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Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

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Inspection of the Canadian Embassy Warsaw, Poland

PDF Version (695 KB) *

October 3 - 7, 2011

Table of Contents

 

Note: 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.

Inspection Scope and Objectives

The scope of the Inspection included a review of Mission Management and the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service, 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 Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service, Commercial Economic, Consular and Common Services programs was conducted in Warsaw, Poland from October 3 to 7, 2011. A previous audit of these programs took place in 2007.

The Canadian Embassy in Warsaw is a medium-sized mission with 13 Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 59 Locally Engaged Staff (LES). It is responsible for departmental program delivery in Poland and Belarus. In addition to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) programs, the mission provides a regional platform for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Department of National Defence (DND).

The Head of Mission (HOM) oversees operating and capital budgets of approximately $4.3 million and $74 thousand respectively. The mission’s property portfolio includes a Crown-owned chancery, a Crown-leased official residence (OR) and 11 staff quarters (SQs).

Poland is one of the fastest growing economies in the EU and is an important strategic partner, both in terms of bilateral and multilateral relations. At the time of the inspection, Poland held the Presidency of the Council of the EU. The mission works diligently to leverage this productive and close relationship - promoting democracy and human rights, interests in the Arctic, energy expertise and linkages between educational institutions.

Overall, the mission is effectively working towards Government of Canada objectives and focused on priorities and desired outcomes. There is a high degree of emphasis on governance structures, management controls and the essential work associated with key functions. The mission has the capacity to serve clients in both official languages.

The Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service (FPDS) Program is operating well and includes a team of experienced staff. The program demonstrates good practices in terms of communications, planning, reporting and its work towards whole-of-government objectives, including cooperation between mission programs and the strategic engagement of the HOM. The program could benefit from an effort to modernize the education and culture function, aligning it with broader advocacy objectives and practices.

A limited engagement policy on relations with Belarus ***. This creates challenges and has increased workload within the FPDS program.

The Commercial Economic (CE) Program is functioning well. It has experienced employees and strong communications within the team and across the mission. The program implements activities effectively and delivers a good level of service to clients. It has demonstrated leadership in promoting Canadian expertise in public-private partnerships, an area of increased interest in Poland. Poland represents the fourth largest market in the EU and remains an emerging economy with opportunities for Canadian companies in clean technology, aerospace and defence, oil and gas, and information communication technologies.

The Consular Program is responsible for the provision of consular services in Belarus and Poland with an increased number of complex and routine consular cases. The program is  *** managed, well-resourced and has knowledgeable employees who are client service-oriented. The program could benefit from the development of an operational workplan as well as improvements  ***.

The Common Services Program is providing reliable service to its clients and has good practices in place for budgeting, training and property maintenance. Internal management and operations could be improved through better communication and cooperation as well as strengthening controls and planning at the section level. The program could also review the organizational structure and reporting relationships as there may be opportunities for realignment of resources.

A total of 38 inspection recommendations are raised in the report, 37 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 38 recommendations, management has stated that 37 have been implemented. For the remaining recommendation, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.

Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Embassy in Warsaw, Poland is a medium-sized mission with 13 Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 59 Locally Engaged Staff (LES). It is responsible for departmental program delivery in Poland and limited departmental program delivery in Belarus. In addition, the mission provides a regional platform for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Department of National Defence (DND).

1.1.2 The mission is managed by an EX-03 Head of Mission (HOM) who oversees operating and capital budgets of approximately $4.3 million and $74 thousand respectively. The mission’s property portfolio includes a Crown-owned chancery, a Crown-leased official residence (OR) and 11 staff quarters (SQs).

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  
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 representative of mission programs and employee levels, and is utilized by both LES and mission management to facilitate communication.X  
Mission management ensures that employees remain informed of key priorities and common services policy decisions.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 Overall, mission management is actively implementing and supporting Government of Canada objectives and uses the Mission Planning and Reporting (MPR) tool to focus efforts on priorities and desired outcomes. The CMM serves as an effective decision making body and ensures coherence across mission programs during its weekly meetings. Mission management maintains an effective relationship with the LES community. There are strong formal and informal communication practices as well as a structured dialogue with the LESMCB.

1.2.2 The HOM and the management team utilize a variety of tools and fora to ensure staff remain informed of key priorities and mission policy changes. The communication framework in place at the mission represents a good practice and includes the following core elements:

  • Regular CMM meetings with the circulation of minutes to all staff;
  • Regular townhall meetings with all staff (quarterly and as needed);
  • Weekly program staff meetings;
  • The involvement of the information and media officer in weekly commercial economic meetings; and
  • Frequent walk-arounds by the HOM.

1.2.3 The HOM and the management team have placed a high degree of emphasis on the importance of values and ethics (V&E) and encourage staff to raise issues for discussion. To further support these efforts, the inspection team was accompanied by a member of the Values and Ethics Division. During the inspection, three sessions were held with staff to raise awareness of the V&E Code and inform them of the tools at their disposal. The sessions also helped to develop a consensus amongst mission staff with respect to what constitutes effective workplace behaviour.

1.3 Whole of Government

Key Whole of Government CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Mechanisms are in place to ensure a whole of government approach is taken for mission and program planning.X  
Mission and program plans are implemented in a coordinated manner to ensure policy coherence and effectively leverage the Canadian presence.X  
Partner departments contribute to the overall effective governance of the mission and its operations.X  
Common services are provided in line with the memorandum of understanding and any issues are addressed at CMM.X  

1.3.1 The mission benefits from a strong and cohesive management team. Cooperation and collaboration are reinforced at CMM and through joint planning and project implementation. The commercial economic program cooperates closely with DND on issues related to defence procurement and with the FPDS program on events and proactive advocacy agendas. The FPDS program also works closely with CIC through the delivery of the International Experience Canada Program. Reviewing cooperation between the DND and DFAIT programs is an area that could be explored to assess whether or not there are opportunities to collaboratively advance Canadian interests.

1.3.Partner department program managers are generally satisfied with the level of common services provided. Concerns were raised regarding perceived communication and coordination issues within the common service program, which are currently being addressed by mission management.

