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Inspection of the Canadian High Commission Bridgetown, Barbados

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Feb 07 – 11, 2011

Table of Contents

Inspection Scope and Objectives

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

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

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

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

Executive Summary

An Inspection of Mission Management, the Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs, Commercial Economic, Consular and Common Services programs was conducted in Bridgetown from February 7 to 11, 2011. A previous audit of these programs took place in 2002. The High Commission is a medium sized Mission with 13 Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 34 Locally-engaged Staff (LES).

The Mission is well served by an experienced Management team and staff. The Mission provides support to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), which has almost doubled its staff complement in Bridgetown. A challenge for the Department and missions is getting the “platform” and appropriate administration support established before partner departments increase their presence abroad. Mission capacity and information technology issues have caused delays in deployment of additional human resources to Bridgetown.

A major challenge for the Mission and Headquarters (HQ) is the substantial work that needs to be done on the property portfolio which includes: finding temporary office space to house the growing CIDA Program; addressing health, safety and security issues of the current Chancery; constructing a new Chancery on the Crown-owned compound; retrofitting the Crown-owned Official Residence; and repairing two Crown-owned Staff Quarters.

Mission Management needs to augment communications with the LES community so that regular updates are provided on such topics as the Total Compensation Review and Chancery health and safety concerns, as well as ensuring policy changes are explained prior to implementation. Activities such as all-staff meetings would provide a useful forum for such discussions.

The Political and Economic Reporting and Public Affairs (PERPA) Program is running well. Consistent with the Americas Strategy, the Program is focussed on capacity building, in areas such as anti-crime, drug trafficking and counter-terrorism. HQ noted satisfaction with the quality of reporting and analysis emanating from the Program.

***

Given the size of the CE and PERPA programs at this Mission there is an opportunity to streamline some work. Economic reports and country profiles for the numerous countries of accreditation should be done simultaneously by one person, based on current workloads.

Over the past few years, the Consular and Common Services Programs have been working to strengthen controls and solidify processes and procedures under the guidance of *** Management Consular Officer (MCO). Contingency planning has also been a focus for the Mission *** only the Deputy MCO (DMCO) is currently able to approve passports. There was a period when both the MCO and DMCO were on *** leave at the same time. While strategies were developed to limit this period, there was still a significant impact on mission operations due to the central roles these positions play.

***. The Mission needs to update the Mission Report and augment its arrival procedures in order to clarify roles and processes to better manage expectations. It is also important that staff (especially on their first assignment abroad) be allowed and encouraged to attend the pre-posting sessions offered by both Departments.

A total of 44 inspection recommendations are raised in the report; 43 are
addressed to the Mission and one is addressed to Headquarters. Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the 44 recommendations, management has stated that 21 have been implemented. For each of the remaining 23 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados is a medium-sized mission with 13 Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 34 Locally-engaged Staff (LES). The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has a significant presence at this Mission, totalling 16 staff (including seven CBS).
Mission Comment:
An additional CIDA CBS is being deployed in the summer 2011 rotational season. The CIDA Program has approval to hire additional LES, but this has been delayed due to the current lack of space in the Chancery.

1.1.2 The Mission is responsible for departmental program delivery in Barbados and the six member countries of the Organization of Eastern Carribean States (Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Granada, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines), three British overseas territories (Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Montserrat) and provides consular and trade services in Guadeloupe, Martinique and Sint Maartin (which is served by an Honorary Consul). As noted by other missions with multiple accreditations, the budget contractions of the last few years have made it challenging to ensure appropriate coverage of the Mission’s territory.
Mission Comment:
Please note that following a Headquarters (HQ) decision in spring 2011, the Mission’s area of accreditation has increased to 19 islands with the addition of Saba, St. Barts and St. Eustasis.

1.1.3 The staff complement at the Mission is increasing significantly and quickly. ***. The impact of this on the Mission is significant and is compounded by property deficiencies at the current Chancery.

1.2 Mission Management

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

1.2.1 The Mission benefits from an experienced group of managers who have a high level of awareness of DFAIT policy, procedures and protocol. The current management team has made improvements to the control environment at Mission and has rectified some practices that were not consistent with policy requirements. In introducing the changes to procedures, insufficient attention was paid to the manner in which they were communicated (limited rationale, via email, etc.) and this has led to misunderstandings and frustration on the part of the LES. In addition, at the time of the Inspection, the Head of Mission (HOM) has not yet convened an all staff meeting for the Mission. The current management team is perceived as distant, *** due to the communications issues noted above and a sense of cultural divide between the LES and CBS. Specific, tangible actions need to be taken to rectify this situation.

1.2.2 Better communication, at the Mission Management level, would also improve the overall functionality of the Mission. For example, two programs booked events on the same day resulting in support resources being overstretched which could have been mitigated if identified early.

Official Languages

1.2.3 An Official Languages Coordinator has been appointed and services are available to the public in both Official Languages. While most signage in the Mission is in both official languages, there are some notices in the washroom areas that were subsequently translated into French following the Inspection visit.

1.3 Management Controls

Key Management Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
The Mission’s committee structure meets minimum requirements based on size (Health and Safety, Security, Contract Review, etc.).X  
Mission committees are meeting regularly and effectively discharging their governance responsibilities.X  
Program managers are provided regular financial/budget updates to facilitate effective management and decision making.X  
Security policies and regulations are respected and promoted.X  
The quarterly reconciliation of passport inventory is properly completed and certified.X  
The mission’s bank reconciliations are properly reviewed and signed-off on a monthly basis.X  
The Mission has a plan to ensure the continuity of operations in the event of a major disruption or catastrophic event (i.e. Business Continuity Plan).X  
Mission hospitality guidelines are reviewed and updated annually by CMM. X 
Hospitality activities are properly documented, demonstrate value-for-money and align with mission objectives. X 
All employees have performance objectives set and annual reviews occur. X 

1.3.1 The Mission has set up the requisite management oversight and operational committees, including a Committee on Mission Management (CMM) and Operations Committee (OPS). While these committees are active, there are no minutes or records of decision produced. These could be used to bolster corporate memory and serve as a communications tool with Mission staff. The Mission’s “wiki” site could be used as the repository for these records.

