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Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

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Inspection of the Canadian Embassy San Jose

(including The Office of the Embassy of Canada Managua and The Office of the Embassy of Canada Tegucigalpa)

PDF Version (284 Kb) *

January 21 – Febuary 5, 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 the Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA), International Business Development (IBD), Consular and Administration Programs was conducted in San Jose from January 29 to February 5, 2010, and in Managua and Tegucigalpa on February 3, 2010. The missions were last visited in 2004. San Jose's 31 staff complement consists of seven Canada–based staff (CBS) and 24 Locally–engaged staff (LES). Both Offices of the Embassy in Managua and Tegucigalpa are primarily focussed on Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) programming.

The Mission has been busy over the last year with the constitutional crisis in Honduras and a number of high–level visits, including the Governor General's, in December 2009. Resources were stretched as there was neither a PERPA nor IBD Program Manager at the Mission over a 3 1/2 month period.

As the Mission did not have a PERPA PM during the height of the political instability in Honduras, the HOM and Head of Aid at the spoke Office in Tegucigalpa *** reported on the situation. Given the resulting increased interest in the region as a result of the Americas Strategy, the Latin America and Carribean Bureau (GCD) should assess the resource profile of missions in Central America (including Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua) to determine if the PERPA footprint is sufficient. As the Program lacks a support position, the PM and HOM will need to review how internal resources can be reallocated to provide some assistance.

Priorities for the IBD Program include *** past IBD teams took a more regional approach, and GCD should examine if this should be reinstituted by the missions.

As there is a high probability of natural disasters in Costa Rica, such as the earthquake which occurred in January 2009, the Mission should establish a properly equipped Alternate Command Post to use should the Chancery become inaccessible. Also, given the history of demonstrations and natural disasters in Honduras and Nicaragua, the missions should undertake a warden recruitment exercise to fill the vacant districts.

In order to improve support to the spoke Offices, the Mission should develop Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the two Offices outlining roles, responsibilities and frequency of visits. This should also be done for Finance and Information Management–Information Technology (IM–IT) support provided to the mission in Panama City. Given the recent growth *** of the missions in Tegucigalpa and Panama City, resource levels will need to be closely monitored to ensure appropriate support positions are also created. In missions where there are no Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) CBS, such as in Tegucigalpa or Managua, training should be more consistently provided to the partner department staff so that they can assume duties, such as secure communications and diplomatic bag handling, that are normally not their responsibility.

A total of 97 inspection recommendations are raised in the report; 87 are addressed to the Mission and ten are addressed to Headquarters. Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the 97 recommendations, management has stated that 23 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 74 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Embassy in San Jose is staffed by seven Canada-based staff (CBS) and 24 Locally–engaged staff (LES). The only partner department at the Mission is Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The Mission's area of accreditation includes Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. The Offices of the Embassy in Managua and Tegucigalpa are primarily focussed on Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) programming.

1.1.2 The EX–02 Head of Mission (HOM) has been at the Mission for approximately two years and will be departing ***. A key priority for the HOM is transparency and, for that purpose, he meets regularly with all the LES at the Mission in San Jose, as well as with the LES when he visits the spoke Offices. The HOM also chairs occasional all–staff meetings to discuss common issues such as Transformation, up–coming visits, etc. For the three missions, there is an annual all–CBS retreat, which was assessed as useful for the management of the Mission. The Mission should consider including LES in the retreats.

1.1.3 The HOM has developed an *** number of contacts. He often solicits support from other foreign missions to raise common issues with the Costa Rican government.

1.1.4 The Mission has been busy for the last few years with the Honduran constitutional crisis, high level visits, the General Assembly meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) and a Chancery refurbishment project. Staff at the missions noted that there was good cooperation during these events and that, despite the workload, they appreciated the resulting *** profile.

1.1.5 In the Mission's countries of accreditation, staff face a number of challenges including risks of natural disasters from earthquakes, hurricanes and volcanic eruptions, political uncertainty and increasing criminality. As well, there has been the added challenge of managing within reduced operational budgets (50% reduction for the programs and 3% for common services) this year.

1.1.6 Other than specific program funding (i.e. Post Initiative Fund or the Client Service Fund), the Mission budget has not been delineated by program for operations. As a result, a significant number of requests for spending are routed through, and approved by, the Management Consular Officer (MCO). Where possible, the budget should be allocated by program at the beginning of the fiscal year, and presented to the Committee on Mission Management (CMM) by the HOM for deliberation and approval.

1.1.7 The Mission's committee structure includes the CMM, LES, Contract Review Board (CRB), Housing, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), Website, Recreational and Awards, and the Environment committees. The CMM is composed of the program managers (PMs), including the two Heads of Aid from the spoke Offices via teleconference, and meets weekly with minutes recorded. While some staff from the spoke Offices have been invited to participate on some of the committees, their roles have not been clearly defined.

1.1.8 While the Mission does have an OHS Committee, it does not meet the mandated nine times per year, nor does it distribute minutes and reports to staff.

1.1.9 The LES Committee meets on a regular basis with the MCO, but does not have regular meetings with the HOM. The Official Residence (OR) staff have not been involved with the LES Committee, nor kept up to date by the Committee. The Mission should ensure that the new LES Management Consultation Board (LESMCB) model is implemented. Spoke Office staff have been invited to participate on the Committee but there has been limited contact with them to–date. When the Inspection Team met with the LES Committee, concerns raised included:

  • requiring more information on pension plans;
  • having hospitality funds be provided so coffee, etc. can be offered to visitors; and
  • reminding all programs that it is their own responsibility to organize refreshments for visitors.

1.1.10 For the three missions, while most Performance Management Programs (PMPs) for fiscal year 2008–2009 have been completed, some are still outstanding that should be finalized. Some staff did not feel that sufficient feedback was provided by their supervisors, and mid–year PMP discussions should be held so both parties can raise issues.

1.1.11 Training requirements are noted in staff's PMPs, but the Mission has not rolled–up this information for all the offices to develop a Missions–wide training plan. This would be useful, particularly in this period of budget restraint, to assist with priority setting. As some of the non–office staff have expressed an interest in learning English, the Mission should consult with the Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI) to explore options.

1.1.12 As well as having identified a Training Co–ordinator for the missions, an Official Languages Champion has been appointed. The three missions have the capacity to provide services to clients in both official languages as well as in Spanish.

1.1.13 During the Inspection, the AS–04 Deputy Management Consular Officer (DMCO) was on leave and the AS–02 HOM Assistant had just started a *** acting assignment in this role. The HOM Assistant received Consular, passport and financial signing authority training and was being coached by the MCO. The HOM Assistant position is temporarily filled by a contract spouse. The Mission was very creative in its approach to this leave situation, as Headquarters (HQ) could not provide temporary duty support.

Recommendations to the Mission

1.1.14 The Mission should consider including LES in the annual retreat.

1.1.15 Program budgets should be delegated to the appropriate PMs who are responsible for their management. Budget updates should be presented at the CMM on a regular basis.

1.1.16 Committee members (particularly those from the spoke Offices) should be provided with terms of reference/guidelines so they clearly understand their responsibilities.

1.1.17 The Health and Safety Committee should meet as required, keep minutes, and distribute their annual reports and minutes to all staff, including non–office staff.

1.1.18 The Mission needs to create a LESMCB by April 1, 2010 and should consider the following:

  1. the LESMCB should meet with the HOM as outlined in the terms of reference;
  2. the Mission needs to decide if there will be both an LESMCB and the LES Committee or just the LESMCB; and
  3. the LESMCB should ensure that the spoke Offices and OR staff are included in their activities, and are kept up to date.