1.4 Management Controls

Key Management Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Mission committees are meeting regularly and effectively discharging their governance responsibilities.X  
A Mission Emergency Plan (MEP) is in place and tested regularly. X 
Security policies and regulations are respected and promoted.X  
The quarterly reconciliation of passport inventory is properly completed and certified.X  
Program managers are provided regular financial/budget updates to facilitate effective management and decision making.X  
Bank reconciliations are properly reviewed and signed-off on a monthly basis.X  
Mission hospitality guidelines are appropriate and reviewed 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  
The Honorary Consul (HonCon) has an up-to-date mandate letter and performance is reviewed annually.n/a

1.4.1 Mission management places a high degree of emphasis on management controls and the maintenance of key functions and governance structures. Prior to the inspection, deficiencies were identified with respect to procurement practices and general value-for-money on certain projects. In response to these issues, the HOM reconstituted the contract review board (CRB) and asked for the development of new terms of reference (TOR). An expanded review of previously let contracts was also initiated to identify any potential improvements in mission processes.

1.4.2 The Mission Emergency Plan (MEP) is currently under development, with the support of the new Military Police Security Services (MPSS) member who arrived in September 2011. The MEP is to be completed by November 2011. A key component will be to ensure that the appropriate secondary communications equipment is acquired and that the alternate command post (ACP) is outfitted with the necessary equipment.

1.4.3 Security culture within the mission is strong and staff respect policies and procedures. The mission is working at finalizing the implementation of solutions to issues identified in a 2010 security inspection.

1.4.4 A review of hospitality activities was conducted and they were generally properly documented and in alignment with mission objectives.

1.5 Official Languages

Key Official Languages CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
The Official Languages Act is respected and promoted by Mission Management.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 

1.5.1 The mission possesses the capacity to serve clients in both official languages. The capacity of the mission to provide French services in writing, however, is limited. The mission is making efforts to address the issue through language training and by reviewing official language considerations in future recruitment strategies.

1.6 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

1.6.1 The MEP should be completed. Secondary communications equipment should be acquired and an alternate command post should be outfitted with the necessary equipment.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

1.6.1 The MEP has been completed, reviewed by the Security Committee, and approved by CMM.  Satellite phones have been purchased for emergency use and will be part of the newly outfitted ACP. Implemented March 2012.

Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service(FPDS)

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The FPDS Program is managed by an FS-04 program manager (PM) and covers bilateral relations with Poland and Belarus. The PM is supported by three LES officers at the LE-09, LE-08 and -07 levels and two LE-05 LES assistants, one of whom is responsible for the delivery of the International Experience Canada Program. The financial resources for the program are as follows:

Budget2011-2012
Operations$17,917
Travel7,975
Hospitality5,434
Post Initiative Fund6,600
Total$37,926

2.1.2 Poland is a key strategic partner to Canada, both in terms of bilateral and multilateral relations. The mission works diligently to leverage this productive and close relationship – promoting democracy and human rights, interests in the Arctic, energy expertise and the ties between educational institutions. This is also true for multilateral fora in terms of global security and cooperation, including NATO and the UN. Poland currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU until December 2011. This position has importance to Canada for many reasons, including negotiations for the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

2.1.3 Canada has adopted a limited engagement policy towards Belarus; ***. The program undertakes ***, analysis, reporting and advocacy with a view to improving levels of democracy and human rights in Belarus.

2.2 Planning and Program Management

Key FPDS Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
FPDS plans are aligned with the priorities and objectives outlined in the mission plan and informed by departmental and geographic bureau guidance and objectives.X  
FPDSplans 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 Overall, the program is operating effectively and benefits from strong formal and informal communications based on annual retreats and weekly team meetings. These are augmented by several good practices which include regular PM-officer one-on-ones and the inclusion of a commercial-economic team member at weekly staff meetings. The FPDS media officer also attends weekly trade meetings.

2.2.2 The program is well aligned to departmental and Government of Canada priorities and the principles of the New Way Forward. It benefits from strong planning at the working level and the plan is updated regularly. The program also contributes well to the Mission Planning and Reporting (MPR) document. This exercise contributes appropriately to elements of Europe-wide planning, given the current EU presidency.

2.2.3 The role of the LE-07 information and media officer has grown over the last few years to encompass a much broader role, spearheading mission advocacy on files such as the Arctic. The role of the LE-08 academic and cultural officer has focussed largely on support for traditional Canadian studies programming and visiting artists. Given the growing role, complexity and importance of advocacy and the declining importance of traditional academic and cultural affairs, there is a clear case to be made ***.

2.3 Implementation

Key FPDS 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 FPDS 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 programs needs and objectives.X  
Relations with other mission programs facilitate program delivery (e.g. public affairs).X  
The program facilitates a mission-wide coordinated approach to advocacy and common messaging.X  

2.3.1 The FPDS program is busy and working actively to cover key objectives related to Poland. The program cooperates well with other mission programs, demonstrating success towards whole-of-mission synergies.

2.3.2 Reporting by the mission back to headquarters has resulted in positive feedback for timeliness, content, suggested action items and communications – using the New Business Model as a guide. An example was the mission’s response at the time of the presidential plane crash in April, 2010 which included timely briefs and communication lines prepared for headquarters. This was followed by a lessons-learned exercise to improve reporting in the future.

2.3.3 The PM’s ***, including an increase in demand for *** analysis and reporting – both for DFAIT clients and partner departments. These activities have been resource heavy, both in terms of travel budgeting and time allotted. In fact, the PM has spent as much as 60% of her time on these activities. It is also reported that, due to this emerging challenge, Russian language skills have become important to the program and perhaps more so than the existing Polish requirement.

2.3.4 The program represents a best practice in terms of work towards whole-of-government objectives. This includes cooperation between mission programs and the strategic use and support of the HOM. The program demonstrates active cooperation on security cooperation, industry promotion, the Arctic, Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA), high-level visits and advocacy in general, undertaken with fine teamwork amongst the officers.

2.4 Performance Measurement

Key FPDS Performance Measurement CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
The program has an established performance measurement system in place to monitor activities towards the achievement of objectives. X 
The program assesses performance against strategies/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 The program is successful in demonstrating performance on a quarterly and annual basis. This performance reporting is in sync with departmental planning systems, including the MPR, working-level FPDS plans and the Performance Management Program (PMP) for individual employee evaluations.

2.4.2 The program integrates the principles and language consistent with results-based management. A further enhancement would be to apply targets to performance indicators.

2.4.3 The program properly accounted for hospitality expenditures and direct linkages were made to program objectives demonstrating value-for-money; however, quarterly hospitality allocations were not provided to officers based on their individual objectives and outreach plans.

2.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

2.5.1 Advocacy objectives should be bolstered through increased emphasis on the whole-of-government work of the information and media officer and modernization of the academic and culture officer’s work.

2.5.2 ***.