1.3.2 While committee structures are in place, some require revitalization. For example, there are some vacancies in the Housing Committee. Members of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) recently resigned due to frustrations regarding a lack of progress in addressing issues of concern. There are pressures on these committees given health and safety concerns regarding the Chancery building and the higher volume of activity being addressed by the Housing Committee as CBS staff increases. Given these vacancies, this may be a good opportunity for newer *** staff to become involved, which would help them be a more integrated part of Mission Management as well as learn more about Mission operations.

1.3.3 While efforts have been made to tighten security practices, the Mission will need to continue to reinforce security awareness and procedures. For example, newly arrived dependents are not given a security briefing ***.

1.3.4 There is an opportunity to improve the recording of hospitality given and received. The link to Mission or Government objectives and the evaluation should clearly demonstrate the utility of the event. Where hospitality is extended to spouses and/or Honorary Consuls, as has occurred at this Mission, the reason for their invitation should be made explicitly clear. Documentation indicated that Mission hospitality guidelines were last updated in 2009. The Mission should review these guidelines for both restaurant and at-home events annually.

1.3.5 While some of the staff’s Performance Management Programs (PMP) have been completed for the 2010-2011 Fiscal Year, there are still a number of outstanding ones that need to be finalized. The Mission should use this process and the training information gathered to develop a Mission-wide training plan and allocate a training budget to facilitate its implementation. Client service and supervision were noted as areas of interest for training.
Mission Comment:
It can be challenging to achieve buy-in from partner department staff of DFAIT’s PMP process as HOMs have limited opportunity to comment on management aspects of partner department managers. It would be useful if this issue could be addressed in the next DFAIT/partner department memorandum of understanding reviews.

1.3.6 In order to motivate staff, the Mission instituted an LES job trading initiative where a Consular LES traded positions with a Commercial Economic LES for a period of time. The initial experience was positive and the Management Team hopes future opportunities can be found.

1.4 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

1.4.1 A communications engagement strategy should be developed by Mission Management in reference to the DFAIT Trends and Issues Working Group’s Guide on Communications.

1.4.2 The Mission should reinforce security awareness and procedures.

1.4.3 Regarding the hospitality process, the Mission should:

  • Establish a hospitality strategy that supports Mission objectives and that is integrated into Mission and program planning;
  • Ensure specific hospitality events evaluations are linked to Mission objectives and assessed as to their effectiveness;
  • Consider providing a formal hospitality allocation to Officers; and
  • Review hospitality guidelines annually.

1.4.4 The Mission should ensure that PMPs are completed on a timely basis.

1.4.5 The Mission should develop a Mission-wide training plan.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.4.1 Two all-staff meetings have been held since the Inspection. Issues and events are reviewed by program managers each week at an operations meeting and staff use a Mission-specific booking tool for limited meeting space. A communications strategy is to be developed utilizing the Improving Internal Communications at Missions guide. In progress for October 2011.

1.4.2 The Mission will action. Security briefings will be done as soon as all of the new CBS and dependents arrive. In addition, there will be a security briefing by our Regional Security Officer by the end of October 2011 where all staff and CBS dependents are invited to attend and raise any particular concerns at that time. In progress for October 2011.

1.4.3 Regarding the hospitality process:

  • The Mission will action as requested. In progress for September 2011.
  • The Mission will action as requested. In progress for September 2011.
  • The Mission will action as requested. In progress for September 2011.
  • Guidelines were reviewed in 2011. The 2010 decision not to change the rates was during an Operations meeting, however no minutes were maintained. The Mission has begun retaining minutes of Operations meetings on the Mission’s “wiki”. Implemented.

1.4.4 PMP issues raised regularly at CMM meetings and, as appropriate, in PMP discussions with managers. In progress and ongoing.

1.4.5 A Mission-wide training plan has been developed. Implemented June 2011.

Political Economic Relations and Public Affairs (PERPA)

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The Political Economic Reporting and Public Affairs Program is managed by an FS-03 Program Manager (PM). The PM is supported by an LE-08 Political and Public Affairs Officer. Countries and territories of accreditation match those listed in section 1.1.

Budget2010-2011
Operations$13,912
Travel$8,412
Hospitality$5,000
Overtime$11,500
Post Initiative Fund$6,000
Total$ 44,824

2.1.2 The Program, through its coverage of numerous territories of accreditation, is active in a diverse set of roles. There are predictable and reactive elements to the work, depending on regional developments. With only two staff members, the Program is *** active and is constrained in its ability to assume more responsibility. The future addition of responsibility for the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), being transferred from CIDA, will force a rationalization of current activities.

2.2 Planning and Program Management

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

2.2.1 The Program covers the suite of typical activities of a PERPA section with focussed activities, reporting, prioritized engagements and interventions. Reporting and areas of focus are providing the level and type of information sought by Canada-based stakeholders.

2.2.2 Consistent with the Americas Strategy, the Program is focussed on capacity building primarily related to security, for example drug trafficking. Projects have been initiated through the Anti-Crime and Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Programs. The priority for the Government of Canada has been on strengthening regional security-focussed institutions.

2.2.3 As it is a small team, there is little formality in terms of roles, responsibilities and communications. The PM and Officer support each other as required and divide work based on need and required knowledge or competency. This works well and is partially driven by the reactive nature of the Program.

2.3 Implementation

Key PERPA Implementation CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Strategic objectives and plans have been translated into individual or team work plans.X  
Activities and initiatives are aligned with the Mission’s key priorities and with the principles of the New Way Forward PERPA Renewal initiative.X  
Program reporting is in-line with Mission and government objectives, timely and relevant.X  
The program develops and maintains a contact base that meets program’s needs and objectives. X 
Relations with other mission programs facilitate program delivery. (i.e. public affairs). X 
The program facilitates a mission-wide coordinated approach to advocacy and the development of common messaging.X  

2.3.1 As mentioned previously, the Program operates in a largely reactive manner, although there are some recurring projects. Given the large number of territories, the Program addresses priorities that result from developments in these countries/territories such as elections.

2.3.2 Room exists to streamline some elements of recurring projects, mainly the production of country reports. The Commercial Economic Program also produces market reports that contain much of the same information, given the small size of the countries in question. Obtaining efficiencies in this area should also include looking to expand the breadth of analysis in the reports produced by both sections.

2.3.3 The management of contacts could be improved on a Mission-wide basis as there are stand-alone systems and records. A Mission-wide repository would allow each program to view potential contacts available to it. Such a system will need to have an agreed to nomenclature, structure and the proviso that the contact owner would be approached for concurrence before another Mission employee sought to communicate with one of those contacts.