1.1.19 Fiscal Year (FY) 2008–2009 PMPs should be finalized and objectives for FY 2009–2010 should be brought forward. The PMP process should always involve periodic discussions between supervisor and employees.

1.1.20 The Mission should develop a Mission–wide training plan, which includes the training needs of the spoke Offices and non–office staff.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.1.14 In progress for October 2010. As the Mission normally holds one annual retreat for CBS from the three missions, the Mission suggests holding separate retreats, i.e. one for the CBS from the three missions and one in each mission for all staff (LES and CBS). The mission in Guatemala City is hosting a team–building exercise in October 2010, and the facilitator is willing to come to other countries in the region. Depending on the budget situation in the middle of the FY, the Mission is considering taking advantage of the facilitator's presence in the region to do their own retreats in the three missions and doing a cost–sharing arrangement with the other participating missions in the region.

1.1.15 Implemented April 2010. This has been implemented, with the program budgets being split between the four programs. Note that program budgets were split at the beginning of last FY too, however with the mid–year cut of program funds, the lack of a PERPA and IBD program manager for months during the year, the coup in Honduras and the many high–level visits, all of the money in the program budget was constantly being shuffled from program to program.

1.1.16 In progress for July 2010. The DMCO to action in conjunction with the Chair of each committee.

1.1.17 In progress for July 2010. The DMCO to provide instruction to the Chair of the Health and Safety Committee.

1.1.18 In progress for May 2010. The MCO to action in conjunction with the current LES Committee members.

1.1.19 In progress for May 2010. The MCO to follow up. An email reminder was sent to all staff on May 6, 2010.

1.1.20 In progress for August 2010. The Training Coordinator (DMCO) to action.

Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA)

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA) Program in San Jose comprises an FS–03 Program Manager and an LE–08 Public Affairs Officer. The Program covers Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua.

2.2 Main Activities

2.2.1 Recently, most of the work of the Program has been reactive in nature. A high number of official visits, combined with political instability in Honduras through most of 2009, occupied the majority of the Program's focus. An additional challenge was the lack of a resident PM from July to late November 2009.

2.2.2 Following the arrival of the PM, the focus and pace of work has largely been predetermined. Mission personnel, including the PM, acted as observers in the Honduran elections in late November 2009, and the Governor General and her delegation visited Costa Rica in mid–December 2009.

2.2.3 The activities mentioned above required that the Program adopt a responsive approach. The *** handling of these pressures resulted in a lesser degree of focus on building and maintaining contacts and networks for the Program that were outside of these immediate priorities.

2.3 Resources and Operations

2.3.1 The resource complement devoted to the Program, relative to the size and complexity of the three countries it must cover, is minimal. Given the increased profile this region has in Canada today, and will have in the future ***, the resource level will need to be reviewed.

2.3.2 With the renewed focus on Central America as a whole, it is likely time to examine the resource footprint for the whole of Central America. To continue forward at this pace with the resources available today will result in trade–offs. The priority and urgency of the day will be addressed ***. There is also a concern that *** cannot sustain this pace indefinitely.

2.3.3 The PERPA Program has no dedicated administrative support. There are two support staff available to the Head of Mission (AS–02 and LE–06) who can be made available to support the Program during busy periods, but they have not been utilized recently. ***. The use of an officer to perform tasks of this nature carries *** principal risks *** when an officer is busy tending to these sorts of tasks, there is less time available for political analysis, reporting and other key activities.

2.3.4 The working relationship within the Program is ***. Upon arrival, the PM developed a short–term work plan with the Officer. *** it laid a good foundation for Program performance management and established expectations. The PM is currently working on plans for the upcoming fiscal year in consultation with the Officer.

2.3.5 An issue that affects productivity in the Program is the need to translate press releases emanating from HQ. When press releases are produced for Spanish speaking countries in the Americas, they are usually provided to missions in French and English. The missions then decide whether or not to translate the material and, if so, whether to translate all or part of the release. As a result, each mission determines its own translation strategy and translation resource. A risk is that the nuances that were meant to be included in the release may lose their impact or the key message may be lost altogether.

2.4 Recommendations

Recommendation to the Mission

2.4.1 The Mission should examine the current provision of administrative support to the PERPA Section and identify whether more regular/on– going support can be provided with in existing Mission resources (such as the HOM Assistant).

Mission Action and Timeframe

2.4.1 In progress. Administrative support to the PERPA Section has been increased since February 2010 through the support provided by the HOM Assistant.

Recommendations to the Latin America and Carribean Bureau (GCD)

2.4.2 GCD should assess the resource profile of missions in their region to determine whether the PERPA resources assigned, including Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua, are adequate for their needs.

2.4.3 GCD should examine providing Spanish translated press releases/demarches to Latin American countries, especially when the release is going to all Latin American missions.

GCD Actions and Timeframes

2.4.2 This is currently being undertaken with a view to supplementing the Mission's PERPA resources in the context of the SR–400 process. Consultations with HOMs are currently taking place with a view to having an SR–400 proposal ready by the end of summer 2010. *** within the New Business Model both to ensure their full integration ***, and to strengthen the capacity of the missions to absorb the desk functions as per the transformation model.

2.4.3 This is an ongoing issue. To address it, a rotational translation system amongst regional missions was once employed but it did not function effectively. The issue is now a Regional Transformation Project and various solutions are being investigated. Certain measures have already been taken, including the translation into Spanish of the Values and Ethics Code, as well as the Signet Use Guidelines, translated by the mission in Mexico – which were shared with regional missions. GCD has re–engaged the GeoGroup on this issue in order to find a durable solution in the context of the New Business Model.

International Business Development (IBD)

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The International Business Development (IBD) Program in San Jose is managed by an FS–03 Senior Trade Commissioner. The Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) who arrived ***. The STC is supported by an LE–09 Trade Commissioner (TC), an LE–08 TC and two LE–05 Trade Commissioner Assistants (TCAs). The Program is responsible for Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras.

3.1.2 The 2009–2010 Business Plan for the Program identified a budget of $6,000 for hospitality, $29,000 for travel and $10,373 in the Client Service Fund for a total of $45,373.

3.1.3 The Program identified the following areas as priority sectors for 2009–2010: Agriculture, Food and Beverages; Automotive; Building Products and Construction; and Information and Communication Technologies. A mid–year review of sectors resulted in Automotive being replaced by Clean Technologies as a priority sector.

3.1.4 Canada has a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Costa Rica. ***. Canadian exports to Costa Rica totalled approximately $84 Million in 2009, while Costa Rican exports to Canada totalled approximately $358 Million.

3.2 Implementation

3.2.1 The STC, with close involvement from the HOM, manages a number of *** profile issues. ***. The STC and HOM are also involved, at times, in market access issues, mainly for agricultural products. There are some technical trade barriers that remain, despite the FTA, for Canadian agricultural products. ***.

3.2.2 Program staff are *** in their sectors and are *** informed of current strategies and initiatives within the Trade Commissioner Service. There is a ***level of teamwork and communication within the Program.

3.2.3 TCs in the Program had received individual hospitality allocations in the past, a practice which has been discontinued in recent years. The provision of a hospitality budget directly to officers helps to reinforce their need to work autonomously and their accountability for the growth of their networks.

3.2.4 The HOM is *** actively involved in the activities of the IBD Program and is seen to be *** that this Mission has had for IBD. *** in helping them to advance relationships in their sectors and countries of accreditation.

3.2.5 TRIO (TCS' Client Relationship Management System) usage by the Program is appropriate. Figures and entries derived from TRIO indicate that the Program is performing at an above average level when compared to other missions in similar markets (Tier 5 of 7 on the Canadian Commercial Interests List). That said, the STC could make *** use of TRIO in the management of the Program by using TRIO dashboard figures to periodically discuss Program and individual officer performance.

