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

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

Inspection of the Canadian Embassy San Salvador

PDF Version (847 Kb) *

January 18 – 20, 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 Salvador from January 18 to 20, 2010. The Mission was last audited in May 2002. The Embassy's staff complement is made up of two Canada–based Staff (CBS) and 9.5 Locally–engaged Staff (LES).

As a result of the Americas Strategy and the recent Salvadorian elections, this Category 3 micro–mission has been very active in the past year, with a number of high–level visits and the organization of the Conference on Ethics in Democracy. The Head of Mission, as Program Manager for both PERPA and IBD, and her team have already developed contacts in the country's new government. The Mission works closely with the other missions in Central America both to share information and to leverage resources such as visiting Canadian performers.

As well as serving Canadians in El Salvador, the Consular Program also provides general consular services to Australians. The Mission is in the process of filling warden vacancies as only half the districts have an assigned warden. Once the selection process is completed, a warden conference should be held. As there is increasing violence in the country, the Mission closely monitors the security situation.

This is the Management Consular Officer's (MCO) ***as a Program Manager. ***. It is important in this environment for CBS to have a strong base in Spanish.

The mission in Guatemala provides some support to the Mission in San Salvador, however no Memorandum of Understanding has been developed to outline roles and responsibilities. As both CBS will be leaving ***, it will be important for their departures to be staggered and for comprehensive hand–over notes to be created. The MCO and her staff should develop work–plans to ensure good succession planning.

A recommendation has been made for a second retreat, led by an outside consultant, which focuses on interpersonal relations given tensions between staff members that are impacting morale in the Mission.

A total of 69 inspection recommendations are raised in the report; 67 are addressed to the Mission and two are addressed to Headquarters. Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the 69 recommendations, management has stated that 36 recommendations have been implemented. For each of the remaining 33 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Top of page

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Embassy in San Salvador is a micro–mission staffed by two Canada–based staff (CBS) and 9.5 Locally–engaged staff (LES). The Partner department at the Mission is Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). The Mission covers only El Salvador as its area of accreditation.

1.1.2 The Mission believes, in general, that the priorities outlined in the last Country Strategy are still valid. Central America (as a result of the Americas Strategy) has seen an increase in focus. For example, San Salvador alone had three Ministerial visits in the last year. The Geographic Bureau highlighted that the resourcing of missions in the region will have to be reviewed if the pace of activity and demand continues.

1.1.3 A major challenge for the Mission is the increasing violence being experienced throughout the country and the resulting impact on security considerations, both personal and physical.

1.1.4 The EX–01 Head of Mission (HOM) chairs a weekly all–staff meeting which is used for co–ordination and information sharing. The HOM and the AS–05 Management Consular Officer (MCO) meet prior to the all–staff meeting. In October 2009, there was an all–staff retreat to discuss ways to improve efficiencies (as part of the Mission's transformation agenda) and to improve teamwork.

1.1.5 In October 2009, the Mission established an LES Management Consultation Board (LESMCB) with the MCO as chair. The Board's plan is to meet four times per year (at least once with the HOM, who will also hold one town–hall per year). Minutes of these meetings are kept and distributed to staff.

1.1.6 The Inspection Team met with the LES representatives of the LESMCB who highlighted:

  • appreciation for the staff retreat and a desire for this practice to continue;
  • the lack of awareness of resources available at HQ that can be accessed by LES to discuss issues such as inter–personal relations; and
  • the negative effect on morale that tensions among staff have created.

1.1.7 Given the continuing tension between various staff members, another retreat focussing on interpersonal relations would be useful (led by an outside facilitator). The LESMCB highlighted that, culturally, the LES found it difficult to approach an individual to discuss behaviour. The HOM has given a presentation on values and ethics and ensured all employees had a copy of the code.

1.1.8 The Mission has the capacity to provide services to clients in both official languages as well as in Spanish. As indicated in paragraph 4.1.7, some signage will have to be posted in French.

1.1.9 Neither the MCO nor the Trade Commissioner (TC) have been provided with a hospitality allocation, which would be useful for building networks and aid in planning of activities. Hospitality diaries were reviewed, and the following should be implemented:

  • demonstrating better linkage between the Mission's priorities and hospitality events;
  • conducting a regular reconciliation of the HOM's official wine inventory, which should be filed in the diary as per the hospitality guidelines; and
  • establishing unit costs for events.

1.1.10 The MCO has been identified as the Training Co–ordinator. Training requirements are recorded in staff's Performance Management Programs (PMPs), but the Mission has not rolled–up this information to develop a Mission–wide training plan, which has resulted in some training gaps. ***. A Mission–wide training plan would assist the Mission with priority setting, particularly in this period of budget restraint.

Recommendations to the Mission

1.1.11 The Mission should hold a retreat that focuses on interpersonal relations.

1.1.12 The MCO and TC should be given a hospitality allocation.

1.1.13 Staff should ensure hospitality diaries:

  • demonstrate linkage between the Mission priorities and the hospitality event;
  • conduct regular reconciliations of the HOM's official wine inventory; and
  • establish unit costs for events.

1.1.14 A Mission–wide training plan should be developed. Supervisors should annually review training needs and forward the information to the Training Co–ordinator.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.1.11 A retreat, led by a trilingual trainer from Canada, is planned for the fall of 2010 and will focus on team building. In order to rationalize resources, this is being organized with the co–operation of the mission in Guatemala City. In progress for October 2010.

1.1.12 Hospitality allocations have been assigned to the MCO *** and the TC *** for the 2010–2011 fiscal year (FY). Implemented April 2010.

1.1.13 Explanations in hospitality diaries are now reflecting priorities. The inventory of the HOM's official wine has been updated and reconciled. The Mission is in the process of calculating new unit costs for events and expects this process to be completed by May 2010. In progress.

1.1.14 A draft training plan has been prepared and the Mission is planning on having it finalized in June 2010. In progress.