2.4 Performance Measurement

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

2.4.1 There is no real need for a sophisticated performance measurement system for a Program of this size. The measurement of performance is thus more related to the level of satisfaction of the Program’s clients and stakeholders, and its success in undertaking its mandate. From this perspective, the Program is doing well. Additionally, as the lines of communication between the Manager and Officer are well developed, performance is measured on an ongoing basis.

2.4.2 As highlighted in paragraph 1.3.4, there is a need to improve the management of official hospitality. Additionally, the PM currently does not provide any formal allocation of hospitality to the LE-08 Officer.

2.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

2.5.1 The Program should engage with other sections to identify an effective and efficient means to manage Mission contacts.

2.5.2 The Program, in consultation with the Commercial Economic Program, should:

  • Determine who is best positioned to cover economic reporting; and
  • Identify where overlapping reporting may be occurring.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.5.1 All programs to ensure full utilization of Outlook Contact system, in anticipation of the development of a contact management system through work currently underway. Implemented October 2011.

2.5.2 While the Program has principal responsibility for economic reports and country profiles, the Program has been collaborating on these reports with other programs and Headquarters divisions. The Commercial Economic market reports contain much of the same information as the PERPA reports as information is directly inputted from the PERPA reports. The Program also takes advantage of the fact that there is a dedicated CIDA resource on economic issues and includes this analysis in reports and briefs. The standard country report is produced in collaboration with the Geographic Division, as per the agreement under the New Business Model, and in the absence of anticipated deployment of additional PERPA resources as recommended under the SR400 exercise. Implemented September 2011.

Commercial Economic (CE)

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The Commercial Economic Program is managed by an FS-03 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC). The STC is supported by two LE-08 Trade Commissioners (TC) and one LE-05 Trade Commissioner Assistant (TCA). The Program covers all territories of accreditation listed in section 1.1.

Budget2010-2011
Operations$14,036
Travel$8,386
Hospitality$5,000
Client Service Fund (CSF)$5,000
Overtime$11,500
Edu-Canada$4,000
Total$ 13,566

3.2 Planning and Program Management

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

3.2.1 The Program was still largely in a state of transition at the time of the Inspection. The current STC had arrived in September 2010 and is in the process of completing the CE Plan for the upcoming fiscal year. There were in-depth discussions with staff coinciding with this, to allow the STC to both become familiarised with the market and to provide suggestions.

3.2.2 This effort at familiarisation was required given that there were no transition notes ***. Inconsistent past use of TRIO *** also hampered this process.

3.2.3 The management styles of the current and former STCs are quite different ***, the STC should see less need for active management over time.

3.2.4 In line with this, the Program should develop some formal processes for work flows and project authorities, so as to ensure that the roles and responsibilities with respect to client support, planning and reporting are clear.

3.2.5 The job package for the TCA is quite varied in terms of responsibilities. The incumbent has a breadth of responsibility that goes from the traditional support offered to the STC to the handling of a priority sector. There may be a need for this range of work to be accomplished but it is likely too varied and complex for an LE-05 position and the roles should be reviewed.

3.3 Implementation

Key CE Implementation CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet

Business plan objectives and those outlined in management’s PMAs (Performance Management Agreement)/PMPs (Performance Management Program) appropriately cascade down into staff PMPs.

X  
Activities and initiatives are aligned with the mission’s key priorities.X  
The program utilizes TRIO to facilitate client relationship management.X  
TRIO use is monitored to ensure activities are reported appropriately and accurately reflect the work undertaken. X 
The InfoCentre function has defined objectives and responsibilities.N/AN/AN/A

3.3.1 The attention paid to the development of the 2011/2012 CE Plan was quite detailed. This is to be expected as the STC familiarizes himself with the Program and opportunities in the territory. While this exercise may be seen as somewhat demanding on the part of Program staff, it should allow for a more cohesive and interactive Program during the implementation phase.

3.3.2 The Program has a good network of contacts in Barbados, and to a lesser extent in its other territories. The nature of the island is conducive to the establishment of strong networks of contacts, and the Program takes advantage of this.

3.3.3 TRIO is used adequately by the Program. There is, however, room for more dialogue around activities and performance using indicators generated through the TRIO dashboard metrics reports. At the time of the Inspection, the STC was in discussions with the generators of those reports so as to be able to use them in this fashion.

3.4 Performance Measurement

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

3.4.1 At the time of the Inspection, the tendency of the STC was to involve himself *** in most issues and initiatives within the Program. As mentioned previously, this has assisted greatly in the familiarization process, ***. Going forward, the use of higher level reporting and analytical tools (through TRIO and the dashboard), and linking activities to the strategy and action plans will aid the STC in managing the Program and in monitoring performance.

3.4.2 As noted in paragraph 1.3.4, there is a need to improve the management of official hospitality. Additionally, no hospitality allocation is provided to Officers in the Program.

3.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

3.5.1 The Mission should review the job description of the LE-05 Trade Commissioner Assistant to determine whether it meets the current needs of the Program and whether it is reasonable with respect to the number of responsibilities.

3.5.2 The STC should *** with the performance measurement elements of the TRIO system, specifically the Dashboard, and use this to gauge the effectiveness of Officer activities.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

3.5.1 The STC has begun this process by examining the incumbent’s job description and comparing it to the work done by other similarly-ranked TCAs in other missions, with a view to identifying appropriate remedial action. Recommendations to resolve the situation will be made by the STC to the CMM by September 12, 2011. In progress for September 2011.

3.5.2 *** with Performance Measurement and Strategic Trade Planning Division (PDC) on TRIO Dashboard, PDC and Latin America and Caribbean – Bilateral Relations (GCA) were engaged in February-May 2011 with the objectives of implementing a formal TRIO training for all Program staff and making the Dashboard a more effective management tool. TRIO tracking data is examined and discussed at every weekly Program coordination meeting. Implemented February 2011.

Consular Program

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is overseen by the AS-06 MCO with day-to-day management by the AS-04 Deputy MCO (DMCO). The Consular team includes an LE-07 Consular Officer (with delegated signing authority), two LE-06 Passport/Consular Assistants and a LE-04 Receptionist/Consular Assistant.

4.1.2 The Program’s area of accreditation covers 16 islands: Barbados, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Sint Maartin (which is served by an Honorary Consul).
Mission Comment:
Please note that following an HQ decision in spring 2011, the Program’s area of accreditation has increased to 19 islands with the addition of Saba, St. Barts and St. Eustasis.