3.3 Regional Integration

3.3.1 At a meeting of regional (Central American) STCs in early 2008, it was agreed that the San Jose IBD Program could provide some regional support and coordination for all Central American IBD programs. The support ranged from the handling of suspected global inquiries to the monitoring of service requests in TRIO and the production of some regional market or sector profiles. Initially, this idea was supported by all regional STCs and their employees, ***.

3.3.2 Since the recent rotation of most of the STCs in the region, support for this idea has waned in some of the missions. Given that there has been a trend towards regionalised approaches in other areas of the world, this initiative should be reconsidered. Presenting an integrated market may make the region, and by extension the composite countries, more appealing to Canadian business.

3.3.3 Given the fluctuating support for the initiative, should a move towards a more regionalised approach be deemed appropriate, this would need to be led by GCD and the Latin American and Carribean Commercial Relations Division (GCC). Missions in the region should not be changing their approach to this format based on an STC's opinion. As well, the Program in San Jose should not be solely responsible for ensuring the viability and continuity of the approaches agreed to in 2008.

3.4 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

3.4.1 The Mission should re–establish contact with ***.

3.4.2 The STC should incorporate the use of the TRIO dashboard (produced by the Strategic Trade Planning and Performance Management Division (PDC)) in performance and activity related discussions with staff.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.4.1 In progress. The Program has received full documentation ***.

3.4.2 In progress for June 2010. The STC will incorporate the use of the TRIO dashboard more extensively in performance and activity related discussions with section staff.

Recommendation to GCD

3.4.3 GCD should assess the cost/benefits associated with a more regional (Central America) approach to planning and market/sector analysis. Should the plan be to increase collaboration (as established in 2008 by STCs in the region, or some variation of that plan be deemed appropriate), the requirement to work in this manner should be communicated to all STCs in Central America.

GCD Action and Timeframe

3.4.3 As mentioned in the Inspection Report, STCs in Central America agreed in 2008 that some cohesion and integration would be helpful to move IBD programs forward in a regional context. The Central America Commercial Relations instituted new policies comprising of various mission reporting procedures to include: monthly STC Central America conference calls, program reporting (three/year), forward calendars for inbound/outbound visits/missions, investment/company lists. The purpose of these documents are to better understand the needs of the missions' programs, share information within the region, South America and the Caribbean, help increase the effectiveness of their IBD plans, and to develop and implement a regional strategy in the context of initiatives, leveraging of funds for regional inbound missions and activities.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is managed by an AS–06 Management Consular Officer (MCO) who directly supervises the LE–08 Consular Program Officer. The DMCO supervises the passport unit, comprised of the LE–06 Consular Assistant and LE–04 Passport Clerk. The Program is responsible for the three countries of accreditation. The two spoke Offices have positions which provide service to Canadians (an LE–07 Consular Officer in Tegucigalpa who also processes the Finance documents and an LE–08 Administration and Consular Officer in Managua). The missions also provide general Consular services, such as notarial services and emergency travel documents, to Australians.

4.1.2 In order for the three Consular and passport staff to work more closely as a team (so that workload demands can be better managed), the units should be combined into one. The Inspection Team recommended that the Program Officer supervise the Assistant and Clerk, thereby relieving some of the administrative burden from the MCO and DMCO.

4.1.3 If this were to occur, the Mission would prefer the MCO to continue directly supervising the Program. The MCO would remain as primary passport approver, participating in Section meetings, managing some casework, etc., to ensure appropriate on–the–job experience in this function. As this would be the Consular Program Officer's first supervisory role, the MCO will need to provide coaching and mentoring to this individual. Supervisor training would also be beneficial (see also paragraph 5.2.3).

4.1.4 The missions and the wardens have dealt recently with crises such as earthquakes, hurricanes, coup d'états and demonstrations. The Mission indicated that it had recently sent the Contingency Plans for the three countries to HQ for review. The Duty Officer Manuals (DOMs) for the three missions are out of date and should be updated and submitted to HQ.

4.1.5 In December 2009, Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) showed 440 Canadians registered in Costa Rica, 210 in Honduras and 200 in Nicaragua. The Mission in San Jose held a warden conference in February 2009. The Mission in San Jose needs to work closely with the spoke Offices to recruit more wardens, as some districts are vacant.

4.1.6 The missions provide, on average, 1,400 passport services, handle 160 citizenship applications and provide notarial services . There are some outstanding COMIP (Consular Management Information Program) reports that the Mission needs to file with HQ. After reviewing data filed, the number of *** cases in the Consular Policy and Initiatives' (CLP's) reporting system did not match the Mission's cases. CLP should contact the Mission to determine the cause of this discrepancy and adjust case categorization as needed.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.1.7 The Mission should review the reporting relationships and, if changed, the organization chart should be updated.

4.1.8 The DOMs for the three missions should be updated and submitted to HQ annually.

4.1.9 The Mission, in conjunction with the spoke missions, should undertake a warden recruitment exercise to fill the vacant districts in Honduras and Nicaragua.

4.1.10 COMIP reports should be compiled and filed monthly and outstanding months should be filed.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.1.7 In progress for July 2010. There have been discussions in the Section and will update the organization chart and rewrite LES job descriptions accordingly.

4.1.8 Implemented May 2010. The DOMs for 2009 for all three missions were sent to Emergency Response Centre Division (CEC) in October 2009. *** but the manuals were re–sent to CEC.

4.1.9 In progress for August 2010. The Program will develop a plan for warden recruitment once the new MCO arrives.

4.1.10 Implemented April 2010. All COMIP reports are up to date and filed.

Recommendation to CLP

4.1.11 CLP should liaise with the Mission to determine the cause of the *** data entry discrepancy.

CLP Action and Timeframe

4.1.11 CLP has liaised with the Mission, and has determined that the cause of discrepancy with regards to *** data entry is due to the grouping *** as one category misleadingly titled ***. To avoid future misunderstanding, the CLP Research and Analysis team will change this case categorization to Passport Related.

4.1.12 The following procedural recommendations are noted for the Mission in San Jose. Those for the offices in Managua and Tegucigalpa can be found in Sections 6 and 7 of this Report respectively.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.1.13 The Program should transfer Consular revenue to the Finance Section when *** has been received, or weekly at a minimum.

4.1.14 The Program should inform staff in all three missions that clients should not be contacted when their passport arrives, but have them automatically come back after the 15 day service standard for pickup.

4.1.15 The Program should encourage staff in all three missions to provide feedback forms to clients when services are provided. Forms should also be made available in the waiting area, and a locked box provided for their deposit.

4.1.16 The Program should liaise with Financial Operations, International (SMFF) to analyse the cost/benefit of using credit and debit cards at the Mission.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.1.13 Implemented a new system in February 2010.

4.1.14 Implemented February 2010. Mission Management has informed Consular staff.

4.1.15 In progress. Feedback forms are available in the waiting areas in all three missions and are handed to clients as well. There is a locked box in the Mission's lobby, and we will investigate putting in a locked box into the other two missions' lobbies.

4.1.16 In progress for August 2010.

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Administration Program is managed by the MCO with support from the DMCO (the position in which the HOM Assistant is acting), the Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP), five office staff and four non–office staff. This is the MCO's ***. The MCO is the Mission Security Officer (MSO) and oversees Finance, Information Management–Information Technology (IM–IT) and Human Resources (HR). The DMCO is responsible for Property, the Receptionist and the Drivers and has been appointed the Deputy MSO.

5.1.2 The Program is the hub for the spoke Offices in Managua and Tegucigalpa for administrative support. However, no Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been developed with the Offices outlining roles, responsibilities, visits, etc. This would help to address outstanding issues, provide a mechanism for monitoring workloads and identify needed training.