Top of page

Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs Program

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA) Program in San Salvador is headed by the HOM. There is no dedicated LES support position, but the HOM is assisted in the Program by the HOM/Public Affairs (PA) Assistant. The HOM/PA Assistant performs functions such as visits/events coordination, media monitoring and analysis and limited political reporting. A PMP for the HOM/PA Assistant should be developed. Visits management and program activities were in line with the New Way Forward approach.

2.1.2 For a Program and Mission of this size, staff have dealt successfully with a large number of high–level official visits. Since the proclamation of the Americas Strategy, the number of Ministerial–level visits and official delegations to this region have increased significantly.

2.2 Main Activities

2.2.1 The Program is very active and has undertaken a number of successful
events and initiatives. The signature event since the arrival of the HOM was the Conference on Ethics in Democracy. This event brought together local non–governmental organizations (NGOs), regional Canadian missions and other Canadian partners (e.g. the University of Toronto) to discuss democratic practices within the Mesoamerican context. It ultimately included 600 participants from ten countries of the Americas. The conference theme was directly in line with the pillars of the Government of Canada's Americas Strategy (prosperity, democratic governance and security).

2.2.2 El Salvador recently underwent its first change in government in over 22 years. A monumental occasion for the country, it represented a challenge for foreign governments as they had to completely re–establish government contacts. Through our presence in San Salvador, this has been accomplished with relative ease. This speaks not only to the level of activity and engagement emanating from the Ambassador, but also to the perception of Canada as a valuable partner of the country.

2.2.3 The Program makes the most of opportunities to promote Canada and advocate Canadian interests. The inclusion of an element around indigenous issues at the Conference on Ethics in Democracy opened the door to a subject *** in El Salvador. The inclusion of an Inukshuk on seasonal greeting cards also served to raise the profile of this issue, while promoting the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. These actions can be seen to have contributed to increasing the profile of indigenous concerns ***.

2.2.4 The Program takes an active role in fostering inter–mission cooperation in the region of Central America. Cooperation occurs in many facets related to reporting and political analysis, but manifests itself most visibly in the leveraging of resources for events. This was evident in collaboration on Francophonie celebrations where a Quebeçois singer was invited to perform at a San Salvador Francophonie performance. The pending visit of this performer was communicated to other Canadian missions in the region who then were able to schedule the performer for their own Francophonie celebrations. As collaboration becomes routine, this will result in a more efficient use of resources and will reduce the propensity of the missions to work in isolation.

2.3 Operations

2.3.1 Given the size of the Program, strategic and operational decisions are made exclusively by the HOM, who works closely with the HOM/PA Assistant. A calendar of events is maintained by the HOM/PA Assistant and shared with other Mission staff. The HOM/PA Assistant is the consolidation point for Mission–wide contacts. The lack of a protocol for the timeliness and substance of information shared by other programs impedes this effort.

2.3.2 The level of engagement and activity managed by the Program is likely to increase in the near term. This is due to the sustained increase in visits that are likely to continue,***. These will be managed primarily in HQ, but with considerable support and input from missions.

2.3.3 An additional *** position is expected for fiscal year 2010–2011***.

2.4 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

2.4.1 A PMP for the HOM/PA Assistant should be developed.

2.4.2 The Mission should establish a protocol for the updating of Mission–wide contacts. Such a protocol should establish the frequency of updates, the level of information recorded and the format for storage.
Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.4.1 The PMP for the HOM/PA Assistant should be finalized in May 2010. In progress.

2.4.2 The protocol has been established. Implemented April 2010.

Top of page

International Business Development Program

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The International Business Development (IBD) Program in San Salvador is managed by the HOM, who is supported by an LE–09 Trade Commissioner. The TC reports directly to the HOM as there is no regional Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) with responsibility for this country.

3.1.2 The only distinct budget figure for the Program is an allocation of $4,086 for the Client Service Fund, as the Mission's program operational budget is consolidated among programs.

3.1.3 Priority sectors for the Program include: Agricultural Technology and Equipment; Agriculture, Food and Beverages; Automotive; and Education.

3.2 Planning

3.2.1 The planning process for the Program is appropriate given its size. Consultations with regional Canadian missions have occurred with varying degrees of formality over recent years. The main Program contact at Headquarters is the IBD Desk Officer. The Officer provides the window into HQ and its specialised IBD areas for the Program.

3.2.2 The Trade Commissioner is the main point of contact for the development of the IBD Plan. There is a high level of awareness of recent Departmental developments in the trade area, and the TC was able to articulate how these developments impacted his own Program and the support available to it. As an example, the TC has used the Clean Technology Sector Practice Group to support his activities in this sector.

3.2.3 A key element of planning is the review of past performance. It was based on this review that the Program dropped a long–standing practice of participating in a promotional "Discover Canada" event. This was essentially a catalogue show that showcased Canadian companies and capabilities in certain sectors. It had been the signature activity for the Program going back a number of years. Upon review, the Program decided to cancel the initiative in 2009–2010 in favour of more targeted participation in trade fairs. These new activities have generated leads and other positive developments in priority sectors.

3.3 Implementation

3.3.1 The Program is very active and covers a diverse range of issues, from trade promotion to market access and corporate social responsibility. The delineation of responsibility between the HOM and TC is appropriate. The TC handles the trade promotion and minor market access issues, while the HOM is more involved on issues surrounding trade policy (Central America Four Free Trade Agreement negotiations) and Corporate Social Responsibility.

3.3.2 There could be more structure around the planning of outreach and corporate outcall activities. The development of a list of outcalls for the HOM would be appropriate. Additionally, in order to reinforce the need *** develop a broader suite of contacts, a hospitality fund allocation should be provided directly to him, as noted in paragraph 1.1.9.