Budget2010-2011
Operations$ 28,500
Travel$ 7,700
Hospitality$1,000
Total$37,200

4.1.4 The Mission provides approximately 1,100 passport services and processes 100 citizenship applications and 200 notarial requests yearly. In the area of accreditation, there are 450 Canadian citizens in the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) database, out of an estimated 9,000. The number of Canadians visiting the islands is estimated to be around 140,000 annually.

4.2 Program Management

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

4.2.1 Overall, the Program is functioning well and benefits from a knowledgeable team. This fiscal year, a workplan was established and the Program intends to do this exercise annually. While there is day-to-day interaction among the team to discuss cases, staff noted that regularly scheduled meetings to monitor plans, workload and policy changes would be useful.

4.2.2 The Mission is working closely with Policy, Emergency Planning and Training Division (CEP) to pilot the new Mission Emergency Plan (MEP) which includes a business continuity planning component. A table top exercise was held in August 2010 to test the plans. Given the large number of MEPs (13), the Program plans to work with HQ to consolidate some to a smaller more manageable number.

4.2.3 The Mission’s warden network is composed of 18 wardens in Barbados and 16 spread through the other islands. The Program has created the “Bridgetown Bulletin”, a quarterly publication sent to the wardens to keep them up to date. During the hurricane season, a telephone tree was used and adjusted as needed.

4.2.4 *** has completed his Masters degree in emergency planning. He has used the knowledge acquired through this training in the preparation of a detailed emergency plans for Bridgetown as well as two other missions. It was noted that four islands have never been visited in the history of the Mission. Though a network of contacts does exist, the Mission should develop a multi-year plan to ensure appropriate coverage across the area of accreditation by all programs.
Mission Comment:
No additional financial resources were provided to the Mission when the three islands were included in the Program’s area of accreditation and will make coverage difficult considering the already existing budgetary constraints.

4.3 Client Service

Key Consular Client Service CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Service standards, a fee schedule and a copy of the official receipt are posted in public areas in both official languages. X 
The program monitors adherence to service standards and makes adjustments where necessary.X  
The program has the capacity to provide services to Canadians in the official language of their choice.X  
The Mission promotes client feedback mechanisms and takes corrective action, when warranted.X  
The Mission has provided the Honorary Consul (HonCon) with a mandate letter which establishes their role, responsibilities and accountabilities and performance is reviewed annually. X 
There is adequate liaison/support from the Mission for the HonCon.X  

4.3.1 To assist in meeting service standards, both the Consular Officer and Passport/Citizenship Officer have been granted delegated signing authority for notarial services, though these are normally provided by the MCO or DMCO. The LE-04 Receptionist has also been certified in the Passport Management Program (PMP) and provides back-up support to the Program.

4.3.2 The MCO however, has not yet been certified in PMP, which has been problematic for the Mission as the only CBS able to conduct the approval function is the DMCO. In order to address a back-log of passport application entries, a Passport Canada officer visited for two weeks in September 2010, and arranged for a regional office in Canada to assist with approvals until the end of December 2010.

4.3.3 In the past, the Mission has asked neighbouring missions to provide remote approvals, however with Consular demand increasing each year, this becomes more burdensome for other missions. Given the passport volume and requirement to cover other islands in the territory, the Mission should consider having a third CBS (for example the Foreign Service Administration Assistant) certified as an approver in PMP.

4.3.4 The Mission has noted that passport demand has increased (particularly during the holiday season) as Canadians frequently travel to the islands without their Canadian passport, but then cannot board the flight to return home. Both HQ and the Mission have been doing outreach to try to educate clients and these efforts will need to continue.

4.3.5 While the Mission has close communications with and provided letters of appointment to the HonCons, it does not provide an annual tasking letter or complete a performance assessment. As a best practise, the Mission and each HonCon should develop a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining responsibilities and eligible expenses so a basis exists for annual assessments and approved expenses.

4.3.6 While there is a separate Consular booth, most clients are served at the main window located in the Chancery lobby, allowing others in the waiting area to overhear the conversation. Consular staff should use the Consular booth for the majority of clients and the window as a secondary service point during periods of high volume. ***.

4.4 Internal Controls

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

4.4.1 Improvements are required to the internal control framework in the areas noted below.

4.4.2 *** should complete the Passport Management Program (PMP) certification, as the only CBS able to conduct the approval function is the DMCO. In the past, the Mission has asked neighbouring missions to provide remote approvals, however, with Consular demand increasing each year, this has become more burdensome for other missions. Given the passport volume and requirement to cover other islands in the territory, the Mission should consider having a third CBS *** certified as an approver in PMP.

4.4.3 In order to strengthen internal controls over the inventory ***:

  • Two staff (one a CBS) should conduct the monthly count;
  • Two CBS should verify the receipt of stock; and
  • A log should be used to track movement of the working inventory ***.

4.4.4 To improve ***, the Program should ensure that:

  • ***;
  • Revenues are transferred to the Finance Section once $500 is reached (once a week if less than $500);
  • A copy of the official receipt and a note informing clients that they should receive a receipt for any payment are displayed in the Consular booth and lobby;
  • For notarial services, a copy of the receipt is included with the documents to be signed; and
  • To improve the recording of ***, the use of a log at the Consular window be considered.

4.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

4.5.1 The Mission should develop a multi-year work plan to ensure appropriate coverage of its islands of accreditation.

4.5.2 The Program should hold regular meetings where minutes are maintained.

4.5.3 Program staff should only use the Consular booth/window to meet with clients.

4.5.4 For the HonCon, the Mission should follow the process outlined in paragraph 4.3.3.

4.5.5 *** should obtain certification in PMP.

4.5.6 The Mission should investigate having a third passport approver certified to assist with passport delivery.

4.5.7 The Program should strengthen inventory controls as per paragraph 4.4.3

4.5.8 The Program should ensure that improvements *** as noted in paragraph 4.4.4, are implemented.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.5.1 A multi year work plan ensuring appropriate coverage of all accredited islands will be prepared on arrival of the DMCO who will be responsible for the day to day management of the Consular Program. In progress for December 2011.

4.5.2 Will implement on arrival of new DMCO. In progress for September 2011.

4.5.3 Action taken as requested. Implemented August 2011.

4.5.4 The Mission has provided the HonCon with an annual tasking letter, as well as conducting an annual performance assessment. An MOU outlining which expenditures will be reimbursed will be developed. In progress for October 2011.