5.1.3 The two Offices do not have Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) CBS, and therefore CIDA CBS have been required to assume duties *** that are not normally part of their job package at missions. It was mentioned that ***, and with few trips to the Offices by San Jose staff, on–the–job training has also been limited.

5.1.4 The Program has been operating reactively rather than proactively, as the MCO has had to take on other duties (such as organizing the Governor General's visit) when the Mission was without a PERPA or IBD PM for approximately 3 1/2 months. The MCO and team have identified projects and procedural improvements which are needed at the Mission.

5.1.5 Upcoming events for the Mission include participating in a time/motion passport study and hosting a visit by the Mission's travel report coordinator. ***.

5.1.6 The Administration and Consular Programs hold joint bi–weekly meetings after the CMM, which staff feel has improved communications. This meeting also includes the two CIC employees, which is a good practice as the CIC PM is located at the mission in Guatemala City. Though staff are in frequent contact with the spoke Offices, it would be useful, at times, to also include those staff members in the meetings by teleconference.

5.1.7 Although the non–office staff attend the Administration and Consular meetings when possible, the MCO or DMCO should meet with the non–office staff (including the OR staff) on a regular basis (outside of these meetings), to ensure their concerns are reviewed. For example, several non–office staff expressed concerns that their meal allowance was not sufficient to cover their costs.

5.1.8 While clients indicated that the Program was service oriented, establishing Mission–specific service standards would assist in managing client expectations, monitoring workload and assessing performance. As the Program is concerned with the projected growth for the missions ***, monitoring service standard delivery would help highlight when more support service resources are needed to meet additional demand.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.9 The Program should develop MOUs with the Offices in Managua and Tegucigalpa.

5.1.10 The Program should develop processes to allow the Receptionist and staff at the spoke Offices to participate in the Administration and Consular Program meetings.

5.1.11 The MCO or DMCO should meet quarterly with the non–office staff.

5.1.12 The Mission should develop and circulate Mission specific service standards.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.9 In progress for August 2010. There are existing MOUs, however they need to be updated. The MOUs will inevitably need to be updated as the missions *** continue to grow.

5.1.10 Implemented February 2010. The Program has already taken steps to encourage participation in the Management and Consular staff meetings.

5.1.11 In progress for May 2010. The DMCO to action.

5.1.12 In progress for August 2010. The MCO to action, in consultation with the HOM and other program managers.

Recommendation to Mission Client Services (ASM)

5.1.13 In missions where there are no DFAIT CBS, such as in Tegucigalpa or Managua, training should be provided to the partner department staff who assume duties normally performed by DFAIT staff.

ASM Action and Timeframe

5.1.13 This is a complex issue and will require consultations with Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI), Security Operations and Personal Safety Division (ISR), Representation Abroad Secretariat (APD) and the partner departments, as there are issues relating to training, security, as well as assigning new duties to staff from other programs.

5.2 Human Resources

5.2.1 The HR Section is managed by the MCO with support from the LE–05 Administrative Assistant. The filing is up to date and complete, although there was some confusion as to what should be kept in the employee and position files. The Mission has updated, though not yet finalized, all the job descriptions last year. As correspondence such as letters of offer should be signed by the HOM, when there is a Chargé who signs, that acting role has to be clearly indicated on the document.

5.2.2 The Mission and the spoke Offices have identified specific training needs *** for some staff. The Mission will be holding a Finance retreat for those responsible for the function in the spoke Offices, and this is supported by the Inspection Team. The Mission should consider holding a similar retreat for the Property function.

5.2.3 In the case where an LES reports to another LES, the supervisor should complete the PMPs. In circumstances where there may be conflicts between the supervisor and subordinate, the MCO or DMCO should closely monitor the relationship and PMP process. LES supervisors should be considered for supervisory training, to help improve their management skills.

5.2.4 There has been a recent increase in workload as a result of high level visits. Some staff indicated that they feel overwhelmed and do not have enough time to complete their work during office hours. To assist office staff with workload concerns, the Mission should consider utilizing the Drivers, when they are available, to help perform other duties, such as shredding, filing, etc.

5.2.5 The Mission Report for Tegucigalpa was last updated in 2008, and one has not yet been developed for Managua. The update of the Report is often contracted out to spouses, but none were interested this past year. When re–offered, if there is no interest from spouses, the Mission should look at communities outside the Offices for interested contractors (ie other diplomatic missions, the Canadian community, etc.). In order to facilitate the transition for new arrivals and departing staff, checklists should be developed for the spoke Offices as well. These lists could highlight such items as what is needed to open a bank account, obtain diplomatic plates, etc.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.6 The Mission should create separate position and employee files. The copy of EXT 208 should be retained in the employee file.

5.2.7 The updated job descriptions should be reviewed and finalized. Once finalized they should be signed by incumbents and supervisors.

5.2.8 All letters of offer should be signed by the HOM, or if the Charge is signing, the acting title should be clearly indicated.

5.2.9 The Mission should consider holding a Property retreat, similar to the planned Finance retreat.

5.2.10 LES supervisors should complete PMPs for their staff.

5.2.11 The Mission, in consultation with the International Platform Branch Human Resources Services Bureau (ALD), should determine if it is necessary to re–evaluate meal allowances for the OR staff.

5.2.12 The Mission should examine the workload of staff and examine the possibility of reallocation or sharing of tasks in order to meet priorities. The Mission could also consider scheduling specific overtime so the LES have a chance to clear a backlog.

5.2.13 When the Drivers are available to perform other duties, the Mission should consider having them help the office staff with tasks such as shredding, filing, etc.

5.2.14 The Mission should consult with Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI) to explore language training options, including purchasing departmentally approved software.

5.2.15 The Program should update/create Mission Reports for the spoke Offices.

5.2.16 The Program should create arrival and departure checklists for the spoke Offices.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.6 Implemented February 2010.

5.2.7 In progress for June 2010. The MCO to action.

5.2.8 Implemented February 2010.

5.2.9 Implemented. In April 2010, the Property Officer from the Mission in Tegucigalpa came to San Jose for a mini–property retreat. She attended a Housing Committee meeting, saw various staff quarters and spent some time with the Property Officer in San Jose.

5.2.10 In progress for April 2010.

5.2.11 In progress for May 2010. The MCO will email ALD to ask the question.

5.2.12 In progress. Overtime was scheduled in March 2010 on a regular basis, however the redistribution of tasks should be looked at. Part of the increased workload is due to the growth in two of our spoke missions (Tegucigalpa and Panama City); an in–depth review of the HR needs for all four countries is required.

5.2.13 Implemented April 2010 and the DMCO to continue to follow up.

5.2.14 In progress. The Training Coordinator (DMCO) will send an email to CFSI to enquire about possibilities. In last year's budget submissions, funding was requested to buy language learning software *** for the Mission.

5.2.15 In progress. The Mission advertised contracts to update the Mission Reports for both Managua and Tegucigalpa last year to CBS spouses, however there were no applicants. However, the Department has announced recently that the format for the Mission Report is changing (wiki–style, using a new software ***, so the Mission will wait to see how that project rolls out before updating/creating Mission Reports for the missions. The DMCO has been appointed as the custodian of the Mission Reports website, and she is set to do the *** training shortly.

5.2.16 In progress for May 2010. The Assistant forwarded San Jose's checklist to the administrative officers in our spoke missions so that they can create their own mission–specific checklists.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The Property, Maintenance and Materiel Services Section is managed by the DMCO, with support from an LE–07 Property Maintenance Officer. The Section maintains a Crown–owned Chancery, a Crown–owned Official Residence (OR), and six Crown–leased staff quarters (all houses). Due to the limited availability of appropriate housing in San Jose, the Mission attempts to find housing which can stay in its portfolio for many years. This sometimes results in over or under housing. When such instances occur, justification should be kept on file.

