussions with Fit up and Renovations Services (ARPA) and Interior Design (ARBD) regarding what improvements can be made to the current work environment. While there are some options to ameliorate the situation through the purchase of additional furniture components, funding for these components is still under discussion with ARD. Staff have also been informed that they are welcome to relocate to any of the vacant workstations which may afford them more privacy.

5.3.14 In progress for October 2010. A capital acquisition plan is under development for the replacement of official vehicles, as well as capital assets at the OR and Chancery.

5.3.15 Implemented June 2010. Verification and reconciliation of official vehicle usage and fuel consumption is being performed monthly using the EXT-159.

5.3.16 Implemented June 2010. All disposals will be managed as per the procedures outlined in Chapter 7 of the Material Management Manual.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The Finance Section is managed by the MCO who is supported by an LE-07 Senior Accountant and an LE-05 Junior Accountant. The Junior Accountant has been in her position since the end of *** and is still learning many functions of the job. As she gains experience and has the opportunity to take more training, the Section intends for her to become familiar with the majority of the functions of the Accountant so she will be able to be the back-up for that position.

5.4.2 The Senior Accountant was on her own for a period of seven months after the former Junior Accountant left the Mission and the incumbent Junior Accountant was hired. During this time, the Senior Accountant noted that she had a heavy workload which resulted in having less time to audit hospitality and travel claims. Now that the Section is fully staffed, the Section is working towards improving this process.

Management

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
Acquisition cards are being used, where appropriate, to minimize burden on petty cash accounts, cheque issuance and electronic fund transfer (EFT) requirements. X 
Payment runs are kept to a minimum, but are sufficient enough to allow for good client service. X 
Where appropriate, the mission uses EFT (suppliers, LES salaries). X 
Immigration refunds are arranged through cheque or EFT.N/AN/AN/A
The mission has developed instructions on obtaining supplier discounts and actively seeks opportunities.X  

5.4.3 The Section is *** managed by the MCO, who signs Section 33 on most payments. The staff appreciate their weekly meetings with the MCO ***.

5.4.4 The Section does not have quiet hours, although this was previously discussed between the Accountant and MCO. With the move to the new office, the Accountants are now more centrally located, are more frequently approached by their colleagues and have noticed that their work is interrupted more often. The Accountants do not always *** when both are absent from the office.

5.4.5 While the acquisition card is used for some purchases, the MCO is examining using the acquisition card more frequently. Currently, the only acquisition card at the Mission is held by the MCO, which limits the ability of the Mission to use the card, as the MCO must authorize all purchases. For payments that are regularly made with a credit card, the Finance Section calls the supplier every month to pay the current bill. This is very time consuming for the Section.

5.4.6 The Mission is also exploring ways to reduce their use of cheques. In some cases, current vendors are not willing to accept credit cards or Electronic Fund Transfers (EFTs). Given the availability of vendors in Dallas, the Mission should only use suppliers who will accept either EFTs or credit cards as a form of payment in order to reduce the Mission's reliance on cheques.

5.4.7 The Mission is seeking ways to reduce the number of payment runs, which are currently performed ***. A review by the Finance Section determined that invoices were paid too quickly after receipt, resulting in more frequent payment runs. The Section is examining ways to group payments by due date in order to reduce the workload

5.4.8 The Mission is currently awaiting the results of the mission in Washington's attempts to negotiate US wide supplier discounts. However, the Mission has been proactive in seeking discounts locally and has been able to find substantial savings by using the services of a broker to provide the telecommunication services.

Client Service

5.4.9 The Section has service standards which have been distributed to all staff, and clients expressed overall satisfaction with the Section. All program assistants have been provided with Integrated Management System (IMS) read-only access in order to monitor their budgets. However, the Accountants are still asked to run many simple reports in IMS as the program assistants have not received the necessary training. The program assistants should be able to run basic reports as required in order to decrease the workload of the Accountants and increase the program's ability to access these reports quickly.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