4.5.5 *** successfully completed the passport approval certification in June 2011. Implemented.

4.5.6 The Mission was successful in arranging for a third passport approver, ***. The Mission will investigate the possibility of doing the same ***, if funding is provided in order for her to attend the passport approval course at HQ. In progress for December 2011.

4.5.7 The Mission will action as requested. In progress for October 2011.

4.5.8 Improvements to *** have been actioned. Implemented August 2011.

Common Services

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Common Services Program is managed by the AS-06 MCO who is supported by the AS-04 DMCO and a team of 13 LES. The team provides common services to DFAIT programs and CIDA,***.

5.1.2 Both the MCO and DMCO were on *** leave at the same time. This extended leave had a significant impact on mission operations due to the central roles these positions play. The MCO took his *** leave ***. The DMCO took *** of leave *** during the same period and plans to depart *** upon the return of the MCO. During the DMCO’s absences, an MCO in the developmental program was sent to provide temporary duty assistance.

Program Management

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

5.1.3 A challenge for the Department, and missions such as Bridgetown, is ensuring the “platform” and appropriate administration support are established before partner departments increase their presence abroad. Mission capacity and information technology issues have already caused delays ***. Insufficient resources will reduce the quality of service provided and overburden existing Program staff.
Mission Comment:
While the *** plan was well understood by both departments, DFAIT procedures in place (for example the Committee on Representation Abroad process) do not appear to have the flexibility to anticipate needs and start preparations. For example, designs for the proposed Chancery retrofit could not reflect accommodation for additional *** until the positions had been formally approved by CORA and so those designs became immediately out of date.

5.1.4 A workplan has been established which outlines the key objectives for each section and is then rolled down to a detailed task list for section staff to implement. While the team has formalized procedures and reestablished policies, both the MCO and DMCO acknowledged that there are still areas in need of improvement.

5.1.5 The Program should consider establishing a regular schedule for meetings where minutes are kept. Currently, Program meetings are held on an ad hoc basis. Although the non-office staff attend section meetings when possible, the MCO or DMCO should meet with the non-office staff in their units (including the Official Residence staff) on a regular basis to ensure concerns are raised, and policy and procedural changes are clarified.

Client Service

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

5.1.6 Service standards are posted on the Mission’s “wiki” webpage. The Program is developing a document (Administrative Procedures at Bridgetown) which will explain its roles, responsibilities and procedures. It is expected to be finalized and posted by March 2011.
Mission Comment:
The draft document has been posted on the Mission’s “wiki” webpage. Finalization will occur when the revised template is received from HQ.

5.1.7 Documenting policies and processes on the “wiki” which are accessible to staff and clients will help to ensure procedures are communicated, standardized and consistent. This will also provide corporate memory when a new management team arrives.

5.1.8 The 2011 relocation season for the Program will be particularly busy with the change of six CBS and the potential arrival of two additional ***.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.9 The Program should hold regular meetings where minutes are maintained.

5.1.10 The MCO or DMCO should provide non-office staff with an opportunity to meet with them independently.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.10 The Program will action as recommended. In progress for October 2011.

5.1.11 The Program will action as recommended. In progress for October 2011.

5.2 Human Resources

5.2.1 The HR function at the Mission is the responsibility of the MCO who is assisted by the LE-05 Accountant/HR Assistant and the LE-05 Program Assistant. The Mission contracts the services of a Community Coordinator for six months a year.

5.2.2 The Mission is expecting the creation of an LE-05 HR Assistant position in April 2011 which will be tasked with such duties as developing a Mission-wide training plan and ensuring all files are up-to-date. As there is an LE-06 Logistics Officer in the CIDA Program who provides some services to incoming *** staff, as well as the Community Coordinator, the roles of these positions will need to be reviewed and clearly defined.
Mission Comment:
Ensuring that there is good liaison with the LE-06 Logistics Officer will be important during the period that the ***.

Program Management

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

5.2.3 The LES Handbook dates from 1997 and morale among the LES has declined in recent years due to concerns related to the long-delayed Total Compensation Review (the Mission is in Phase 2 which is currently underway). The Mission is concerned that the markers chosen as part of the review do not include organizations (such as international companies) outside the diplomatic industry and plan to discuss this issue with the locally engaged staff and HQ Workforce Programs Bureau (ALD).

5.2.4 A Locally Engaged Staff Management Consultation Board (LESMCB) has been established and meets quarterly. There is also an LES Committee where issues can be raised by the LES membership and forwarded to the LESMCB for discussion. The Inspection Team met with the LES Committee and, in addition to the concerns highlighted in other sections of this Report, the following issues were discussed:

  • The benefit allowance had been adjusted over a number of years and was not tied to salary levels;
  • The fear that employees will be removed from the medical plan when they reach 65 years of age;
  • The desire for more information prior to certain decisions being implemented (such as the reduced access to the recreational facility). They felt a discussion and not just an email message announcing a change would have been valuable; and
  • The lack of feedback from the presentation they made to the LES Governance Board.

Mission Comment:
The fourth bullet above was addressed following the Inspection visit in writing from the LES Governance Board and through the establishment of the LES Training Week.

5.2.5 Observations on PMPs, training and Official Languages are noted in the Mission Management section of this report.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

Key HR Processes and Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Staffing actions are conducted in-line with the Locally-Engaged Staff and HQ Workforce Programs Bureau (ALD) guidelines. Written records supporting the process are maintained and contain required documents and approvals.X  
Classification actions are conducted in-line with ALD guidelines. Written records supporting the process are maintained and contain required documents and approvals. X 
Letters of Offer are signed by the appropriate authority.X  
New LES and CBS employees are provided with an information package on the working conditions, benefits and regulations pertaining to employment at the Mission. X 
Staff are aware of the Values and Ethics Code and have signed a document certifying that they have read and understood this code. Mission management informs staff of the requirements of the Code on an annual basis.X  
Mission signage is provided in both English and French and a bilingual Official Languages Co-ordinator has been appointed. X 
The mission has sufficient capacity to communicate with and provide services to the public, both orally and in writing, in both official languages.X  

5.2.6 As in other areas of the Program, staff have been working to improve record keeping and processes, for example, in the previous year all staff undertook the Oath of Affirmation. The following areas still require improvement:

  • Updating a number of job descriptions;
  • Retaining the documents for classification exercises on one file;
  • Including the OR in the Occupational Health Safety inspections as it is also a workplace; and
  • Ceasing payroll deductions for Canadian LES only after receiving an exemption from the Canada Revenue Agency. A copy of the exemption should also be sent to ALD.