3.3.3 When participating in trade shows or similar events, the Program makes use of a document to qualify local contacts who express an interest in doing business with Canadian companies. This is a good practice, as it provides some basic intelligence on the company in question and allows the TC and others who access the contact information to evaluate the potential for establishing a relationship.

3.4 Performance Measurement

3.4.1 A review of TRIO (the TCS' Client Relationship Management System ) inputs found that the Program was operating at a median level when compared to Programs in similar markets. That said, some adjustments should be made to the manner in which the system is being used:

  • Some local companies were categorized as clients in the system. Only Canadian companies can be considered clients.
  • Inputs of client or contact information should be done as soon as possible following the interaction. Previous inputs had been done in batches, usually occurring every three to four months. The entering of the information in TRIO should be considered as part of the client or contact interaction.
  • The Program is not making use of the Dashboard tool, produced by the Strategic Trade Planning and Performance Management Division (PDC), that summarizes performance as captured in TRIO. The HOM could use the Dashboard to periodically discuss the Program's performance with the TC.

3.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

3.5.1 The Trade Commissioner should develop a list of outcalls for the HOM coinciding with the development of the IBD Plan.

3.5.2 The use of TRIO should be refined to address the three issues noted in paragraph 3.4.1.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.5.1 A list of outcalls for the HOM has been developed and should be approved by the end of April 2010. In progress.

3.5.2 The three issues noted in paragraph 3.4.1 were discussed with the TC and inputs are now done on a more regular basis (i.e. after the interactions). Implemented April 2010.

Top of page

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is managed by the MCO with the assistance of an LE–06 Consular Assistant. The LE–04 Receptionist backs up the Consular Assistant, but has not yet had an opportunity to have either receptionist or Consular training. The HOM exercises the passport approver role when the MCO is absent, having been granted an exemption from the certification training by Passport Canada. In the past, there have been instances where the mission in Guatemala provided remote approval. Both the Consular Assistant and Receptionist have successfully completed the passport certification program.

4.1.2 As this is a micro–mission, all staff are tasked with secondary duties. As Consular demand is increasing, some of these other responsibilities are starting to impact the Consular Assistant's ability to meet service standards and time–lines. The Mission should examine the workload for the Consular Assistant to determine if some tasks could be moved elsewhere. The Mission has been standardizing the data entry categorization and should now file the five outstanding months.

4.1.3 Last year, the Program processed 367 passport services and 65 citizenship applications. Notarial requests are signed by CBS. The Mission also provides general Consular services to Australians in El Salvador, working with their contacts at the Australian Embassy in Mexico City on more complicated cases.

4.1.4 In December 2009, there were around 800 Canadians registered in the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) database, but the Mission estimates that there are approximately 2,500 Canadians resident in the county. Currently, there are 17 districts ***. The Program sent out a call letter which solicited some interest, but has not yet had a chance to review the responses received. The Mission plans to have a warden conference once the recruitment exercise is completed. The Consular Contingency Plan was up to date, and the Mission had forwarded the updated Duty Officer Manual to HQ for review.

4.1.5 Passport assets were appropriately accounted for and secured. While the HOM does approve the quarterly passport inventory, she does not participate in the actual verification. On behalf of the mission in Guatemala, the MCO verifies the CIC inventory quarterly. The Mission needs to create an inventory for seals and stamps which should be reconciled annually.

4.1.6 As a best practice, the Mission should post a copy of the receipt that clients should expect to receive in the Consular booth. Staff should ensure that passport clients are also provided with a receipt, as they are for the other Consular services. It would also be useful for the MCO/HOM to have a copy of the receipt included with the documents brought to them for notarial services.

4.1.7 Within the Consular booth, notices such as the passport fee schedule are in English only and should be posted in both official languages. A copy of the Consular service standards should also be posted on the client side of the booth. To improve asset and privacy controls, *** when she is not in this work area.

Recommendations to the Mission

4.1.8 The Mission–wide training plan (see paragraph 1.1.10) should include Consular and receptionist training for the Receptionist.

4.1.9 The Mission should consult Passport Canada to discuss how passport approvals will be undertaken in the future, given the turnover of the two CBS ***.

4.1.10 The Mission should examine the roles and responsibilities of the Consular Assistant to see if any can be transferred elsewhere so that Consular service standards can be consistently met.

4.1.11 COMIP (Consular Management Information Program) reports should be compiled and filed monthly, and the outstanding five months should be filed.

4.1.12 The Mission should complete the warden recruitment exercise and organize a warden conference.

4.1.13 The HOM should participate in the quarterly passport inventory verification.

4.1.14 The Mission should develop an inventory for seals and stamps which should be reconciled annually.

4.1.15 The Program should post service standards in the Consular booth. This and other documentation should be provided in both official languages. It is also a best practice to post a copy of the receipt that clients should receive when paying for a service.

4.1.16 All Consular clients should receive a receipt for payment for services including for passports services.

4.1.17 Receipts should accompany the documents to show payment for the notarial services requests.

4.1.18 The Consular booth door in the Operations Zone should be *** when not in use.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.1.8 The Receptionist completed the passport training in May 2009. In April 2010, the Mission contracted an emergency employee to allow the Receptionist to take in–house Consular training. When the HQ courses for receptionists and Consular are offered, an application will be put forward. Implemented.

4.1.9 As all MCOs are required to complete the passport course, this is not a concern for this position. However, the Mission will consult Passport Canada as recommended regarding training for the incoming HOM. In progress for June 2010.

4.1.10 Since November 2009, the Mission has met or exceeded passport service standards. The only non–Consular duty that had been assigned to the Consular Assistant (that of preparing a weekly white bag), has been reassigned to the Receptionist. Implemented February 2010.

4.1.11 As of mid–January 2010, all COMIP reports are up to date and filed. Implemented.

4.1.12 Warden recruitment was done in March 2010, and all warden districts now have assigned wardens. A warden conference is planned for mid–June 2010. In progress.