Key Finance Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
A Contract Review Board (CRB) is in place and operating effectively with clear terms of reference.  X
Bank reconciliations are completed monthly and are properly reviewed and authorized by the appropriate authoritiesX  
The asset and liability report is reviewed on a monthly basis by the appropriate authority.X  
Section 34 is exercised by individuals who possess the appropriate delegation of authority.X  
Section 33 is exercised by individuals who possess the appropriate delegation of authority.X  
The appropriate authority receives the original monthly bank statement directly from the bank and reviews it prior to giving it to the accountant.X  
Official receipts are provided to clients at time of payment and to internal staff when funds are transferred (i.e. from Consular to Finance).  X
Reconciliations of any funds transferred within the mission are conducted in the presence of two staff.X  
Monthly reconciliations of immigration fees are completed and the EXT-1203 is signed by the appropriate authority.N/AN/AN/A
Hospitality claim processes ensure that policy and guidelines are adhered to and that the accountant verifies the completeness and accuracy of the claim. X 
Hospitality files are maintained centrally in Finance, as per the hospitality guidelines.X  
A process is in place to ensure the consistent and appropriate review of travel claims. X 
A process is in place to ensure that, where applicable, CBS reimburse the Mission for any services of personal nature received at their staff quarters (television, internet, telephone etc).X  

5.4.10 Overall, internal controls are effective, although claim verification needs improvement. Given that the Head of Office in Houston normally reports to the STC in Dallas, he should not be exercising Section 34. This should be the responsibility of the STC in order to ensure proper oversight.

5.4.11 Files related to contracting are often incomplete, with a lack of justification for sole sourcing as required by 10.2.6 of the Treasury Board Contracting Policy, and a lack of records of bids or rating mechanisms for competitive contracts. The CRB does not meet to review contracts. The consultation and approval being done by e-mail only. E-mails to the CRB contain the Statement of Work, the Request for Contract and Amendment, and a copy of the contract, but no record of bids or evaluation. As a result there is a lack of transparency in the contracting process, and the CRB can not evaluate if the contracts are compliant with departmental procedures, and the policies of the Department and of the Treasury Board.

5.4.12 The MCO and HOM review the bank reconciliation monthly. The MCO does not receive the original bank statement, but is able to view the bank statement online, and uses this ability when reviewing the bank reconciliation. This satisfies the need for the MCO to have access to an original bank statement.

5.4.13 Official Receipts are not provided to internal clients at the time of the transfer of funds, but after the Accountant has verified the amounts and completed some paperwork.

5.4.14 The Inspection Team noted that supporting documentation is not always submitted with hospitality and travel claims. For both types of claims, receipts, invoices and proof of payments must be submitted with the claim, and the Travel Advance Authority (TAA) for travel claims. When claims are incomplete, the Finance Section should not process the claim and return it to the originator to obtain the required documentation.

5.4.15 The employees of the Section completed the training on the new Hospitality Policy training and, although they appreciated the training, a more detailed explanation on how to fill out the new form would have been useful.

5.4.16 The Finance Section is planning on holding a training session on the new hospitality form. During this session, training should also include how to properly assemble travel and hospitality claims in order to reduce the number of claims submitted with missing documentation.

5.4.17 The Mission is currently paying rent and security deposits directly to landlords for private leases held by CBS. According to the Property Manual Chapter 6.4.1.2 and 6.4.2, private leases should be paid by the CBS directly to the landlord with the Mission transferring the funds to the CBS' bank account. For security deposits, the CBS should use Foreign Service Directive (FSD) 26 and the deposit should be paid directly to the landlord.

5.4.18 The petty cash is currently held ***. When the petty cash needs to be replenished, an EFT is sent to the *** personal bank account. *** then withdraws the money from *** personal bank account and replenishes the petty cash. Mission finances should not be administered through personal bank accounts.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.19 The Mission should ensure that all staff involved in contracting are aware of basic contracting processes and requirements.

5.4.20 The Mission should ensure that all sole source contracts have appropriate justification per 10.2.6 of the Treasury Board Contracting Policy.

5.4.21 The Mission should ensure that contracting files contain all relevant documentation, including record of bids and evaluation.

5.4.22 The CRB should ensure that all necessary information (appropriate justifications, records of bids and evaluations) is obtained prior to approving contracts.

5.4.23 The Mission should consider implementing quiet hours for the Finance Section in order to minimize disruptions and allow the Accountants time to concentrate on their work.

5.4.24 The Mission should consider acquiring additional acquisition cards for other Mission staff to improve the procurement and payment process.

5.4.25 The Finance Section should consider grouping invoices so that they can be paid in batches closer to their due date. This will reduce the number of payment runs needed and ensure that invoices are not paid too quickly after receipt.