5.2.7 The ***. It is important that the Mission report and arrival procedures are up to date to properly inform new arrivals and help manage expectations. Recently arrived *** staff would be in a good position to provide feedback on the arrival process. It is also important that CBS (especially on their first assignment abroad) be encouraged to attend pre-posting sessions offered by both departments in Ottawa.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.8 Job descriptions should be reviewed and updated. Once finalized they should be signed by incumbents and supervisors.

5.2.9 The Program should retain the documents for classification exercises on one file.

5.2.10 The Official Residence should be inspected as part of the OHS annual workplace inspection.

5.2.11 The Mission should ensure that income tax, unemployment insurance and Canada Pension Plan contributions are deducted from pay for all LES who are Canadian citizens unless there is a letter on file specifically exempting the individual from these deductions. A copy of the exemption should also be sent to ALD.

5.2.12 The Program should update the Mission Report and arrivals processes for new staff.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.8 The Mission is currently in the process of reviewing and updating all the job descriptions as requested. In progress for December 2011.

5.2.9 Instructions have been issued to retain the required documents on one file for all future exercises. Implemented August 2011.

5.2.10 Official Residence has been inspected as part of the OHS Annual Workplace Inspection, as requested. Implemented May 2011.

5.2.11 The Mission will follow up and seek further clarification on this matter, as all of the LES currently employed by the High Commission are not deemed as residents of Canada. Canada and Barbados have a Double Taxation Agreement of long standing. All dual nationals are subject to Barbadian taxes. In progress for October 2011.

5.2.12 The Mission Report and arrival processes have been updated as requested. Implemented July 2011.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The Physical Resources function is the responsibility of the DMCO, who is assisted by an LE-06 Property/Materiel Manager, LE-05 Property/Materiel Assistant, two Cleaners, two Handymen, a Gardener and a Driver.

5.3.2 The Mission’s property portfolio is comprised of a Crown-owned Chancery and compound, a Crown-owned Official Residence (OR), a Crown-leased OR, three Crown-owned Staff Quarters (SQs) and 11 Crown-leased SQs.

5.3.3 There are substantial property challenges facing the Mission and HQ including:

  • ***.
  • Addressing health and safety, and security issues of the current Chancery;
  • *** on the compound;
  • Refitting the OR; and
  • Refitting and repairing two Crown-owned SQs.

5.3.4 Staff and the Occupational Health and Safety Committee’s biggest concern is inadequate working conditions within the Chancery. Air quality and mould issues are a serious concern for staff and they do not feel that these issues have been addressed. The Committee members recently resigned due to frustration with the lack of progress. Numerous air quality survey’s have been undertaken and reported to HQ as far back as 2002. The perceived inaction by HQ regarding these issues has had a serious impact on Mission morale and has caused management to lose credibility with staff.

Program Management

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

5.3.5 The Program’s planning tools include the Mission Property Management Plan (MPMP), the Mission Maintenance Work Plan (MMWP) and an annual materiel acquisition plan. As a best practice, the acquisition plan should be expanded to cover multiple years. Reinstating annual inspections of properties will assist with acquisition and maintenance planning.

5.3.6 The Chancery building urgently needs a major mid-life refit to address space constraints, health and safety issues and improve security infrastructure. The Physical Resources Bureau’s (ARD) long-term plan ***.

5.3.7 In the short to medium term, *** the Mission and ARD are searching for office space to lease for the Program until ***. Once the Program is in its new location, the current Chancery building will be renovated to address immediate concerns. At the time of the Inspection, a project was underway to upgrade the recreation facility which will be used as swing-space during the renovation.

5.3.8 The OR is located close to the Chancery. This 100 year old house requires a major mid-life refit to freshen the interior and strengthen its structure. While this scheduled project is underway, the Mission has leased a temporary OR which is located a 30 minute drive from downtown. This new location has made it challenging to attract guests for events and for staff to travel there.

5.3.9 It has been difficult for the Mission to source suitable SQs as:

  • More families are choosing Bridgetown as a posting;
  • Landlords are able to list with multiple realtors and can withdraw potential offers at the last minute; and
  • There is competition from other missions and international companies for similar types of properties.

5.3.10 The Mission leased two SQs so that a Crown-owned SQ could undergo a mid-life refit and another Crown-owned SQ could have health and safety issues addressed. ***.

Client Service

5.3.11 The Section uses the departmentally approved work-order system, however, some requests are not registering. Staff are working with the Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP) to resolve this issue. As well, the Property Assistant position was vacant for several months, resulting in a backlog of work-order requests. The new Assistant is now the primary point of contact for clients, which will allow the Manager to focus on other duties.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

Key Physical Resources and Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
An inspection is conducted by new SQ occupants and a Mission representative within 30 days of occupancy, after which occupancy agreements and distribution accounts are signed.X  
A percentage of the costs for OR supplies for personal use is determined and the regular reimbursements to the Mission are made.X  
Costs of damages to staff quarters or furnishings, beyond normal wear and tear, are recovered from the occupant.X  
Records of assets located in the Chancery, OR and SQs, as well as those in storage, are maintained on an ongoing basis and verified annually. Assets are appropriately safeguarded and controlled. X 
Disposals are appropriately authorized and follow Departmental guidelines. X 
Vehicles logs are appropriately completed, demonstrating that use was for official purposes. X 
Vehicle logs and mileage are verified monthly by a CBS to reconcile usage to gas purchases as well as monitor vehicle performance. X 

5.3.12 The Section has made efforts to improve record keeping. The following items are still outstanding:

  • Retaining the Housing Committee’s justification for over or under-housing decisions on file;
  • Creating an inventory for the Chancery;
  • Having the HOM sign for the Mission on Occupancy Agreements;
  • Ensuring that vehicle logs are initialled by passengers and indicate if the trip is for business or personal, time in/out and odometer readings; and
  • Reconciling gas consumption with the monthly vehicle maintenance.

5.3.13 Recent disposal auctions have used the process of sealed bids. However, the Program needs to ensure processes are clearly explained to all employees, as there was a perception that the Section staff/family members have been able to participate. The Mission should retain on file disposal approvals from HQ for items where the original purchase price was $1,000 or more and any computer equipment.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.14 The Mission should create a multi-year, CMM approved materiel acquisition plan.