2.5.3 In consultation with the geographic bureau and other relevant stakeholders, the program should conduct a review to assess and report on needs and objectives  ***. It should identify required resources and language capacity as well as future representation issues and challenges.

2.5.4 Quarterly hospitality allocations should be provided to officers based on their individual objectives and outreach plans.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

2.5.1 WSAW has reviewed the work descriptions of the two positions to ensure that they are consistent with  evolving requirements including the expanded role of the information and media officer and the need to modernise our approach to academic and cultural affairs. Implemented December 2011.

2.5.2 WSAW has reviewed  *** and provided views for HQ to be considered within the broader context of departmental priorities and in light of possible outcomes of the department's strategic and operating review.  Implemented December 2011.

2.5.3 WSAW has reviewed the needs and objectives *** and provided views to HQ on required resources, issues and challenges moving forward.  Implemented March 2012.

2.5.4 The FPDS Manager has provided quarterly hospitality allocations to officers based on individual objectives and outreach plans. Implemented January 2012.

Commercial Economic (CE)

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The CE team in Warsaw is led by an EX-01 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) and supported by a team of four trade commissioners (FS-01 and three LE-09s) and three trade commissioner assistants (LE-06 and two LE-05s). The program is responsible for commercial activities in Poland and Belarus, with involvement in the latter largely associated with import and export controls.

3.1.2 The financial resources for the program are as follows:

Budget2011-2012
Operations$8,142
Travel16,615
Hospitality7,092
Client Service Fund (CSF)52,800
Corporate Social Responsibility6,000
Edu-Canada4,500
Total$95,149

 

3.1.3 Despite being an emerging economy, Poland represents the fourth largest market in the EU and is one of the fastest growing economies. Opportunities exist for Canadian companies in a variety of sectors, including clean technology, aerospace and defence, oil and gas, and information/communication technologies. Particularly promising opportunities exist related to the discovery of shale gas in Poland and the need for defence procurement. The program has also demonstrated leadership in promoting Canadian expertise in public-private partnerships, an area of increased interest in Poland.

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 Overall, the program is functioning very well and benefits from strong formal and informal communication. The STC holds weekly staff meetings to revisit priorities and activities as well as update staff on items raised at CMM. The FPDS information and media officer is included in these meetings as a best practice, ensuring that both programs remain informed of key activities and initiatives in order to bolster the advocacy function. As another good practice, the program frequently sets aside time at the end of the week to address ongoing feedback and training, such as reviewing TRIO statistics and webinars.

3.2.2 Internal planning processes are strong, and plans demonstrate a strong knowledge of local opportunities and the interests of Canadian clients. The team is also well integrated regionally, building off the STC’s leadership in regional planning and the involvement of some officers from other missions on the European multi-country sector teams (MCSTs).

3.2.3 At present, each officer is responsible for two priority sectors. While not an overly high number of sectors, it can be difficult for officers to dedicate sufficient efforts to be both proactive and strategic in more than one. It was noted that some sectors identified as priority were important but primarily on a reactive basis. The program has acknowledged this situation and as it moves forward, it will be important to revisit plans and officer perspectives in light of proactive and reactive sectors. It should be noted that locally engaged officers expressed concern with respect to a limited ability to travel to Canada, stating that it impacted their ability to promote Canadian companies to local contacts.

3.2.4 The junior CBS position in the program is currently classified at the FS-01 level. Given the size of the program and the fact that the only other CBS is the EX-01 STC, the FS-01 position takes on a managerial role and serves as the regular back-up to the STC during absences. Given the size of the program and the level of responsibilities that naturally fall to the second CBS officer ***.

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  
InfoCentre functions are assigned and facilitate program delivery.X  

3.3.1 Overall, the program is implementing activities effectively and delivering a good level of service to clients. Trade commissioners are knowledgeable in their key sectors and working diligently to provide value-added services. These perspectives were echoed by external stakeholders who highlighted the tremendous support provided by the mission.

3.3.2 The program is well integrated within the mission and leverages relationships to further objectives related to general advocacy and defence procurement. There is also a high degree of support from the HOM, who works actively to facilitate the team’s efforts through advocacy and strategic outcalls. The program has also begun to work more closely with the Canadian mission to the EU in Brussels on advocacy related to shale gas and the related regulatory frameworks.

3.3.3 TRIO is used appropriately under the leadership of the STC. An effective structure is also in place for the InfoCentre which centralizes key support functions for the program. As a best practice, business cards and officer contact info on the Virtual Trade Commissioner site (VTC) refer all clients to the program’s general email inbox – rather than the individual officer. This ensures that the InfoCentre is able to enter service requests directly into TRIO and conduct triage by responding to basic inquiries themselves – only referring more complex service requests to a trade commissioner. As a result, a trade commissioner’s time is focussed more on key value-added services and the STC has greater assurance that requests have been entered in TRIO and answered in accordance with stated service standards.

3.3.4 It was noted that the level of outcalls conducted by officers was low for a program of this size and profile. The STC acknowledged this and has been working with his officers to increase outcalls. For example, a project was initiated to update market profiles posted on the VTC, which required officers to conduct outcalls with local contacts to validate information and seek out new opportunities.

3.3.5 Headquarters support was noted as helpful, particularly with respect to the oil and gas sector.

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 The STC uses TRIO statistics regularly with staff to monitor and review the level of activity, number of core services provided, interactions and business leads. Overall results achieved are reviewed and recorded in the CE Plan and used to guide the development of future year plans. Hospitality activities reviewed were in line with CE and mission objectives and expenses were properly supported.

3.5 Recommendations

Recommendation to the Europe and Eurasia Bureau (GUD)

3.5.1 GUD, in consultation with the mission, should review the *** more in line with its key roles and responsibilities.

3.5.2 GUD Action and Timeframe

3.5.3 GUD has consulted the mission and the office of the Chief Trade Commissioner.  *** in WSAW will be considered within the broader context of departmental priorities and in light of possible outcomes of the department's strategic and operating review. Implemented March 2012.

Consular

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 The Consular Program is overseen by the AS-06 MCO, with the daily operations managed by the AS-04 DMCO. The program is supported by an LE-09 Consular Program Officer who has delegated signing authority for notarial services, and two LE-06 Consular Assistants. The program is also responsible for the provision of consular services to Canadians in Belarus.

4.1.2 The program is well resourced and provides a high level of service to clients, although both LE-06 positions are performing the same functions with no formal division of duties. This creates challenges with respect to segregation of duties and effective workload and workflow management. Tasks should be clearly defined and primary responsibilities outlined to provide efficient management of associated workload. This would also strengthen individual accountability.