5.3.2 The Inspection Team visited four staff quarters (SQs) and the OR. All SQs were in good condition and well maintained. All SQs are located in gated communities where guard services are provided and recreational facilities are available. The availability of green space and recreational facilities varies, with some communities having more than others

5.3.3 The OR is located in a neighbourhood where other foreign missions' ORs are situated. There are several major renovations planned for the OR in the summer of 2010, which will coincide with the departure of the HOM. The furniture in the representational area is noticeably worn and in need of replacement. The Inspection Team also noted other necessary improvements at the OR: steep steps outside with no handrail, broken patio stones near the Gardener's shed, and emergency lights with burnt out light bulbs.

5.3.4 The Mission has a contract which provides rental plants for the Chancery. This is a substantial outlay of the Mission's financial resources and the Mission may wish to reconsider this contract in this time of fiscal restraint. An alternative could be to purchase a few plants for common and representational areas, such as the Canada Room, main reception and HOM's office.

Planning

5.3.5 Planning for the Property function is undertaken through the annual update of the Mission Property Management Plan (MPMP), input into the PRIME (Physical Resources Information – Mission Environment) database, and through the development of an annual Mission Maintenance Work Plan (MMWP). The Mission plans its capital expenditures, but only one year in advance. In order to assist in the preparation of a multi–year capital acquisition planning, the Mission should perform yearly inspections of the Chancery, SQs and OR.

5.3.6 Requests for goods, services and maintenance issues are presently handled through the use of e–mails sent to the Administration Program. It was noted however, that some requests for SQ maintenance and repairs were, at times, submitted by someone other than the concerned party (i.e. for an SQ the CBS employee). The Mission is exploring the purchase of the departmentally approved work order request system. This would help the Mission track maintenance, ensure service standards (which the Section needs to develop) are met and create a formal record of requests and work performed.

Asset Management

5.3.7 Distribution Accounts and Occupancy Agreements for the SQs have been completed, but not always signed within 30 days of occupancy, as specified in the Property Manual Section 7.3.3. Currently, the Mission does not have an up to date Distribution Account (DA) for the Chancery, nor for storage contents and surplus assets ***. This is an optimal time to update the Chancery and storage DAs, as earthquake resistant furniture has recently been installed.

5.3.8 Official vehicle logs and monthly operating forms are completed for all official vehicles. A reconciliation of gasoline purchases and mileage driven is conducted, but as a final step, these should be verified by the MCO or DMCO. To improve the vehicle logs, they should indicate if trips are official or personal, passengers should initial the log confirming the trip, and the driver of the vehicle should be clearly identified. The Inspection Team was not provided with an up to date transportation policy, which should include the existence of staff runs and reimbursement procedures for the staff run and personal trips. No transportation policies exist for the spoke Offices.

5.3.9 A system is being developed for the reimbursement of consumables which are purchased for the OR.

5.3.10 In general, disposal files are well organized, although some information relating to the sale of assets is missing (see paragraph 5.3.25 and 5.3.26 for details). The Section is using the Departmental Disposal form, although it is not always appropriately signed off.

Committees

5.3.11 The Housing Committee is active and makes housing allocation recommendations to the HOM, who allocates the SQs. Although there is no Housing Committee file, their decisions and justifications are sent to the Administration Section via email.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.12 The Mission should make every effort possible to locate SQs in neighbourhoods with comparable green space and amenities.

5.3.13 At the OR, the Mission should install a handrail on the outside steps, replace the patio stones and install new bulbs in the emergency lights.

5.3.14 The Mission should consider terminating the contract for rental plants.

5.3.15 The Mission should prepare a multi–year capital acquisition plan for the purchase of Chancery and SQ furnishings and equipment and submit it to the CMM for approval on an annual basis.

5.3.16 The Mission should ensure that yearly inspections of the Chancery, SQs and OR are performed.

5.3.17 The Mission should ensure justification for any over/under housing is kept on file.

5.3.19 The Property Section should only accept service requests which are submitted by a CBS via email.

5.3.19 The Mission should consider purchasing the departmentally approved service order request system.

5.3.20 SQ inventories of furnishings and equipment, and the Occupancy Agreements should be verified with the occupant and signed off within the specified time frame.

5.3.21 In order to improve asset control, the Mission should:

  1. Update their inventory tracking system, including Chancery furnishings, storage and equipment.
  2. Include a condition report, the original cost of each item, and the item's location in all inventories.
  3. Have those responsible for assets verify and sign the inventry (i.e. the person occupying an office).
  4. Use the Material Transfer Voucher (EXT 182) to track the movement of assets after the inventories have been finalized and signed.

5.3.22 On a monthly basis the MCO or DMCO should verify the assessment of gasoline purchases and mileage driven for all official vehicles.

5.3.23 The Official Vehicle logs should clearly indicate which driver is driving the vehicle for each trip. Each trip should be identified as personal or official, and passengers should initial the log to confirm the trip.

5.3.24 The Mission should update their vehicle transportation policy as well as develop these policies for the spoke Offices.

5.3.25 In order to ensure all the required information is found in disposal files, the Mission should include the following list of paperwork in the file.

  1. A list of all items for sale.
  2. All the bids for each item, with the name of the bidder.
  3. A list of who bought each item, and a justification if the highest bid is not taken.
  4. A copy of the Official Receipt issued to each buyer when they pay for the goods and a copy kept on file.
  5. A copy of the Official Receipt showing the transfer of revenues from the Property Section to the Finance Section.
  6. The disposal form for items sold, scrapped or donated, which includes the original value for the item.
  7. The Material Transfer Voucher which shows the item has been moved back into storage, if needed. The MCO should sign off on this package to verify that the information is complete and correct.

5.3.26 The Mission should ensure that authority from the Physical Resources Bureau (ARD) is obtained when considering donations of surplus furnishings and equipment which is originally valued at more than $1,000. The Information Management and Technology Bureau (AID) should be consulted regarding the sale or donation of any computer equipment.

5.3.27 The Mission should create a Housing Committee file where records of their meetings and decisions are kept.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.12 In progress for April 2010. The DMCO, property officers and Housing Committee will take this recommendation into consideration during this upcoming relocation season.

5.3.13 In progress. The handrail will be installed during HOM turnover 2010; patio stones have been replaced; emergency lighting in front of the guard hut has been improved.

5.3.14 Implemented May 2010. We have terminated the contract and removed all rental plants. We will purchase our own plants, and the cleaner will water the plants on a weekly basis.

5.3.15 In progress for September 2010. The DMCO will prepare a plan in conjunction with the property officers (in each of our three missions) after this relocation season is over.

5.3.16 In progress for October 2010. The MCO and DMCO inspect the OR, all SQs and the Chanceries upon arrival at post and/or when a new SQ is leased. However, the DMCO will develop a detailed schedule for annual inspections.

5.3.17 In progress for June 2010. The DMCO will ensure that the files are updated as required.

5.3.18 In progress. An email was sent to all CBS staff reminding them of this procedure. Additionally, the Mission purchased *** on February 5, 2010, which, once implemented, will help receive and track property requests.

5.3.19 In progress, see response 5.3.18.

5.3.20 In progress for July 2010. The DMCO will ensure that timeframes are respected during this upcoming relocation season.

5.3.21 In progress for July 2010. The DMCO and LE property officers to action.

5.3.22 In progress for July 2010. The DMCO to action.

5.3.23 In progress for May 2010. This recommendation will form part of the new transportation policy (see response 5.3.24). Email instructions to be sent to all staff.