5.4.26 The Mission should contact Financial Operations, International (SMFF) to see if it is possible to have bills from regular suppliers automatically charged to the acquisition card each month.

5.4.27 In the case where current suppliers will not accept EFTs or credit cards as a form of payment, the Mission should seek out new suppliers who will accept these forms of payment.

5.4.28 The Finance Section should provide program assistants with basic training in IMS so that they are able to run reports as required.

5.4.29 The STC should perform Section 34 for all trade related purchases in the Houston Consulate.

5.4.30 Official Receipts should be provided to internal clients at the time funds are transferred to the Finance Section.

5.4.31 When hospitality and travel claims do not include all the necessary documentation, the Finance Section should not process the claim, but return it to the claimant and ask them to provide the necessary documentation.

5.4.32 In conjunction with their planned hospitality form training, the Finance Section should consider providing training on what documentation must be submitted with travel and hospitality claims.

5.4.33 The Mission should not pay landlords directly for private leases, but rather transfer the rent money to CBS at the end of each month.

5.4.34 The Mission should not pay security deposits. The CBS should request FSD 26 and pay the security deposit directly to the landlord.

5.4.35 The Mission should not replenish their petty cash by sending an EFT to the personal bank account of ***. The Mission should either issue a cheque made out to petty cash, to be cashed during the bank run, or make a bank draw to replenish the petty cash.

5.4.36 The Accountants should *** when both are out of their office.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.19 In progress for October 2010. A contracting seminar is scheduled for fall 2010 following the arrival of incoming CBS to train and inform staff of contracting processes and requirements. In the interim, relevant contracting policies will be distributed to all staff and the CRB will meet in person and request all contract submissions be submitted to the CRB quarterly.

5.4.20 Implemented June 2010. The Mission will ensure compliance with Section 10.2.6 of the Treasury Board Contracting Policy.

5.4.21 Implemented June 2010. The Mission will ensure that contracting files are complete on an ongoing basis.

5.4.22 Implemented June 2010. The CRB will ensure that necessary information is obtained prior to contract approval.

5.4.23 Implemented July 2010. The Finance Section is exploring different quiet hours scenarios, beginning with closing every afternoon. This will be monitored and adjusted over time to find the correct balance between client service and quiet time for processing.

5.4.24 In progress for November 2010. The Mission will further roll out the acquisition card program in fall 2010. The Mission is in contact with SMFF regarding the best approach/framework for this roll-out, but anticipates utilizing at least two additional acquisition cards for procurement in the coming months.

5.4.25 Implemented July 2010. The Section has started batching payments to reduce the number of payment runs.

5.4.26 In progress for November 2010. The Mission will contact SMFF as part of the expansion of the acquisition card program (as per recommendation 5.2.24) to see if there is a method of having automatic payments which maintains an appropriate level of control.

5.4.27 In progress for fall 2010. All new vendors are now being required to accept payment by EFT. The operational work plan includes a project to further expand this requirement to all existing vendors, with a target completion date by the end of this fiscal year. Vendors who do not comply will be replaced by compliant vendors except in exceptional circumstances.

5.4.28 In progress for October 2010. This training had previously been provided to program assistants in 2008, but will be offered once again in fall 2010.

5.4.29 Implemented July 2010. The STC in Dallas now exercises Section 34 for all Houston IBD expenses.

5.4.30 Implemented June 2010. Official Receipts now provided at the point of funds transfer.

5.4.31 Implemented June 2010. This practice will be more stringently enforced by the Finance Section, with incomplete claims returned to the claimant.

5.4.32 Implemented. Training session offered in July 2010.

5.4.33 In progress for October 2010. While the Mission will adopt this recommendation to comply with the policy regarding privately leased accommodation as per Chapter 6 of the Property Management Manual, it feels that the procedure outlined in Chapter 6 should be reviewed in the future as it significantly increases the financial risk at missions by unnecessarily placing large amounts of money through CBS bank accounts.