4.1.3 The financial resources available to the program are as follows:

Budget2011-2012
Travel$1,749
Hospitality1,400
Total$3,149

4.1.4 The program processes approximately 570 passport services, 110 citizenship applications and up to 200 notarial requests annually. There are 174 Canadian citizens identified in the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) database for Poland, while the estimated number of Canadians residing in Poland is 3,000, the majority of whom are dual nationals. There are eight Canadian citizens identified in ROCA for Belarus. The mission has agreements in place with the American and British embassies in Minsk to provide first level consular assistance to Canadians. Over the past few years, the program has seen an increase in the number of consular cases in Poland dealing with death, medical and other distress cases. There are currently three Canadian detainees in Poland who are receiving consular assistance.

4.2 Program Management

Key Consular Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Mission consular plans and manuals are up to date.X  
Internal communications within the program effectively support program delivery.X  
The mission has ongoing dialogue with key local authorities to facilitate program delivery.X  
A warden network is in place and properly maintained. X 

4.2.1 Overall, the program is well managed. Consular plans and reports are up to date, and the Mission Emergency Plan (MEP) is expected to be completed prior to the November 2011 deadline. The mission maintains a good network of local contacts with airport, police and Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, and there are occasional meetings with like-minded missions to share information and good practices.    

4.2.2 The program benefits from strong teamwork and communication. The MCO and consular staff meet weekly to discuss policy, procedural changes and ongoing cases. The DMCO also holds daily meetings to discuss existing issues and cases. While minutes are not maintained for these meetings, a “consular snapshot” is prepared weekly for the HOM and MCO. This “consular snapshot” represents a good practice. This could be expanded to include any key decisions taken and could serve as records of the meetings.

4.2.3 While the employees are knowledgeable and aware of tasks to be performed, the program is largely reactive. The program would benefit from the development of a workplan identifying key objectives, reporting and planning requirements. This would help guide staff and assist management to make decisions regarding workload and priorities.

4.2.4 The program is not actively supporting the ***, although the HOM has met some during outreach activities. The mission has sought guidance from the headquarters on the need to maintain such a network as there have been significant improvements in local infrastructure and emergency management.

4.3 Client Service

Key Consular Client Service CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Services are provided to Canadians in the official language of their choice.X  
Service standards, fee schedules and a copy of an official receipt are posted in public areas in both official languages.  X
Services are provided in line with established standards.X  
Client feedback is reviewed and corrective action is taken when warranted.X  

4.3.1 The program is well served by experienced and client service oriented consular staff, capable of providing service in both official languages. Staff are also taking Russian language training in order to better serve clients in Belarus.

4.3.2 On occasion, staff spend considerable time assisting elderly clients or clients with limited official language capabilities to complete various forms. This raises client expectations regarding future services that are not normally provided and create undue pressure on staff time. Instead, a more consistent level of service could be achieved by providing clients with instructions and checklists in Polish.

4.3.3 Although client feedback forms are handed to clients at the time of service and are also available in the waiting area, the program receives limited feedback. The feedback that is received, both positive and negative, is shared with headquarters. As a good practice, a locked box should be available in the reception area for clients to deposit feedback forms as some clients may not feel comfortable returning a form directly to an employee. The box should be controlled by the MCO and feedback shared with consular staff, HOM and headquarters.

4.3.4 Bilingual signage and information is available for clients in public areas, however, a copy of the service standards, fee schedules and official receipt were not posted.

4.4 Internal Controls

Key Consular Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
A certified CBS signs-off on all passports.X  
Client documents and personal information are properly stored and secured.X  
Procedures and practices related to the collection of revenues are appropriate (e.g. segregation of duties, handling of cash, official receipts, record of fees received forms). X 
Revenues are transferred to the finance section in line with the Manual of Consular Instructions. X 
Upon receipt of new passport stock, two CBS verify the receipt of all assets, sign and return the transmittal note.X  
Passport stock is securely stored and the removal of assets is recorded on an inventory log and initialled by the CBS custodian and the employee receiving the asset.X  
Working inventories provided to staff are appropriate and controlled by a daily log (passports issued, spoiled, returned to safe storage). X 
Monthly and quarterly reconciliations of passport stock are properly completed and certified.X  
Official seals and stamps are properly inventoried, secured and access provided to designated staff only. X 

4.4.1 Overall, controls on passport and consular activities are in place with improvement required ***. All consular staff have received Passport Management Program certifications and passports are authorized by the DMCO or MCO. Client documents and personal information are appropriately stored.

4.4.2 Consular staff uses *** for transactions ***. A better segregation of duties between staff could be achieved by assigning the responsibility *** to only one individual, formally transferring revenues between staff when a replacement is required to take over the register, and ensuring that only CBS are authorized to void a transaction.

4.4.3 The DMCO performs the reconciliation of the passport services and fees collected *** and upon receipt of the IMS documents. A reconciliation of the notarial and citizenship services is not performed. Funds are transferred to the finance section ***.

4.4.4 Passport assets are reconciled quarterly by the DMCO and the HOM. Month-end passport inventory reconciliations are conducted by the DMCO; however, inventory should be physically counted by two staff, one of whom must be a CBS.

4.4.5 The DMCO transfers a limited working stock of passports to the consular assistant who stores them securely ***. A log exists to track the removal of working stock ***.

4.4.6 The mission has an inventory of seals and stamps ***, record the individual's acceptance of responsibility or reconcile the inventory annually. The Consular Policy and Initiatives Division (CLP) is developing a template to facilitate this process which is expected to be released with the new Consular Policy Manual.

4.5Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

4.5.1 An operational workplan should be developed that guides staff and assist management to make decisions regarding workload and priorities.

4.5.2 The service standards, fee schedules and a copy of an official receipt should be posted in the public area in both official languages.

4.5.3 The DMCO should perform regular reconciliations of all fees for consular services, including notarial and citizenship, prior to the transfer of revenue to the finance section.

4.5.4 Access *** should be limited through segregation of duties and voided transactions should be authorized by a CBS.

4.5.5 Consular revenues should be transferred to the *** whichever comes first.

4.5.6 The program should strengthen ***:

  • The log tracking passport working stock transfers   ***;
  • LES are allocated an appropriate working inventory that is controlled by a daily log ***;
  • Two staff (at least one a CBS) participate in the month-end inventory reconciliation of passport stock; and
  • Inventories of wet and dry seals are maintained, ***.