5.3.24 In progress for May 2010. The DMCO has developed a tri–mission transportation policy based on the governmental policy. Once the policy has been approved by the CMM, the MCO will send a message to the three missions indicating the new procedures.

5.3.25 In progress. With guidance from the DMCO, property officers to ensure that files are updated accordingly. The suggested procedures were followed during San Jose's auction in March 2010.

5.3.26 Implemented March 2010. Proper departmental authorities were contacted prior to the auction in March 2010 and also before San Jose disposed of excess IT equipment in February 2010. The DMCO and Property Officer will continue to ensure the proper authorities are in place prior to further disposal.

5.3.27 In progress for May 2010. Email correspondence and meeting minutes are all kept electronically, however the DMCO will create a physical file.

Recommendation to ARD

5.3.28 ARD should determine when the replacement of the furniture in the representational areas of the OR is to be scheduled.

ARD Action and Timeframe

5.3.28 Refurbishment of the OR in San Jose is currently programmed under the ARD refurbishment program for the 2010/2011 fiscal year. Refurbishment would include the evaluation and appropriate replacement of furniture in the OR representational areas.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The MCO, as the Mission Financial Officer (MFO), oversees the Finance function with both the LE–08 Accountant and the LE–06 Assistant Accountant reporting to her. In most missions, the senior accountant supervises the assistant and the Inspection Team suggested that this reporting relationship be considered for this Mission. This would relieve some of the administrative burden from the MCO and provide supervisory experience to the Accountant. ***.

5.4.2 The Section provides financial services to the missions in Managua, Tegucigalpa and Panama City. For a period of time, the staff were also tasked with supporting the mission in Santo Domingo until a new accountant was hired. Overall, the Section is running well, but with the continued growth of the missions ***, the workload may become unmanageable. Staff are already reluctant to take vacations given the backlog that accumulates during absences.

5.4.3 For all four missions, the Section processes approximately 265 cheques and 25 electronic funds transfers (EFTs) per month, and Consular revenue collection averages ***. At least 25–30% of the processing is for the mission in Panama City. Given the further growth expected at that mission, HQ should examine if *** should be created there. The mission in Panama City has an employee who has received the appropriate training. As Honduras is a country of concentration for CIDA, the mission in Tegucigalpa is expected to ***.

5.4.4 In order to provide clear time–lines to address client expectations and establish roles and responsibilities, the Mission in San Jose should develop an MOU and service standards with the mission in Panama City. The planned financial retreat for all Finance staff (including Panama City) will be an excellent opportunity to address issues, review processes and procedures, etc.

5.4.5 For invoice payment, the Offices in Managua and Tegucigalpa approve Section 34 and code the invoices, and then send the documents to the Mission in San Jose. San Jose is to then enter the data into the Integrated Management System (IMS) and obtain Section 33 approval. However, often the Offices will have prepared and sent cheques to suppliers prior to the Section 33 approval, which contravenes the Financial Administration Act. In order to ensure appropriate procedures are followed before payment is made, and allow for prompt payment, the Mission should develop a process and ensure SMFF approves of this process.

5.4.6 To improve the flow of invoices through the Mission, as a best practice, the Receptionist could log invoices when they are received, to whom they were distributed, when the payment was returned to her and when suppliers picked up payment. For invoices that do not directly go to the Finance Section, the Receptionist should be provided with a list of such invoices and to whom they should be delivered.

5.4.7 Under the Foreign Service Directives (FSDs) 30.06 and 30.07, commuting assistance is available where there may be excess commuting costs. Some staff are availing themselves of this directive but submit their reimbursement requests irregularly. Staff required to pay a commuting share were also not doing so on a regular basis. The Mission should establish timeframes for the submission and payment of these requests. Between missions, there appears to be different interpretations of how/when this directive can be implemented, and it is suggested that FSD Policy and Monitoring Division (AEF) review the guidelines for approving this FSD with all missions.

Contracting

5.4.8 The Mission has a number of contracts, created in 2000 and 2002, that are being renewed/adjusted indefinitely, simply by receiving notification from the contractor. The fees for one such contract have increased by 48% since July 2007 based solely on requests from the contractor. Bids should be solicited annually, or if standing offers are used, a timeline should be established. The Mission should consult with Contracting Policy, Monitoring and Operations (SPP) for advice to correct this situation and implement proper processes.

5.4.9 A review of the contracting files also showed there was room for improvement. Samples of items to be included in a contracting file include:

  • work done prior to the Request for Proposal (RFP);
  • the RFP;
  • letters to the bidders requesting bids, giving details and deadlines;
  • correspondence with the bidders;
  • opened bids that are date stamped and show the initials of the two individuals who opened them (a best practices is to keep date stamped envelopes too);
  • evaluations;
  • amendments;
  • correspondence with HQ or others;
  • CRB approval; and
  • a copy of the contract.
Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.10 The Mission should review the reporting relationship in the Finance Section and, if changed, the organization chart should be updated.

5.4.11 The Mission, in conjunction with HQ, should monitor the workload of the Finance Section.

5.4.12 The Program should develop a Finance MOU and service standards with the mission in Panama City.

5.4.13 The Mission, in consultation with SMFF, should examine and establish a process to ensure Section 33 is exercised prior to the payment of invoices at the spoke Offices.

5.4.14 The Program should examine the flow of invoices through the Mission to determine if efficiency/controls need to be addressed.

5.4.15 The Program should establish a timeframe for the submission and payment of commuting assistance reimbursements.

5.4.16 The Mission should consult with SPP for advice on contracting so that the proper processes are implemented.

5.4.17 The Mission should consolidate contracting information and decisions made by the CRB in one location (see paragraph 5.4.9 for details).

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.10 In progress for May 2010. The MCO discussed with the Accountants; and there is no problem with having the LE–06 report to the LE–08. The MCO or DMCO will update the organization chart and job descriptions accordingly.

5.4.11 In progress. Mission Management is very conscious of the workload issues and is working with the Accountants to address the ongoing issues.

5.4.12 In progress for October 2010. *** are identified and in place, a proper MOU will be drawn up. The MCOs of the two missions to work together to draft the MOU.

5.4.13 In progress for May 2010. The MCO will develop a process and implement it.

5.4.14 In progress for August 2010. The MCO and DMCO to investigate.

5.4.15 In progress for May 2010. The MCO will send an email to the mission in Managua with the instructions.

5.4.16 In progress. The DMCO worked closely with SPP on the development of an RFP for security services for San Jose. SPP has also been giving us good advice for our other pending contract renewals as well as assisting us with contracts that were not done correctly.

5.4.17 In progress for June 2010. The DMCO to action.

Recommendation to AEF

5.4.18 AEF should review with missions the guidelines and authority for approving FSD commuting assistance reimbursements.

AEF Action and Timeframe

5.4.18 AEF will follow up and contact the Mission to determine what the issues are, and review the guidelines and authorities for reimbursements under FSD 30.

5.4.19 While overall process and procedures are in place, the following recommendations are noted to improve efficiency and controls:

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.20 In order to ensure the timely completion of bank reconciliations, the Mission should consider establishing monthly meetings for the MCO and Accountant, and for the HOM and MCO to review the bank reconciliations and supporting documentation.

5.4.21 The Mission should remind all staff to respect the quiet hours that have been established for the Finance Section.

5.4.22 The Program should remind all employees that only authorized staff are allowed entry into the Accountants' office. ***, even during open hours.

5.4.23 IMS read–only access should be provided to the Section's three spoke Offices so that staff can view their own data.

5.4.24 The Offices in Managua and Tegucigalpa should send requests for funds directly to SMFF (copying the MCO and the Accountants in San Jose), rather than routing the request through the Mission in San Jose.