4.1.13 The HOM began participating in the quarterly passport inventory verification in January 2010. Implemented.

4.1.14 An inventory exists for seals and stamps and is updated and reconciled quarterly. An annual reconciliation will be added as per recommendation. Implemented January 2010.

4.1.15 All these recommendations have been implemented January 2010.

4.1.16 Implemented January 2010.

4.1.17 Implemented January 2010.

4.1.18 In progress for May 2010.

Top of page

Administration Program

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Administration Program is managed by the MCO and is supported by an LE–06 Property and Accounting Assistant, an LE–06 Administrative Assistant (0.5 FTE), a Receptionist and two Driver/Messengers. The Mission would like to see the 0.5 FTE Administrative Assistant position become a full–time position as the workload has increased since assuming Finance duties previously carried out in Guatemala.

5.1.2 This is the MCO's *** as an MCO, having had two prior Deputy MCO assignments. ***. In this environment, comprehensive Spanish is needed, both for personal and professional integration as *** acts as Chargé when the HOM is out of the country. This also presents challenges in communicating with internal staff such as drivers.

5.1.3 While in a micro–mission, informality/flexibility is useful, there is still a need to document certain requirements for budgeting, planning and prioritization. This would also provide handover notes to successors, particularly as both CBS will be departing ***. The MCO could use the recommendations from this report (for example creating a capital acquisition plan) to develop a work–plan for the staff and herself. ***.

5.1.4 Given its size, the Administration Section does not have regular meetings as the MCO is able to meet with her office staff individually on a regular basis. Staff highlighted good communications within the team and felt supported by the MCO. However, the MCO should meet with the non–office staff on a regular basis to provide them with an opportunity to raise issues.

5.1.5 As will be noted in the Finance and IM–IT sections, the mission in Guatemala provides some support to San Salvador. This relationship should be formalized via a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), particularly given that the MCOs in the two missions will be departing ***. This MOU would then feed into the review/update of the service delivery standards that were established in 2005.

5.1.6 There is currently no formal system for covering the Receptionist's breaks. The Mission should create a roster to share coverage. To limit the impact on other sections, the Mission could consider closing the reception for the lunch period, as is the practice in some other missions.
Mission Comment: A new policy for the Receptionist's lunch period has been put into place, effective April 2010.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.7 The Program should establish an Administration work–plan with objectives and time–lines.

5.1.8 The MCO should meet quarterly with non–office staff.

5.1.9 The Program should develop an MOU with the mission in Guatemala.

5.1.10 The Mission should review/update its service standards.

5.1.11 *** as Chargé, this role should be clearly indicated when signing documents.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.7 In progress for July 2010.

5.1.8 In progress for May 2010.

5.1.9 The MCO, in collaboration with the MCO at the mission in Guatemala City, will prepare an MOU. In progress for July 2010.

5.1.10 A full review of service standards is planned for June 2010. In progress.

5.1.11 *** will indicate the title when acting as Chargé. Implemented.

Recommendation to Assignments and Executive Management (HFD)

5.1.12 Given the importance of having Spanish language capabilities at this Mission, HFD should work with the Geographic Bureau and International Platform Branch to ensure that all CBS being posted to San Salvador are given the appropriate time for language training.

HFD Action and Timeframe

5.1.12 In 2009, MCO positions at missions abroad received a foreign language designation for the first time as part of the Centre for Language Training's (CFSL's) regular survey of missions. The Foreign Language Committee approved the following strategy for ensuring that MCOs posted to these foreign language designated positions have the opportunity to develop the required level of language skills.

Year 1 (2010) – 20% of foreign language designated positions staffed with officers at level or who have received the full number of training hours estimated by CFSL to obtain the level
Year 2 (2011) – 50% of foreign language designated positions staffed with officers at level or who have received the full number of training hours estimated by CFSL to obtain the level
Year 3 (2012) – 90% of foreign language designated positions staffed with officers at level or who have received the full number of training hours estimated by CFSL to obtain the level

In Year 1, the priority has been to either select candidates who already speak the level, or to provide training to candidates selected as part of the pre–posting training package, or as part of the Flexible Fluency Program initiated by CFSL in 2010.

In Year 2, there will be MCOs on full–time language training with priority going to either single MCO missions (such as San Salvador and Guatemala City) or DMCO Consular positions, where the foreign language level targeted is a level 3.

This will be supplemented by pre–posting training, the Flexible Fluency Program, and participation in the Mission Share Program.
In Year 3, additional MCOs will be on full–time language training, with priority expanded to all positions overseas with a foreign language designation of Intermediate or greater.

Top of page

5.2 Human Resources

5.2.1 The MCO is responsible for the Human Resources (HR) function with the assistance of the Administrative Assistant. The Administrative Assistant received two and a half days of handover training when she arrived at the Mission but has received no formal HR training. She is currently tracking leave and overtime using a spreadsheet system, creates employee files (which are kept by the MCO) and is responsible for questions regarding the LES Handbook and insurance program. The Administrative Assistant has developed a checklist which details all the documents necessary when hiring an employee, and this is seen as a best practice.

5.2.2 The HR files were generally complete. However job descriptions should be signed by both the supervisor and employee, and separate position and employee files should be created. All LES Employment and Pay Certificates (EXT 208) should have MCO's approval.

5.2.3 The Mission does not have a Health and Safety Representative as is required in missions with fewer than 20 employees. The MCO highlighted the need for some staff to be trained in first aid.

5.2.4 As a Category 3 mission, there is no HOM driver. However, one driver is often responsible for driving the HOM and, as a result, works approximately 50% more overtime than his colleague. An effort should be made to ensure an equitable distribution of work between the drivers.

5.2.5 With the rotation of CBS, there have not always been consistent approaches to the provision of driver uniforms and their cleaning. It would be useful for the Mission to create a policy on this issue to ensure continuity in its application.