5.4.34 In progress for October 2010. Private lease security deposits will be handled through FSD 26.

5.4.35 Implemented August 2010. The Mission will use bank draws to replenish petty cash account.

5.4.36 Implemented June 2010. Accounting office is now l *** when the Accountants are absent.

Recommendation to Corporate Accounting, Finance, Policy and Financial Systems (SMD)

5.4.37 SMD Should consider providing training on the new hospitality form.

SMD Action and Timeframe

5.4.37 In partnership with CFSS, SMD provided and will continue to provide subject matter experts, pending availability of resources, for the training course on Official Hospitality Outside Canada offered by CFSS. During these training sessions, both the policy and the hospitality form are addressed.

5.5 Information Management / Information Technology

5.5.1 Information Management / Information Technology services are managed on-site by the MCO who is supported by an LE-08 Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP). The LEITP also takes direction from the Client Service Regional Manager (CSRM) located at Headquarters.

Management

Key IM-IT Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Information Management / Information Technology (IM/IT) workplan exists and includes regional activities.X  
Where required, an IM/IT Committee has been established to provide direction and program input.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 Mission benefits from an *** MCO and an *** LEITP. The overall management of the Section *** contributes to program delivery.

5.5.3 The MCO has incorporated IM/IT projects and activities into the overall Common Services work plan, providing structure to a service that is predominantly reactive in nature.

5.5.4 The IM/IT Section demonstrates awareness of key business continuity requirements and processes. IM/IT infrastructure is in place for initial phases of a disaster response, and the Mission has identified key service providers to enable the Mission to maintain a basic level of continuity of operations.

Client Service

Key IM-IT Client Service CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Problems experienced by the user are generally resolved within a reasonable time frame.X  
The Mission is using the required help-desk/client service tools and maintains relevant data.X  
Issues identified at regional missions under the ITPs responsibility are monitored and consultations occur regularly with the appropriate authority.X  

5.5.5 Even though the Mission has not established IM/IT service standards, the Section does ensure that issues are resolved in a timely fashion, ***. While the MCO does not monitor the Remedy help desk software, nor does he solicit client feedback, the size of the Mission allows for him to be aware of the performance of the Section through informal feedback from clients.

5.5.6 Review of service requests in the Remedy system demonstrated that the Mission is addressing requests in a timely fashion.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

Key IM-IT Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Back-ups are performed routinely and tapes are stored in a safe location. X 
The mission has appropriate secondary communications in place and those tools are tested regularly.X  
The mission has a consistent approach in place for the management of electronic and paper records and compliance to legislation, policies and standards.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 (cellular telephones, laptops etc.) and are advised of their accountabilities. X 
Surplus IT assets are disposed with the appropriate approvals per departmental policy.X  

5.5.7 Overall, IM/IT processes and controls are effective. There are, however, opportunities for improvement in the storage *** and in accounting for IT ***.

5.5.8 The Mission stores weekly back-up tapes *** in a safe. This will enable the LEITP to restore data in a timely fashion should there be loss of data due to hardware or software fault, or user error. This will not, however, safeguard the Mission's data should the *** be rendered inoperable due to catastrophic damage.

5.5.9 While the Mission maintains complete inventories of IT assets, there is not a "sign out" registry for assets such as laptops or cellular telephones that are used on a temporary basis. The Mission therefore does not have a process to maintain accountability for these assets.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.5.10 Periodic *** should be stored *** in a fireproof media safe, while ensuring compliance with 8.3.12.5 of the Manual of Security Instructions.

5.5.11 The Mission should ensure that a sign-out registry exists and is used for IT equipment on loan to staff.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.10 In progress for August 2010. *** following purchase of fire resistant safe.

5.5.11 Implemented June 2010. Sign-out registry for IT assets has been developed and is being used.

 


Appendix A : Mission resources Fact Sheet

Physical Resources
AssetsCrown OwnedCrown Leased
Chancery02
Official Residence10
Staff Quarters00
Vehicles30

 

2009-2010 Budgets (Dallas)Program BudgetCommon Services Budget
Operating (N001)$ 315,195$ 690,538
Capital (N005)05,831
CBS Salaries (N011)00
LES Salaries (N012)914,770313,760
Total$1,229,695$1,010,129

 

2009-2010 Budgets (Houston)Program BudgetCommon Services Budget
Operating (N001)$ 31,180$ 255,268
Capital (N005)0354
CBS Salaries (N011)00
LES Salaries (N012)224,2210
Total$255,401$255,622

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

Appendix B : Organization Chart

Dallas Organizational Chart - Accessible version

Dallas Organizational Chart


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Date Modified:
2012-11-14