5.4.25 The Program should explore if the LES at the missions in Managua and Panama City can be paid by direct deposit.

5.4.26 Correspondence with the bank for all three countries of accreditation should be routed through the MCO, for review prior to forwarding to the Finance staff.

5.4.27 To ensure segregation of duties, another Mission employee should be assigned Materiel Management (MM) module entry duties, as the Finance Section should not be creating the entries as well as processing payments.

5.4.28 The HOM should remind staff that CBS should not sign their own cheques or Section 33 or 34 for transactions which are of a personal benefit.

5.4.29 CIC staff should each be provided with an Official Receipt booklet, which is to be securely stored *** when they are not serving clients at the Immigration booth.

5.4.30 The HOM should remind staff that, for hospitality diaries, event objectives and evaluations should be linked to objectives established in the Country Strategy.

5.4.31 The Program should remind all staff that when signing any document, the date of signature should be indicated.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.20 In progress for June 2010. Recommendation is being taken into consideration.

5.4.21 In progress for May 2010. The MCO to send a reminder email to all staff with the details of the quiet hours.

5.4.22 In progress for May 2010. See response 5.4.21, this email will include entrance restrictions.

5.4.23 In progress for August 2010. The MCO to investigate IMS training (required in order to get an IMS account) for financial officers in the spoke missions. Until then, the Mission's Accountants send pdf copies of the relevant IMS reports regularly.

5.4.24 Implemented February 2010.

5.4.25 In progress for June 2010. The MCOs and Accountants to investigate the possibility.

5.4.26 Implemented February 2010. Agreed and implemented.

5.4.27 In progress for August 2010. The MCO and/or DMCO to investigate MM training possibilities for another member of the staff.

5.4.28 Implemented February 2010. The MCO will discuss with HOM, however in our small spoke missions, sometimes it is unavoidable. We always ensure though that section 33 and 34 are signed by another CBS.

5.4.29 Implemented February 2010. The DMCO to confirm that the process remains implemented and that the CIC PM in the mission in Guatemala is informed of recommendation.

5.4.30 In progress for May 2010. The MCO will speak to the HOM about sending a reminder.

5.4.31 Implemented February 2010. Reminder message has been sent; procedure implemented.

5.5 Information Management – Information Technology

5.5.1 The IM–IT function is overseen by the MCO with the assistance of a recently arrived FSITP. The FSITP is responsible for Panama City, Tegucigalpa, Managua and San Jose. Although services are provided to three other offices, there are no MOUs or service level agreements established. Given the workload, the FSITP indicated that ***, and he deals with issues on a reactive basis. Creating a work plan will aid the FSITP in scheduling and prioritizing his work.

5.5.2 The FSITP arrived at the Mission ***.

5.5.3 Given the projected growth ***, the Mission feels the FSITP's workload, which is already heavy, will continue to increase. Headquarters should monitor the workload at these missions as the situations evolve.

5.5.4 Currently, the shared drive is used to store information, although InfoBank is expected to be installed in the near future.

5.5.5 There are many customized computer programs used by the Mission that were developed by the Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP), whose position was eliminated in March 2009. As there is no longer any in–house support for these programs, the missions are in danger of losing information should problems occur. The Mission should transfer the data to departmentally supported software.

5.5.6 The Mission has not yet established an Alternate Command Post (ACP), for use should the Chancery be inaccessible.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.5.7 The FSITP, in conjunction with his Client Service Regional Manager, (CSRM) should develop a work plan.

5.5.8 The information in custom programs should be transferred to departmentally supported software.

5.5.9 The Mission should establish a properly equipped ACP in the event the Chancery is inaccessible. The *** could be considered for this site. Any equipment installed in the ACP should be tested on a regular basis.

Mission Actions and Timeframe

5.5.7 In progress for August 2010. The MCO will follow up with the FSITP to ensure that a workplan is developed.

5.5.8 In progress for August 2010. To be included as part of FSITP's workplan (see response 5.5.7).

5.5.9 In progress for September 2010. The MCO to take the lead on establishing the ACP and will work with the DMCO and FSITP to develop the plan.

Recommendation to AID

5.5.10 AID should monitor the IT resources for the region as the missions under the FSITP grow.

AID Action and Timeframe

5.5.10 Information Technology Client (AIS) continuously monitors the IT resources in the field and the fluctuation of the number of positions in missions to ensure a proper Information Technology Professional (ITP)/User ratio. The current ratio for the Mission falls under the normal ratio. That being said, AIS will be reviewing it's IT support allocation model to include metrics on regional responsibilities this fiscal year. Once the new model is defined, IT resources allocation will be adjusted as required.

Recommendation to HFD

5.5.11 Given the importance of having Spanish language capabilities for these missions, HFD should work with the International Platforms Branch to ensure that *** being posted to San Jose are given the appropriate time for language training.

HFD Action and Timeframe

5.5.11 The *** positions at missions have been assessed for foreign language level requirements as part of the Centre for Language Training (CFSL) survey of missions. At this time, the position at the Mission does not have a foreign language requirement, therefore nominees for the position are offered social integration Spanish training prior to going on posting. The *** Corporate Assignment Board (CAB) typically works one year in advance of the assignment start date, in order to ensure that the mandatory IT training is undertaken and completed by May/June, when CFSL offers social integration training. This practice ensures ***can benefit from both professional and language training prior to arriving at post.

Should the position language designation at the Mission change to require Spanish, for example as is the case for Mexico, HFD undertakes to fill the position either by assigning a candidate who already possess the level of Spanish required for the position, or by providing the number of hours of foreign language training required to obtain the designated level of fluency.

Office of the Embassy – Managua

6.1 Overview

6.1.1 The Office of the Canadian Embassy in Managua is a satellite of the Canadian Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica. The Canada–based staff complement in Managua consists of two CIDA program staff. There are also four LES providing support. In addition to delivering the CIDA programs in Nicaragua, the Office also offers Consular services and minimal PERPA and IBD support.

6.1.2 There is an LE–08 Administration and Consular Officer in Managua who handles administrative matters and provides consular services to Canadians in Nicaragua. This employee has been in this job for just under two years. Overall managerial responsibility for all facets of Administration and Consular rests with the HOM and MCO in San Jose. Financial documents are sent to San Jose for processing, while Security remains the responsibility of the MCO in San Jose, with the Head of Aid acting as Deputy MSO.

6.1.3 Consular work is the main function of the Administration and Consular Officer, and also occupies a great deal of the Receptionist's time. The Officer has received training on the key policies and procedures related to Consular work and had the benefit of one week of job shadowing with his predecessor.

6.1.4 Consular work is steady and, between this responsibility and priorities on the administration side, the entering of COMIP data is often not a priority. To ensure that San Jose and HQ remain apprised of the nature and volume of consular work performed by this Office, data should be entered on a timely basis.

6.1.5 The main administrative functions are handled by the Administration and Consular Officer. While the Head of Aid provides oversight for financial matters, they are ultimately processed in San Jose. This arrangement works well for the Office.

6.1.6 Property management is undertaken on a day–to–day basis by the Administration and Consular Officer. Managerial oversight is provided by San Jose. *** could benefit from further training on the key management and planning processes and tools for this function. In addition, the Office should update its inventories and dispose of surplus assets.

6.1.7 The Office has not been using driver's logs to record travel in the official vehicle.

6.1.8 The manner in which LES are paid was cause for concern among staff. LES salaries are stated in Nicaraguan Cordoba. Bi–monthly pay is provided in U.S. dollars. As a result of this arrangement, actual salary amounts fluctuate constantly. As the U.S. dollar is the main currency used in Nicaragua for large value payments and purchases, the process should be reviewed to determine if employee salaries could be stated in U.S. dollars.