4.5.7 Based on advice from HQ, the mission should make a policy decision on whether or not to  ***.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

4.5.1 A work plan has been developed and will be used by staff to track activities and consular visits. Implemented March 2012.

4.5.2 Service standards, schedules, and a copy of a receipt has been posted in both official languages. Implemented November 2011.

4.5.3 All fees are now reconciled by the DMCO. Implemented March 2012.

4.5.4 Access to the *** is now limited ***.  Effective March 30, 2012, the Vice Consul will authorise voided transactions on the cash register. Implemented March 2012.

4.5.5 Consular revenue was previously transferred *** whichever comes first. Implemented March 2012.

4.5.6 The mission has strengthened *** by implementing recommendations.  ***. Implemented March 2012.

4.5.7 The mission has consulted with HQ and will maintain ***.  A Wardens' Conference on Emergency Preparedness is planned for October 20, 2012. Implemented February 2012.

Common Services

5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The Common Services Program is managed by an AS-06 MCO who is supported by a team of three CBS and 19 LES. The program is responsible for providing common services to 72 employees spread over three DFAIT and two partner department programs with multiple country accreditations.

5.1.2 The MCO is on her first assignment abroad as program manager having moved up from the DMCO over a year ago. The DMCO is on her first assignment abroad. At the time of the inspection, ***. The roles and responsibilities for the MCO and DMCO have since been clarified and defined, ***.

5.1.3 The mission provided feedback for the Common Service Model review, but results have been deferred pending the definition of the Regional Service Centre – Europe, Middle East and North Africa’s (RSC) new common service delivery model. Once complete, there will be opportunity for realignment of resources in some sections to address anomalies. The MCO also indicated her interest in reviewing the organizational structure and reporting relationships to ensure that changes in responsibility are reflected in job descriptions and classifications.

Program Management

Key Common Services Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
A Common Services Business Plan is in place and used to establish priorities and guide operations.X  
Common Services policies and procedures are documented and communicated to management, staff and clients.X  
Internal communications within the program effectively support program delivery. X 

5.1.4 In general, the program is operating well with effective planning conducted for most functions. Processes and controls are in place but improvement is required for the contracting and disposal processes. Some noted opportunities for improvement were self-identified and the mission is working to address them.

5.1.5 A number of good practices have been implemented such as :

  • Common services team involvement in managing the budget and consultation of CBS for acquisitions;
  • Training provided to program managers and responsible staff on signing authorities, new hospitality guidelines and petty cash procedures;
  • Annual property team and resident visits to SQs in the presence of the occupants to review upcoming needs and requests that feed into the maintenance and 3-year acquisition plans; and
  • Property team’s organization of a project for CBS called “How Your House Works” where each CBS is trained on SQ equipment and systems. This has resulted in a reduction of after-hours calls.

5.1.6 A common services business plan was completed and is used to guide overall operations. As a next step, the program would benefit from the development of operational workplans for each section. They should include key initiatives and responsibilities, along with expected timelines for completion. These workplans would be a useful tool to serve as a basis for discussion at program meetings and to review progress during bilateral meetings with the HOM. Workplans can also be used to facilitate the development of staff performance objectives, enhancing management’s ability to assess results and provide feedback.

5.1.7 There is regular communication within the program. Weekly meetings are held with the MCO, DMCO, and section heads who in turn debrief their staff. Periodic meetings are also held with all staff, or each section, when new procedures and policies are implemented, or as required. While there is good teamwork in general, there are some instances of longstanding internal communication challenges between staff members which need to be addressed.

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 
Hub and spoke relationships are governed by an agreement outlining the roles and responsibilities of each mission.N/A

5.1.8 Overall, all sections are generally providing good client services with competent and capable staff. However, there is room for improvement in managing client expectations and prioritizing work in the property section. The mission has documented policies and procedures which are provided to all clients. These documents are also available in InfoBank. Service standards were established in 2004 and require updating. The update will provide clients with guidelines on services provided and assist the program with the management of workloads.  A client service survey to receive feedback can be used to measure the current client satisfaction and improve service where required.

Procurement and Contracting

Key Procurement and Contracting CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
A Contract Review Board (CRB) is in place and operating effectively with terms of reference.X  
Procurement and contracting procedures have been documented and communicated to all staff involved in the process. X 
Contracting files demonstrate compliance with policies and procedures. X 
The mission's multi-year Capital Acquisition Plan is approved by CMM annually.X  

5.1.9 The mission undertook a complete review of the CRB and contracting practices in the summer of 2011 to address weaknesses. A lack of documented procedures increases the risk that steps will be missed and documents held on file will not be consistent. Documented procedures to guide staff will help ensure consistency in following processes.

5.1.10 The CRB is in the process of being strengthened and new terms of reference were recently put in place. The next step is to establish a dollar-figure threshold for the CRB to review and approve contracts.

Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

5.1.11 The mission should consult the RSC for assistance with organizational design of the common services and consular programs.

5.1.12 The program should ensure that workplans are developed for each section to further articulate how program objectives will be achieved at the operational level.

5.1.13 Common service standards should be updated, tabled at CMM for approval and communicated to clients.

5.1.14 Contracting processes and controls should be strengthened to ensure transparency and value-for-money, including:

  • Establishing a dollar-figure threshold as part of the terms of reference for the CRB;
  • Ensuring that contract files contain all required documentation; and
  • Documenting contracting procedures to ensure consistency in processes.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.1.11 Mission has consulted RSC and reviewed the current organisational structure of the Common Service team. The Common Services team will be reorganised in conjunction with the Regionalisation of the financial services. Implemented February 2012.

5.1.12 Work plans have been developed and will be used by staff to track projects and activities. Implemented March 2012.

5.1.13 The Common Service team is in the process of updating the Service Standards for the mission. The update will be completed and ready for review by the CMM by 30 April 2012. In Progress for April 2012.

5.1.14 The Mission strengthened its contracting policies and procedures with the recent creation of a new CRB and terms of reference in September 2011.  Dollar limits were established and processes are regularly reviewed by Mission management with a view to continuing to improve transparency and value for money in the contracting process.   The creation of mandatory templates and evaluation grids has improved documentation of the contracting process.  The creation of a CRB secretary has ensured consistency and consistent record of decision. Implemented November 2011.