5.2.6 The LES Handbook was last updated in 1998, and the Mission's new LES Terms and Conditions are part of Phase II of the worldwide review. The current LES Handbook is available to staff.

5.2.7 The Mission Report on the Intranet site is dated 2006 and should be reviewed and updated. This will be particularly important as both CBS will be departing ***. With both leaving, it will be necessary to ensure their departures are appropriately staggered.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.8 All job descriptions should be signed by the incumbent and supervisor.

5.2.9 The Mission should maintain employee and position files separately.

5.2.10 The MCO should approve all EXT 208s.

5.2.11 A Health and Safety Representative should be appointed and some staff should be trained in first aid.

5.2.12 In an effort to be more equitable, the scheduling of the drivers should be done so both have the opportunity to work equal hours of overtime.

5.2.13 The Mission should create a policy on driver uniform and cleaning requirements in order to ensure continuity of application, given the short posting cycle at the Mission.

5.2.14 The Mission should update its Mission Report.

Mission Action and Timeframes

5.2.8 As of April 2010, all files are now up–to–date with signed job descriptions. Implemented.

5.2.9 Existing position files are being reviewed to ensure they include all position information. This should be completed in May 2010. In progress.

5.2.10 The MCO approves all EXT 208s. This has been discussed with the Administrative Assistant who prepares the draft for MCO approval. Implemented.

5.2.11 A Health and Safety representative has been identified. First aid training will be scheduled in June or July 2010. In progress.

5.2.12 The new schedule will be implemented in May 2010. Each driver will have responsibility for half the month's after hours shifts (i.e. 1st to the 15th and the 16th to the end of the month). In progress.

5.2.13 As per the LES handbook, the drivers' uniforms are replaced annually and cleaning is provided monthly. The Mission will follow policy/guidelines outlined in the LES handbook henceforth. Implemented.

5.2.14 The MCO has obtained the necessary information for training on the new template and plans to update the report in May/June 2010. In progress.

Top of page

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The Property, Maintenance and Materiel Services Section is managed by the MCO. The Property and Accounting Assistant provides the function with sound support. The Section maintains a Crown–leased Chancery and two Crown–leased staff quarters (SQs). As this is a Category 3 mission, the HOM resides in an SQ.


5.3.2 The Chancery is located in an office building on the edge of what is considered the secure part of town. There is ample storage space at the Chancery, but a reorganization would allow the Mission to place better controls on their inventory. The Inspection Team visited both SQs, which were in good condition and well maintained. The Mission currently has one apartment and one house in its portfolio.

5.3.3 Both SQs have been on the inventory for many years. When the lease is set to expire, the landlord sends a letter which states the extension period and the new rental amount. These letters were often sent after the expiry of the lease, or not included in the file.

5.3.4 Given current family configurations,*** may be considered to be over–housed, but justification for this was not on the file. The Mission had considered the implications of changing their housing inventory but, based ***, decided to keep the current SQs.


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 its capital acquisition planning, the Mission should conduct yearly inspections of the SQs and Chancery.

5.3.6 The Mission has not developed property service standards. Although there are not many requests for maintenance or services, the Mission should consider implementing an electronic service order request system instead of having the maintenance requests sent to the Property Manager by telephone or email. This would help the Mission track maintenance, ensure service standards are met and would create a formal record of requests and work performed. There are numerous off–the–shelf products available, including one which is recommended by Headquarters.

Asset Management

5.3.7 Distribution Accounts and Occupancy Agreements for the SQs have been completed, although they were signed over a year after the CBS arrived at the Mission. SQ inventories should be signed within 30 days of occupancy (Property Manual section 7.3.3).

5.3.8 The Mission does not have an up–to–date Distribution Account for the Chancery, including storage contents. The last Distribution Account dates back to 2004 and is on a stand–alone computer which is no longer compatible with other software or printers. The Property and Accounting Assistant has contacted HQ to see if the information can be transferred to a supported program in order update it.

5.3.9 Official vehicle logs and monthly operating forms are completed for all official vehicles. However, no assessment of gasoline purchases and mileage driven is conducted or verified, and passengers are not initialling the log confirming the trip. The Inspection Team did not see a transportation policy, which should include the existence of staff runs and reimbursement procedures for the staff run and personal trips. There should also be individual files for each vehicle.

5.3.10 The fuel level in the generator at the HOM's SQ is checked weekly, but there is no log tracking maintenance, fuel usage or purchases.

5.3.11 There was only one disposal file made available to the Inspection Team, dating back to December 2009, when donations were made. The file was not complete as a Disposal Report (EXT 369) was not included. Donations in excess of $1,000 were made, but there was no record of Headquarters' approval on file. The Mission indicated auctions had been held in the past, and a vehicle was sold recently, but there were no records on file.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.12 Given that the Chancery has ample storage space, the Mission should consider reorganizing their storage space in order to improve asset tracking. One room could be dedicated to office supplies and another could be dedicated to IBD and PERPA, with these programs responsible for tracking their assets such as promotional materiel, etc.

5.3.13 The Mission should ensure current letters updating SQ leases are on file and received before the end of the current lease.

5.3.14 The Mission should ensure justification for over/under housing is on file.

5.3.15 The Mission should develop a long range capital acquisition plan for the purchase of Chancery and SQ furnishings and equipment, and this should be reviewed and approved by the MCO and HOM annually.

5.3.16 The Property Section should ensure that annual inspections of the Chancery and SQs are conducted, and these results are assessed in tandem with the development of the annual maintenance and capital acquisition plans.

5.3.17 The Mission should receive all work orders via email, not verbally, as verbal requests cannot be properly actioned or tracked.

5.3.18 The Mission should consider the implementation of an electronic service order request system.

5.3.19 SQ Distribution Accounts of furnishings and equipment and the Occupancy Agreements should be verified with the occupant and signed off within the specified timeframe.