Recommendations to the Office in Managua

6.1.9 The Office should ensure that COMIP data is entered on a real–time basis to the extent feasible.

6.1.10 Driver logs should be maintained for all trips and a reconciliation of fuel usage should be performed monthly.

6.1.11 An inventory of Chancery assets should be completed. Following this, surplus materials should be disposed of.

Office Actions and Timeframes

6.1.9 Implemented. The MCO is monitoring the input more closely. All reports are filed and up to date.

6.1.10 In progress for June 2010. The DMCO to send an email with instructions for the proper use of driver logs (for all three missions). As well, a tri–mission transportation policy has been developed and is to be approved by the CMM. This recommendation forms part of the policy.

6.1.11 In progress for September 2010. The DMCO to follow up with the Administration and Consular Officer.

Recommendation to the Mission in San Jose

6.1.12 Property training or coaching should be provided ***.

Mission Action and TimeFrame

6.1.12 In progress ***.

Recommendation to ALD

6.1.13 ALD should review the possibility of establishing LES employee pay in USD to correspond with the currency of salary payment. Once reviewed the rationale for the decision should be communicated to the Office.

ALD Action and TimeFrame

6.1.13 The LES terms and conditions regulations stipulate that the LES pay and benefits are to be expressed in the currency of the country unless the Deputy Minister otherwise directs. This issue will be considered as part of the Total Compensation Review currently taking place for Costa Rica. A recommendation will be made based on markers' practice and operational requirements.

Office of the Embassy – Tegucigalpa

7.1 Overview

7.1.1 The Office of the Embassy of Canada in Tegucigalpa is overseen by a PM–06 from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The Office's focus is primarily CIDA but, with the Honduran constitutional crisis in summer 2009, political activities became a priority. The Head of Aid played an *** role in reporting on the situation on behalf of DFAIT. This period was stressful for the entire staff (three CBS and six LES) given the high level of activity (such as ministerial visits) as well as the uncertainties in their personal lives.

7.1.2 As Honduras is a country of concentration for CIDA, the Office is expanding. There will be *** added *** with expectations of further growth in the coming years. While the current Office is able to absorb *** additional employees, future growth will likely require an office expansion. There is also a need to ensure common service support positions are added to meet the new demands. ***. As noted for the Office of the Embassy in Managua, this spoke Office also requires more frequent visits from staff in San Jose to provide oversight, training, review processes, etc.

7.1.3 *** . Both CIDA's employee assistance group and the HOM have been working with staff to improve the situation.

7.1.4 In order to improve controls and efficiency the following recommendations are noted for action:

Recommendations to the Office in Tegucigalpa

7.1.5 In order to augment communications within the Office, an all–staff meeting should be held monthly, or more often if needed.

7.1.6 The Office should consult with the Consular Program in San Jose to discuss the feasibility of only having Consular hours in the morning to serve clients, so that the Consular Officer can concentrate on processing during quiet hours in the afternoon.

7.1.7 Currently, the Office does not keep a copy of the official receipt showing client payment, as two copies are forwarded to the Mission in San Jose. The Office should consult with the Consular and Finance sections in San Jose to determine if proof of payment should be retained in Tegucigalpa (an original or a photocopy).

7.1.8 The Office should consult the Consular and Finance sections in San Jose to review file retention procedures and establish appropriate policies for the photocopies of documents retained at the Office (as originals are sent to the Mission San Jose).

7.1.9 The Office should deposit Consular revenue weekly, at a minimum.

7.1.10 Given confusion at the Office regarding who had Section 34 signing authority, the Finance Section in San Jose should review signing authorities with staff in the Office.

7.1.11 The Office should examine the Office Manager's petty cash replenishment volumes to determine if the amount should be increased *** in order to reduce the number of replenishments needed.

7.1.12 An up–to–date ***of the Office should be created.

7.1.13 Currently the Official Vehicle log is initialled by passengers for trips only after working hours. All trips should be signed off by the passenger, or Driver as required.

7.1.14 To allow the Receptionist to have a proper lunch break (as currently calls are forwarded and answered by the Receptionist during this period), the Office should consider closing reception for the lunch period, as is the practice in other missions.

7.1.15 The Office should liaise with the FSITP to set up a work area and computer for the Driver, so he can produce his own reports and be available for other duties. The Driver will need to have computer training.

Office Actions and Timeframes

7.1.5 Implemented January 2010. All–staff meetings have been called on a more frequent basis, at a minimum every two weeks, and more frequently as required.

7.1.6 Implemented April 2010. Morning–only consular opening hours for all three missions have been implemented and the new schedule has been put up on the mission websites. In all three missions, the switchboard is now "closed" from 12 PM – 12:30 PM so that all three missions will be closed for a proper lunch. Additionally, each receptionist has put a sign in the respective lobby with the opening hours. Receptionists are more vigilant about informing clients that consular queries are attended only during opening hours (emergencies excepted of course).

7.1.7 In progress for June 2010. The MCO to review the processes and discuss with the sections involved to determine a best practise for both Tegucigalpa and Managua.

7.1.8 In progress for July 2010. The MCO to review the processes and discuss with the sections involved to determine a best practise for both Tegucigalpa and Managua.

7.1.9 In progress for May 2010. The MCO and DMCO to ensure the procedure is being followed.

7.1.10 In progress for May 2010. The MCO to review who has the proper authorities and also the rules about signing authorities for the partner departments. Then will send an email to all involved in order to clarify who has signing authorities and under what circumstances they can sign.

7.1.11 In progress for June 2010. The DMCO to look into rules for petty cash maximum amounts and subsequently send an email with instructions to increase the amount.

7.1.12 In progress for May 2010. The DMCO to follow up with Property Officer in Tegucigalpa; an auction is planned for the fall 2010 (after the relocation season is over), and the Property Officer from San Jose will travel to Tegucigalpa to assist.

7.1.13 In progress for June 2010. The DMCO to send an email with instructions for the proper use of driver logs (for all three missions). As well, a tri–mission transportation policy has been developed which is to be passed by the CMM. This recommendation forms part of the policy.

7.1.14 In progress for April 2010. See response to 7.1.6 above.

7.1.15 In progress for October 2010. The Driver`s workspace and computer access/training are included as a part of the overall HR review and imminent decisions regarding expansion in Tegucigalpa.

Appendix A : Mission resources Fact Sheet

Table 1: Mission Resources Fact Sheet of Physical Resources
Physical Resources
San Jose AssetsCrown LeasedCrown Owned
Chancery 1
Official Residence 1
Staff Quarters6 
Vehicles 6
Managua Assets  
Office1 
Staff Quarters2 
Vehicles 1
Tegucigalpa Assets  
Office1 
Staff Quarters3 
Vehicles 1

Table 2: Mission Resources Financial Information
Financial Information 2009-2010
San JoseProgram BudgetCommon Services Budget
Operating Budget (N001)$ 120,162$ 685,800
Capital Budget (N005) $ 58,555
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$ 285,467$ 249,300
Total$ 405,629 $ 993,655
Managua  
Operating Budget (N001)$ 5,053$ 228,683
Capital Budget (N005) $ 41,632
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$ 33,658$ 43,513
Total$ 38,711$ 313,828
Tegucigalpa  
Operating Budget (N001)$ 8,087$ 423,868
Capital Budget (N005) $ 111,646
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$ 25,917$ 97,367
Total$ 34,004$ 632,881

Appendix B : Organization Chart

San Jose Organizational 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
MFO
- Mission Financial Officer
MM
- Module Materiel Management Module
MMWP
- Mission Maintenance Work Plan
MOU
- Memorandum of Understanding
MSO
- Mission Security 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
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:
2012-11-05