5.3.15 The Section should conduct annual inspections of all properties.

5.3.16 The Mission should liaise with Mission Client Services (AFO) regarding the rental costs for the two Crown-leased SQs that were acquired in order to repair two damaged Crown-owned SQs.

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

5.3.18 A Chancery inventory should be created for each office and open area and signed by the occupant.

5.3.19 The HOM should sign Occupancy Agreements on behalf of the Mission.

5.3.20 In order to improve control over vehicle usage, the Mission should:

  • Have each passenger initial the log;Indicate the purpose of each trip taken, including the destination, distance travelled and the passenger;
  • Indicate the time in and out and odometer reading; and
  • Perform a monthly fuel reconciliation, which is approved by the MCO.

5.3.21 The Mission should ensure that, as part of the disposal process, the proper approvals are obtained and kept on file.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.14 The Mission will action as recommended. In progress for October 2011.

5.3.15 Annual inspection of all properties actioned as requested. Implemented May 2011.

5.3.16 The requirement for additional rent monies was included in the Mission’s FINSTAT reporting, and as there was no action to address the reported shortfall, the Mission needed to cash manage the rental charges for replacement SQ’s. ***. Resources in compensation for rent associated with the refit of one of the Crown-owned SQs has subsequently been allocated from HQ. The Mission has forgone other scheduled work in order to cash manage the rental forced by emergency evacuation of the second SQ. Implemented May 2011.

5.3.17 Justifications for over/under housing is on file as requested. Implemented May 2011.

5.3.18 A Chancery inventory will be created as requested. In progress for November 2011.

5.3.19 Instructions have been issued to clarify that the HOM is to sign all Occupancy Agreements as CBS arrived. Implemented August 2011.

5.3.20 The Mission will implement the controls over vehicle usage as requested. In progress for September 2011.

5.3.21 The Mission will ensure that proper approvals for disposal processes are obtained as requested. In progress for September 2011.

Recommendation for ARD

5.3.22 ARD should formalize and communicate plans to address the property of the Chancery and the Official Residence. Progress against these plans should be monitored closely given the scope of these projects.

ARD Action and Timeframe

5.3.22 In addition to regular communications with Mission personnel associated with real property project developments and implementation, ARD initiates monthly teleconference calls with the Head of Mission and Mission officers. These communications allow for the monitoring of plans and progress, and to identify and resolve any issues. Key points of the meetings are summarized, highlighted and circulated to all concerned parties in the follow-up meeting invitations. The next teleconference is scheduled for the second week of November 2011. These monthly teleconference calls will continue as long as they are considered necessary and effective by ARD and the Mission.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The MCO is responsible for financial operations and is supported by an LE-07 Financial Management Officer, LE-05 Accountant and LE-05 Accountant/HR Assistant.

5.4.2 The Section is producing and maintaining a series of spreadsheets as the primary method for tracking and disseminating financial data. This is due to the *** and *** being unfamiliar with how to interpret reports produced directly from the system. The use of these “secondary sub-systems”
results in:

  • The chance of data transcription errors;
  • Additional workload for staff; and
  • Reduced internal control as there is no CBS verification of information in the system.

The Finance team should develop their knowledge and use of reports that are available in IMS. Related training should be identified and organized as required.

5.4.3 In order to motivate and retain *** LES staff, the MCO and DMCO have delegated responsibilities ***. However, appropriate CBS oversight still needs to be maintained to ensure internal controls are in place.

Management

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

5.4.4 The Section processes approximately 1,080 cheques and 420 electronic funds transfers (EFTs) annually. The Mission currently has one acquisition card and three petty cash accounts. Revenue collection averages *** per year.

5.4.5 While overall, the Section’s service standards are met and deadlines respected, the team would benefit from regularly scheduled meetings to discuss planning, policy changes, workload, etc.

5.4.6 As noted in paragraph 5.3.10, ***. The Mission should ensure that funding pressures and reallocation of partner department funds are highlighted during the FINSTAT (monthly financial forecast) exercise for transparency and accuracy.

5.4.7 In order to improve the segregation of duties, the Financial Management Officer or MCO/DMCO should initiate payment runs, rather than the Accountant who performs the payment data entry.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

Key Finance Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
A Contract Review Board (CRB) is in place and operating effectively with clear terms of reference.X  
Contracting procedures have been documented and communicated to all staff involved in the contracting process. X 
Contracting files demonstrate compliance with policies and procedures. X 
The mission’s bank reconciliations are reviewed and signed-off on a monthly basis.X  
The asset and liability report is reviewed on a monthly basis by the appropriate authority.X  
Section 34 is exercised by individuals who possess the appropriate delegation of authority. X 
Section 33 is exercised by individuals who possess the appropriate delegation of authority.X  
A CBS receives the original monthly bank statement directly from the bank and reviews it prior to giving it to the accountant.  X
Official Receipts are provided to clients at the time of payment and to internal staff when funds are transferred (i.e. from Consular to Finance). X 
Reconciliations of any funds transferred within the mission are conducted in the presence of two staff. X 
Monthly reconciliations of immigration fees are completed and the EXT-1203 is signed by the appropriate authority.N/AN/AN/A
Travel and hospitality claim processes ensure that policies and guidelines are adhered to and that the accountant verifies the completeness and accuracy of the claim.X  
A process is in place to ensure that, where applicable, CBS reimburse the mission for any services of personal nature received at their staff quarters (television, internet, telephone, etc.). X 

5.4.8 A Contract Review Board (CRB) has been established and a review of contracting files showed that contracting processes have improved over the last several years. To build on this progress, the Mission should:

  • Review and distribute its terms of reference (TOR) annually so all CRB members and clients have up-to-date information, such as the established review threshold;
  • Enter all contracts in the IMS Materiel Management (MM) module;
  • Retain justification for sole source contracts on file; and
  • Ensure that only individuals with delegated authority sign contracts.

5.4.9 The Mission approves and retains documentation for the creation of vendor master records. While it is HQ that does the entry, a listing of all vendor creations and modifications should be reviewed and included in the monthly bank reconciliation package. As there is no immigration program at the Mission, one time vendors are not used.

5.4.10 The Section has been working to clear a backlog of outstanding VAT refunds and, at the time of the Inspection visit, there were three month’s VAT transactions left to reconcile. The Mission uses an Excel template for the annual review of Asset and Liability balances to monitor the transactions. Both the MCO and Financial Management Officer verify the report monthly.

5.4.11 Program managers are asked to sign section 34 for expenditures over which they have no delegated signing authority. During periods when neither the applicable PM or HOM are available, the HOM should officially designate signing authority to another officer, and a specimen signature card should be completed.

5.4.12 The Section uses the IMS’ *** for hard copy transfers but also for wire transfers and bank drafts. As there are specific methods of payment for each payment type ***, the Mission should consult with Financial Operations, International (SMFF) to clarify when to use the different payment methods and what information is required from vendors.

5.4.13 The Financial Management Officer is the main Mission contact with the bank and receives the bank statements. As the MCO is the Mission Financial Officer (MFO), he should be the primary contact point with the bank and should receive and verify the bank statement before passing it to the Finance Section.

5.4.14 In order to improve controls over the ***, the Mission should:

  • Use official receipts whenever monies are transferred ***
  • Use, and have signed, a petty cash voucher when advances are made to staff from the petty cash account not when they return with an invoice/receipt;
  • Only provide the petty cash box and key to another individual when formal transfer of the contents is done (i.e. during periods of absences);
  • Ensure that the petty cash custodian is also present when the Section counts the petty cash for replenishment; and
  • Have the MCO/DMCO do spot checks on the petty cash account.

5.4.15 For utility bills (i.e. telephone) the Section pays the Mission’s portion and the expectation is that CBS are responsible for reimbursing personal expenses to the vendors directly. The Section uses a spreadsheet to track and monitor payment of these bills. In order to reduce workload and avoid damaging relationships with vendors due to late payments by CBS who may be absent, it is recommended that the Mission pay the entire bill directly and track the personal portion owed by CBS through the recoverable expense general ledger account.

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.16 The Section should limit the production of spreadsheets and use IMS generated reports. The Section should consult HQ regarding the necessary training.

5.4.17 The MCO should institute regular Section meetings.

5.4.18 The Financial Management Officer or MCO/DMCO should initiate payment runs.

5.4.19 Regarding the contracting process the Mission should follow the process outlined in paragraph 5.4.8.

5.4.20 The Section should include a listing of all vendor creations and modifications in the monthly bank reconciliation package.

5.4.21 The HOM should officially designate another officer and a specimen signature card should be completed, if both a PM and HOM will be absent at the same time.

5.4.22 The Section should use the appropriate payment methods for ***.

5.4.23 The MCO should contact the Mission’s bank to ensure that all banking correspondence be forwarded directly to the MCO.

5.4.24 For ***, the Mission should implement the procedures outlined in paragraph 5.4.14.

5.4.25 The Mission should consider paying utility bills in their entirety and collect the personal portion from CBS (using the recoverable expense general ledger account).

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.16 The Finance Section has been requested to reduce the number of financial spreadsheets produced. *** has taken a course on accessing IMS reports which will limit the number of spreadsheets needed to be created. Implemented August 2011.

5.4.17 The MCO has instituted regular meetings. Implemented August 2011.

5.4.18 The Financial Management Officer is now initiating payment runs as requested. Implemented August 2011.

5.4.19 The contracting process as outlined in paragraph 5.4.8 has been actioned. Implemented August 2011.

5.4.20 The Mission now includes a listing of all vendor creations and modifications, in the monthly reconciliation as requested. Implemented August 2011.

5.4.21 The Mission will action as requested. In progress for August 2011.

5.4.22 SMFF developed a new payment method so that the Mission now has *** payment types. Implemented August 2011.

5.4.23 The Mission will action as requested. In progress for September 2011.

5.4.24 The Mission will outline the procedures outlined in paragraph 5.4.14. In progress for September 2011.

5.4.25 The Mission has actioned this recommendation. Implemented August 2011.

5.5 Information Management - Information Technology (IM-IT)

5.5.1 IM-IT at the Mission in Bridgetown is managed by an LE-08 LEITP. The LEITP is overseen at the Mission by the DMCO. Functionally, the LEITP reports to the Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) in Port of Spain.

Management

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

5.5.2 The IM-IT function in Bridgetown is *** managed. The LEITP and DMCO are *** in determining how the function can better support users and provide value to Mission clients.

5.5.3 There is adequate oversight and consultation with clients, and overall IM-IT needs and orientations are discussed in the CMM. Visits from the FSITP occur every few months, which is sufficient to remain on top of the oversight and technical requirements.

5.5.4 Business continuity planning is well advanced at the Mission from a number of perspectives. The Mission has been at the forefront of determining what IM-IT needs would be in a contingency plan scenario and has been actively putting those elements in place.

Client Service

Key IM-IT Client Service CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Problems experienced by the user are generally resolved within a reasonable time frame.X  
The Mission is using the required help-desk/client service tools and maintains relevant data.X  

5.5.5 Clients expressed a *** degree of satisfaction regarding the service provided by the IM-IT function. There were no issues related to client service.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

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

5.5.6 ***.

5.5.7 Similar to Property disposals (see paragraph 5.3.21), there is a need to ensure that Headquarters approval is sought before disposing of surplus IT assets.

Recommendation to the Mission

5.5.8 ***.

Mission Action and Timeframe

5.5.8 ***.

Appendix A: Mission Resources Fact Sheet

Table 1: Mission Resources Fact Sheet of Physical Resources
Physical Resources
AssetsCrown OwnedCrown Leased
Chancery Compound (including recreational facility)1
Official Residence11
Staff Quarters311
Vehicles6
Parking1

 

Table 2: Mission Resources Fact Sheet Financial Information
2010-2011 BudgetsProgram BudgetCommon Services Budget
Total$1,020,812$2,713,638
Operating (N001)$89,267$1,248,720
Capital (N005)$0$233,011
CBS Salaries (N011)$364,730$168,000
CBS Overtime Budget (N011)$25,000$0
LES Salaries (N012)$541,815$1,063,907

 

Full Time EquivalentsTotalCBSLES
Head of Mission220
Political Economic and Public Affairs211
IBD413
Consular413
Common Services14113
OGD/CIDA1376
Total Mission FTEs391326

Appendix B: 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

Personal and sensitive information has been edited from these reports (shown in the reports as “*”), consistent with the provisions of the Privacy and Access to Information Acts.


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Date Modified:
2012-11-22