5.3.20 An up–to–date inventory of the Chancery, including storage assets, should be compiled.

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

  1. Distribution Accounts include a condition report, the original cost of each item (where available) and the item's location.
  2. Those responsible for assets verify and sign the inventory (i.e. the person occupying an office).
  3. To track the movement of assets the Property Section uses the Material Transfer Voucher (EXT 182),
    (after the inventories have been finalized and signed).

5.3.22 For disposal sales, the Mission should include the following in the disposal file. The MCO should sign off on this package to verify that the information is complete and correct.

  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 have paid for the goods.
  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, donated or scrapped – including the original value for the item, signed by the HOM.
  7. If needed, the Material Transfer Voucher which shows an item has been moved back into storage.

5.3.23 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.

5.3.24 The Mission should verify fuel usage and purchase costs as required using EXT 159 (Vehicle Operating and Maintenance Report). This report should be reviewed on a monthly basis by the MCO.

5.3.25 All trips in an Official Vehicle should be identified as personal or official, and the log should be initialled by the passenger.

5.3.26 The Mission should develop a transportation policy which includes guidelines related to staff runs, other personal uses of official vehicles and the related reimbursement policies.

5.3.27 Vehicle files should be created in order to track maintenance.

5.3.28 The Mission should create a log to track maintenance, fuel purchases and usage for the generator at the HOM's SQ.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.12 The PERPA Section has reorganized their storage space (April 2010) and the Administration Section will reorganize their storage space in mid–May 2010. In progress.

5.3.13 The MCO, together with the Property and Accounting Assistant, will ensure the current letters are on file before the next renewal period. In progress for July 2010.

5.3.14 Justifications will be added to the file in May 2010. In progress.

5.3.15 The MCO has prepared a handwritten acquisition plan which will be transferred to a Word or Excel format and subsequently approved. In progress for June 2010.

5.3.16 Inspections will be carried out at the end of May/beginning of June 2010 to ensure sufficient time to plan required work for the SQs prior to the CBS changeover. In progress.

5.3.17 All staff have been advised to submit work order requests via email. Implemented April 2010.

5.3.18 The Mission considered the option of investing in an electronic system. However, the MCO recommended that an Excel spreadsheet used to track work orders, prepared and updated by the Property Assistant and reviewed weekly by the MCO, would be sufficient for the micro–Mission's needs. Implemented.

5.3.19 The Mission will ensure this is the practise for future change–overs of staff. Implemented.

5.3.20 The Mission will commence this along with Distribution Account updates in May 2010. An emergency employee may be required given the burden of work this undertaking will have on the Property and Accounting Assistant. In progress.

5.3.21 The Mission will begin the update of Distribution Accounts in May 2010. As this will be a huge undertaking for a small Mission and the Property and Accounting Assistant, the Mission will consider engaging an emergency employee to assist. In progress.

5.3.22 The recommendations will be followed for the next auction. Implemented.

5.3.23 The appropriate approvals will be sought for future donations. Implemented.

5.3.24 The Mission will begin verifying fuel usage and purchase costs starting in May 2010.

5.3.25 In progress for May 2010.

5.3.26 Reference to staff runs will be added to the Mission's transportation policy. Personal use of vehicles and the reimbursement procedure have been detailed in this policy. In progress.

5.3.27 Vehicle files are maintained by the senior Driver. The Property and Accounting Assistant is to review monthly and advise MCO. Implemented April 2010.

5.3.28 In progress for May 2010.

Top of page

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The Finance function is managed by the MCO with the assistance of the Property and Accounting Assistant. The Administrative Assistant performs the IMS input function and backs up the Property and Accounting Assistant during absences. The Property and Accounting Assistant had received training, but the Mission has experienced difficulty with arranging HQ training for the Administrative Assistant as she only works part–time.

5.4.2 Approximately three years ago, the Mission took over the majority of the Finance function from the mission in Guatemala, with the exception of the processing of LES payroll. Unfortunately, this change was done without the approval of Financial Operations, International (SMFF). Given the increasing workload in Guatemala and the Department's move towards regionalization, the Inspection Team believes the operations should remain as they are. However, SMFF should be officially notified of this change, and (as noted in paragraph 5.1.5) an MOU outlining processes and responsibilities should be developed with Guatemala.

5.4.3 The Mission is two months behind in the submission of completed bank reconciliations. As a best practice, the Property and Accounting Assistant should book a monthly appointment with the MCO to review the bank reconciliation, and the MCO should do the same with the HOM. As well, it would be useful for the Property and Accounting Assistant and the Administrative Assistant to have quiet hours in order to be able to concentrate on their tasks.

5.4.4 Correspondence with the bank is routed through the Property and Accounting Assistant rather than the MCO. The Property and Accounting Assistant has on–line view access to the bank statement, however, the MCO does not. As the MCO is the Mission Financial Officer (MFO), she should be the primary contact point with the bank.

5.4.5 The Mission makes payments primarily by cheque (approximately 40 out of 44 payments per month) with the remainder by electronic funds transfers (EFTs). The Property and Accounting Assistant currently types the cheques on a manual typewriter located in an open area, which can be distracting. The Mission should consult with the bank and SMFF to see if printer–friendly cheques are available. Consideration should be given to moving the typewriter to a quieter area to reduce the likelihood of errors.

5.4.6 At the Mission, there are two acquisition cards held by the CBS. For control purposes, the MCO should be reviewing the HOM's statement, with supporting receipts, and vice versa.

5.4.7 Consular revenue collected at the Mission averages 1,500 USD per month. CIC revenue is collected by certified cheque, money order or bank draft, but these payments are forwarded with the applications to the mission in Guatemala for processing.

5.4.8 The *** currently retains the stock of Official Receipt booklets *** and distributes them to staff as needed. These should be stored in a vault in the Security Zone. A working stock supply can be provided to staff. However, a transfer log should be created so that movement of the stock can be tracked.