5.2 Human Resources

5.2.1 The human resource (HR) functions are the responsibility of the MCO with tasks divided among various members of the common services team. The lack of a dedicated HR resource has made it difficult for the mission to provide a consistent level of services to 59 LES and 13 CBS in a complex local labour environment. The initial Common Service Model results identified a need for an HR resource which the Committee on Representation Abroad had approved. The staffing was subsequently suspended, pending the determination of the RSC role. In the interim, the mission has started to reorganize duties within the program to centralize some of the HR activities. These new roles and responsibilities should be defined and communicated to all staff.  

Management

Key HR Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
A mission HR plan has been developed and submitted to headquarters.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  
A coordinated approach is taken with regards to training and a budget has been established. X 
Mechanisms are in place to monitor the completion of employee's performance evaluations.X  
Employee and position files are complete, maintained separately and properly secured. X 

5.2.2 The mission HR plan is well developed. The LES terms and conditions were updated last year and all LES were provided with the updated information on working conditions and benefits. Arrival and departure guides have been developed for CBS; however, there are no such guides or checklists to assist with the orientation of new LES employees.

5.2.3 The MCO has been designated as the Mission Training Coordinator. Training needs are identified in PMPs and in the HR Plan, and a budget has been established. The next step is to consolidate these needs into a mission-wide training plan. A number of staff demonstrated a keen interest in training. The mission could consider the establishment of a training committee to assist with the identification of training opportunities.   

5.2.4 Performance Management Programs (PMP) are in place and job descriptions have been updated in conjunction with staffing processes. Job descriptions have not always been reviewed for long serving employees or when job packages changed. A number of staff raised the desire to have their job descriptions reviewed and updated.

5.2.5 The mission maintains separate position and employee files; however, a review found inconsistent documentation on file. A review of classification files was not conducted as there have been no recent classification actions.

5.2.6 The inspection team met with the LES representatives of the LESMCB. The LES indicated their appreciation for the establishment of this forum and the regular communication with management. Issues raised during the meeting included:

  • Medical insurance package – decline in the quality of service and benefits in the package;
  • The lack of a dedicated HR position in common services to provide a centralized point of contact on LES matters related to pay, medical, and HR issues;
  • Pension calculation - a lack of information/response from management on factors and methodology used to calculate pension and benefits; and
  • Language training needs.

Internal Controls

Key HR 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 
Letters of Offer are signed by the appropriate authority and include the appropriate clauses (e.g. values and ethics, etc.).X  
LES accrued leave and deductions are recorded and the related liabilities are monitored.X  

5.2.7 Overall, HR processes and internal controls were in place. Competitions are conducted in accordance with ALD guidelines on staffing, and the Letters of Offer are signed by the HOM. As mentioned above, while certain key documents are maintained, neither the ALD staffing checklist nor all required documents are on file. An example is the missing notification to candidates of hiring board results.

Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

5.2.8 The mission should develop an arrival/departure checklist for LES.

5.2.9 A mission-wide training plan should be developed.

5.2.10 Job descriptions should be reviewed every five years or when there have been significant changes to duties.

5.2.11 The Locally Engaged Staff and Workforce Program Bureau (ALD) file checklists should be used to ensure employee and staffing files contain all the necessary information.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.2.8 The mission has developed arrival and departure checklists for LES. Implemented March 2012.

5.2.9 The mission has formed a Training Committee and developed a training plan.  Implemented March 2012.

5.2.10 The Common Service team is working in cooperation with the Program Managers to review and update Job Descriptions. Implemented February 2012.

5.2.11 The mission is reviewing and updating employee and staffing files with the use of the ALD checklists. Implemented February 2012.

5.3 Physical Resources

5.3.1 The physical resources function is managed by the MCO who is assisted by an LE-08 Property Manager, an LE-06 Property and Materiel Clerk, an LE-04 Administrative Assistant/Dispatcher and a part-time LE-04 Administrative Assistant. This part time assistant also works as a cleaner, supervising two others. The mission also has three drivers who are supervised by the dispatcher, as well as three tradesmen and a gardener who are supervised by the Property Manager.

5.3.2 The section currently manages 13 properties including a Crown-owned chancery, a Crown-leased official residence (OR), eight Crown-owned and three Crown-leased staff quarters (SQ). The official fleet consists of ten vehicles, including two scheduled for disposal.

Management

Key Physical Resources Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Mission property and maintenance plans are up to date.X  
The chancery and official residence (OR) are well maintained and maintenance schedules are in place.X  
An efficient process is in place for receiving, processing and monitoring work orders. X 
Annual inspections are conducted to assess the state of SQs and input into maintenance and acquisition planning.X  

5.3.3 The section is *** managed and has an experienced team. The properties are generally well maintained with plans in place for major repairs and general maintenance. SQs are inspected annually and the results of these inspections are fed into the Materiel Acquisition Plan and the Mission Maintenance Work Plan.  While the Mission Property Management Plan (MPMP) was approved by the HOM in the spring of 2011, it had not yet been approved by HQ at the time of the inspection.

5.3.4 Roles and responsibilities of staff are divided along functional lines with the property manager responsible for buildings and maintenance and the property and materiel clerk overseeing materiel management and inventories. Communication *** is  *** the coordination of the leasing and maintenance of SQs, the delivery/pick up of furniture, and the subsequent occupancy of SQs.

5.3.5 Eight Crown-owned SQs were purchased in the 1990’s, reportedly as a result of difficulty finding rental housing at the time. These Crown-owned homes are generally small and pose a challenge to accommodating larger family configurations. As rental accommodation in desirable neighbourhoods is now available, it would be ***.

5.3.6 The chancery is generally well maintained, however it has undergone some significant repairs since it was originally built in 2001. It was noted that there are additional chancery repairs listed in the Physical Resource Bureau (ARD) work plans, particularly with respect to addressing sink holes in the driveway.

5.3.7 The OR is located across the Vistula River from the Chancery and has been leased by the mission since 1971. Long commute times for the HOM and guests, as well as the sub-optimal physical layout for official representation needs ***. It is also worth noting that several incidents of flooding at the OR have occurred over the last few years.

5.3.8 The property section has a work order tracking system but continues to accept requests by phone, email and in person. This results in an inefficient, reactive work mode instead of responding to client needs based on service standards and incorporating tasks into a planned work schedule. The current service standards were written in 2004 and require updating.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

Key Physical ResourcesInternal 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 
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 
Vehicle logs and mileage are verified monthly by a CBS to reconcile usage to gas purchases as well as monitor vehicle performance. X 

5.3.9 In some cases, SQ inspections were not conducted within 30 days of initial occupancy and as a result occupancy agreements and distribution account inventories were not signed in a timely manner.

5.3.10 Overall, internal controls are in place. Inventory records are well organized, with a system to track movements of items between locations. The mission has purchased commercial inventory management software which it plans to use, along with scanners, to track inventory and further improve materiel management process.   

5.3.11 Over the past two years, furniture disposals have been conducted through closed bid auctions open to mission staff and other embassies or through a second hand commissioned sales shop. Both systems are described by staff as tedious and time consuming. The HOM should be the signing authority on the disposal documents, however upon review, this was not always the case.

5.3.12 The mission has a credit card issued by a national oil company which is used for official vehicles. The dispatcher receives individual vehicle reports through the credit card system which provides information on kilometers driven, oil/gas use and maintenance performed. Each month the percentage of fuel used by each vehicle is determined by the dispatcher but it does not provide very much information for oversight purposes. Instead, the oil company reports, combined with vehicle log books completed in detail, should be used more effectively for monitoring. Most of the log books did not have adequate information to be of value, and were not subject to review by a CBS, resulting in the drivers seeing no purpose recording trip mileage. An exception was the HOM driver’s log which was completed in detail and signed off daily.

Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

5.3.13 Steps should be taken by management to improve communications ***.

5.3.14 The SQ portfolio should be reviewed to ensure the mission is able to accommodate to changing family configurations.

5.3.15 The mission in consultation with ARD should consider another ***.

5.3.16 A workplan should be developed to improve efficiency by moving from a predominantly reactive mode to a proactive approach based on updated service standards.

5.3.17 SQ inspections should take place within 30 days of occupancy. Occupancy agreements and distribution account inventory lists should be signed in a timely manner.

5.3.18 The HOM should approve all disposal actions.

5.3.19 The mission should assess disposal methods with a view to obtaining best value for money.

5.3.20 Vehicle logs should be completed, signed by the drivers and reviewed and signed by the dispatcher. A CBS should take an active role in the verification and reconciliation process for fuel purchases.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.3.13 The Common Services team participated in a Team Building workshop in November 2011.  This training and more frequent meetings *** has improved communication***. Implemented  November 2011.

5.3.14 The mission has reviewed the SQ portfolio in anticipation of changing family configuration.  It currently owns 8 Crown owned SQs which include:  four 8-room houses, two 7-room houses, one 6-room house, and one 6-room condo.  The family configurations change with each relocation period, but three Crown leased properties provide flexibility.  The mission will continue to do all possible within budget to ensure that staff is properly accommodated. Implemented March 2012.

5.3.15 The mission has consulted ARAK and is viewing potential alternative ***. An initial list with all relevant specifications has been shared with ARAK. Implemented February 2012.

5.3.16 A Workplan has been developed and will be used by staff to track projects, repairs, and purchases. Implemented March 2012.

5.3.17 Although SQ inspections took place within the week that occupants took possession, the mission will ensure that Occupancy agreements and inventory lists are signed in a timely manner.  The Property Section will track pending documents.           Implemented March 2012.

5.3.18 Recommendation implemented. All future disposals will be approved by the HOM. Implemented March 2012.

5.3.19 The mission has assessed and will continue to seek more efficient means of disposal while seeking the best price for the assets. Implemented March  2012.

5.3.20 Mission has improved the preparation and review of the vehicle logs since the inspection.  The DMCO will now conduct random verifications and reconcile use when invoices for fuel are received. Implemented March 2012.

5.4 Finance

5.4.1 The finance section is managed by the MCO with daily operations overseen by an AS-04 DMCO with the support of an LE-07 Finance Officer, an LE-06 Accountant and an LE-05 Assistant Accountant. The section processes an average of 260 EFTs, and oversees the handling of consular and immigration revenues of approximately  *** per month respectively. The mission has reduced the handling of cash by establishing post office and direct deposit payments which account for approximately 99 percent of immigration revenue.

Management

Key Finance Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Roles and responsibilities ensure adequate segregation of duties.X  
The section employs methods to minimize disruption (e.g. 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, electronic fund transfers). X 
Payment runs are kept to a minimum, but are sufficient to provide good client service. X 

5.4.2 The finance section is functioning well with experienced and knowledgeable staff. There is room for improvement by better enforcing the set quiet hours, minimizing payment runs and no longer allowing CBS personal draws or the use of cash for LES travel reimbursements. It was noted  *** would benefit from additional finance-related training to strengthen their oversight role, particularly in the use of IMS.

5.4.3 The finance section has access controls in place for their work area and has posted “open” and “quiet” hours. Clients, however, do not always respect these hours, even for non-priority issues, and interrupt during the time accountants have reserved to focus on work requiring greater concentration.

5.4.4 Payment runs are generally done ***. This requires the MCO or DMCO to review and authorize expenditures several times per week on an ad hoc basis. As a best practice, payment runs should be scheduled ***. This still provides for timely client service but allows better management of the MCO and DMCO’s time.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

Key Finance Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
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. X 
Financial signing authorities are 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.X  
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 
Reimbursement of HonCon operational expenses is based on an established agreement.N/A
A percentage of costs for personal use of OR supplies is determined and regular reimbursements are made to the mission.X  
A process is in place to ensure that, where applicable, CBS reimburse the mission for any services of a personal nature received at their staff quarters (e.g. television, internet, telephone, etc.).X  

5.4.5 Overall, internal controls are in place to safeguard financial assets and ensure payments and deposits are completed in accordance with policy.

5.4.6 The bank reconciliation is reviewed and signed off by the HOM on a monthly basis; however, the asset and liability report is only reviewed as part of year-end procedures. In order to properly complete the monthly bank reconciliation process, management should validate the legitimacy of balances on the asset and liability report, particularly outstanding advances.

5.4.7 Consular revenues are counted and transferred *** and an official receipt is issued. The transfer of immigration revenue is conducted ***, however an official receipt is only provided several days after the funds are transferred.  While the immigration officer is provided a record of funds received, an official receipt with sequential numbering should be provided whenever funds are transferred.

5.4.8 A sample of hospitality claims were reviewed and generally contained the correct documentation and approvals. It was noted that in some cases a statutory declaration was used by the CBS submitting a claim to attest to amounts paid. Statutory declarations should be used in exceptional circumstances when a receipt has been lost. In the event that funds are spent for services where a receipt is not normally given (i.e. babysitting), the individual supplying the service should be asked to provide a signed, written note to acknowledge receipt of the payment.   

Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

5.4.9 Clients should be reminded of the finance section’s hours and given instructions on how to handle an urgent situation during quiet hours.

5.4.10 The mission should continue efforts to minimize the use of cash including the cessation of personal draws for CBS and identify alternatives to cash reimbursements for LES.

5.4.11 Payment runs should be scheduled and performed *** as required.

5.4.12 Management should review the asset and liability report as part of month end procedures.

5.4.13 An official receipt should be issued immediately whenever cash is transferred between two staff within the mission.

5.4.14 For hospitality claims, individuals should obtain a signed receipt of payment from the person who provided a service (i.e. babysitter) instead of using a statutory declaration.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.4.9 Mission clients have been reminded of the quiet hours and advised how to contact the Accounting section in case of emergency. Implemented March 2012.

5.4.10 The use of personal draws for CBS ended effective December 31, 2011. The CMM approved the decision to end cash payments to CBS and LES.  Reimbursements and payments will be paid by direct deposit. Implemented March 2012.

5.4.11 Payment runs now take place ***. Implemented March 2012.

5.4.12 Asset and liability reports are now be reviewed at the end of each month. Implemented March 2012.

5.4.13 The Accounting section now issues an official receipt at the time that cash is received.  Implemented March 2012.

5.4.14 Mission staff now provide a receipt signed by the service provider for both travel and hospitality claims. Implemented November 2011

5.5 Information Management – Information Technology (IM-IT)

5.5.1 The IM-IT section is led by a CS-02 Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) and supported by an LE-07 Locally Engaged ITP (LEITP). The team provides support to approximately 70 users in Warsaw, as well as provides regional support to Copenhagen and telephone support to the mission in Vilnius, under the direction of the CSRM in RSCEMA.

Management

Key IM-IT Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
An Information Management - Information Technology (IM-IT) plan exists and includes regional activities.X  
The liaison between the mission, HQ and regional manager is effective.X  
The mission uses the required IM-IT service request system and maintains relevant data.X  

5.5.2 Overall, the IM-IT section is functioning well and is providing a good level of service to clients. An IM-IT business plan is in place to identify key priorities for the year and ensure that opportunities for cost savings, efficiencies, risk mitigation, communications and information management issues are addressed. The section receives a good level of support from HQ and the CSRM. A minor challenge was noted with respect to the timeliness of travel authority approvals from the CSRM, resulting in increased costs related to airfare.

5.5.3 The team proactively works to improve operations and receives the support of mission management for its initiatives. For example, the team initiated a mission-wide IM-IT clean-up day earlier this year with the goal of reducing the amount of data on personal drives. The initiative resulted in almost a 50 percent reduction in data. Since that time, data usage rates have increased, indicating that this type of activity should be periodic and ongoing. There is also a significant amount of used parts and equipment that need to be disposed. The FSITP has added this as a personal performance objective to ensure it is completed before he leaves the mission.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

Key IM-IT Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Back-ups are performed routinely and tapes are stored appropriately in a secure location away from the primary use area.X  
The mission has appropriate secondary communications systems in place and those tools are tested regularly. 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 

5.5.4 Overall, IM-IT processes and controls were in place, with minor areas for improvement noted. Back-up tapes are stored in a secure location away from the primary use site,  ***.The need for  *** was identified during a 2010  *** inspection and the mission is in the process of ordering one from HQ.

5.5.5 A fixed satellite telephone is in place at the chancery *** at the time of the inspection. During emergencies, equipment such as a mobile satellite phone could be used as secondary communications systems; so it would be advisable to acquire one and include its purchase in the MEP

5.5.6 The Network Acceptable Use Policy (NAUP) is respected by Signet users. Stand-alone computers in the library are protected by anti-virus software and require users to have accounts and passwords. There are, however, no restrictions on what internet sites can be visited. These computers would benefit from restriction software such as Net Nanny.

5.5.7 Mobility tools, such as phones and blackberries, have been consistently signed out and tracked by the materiel manager. This process should be expanded to include laptops, and consideration given to the use of the HQ form.

5.5.8 The mission has a good process is in place to control the use of telephones for long distance phone calls. Staff are required to log all approved long distance phone calls on a form which is provided to common services each month. This is then compared against a report completed by the IM-IT team which lists all long distance calls by extension. Reimbursement is then sought from individuals for all personal calls. To improve controls, the section could consider reviewing the permissions assigned to phones in public or common areas to disable the ability to make long-distance calls.

Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

5.5.9 Server back-up tapes should be stored  ***

5.5.10 The mission should explore options with the CSRM to ensure proper restrictions are put in place for stand-alone computers.

5.5.11 The mission should acquire a satellite phone.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

5.5.9 Back-up tapes are now stored ***. Implemented December 2011.

5.5.10 Distinct software has been purchased for the stand-alone computers. Implemented March 2012.

5.5.11 Two satellite phones have been purchased for emergency use. Implemented December 2011.

Appendix A: Mission Resources Fact Sheet

 

Physical Resources
AssetsCrown-OwnedCrown-LeasedPrivate-Lease
Chancery1--
Official Residence-1-
Staff Quarters83-
Vehicles9--
Storage---
Chancery Parking-1-

 

Financial Information 2011/2012
BudgetProgramCommon Services
Operating$ 123,500$ 1,012,225
Capital-74,555
CBS Salaries534,000223,924
CBS Overtime10,00022,390
LES Salaries881,4691,445,840
LES Overtime14,76115,741
Total$ 1,563,730$ 2,794,675

 

Human Resources (FTEs)
ProgramTotalCBSLES
Head of Mission725
FPDS615
CE826
Consular303
Common Services23419
CIC22220
DND321
Total721359

Appendix B: Frequently Used Acronyms

CBS
– Canada-based Staff
CE
– Commercial Economic
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
FPDS
– Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service
FSITP
– Foreign Service Information Technology Professional
FTE
– Full Time Equivalent
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
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
MEP
– Mission Emergency Plan
MFO
– Mission Financial Officer
MM Module
– Materiel Management Module of IMS
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
PIF
– Post Initiative Fund
PM
– Program Manager
PMA
– Performance Management Agreement
PMP
– Human Resources - Performance Management Program
PMP
– Consular - Passport Management Program
PRIME
– Physical Resources Information - Mission Environment
ROCA
– Registration of Canadians Abroad
S&T
– Science and Technology
STC
– Senior Trade Commissioner
SQ
– Staff Quarter
SZ
– Security Zone
TC
– Trade Commissioner
TCA
– Trade Commissioner Assistant
TCS
– Trade Commissioner Service
TRIO
– The TCS' Client Relationship Management System
ZID
– Office of the Inspector General
ZIV
– Inspection Division

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Date Modified:
2013-01-31