5.4.9 DFAIT, as well as other participants, provided funding for the Conference on Ethics in Democracy. The Mission did not create a Special Purpose Account (SPA), but rather used its regular account, which made monitoring the transactions difficult. In the future for similar events, the Mission should consult with SMFF regarding the use of SPAs. At the time of the Inspection, the Mission believed it had $31,000 remaining from DFAIT's contribution and planned to develop some "post conference materials" before returning the remainder to HQ.

5.4.10 Given the workload for the Administration team, the Mission should review with Contracting Policy, Monitoring and Operations (SPP) the possibility of joining the Materiel Management (MM) module pilot project, where HQ will do the entries in the MM module. This would help with the segregation of duties. Having contracting experts share their observations on processes will also be a good learning experience for staff.

5.4.11 With only the two CBS having Section 33 signing authority, there can be instances when it is difficult to get signatures in a timely manner. To improve controls, the Mission should ensure that:

  • the Property and Accounting Assistant should not sign;
  • only the CBS have been designated to sign Section 33 and 34,
  • payments are not approved prior to work being completed; and
  • CBS avoid signing Section 33 and 34 or cheques for their own transaction payments.

5.4.12 The Mission should consider the following processes to improve efficiency and control for the petty cash:

  • review the Receptionist's petty cash account reimbursement pattern to determine if the petty cash should be increased to reduce the frequency of replenishments; and
  • provide the Receptionist with a lock for the drawer where the petty cash is kept.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.13 SMFF should be officially notified of the change of Finance duties from the mission in Guatemala to the Mission in San Salvador.

5.4.14 As a best practice, the Mission should consider setting up regularly scheduled meetings so that the bank reconciliation submission is completed monthly.

5.4.15 The Mission should consider instituting quiet hours for the Property and Accounting, and Administrative Assistants. This is seen as a best practice as it allows employees time to concentrate on their work.

5.4.16 The MCO should contact the Mission's bank to request that all banking correspondence be forwarded to the MCO, and to arrange for on–line view access to the Mission's accounts.

5.4.17 The Mission should consult with the bank and SMFF to determine if printer–friendly cheques are available and used in the banking system.

5.4.18 The Program should consider moving the typewriter to a quieter location, so that the cheques can be prepared without interruption.

5.4.19 The MCO should review the HOM's acquisition card statement with supporting receipts, and vice versa.

5.4.20 The stock of official receipts should be stored in the Security Zone. A transfer log should be developed for the tracking of working stock provided to staff.

5.4.21 SPAs should be used when funds are received as part of a cost–sharing arrangement, pre–payment for a specified event or other similar arrangement.

5.4.22 In conjunction with SPP, the Mission should consider joining the MM module pilot project, where HQ does the MM module entries.

5.4.23 The Mission should review the requirements for delegation of signing authorities to avoid repeating the incidents highlighted in paragraph 5.4.11.

5.4.24 The Mission should examine the Receptionist's petty cash replenishment volumes to determine if the account should be increased (maximum of $2,000) in order to reduce the number of replenishments needed. The Receptionist should be provided with a *** where the petty cash is kept.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.13 The Mission is working on a response to a Bank Reconciliation and Financial Review sheet sent by SMFF. The Mission will note the change in financial duties in this response, which will be sent in May 2010. In progress.

5.4.14 Bank reconciliations are generally not behind in the Mission, with a few recent exceptions, and the Mission will ensure that this will not happen again. Implemented.

5.4.15 The Property and Accounting and Administrative Assistants will begin having quiet hours in May 2010. The Mission will commence the practice by having quiet hours on Tuesday mornings for the Property Assistant and Monday mornings for the Administrative Assistant. The Mission will determine if this practise works well and make modifications as needed. In progress.

5.4.16 As of January 2010, all banking correspondence is sent directly to the MCO. The MCO has also received online access. Implemented.

5.4.17 The Mission will investigate the options. In progress for May 2010.

5.4.18 The typewriter is used by other mission staff and cannot be moved. Therefore, a new typewriter was purchased for the Accounting Assistant and is located in his office. Implemented January 2010.

5.4.19 Implemented April 2010.

5.4.20 Implemented March 2010. Transfer logs are kept for tracking purposes.

5.4.21 The Mission will do this for future special events/arrangements. Implemented.

5.4.22 The Mission will make this in May 2010. In progress.

5.4.23 The Mission has completed the review. Implemented February 2010.

5.4.24 The petty cash was increased from USD 500 to USD 800. This has resulted in a decrease in the number of replenishments needed. The *** where the petty cash is stored now has *** and the***. Implemented March 2010.

5.5 Information Management – Information Technology

5.5.1 The Information Management–Information Technology (IM–IT) functions at the Mission are the responsibility of the MCO. Technical support is provided by the Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP) from the mission in Guatemala City and the Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) from the mission in Mexico City.

5.5.2 There is no formal agreement between the Mission and the missions in Guatemala City and Mexico City that details the nature and levels of service provided. Therefore, the frequency of visits and the types of situations that would warrant a visit have not been formally established. Proactive management of IM–IT in the Mission has usually been accomplished regardless. However, this year has been a particular challenge as the *** have been occupied with the expansion of the Immigration Section in Mexico City and with high–level visits to the region. As a result, there is a backlog of services. Examples include a significant number of outdated IT assets in storage and cyclical replacement computers that have yet to be installed over one year after delivery.

5.5.3 The Mission is not always making requests through the IM–IT Help Desk. Communicating requirements through this mechanism allows for HQ to identify common issues, prioritize service requests and dispatch resources accordingly.


5.5.4 Service requests and their status are not monitored by the MCO through the MCO IT portal nor through the Remedy service request system itself. The monitoring of these requests will help to bring more clarity around the state of IT in the Mission and the nature and status of longer standing deficiencies.

5.5.5 The Mission currently has two Blackberry users, the HOM and the MCO. Other staff are provided with cellular telephones. The Mission believes that the cost differential between a Blackberry and cellular telephone is minimal. Upon further investigation should this prove to be the case, there are a number of employees of the Mission who would benefit greatly from having this expanded communications capability.

5.5.6 Server back–up tapes are currently stored in a safe ***. These tapes should be stored in a media rated fire–proof safe ***.

5.5.7 The Mission has one satellite phone unit that is affixed ***. This unit would, therefore, only be useful in the event that communications were cut to the Chancery but the building itself was still accessible. A portable unit located at *** (which could be identified as the alternate site in the event that the Chancery is inaccessible) would be useful.

5.5.8 The Mission does not have controls over long distance dialling, nor is a long distance usage report produced for verification purposes.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.5.9 IT problems should be communicated to the Help Desk in Ottawa to allow for the coordinated identification of common requirements, prioritization of requests and corresponding deployment of resources.

5.5.10 The MCO should obtain access to the MCO IT Portal to allow for closer monitoring and management of the IM–IT function at the Mission.

5.5.11 The acquisition of Blackberry units for key local staff should be explored.

5.5.12 Server back–up tapes should be stored *** in a media rated fire–proof safe.

5.5.13 The Mission should acquire a portable satellite telephone unit to be stored at the alternate work site.

5.3.14 The Mission should identify and appropriately equip an alternate work site. Given the space and layout of ***, it could be considered for this site.

5.5.15 The Mission should institute controls and reporting of long distance telephone usage.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.9 All staff have been advised, via email, to submit IT problem requests to the Help desk. Implemented.

5.5.10 A request to allow the MCO to obtain access to the MCO IT Portal was submitted in early April 2010. The MCO is awaiting further direction from HQ. In progress.

5.5.11 The cost of acquiring Blackberry units was built into the budget for FY 2010-2011. Purchases will be timed with a visit from the LEITP from the mission in Guatemala. Implemented.

5.5.12 The Mission will need to acquire a new safe for this purpose. For now, tapes have been moved ***, which means they would be spared damage from any flooding that could occur. The Mission has security concerns over *** and would prefer to store the tapes in a secure safe (once purchased from HQ) ***. In progress for September 2010.

5.5.13 A portable satellite phone was purchased in March 2010. This phone will be kept at the alternate site, ***. The phone will be installed during the next visit of the FSITP from Mexico City. Implemented.

5.5.14 The *** has been identified as an alternate site. Currently, *** and the satellite phone (see response 5.5.13). Implemented.

5.5.15 Monthly detailed copies of the telephone bills are given to each staff member by the Property and Financial Assistant asking that they identify any personal calls. If personal calls are noted, the employee reimburses the Mission. Starting in May 2010, the MCO will also review the detailed bill to check for abnormalities. As recommended, the long distance usage report will be produced for verification purposes. In progress.

Recommendation to the Information Management and Technology Bureau (AID)

5.5.16 A Service Level Agreement should be established for San Salvador that identifies the frequency of visits and the types of situations that would warrant a rapid response from the FSITP out of Mexico City. This should also include visits by the LEITP from Guatemala City to San Salvador.

AID Action and Timeframe

5.5.16 There is currently no formal Service Level Agreement (SLA) with missions that would specify the frequency of visits. The establishment of an SLA with each individual mission is one of the main objectives of the Regional Service Centre as part of the delivery of common services.

The standard practice is to visit missions without an Information Technology Professional presence once per quarter. FSITPs are usually dispatched for service affecting emergencies within 24 to 48 hours. Routine and emergency visits are managed and scheduled by the Client Service Regional Manager (CSRM).

Mission service delivery standards are governed by the Interdepartmental Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on operations and support at missions.

Top of page

Appendix A : Mission resources Fact Sheet

Table 1: Mission Resources Fact Sheet of Physical Resources
Physical Resources
AssetsCrown OwnedCrown Leased
Official Residence--
Staff Quarters2 
Vehicles 2

Table 2: Mission Resources Fact Sheet Financial Information
Financial Information 2009-20101Program BudgetCommon Services Budget
1 figures are pre 50% Program budget cuts and 3.2% Common Services budget cuts
Operating Budget (N001)$ 21,092$ 418,241
Capital Budget (N005) $ 3,769
CBS Salaries Budget (N011)$166,400$73,103
LES Salaries Budget (N012)$122,000$136,129

Appendix B : Organization Chart

San Salvador Organizational Chart

Appendix C: Frequently Used Acronyms

- Business Continuity Plan
- Canada-based Staff
- Committee on Mission Management
- Consular Management Information Program
- Contingency Plan
- Contract Review Board
- Client Service Fund
- Electronic Funds Transfer
- Deputy Management Consular Officer
- Foreign Service Information Technology Professional
- Full Time Equivalent Position
- Fiscal Year
- Global Commerce Strategy
- Global Value Chains
- Head of Mission
- Honorary Consul
- Headquarters
- Human Resources
- High Security Zone
- International Business Development
- Information Communication Technologies
- Information Management - Information Technology
- Integrated Management System
- Locally-engaged Information Technology Professional
- Locally-engaged Staff
- LES Management Consultation Board
- Management Consular Officer
- Mission Financial Officer
- Module Materiel Management Module
- Mission Maintenance Work Plan
- Memorandum of Understanding
- Mission Security Officer
- Mission Property Management Plan
- North American Platform Program
- Official Residence
- Operations Zone
- Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs
- Post Initiative Fund
- Program Manager
- Performance Management Agreement
PMP Human Resources
- Performance Management Program
PMP Consular
- Passport Management Program
- Physical Resources Information - Mission Environment
- Registration of Canadians Abroad
- Science and Technology
- Senior Trade Commissioner
- Staff Quarter
- Security Zone
- Trade Commissioner
- Trade Commissioner Assistant
- Trade Commissioner Service
- The TCS' Client Relationship Management System
- Office of the Inspector General
- Inspection Division

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


Date Modified: