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Inspection of the Canadian Embassy - Mexico City, Mexico - Including the Consulate General in Monterrey and the Consulate in Guadalajara
February 13 - 24, 2012
- Inspection Scope and Objectives
- Executive Summary
- 1 Mission Management
- 2 Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service (FPDS)
- 3 Commercial Economic (CE)
- 4 Consular
- 5 Common Services
- Appendix A: Mexico Network Resource Fact Sheet
- Appendix B: Frequently Used Acronyms
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 Consultation 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.
An inspection of mission management, the foreign policy and diplomacy service (FPDS), commercial economic (CE), consular and common services programs was conducted in Mexico from February 13 to 24, 2012, including the Embassy in Mexico City, spoke missions in Monterrey and Guadalajara and seven consular agency offices. A previous audit of these programs took place in 2003.
Mexico is a strategic priority for Canada due to the breadth and depth of our interests, and the leverage it provides in our relationship with the United States and the Americas. The priorities of the bilateral relationship are outlined in the 2010-2012 Canada-Mexico Joint Action Plan and include fostering competitive and sustainable economies, protecting our citizens, enhancing people-to-people contacts, and projecting our partnership globally and regionally. Security cooperation to address the challenges posed by transnational crime organizations has also evolved into a major priority. The visa imposition, ***, has been effectively managed by the mission through the efforts of senior managers.
The mission is also important from a consular perspective, with a large resident Canadian population and 1.5 million Canadian tourists visiting annually. From a passport perspective, the mission ranks as the third busiest in the world. As consular cases in Mexico receive a high level of media attention, effective coordination and communication are essential.
The Mexico network is well managed and supported by capable and dedicated staff. Programs are focussed on key priorities and providing value-added support to a significant number of high level visits, particularly during the Mexican G20 presidency. The Head of Mission (HOM) places a strong emphasis on communication and has made considerable efforts to connect with programs and staff since arriving at the mission in the fall of 2011. A strong emphasis is also placed on emergency planning.
The mission forms a key part of Canada's international platform, with partner departments, agencies and provinces making up a significant part of overall operations. Partners are well integrated into overall management and program implementation. The new HOM has made efforts to enhance whole-of-government efforts through the establishment of the Program Coordination Board and the Security and Stability Committee. These forums facilitate and encourage horizontal communication and collaboration across programs. Continued efforts will be required to ensure that all partners are consulted on key management decisions and that the common services program is properly calibrated to provide consistent and timely services. Transparency in human resources practices, including spousal employment, was also raised by staff as a concern requiring greater attention from mission management.
The FPDS program is operating effectively and benefits from strong formal and informal communication, including regular meetings and annual retreats. The management team is motivated, cooperative and experienced. Program planning occurs largely at the section level (e.g. public affairs, political and economic) based on the mission objectives. Activities and results are well aligned with GOC priorities, but greater consistency could be achieved through the development of a program level FPDS plan, with horizontal objectives and expected results. This would help to further enhance an already well managed program and better enable management to assess performance.
The CE program is functioning *** and delivering on its commitments; the team is dedicated, works well together and effectively carries out activities. The commercial economic plan is strategic, vertically-integrated, widely-consulted and focussed on maximizing the impact for Canadian business clients. While communication amongst the management team is effective, managers need to ensure the timely and consistent communication of priorities, objectives, policies and planned activities. There is also a need to clarify the role of the CE program in Mexico City with respect to the spokes in Monterrey and Guadalajara, following the change in reporting structure whereby those offices now report directly to the ambassador.
The consular program in Mexico is working hard to provide effective client services ***. The seven consular agency offices, in locations that were previously serviced through honorary consuls, have dramatically increased the program's ability to provide consistent services to Canadians. Maintaining consistency will, however, continue to be a challenge as the team strives to meet increasing demands from clients. Several good practices are in place to facilitate operations, including annual retreats, a strong emphasis on emergency planning and proactive outreach with resident Canadian communities. There remains a need, however, to improve processes related to passport inventory controls and the handling of revenues collected at the consular agency offices.
The common services program is *** managed and providing good services to clients across the Mexico network. Rapid growth experienced over the last three years, including the growth of the immigration program and the consular agencies, increased the program's client base by approximately 55 percent. While the program was provided additional resources, demands have increased dramatically and meeting established service standards has been a challenge. Workloads remain high, but the crisis period has passed and the program will now need to be more strategic and ensure it is properly structured to deliver effective client service. Service standards will also have to be reviewed to ensure requests are properly prioritized and employees have the necessary guidance to effectively plan their work.
The property portfolio is a key issue for mission management, in particular the need for decisions related to the disposal, acquisition or retrofit of existing properties. The HOM is currently housed in a temporary official residence (OR), following a 2009 seismic study that deemed the previous OR unfit for habitation. The leased temporary OR is functional, but lacks sufficient external representational space. An additional property adjacent to the mission (Tres Picos) was purchased to facilitate expansion of the existing chancery. However, the building on the site was designated as heritage following its acquisition, thereby limiting options for redevelopment. The building is in need of repair, but could be retrofitted to incorporate representational space and reduce the need for large representational capacity at the OR. Decisions are needed with respect to the property portfolio, but must be based on clear direction regarding the appropriate representational footprint in Mexico.
A total of 47 inspection recommendations are raised in the report, 44 are addressed to the Mission and three are addressed to headquarters. Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. Of the 47 recommendations, management has stated that 27 have been implemented. For each of the remaining 20 recommendations, management has indicated the initiatives in progress or the intended future action.
1.1.1 The Embassy in Mexico City is a large mission with 61 Canada-based staff (CBS) and 169 locally engaged staff (LES). The mission is responsible for departmental program delivery in Mexico and oversees the operations of a Consulate General in Monterrey, a Consulate in Guadalajara, seven consular agency offices and an Honorary Consul in Tijuana. The mission also forms a key part of Canada's international platform and incorporates representatives from eight federal departments and agencies, and representatives from the provinces of Alberta and Ontario. The province of Quebec is represented in Mexico, but is not co-located with the mission.
1.1.2 The mission is managed by an EX-04 Head of Mission (HOM), who is responsible for overall mission operations and oversees the operational and capital budgets of $13.9 million and $400 thousand respectively. The mission also manages a property portfolio that includes a chancery, an annex, a leased official residence as well as 16 Crown-owned and 40 Crown- leased staff quarters.
1.1.3 Mexico is a strategic priority for Canada due to the breadth and depth of our interests, and the leverage it provides in our relationship with the United States and the Americas. The priorities of the bilateral relationship are outlined in the 2010-2012 Canada-Mexico Joint Action Plan and include fostering competitive and sustainable economies, protecting our citizens, enhancing people-to-people contacts, and projecting our partnership globally and regionally. Mexico is also becoming a more important partner on the international stage as it takes stronger positions on issues of global concern (economic governance, environment and climate change, human rights, etc.).
1.1.4 Cooperation to address the security challenges posed by transnational crime organizations has evolved into a major GoC and DFAIT priority. The integrated approach pursued by Canada, including strengthening of judicial and police capacity, crime prevention and corrections services, is well appreciated by Mexico as a serious Canadian response to a shared problem. Continued efforts in these areas are closely coordinated *** and consulted with other national and multilateral partners. Growing defense relations in both bilateral and trilateral context on issues of concern in North America and more broadly in the hemisphere complement the security cooperation agenda.
1.1.5 The visa imposition, ***, has been effectively managed by the mission through the efforts of senior managers to dialogue with key interlocutors, as well as the efforts of the immigration program manager to implement more effective risk management practices.
1.2 Mission Management
|Key Mission Management Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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 The mission is focussed on key priorities and supporting a significant number of high level visits during the 2012 Mexican G20 presidency, including those at the ministerial and prime ministerial level. The mission plan is used to synthesize overall mission objectives and is discussed at CMM.
1.2.2 Maintaining consistent communication in a large mission with employees spread across two physical sites, as well as the official residence, is an ongoing and constant challenge. Management uses a series of forums, tools and processes to keep staff informed of decisions and other activities, including:
- Distributing CMM minutes and all staff messages;
- Holding town halls, program and section meetings;
- Maintaining a regular dialogue with the LES community through the LESMCB; and
- Sharing information via the mission intranet site.
1.2.3 Mission management also places a high degree of emphasis on the importance of values and ethics. This is reinforced through policies on giving and receiving gifts, messages delivered at all staff meetings and the inclusion of the subject in 'Embassy 101' briefings, provided to new LES and CBS. An effort is also made to review hospitality diaries to ensure that activities of mission staff demonstrate close alignment with the expectations set by senior management.
1.2.4 Effective January 2012, the reporting lines for the spoke missions in Monterrey and Guadalajara were transferred from the Commercial Economic Program to the HOM in Mexico. This provides the HOM with more direct oversight and responsibility for operations, but also increases the autonomy of the offices. The manner in which the new system will function and how the FPDS and CE programs will direct or influence work in the spokes remains a work in process.
1.2.5 Given the size of the mission, and the importance of the Mexico network, there may be a need to reassess the mission's organizational structure. In addition to position levels, the incorporation *** role would ensure effective day-to-day management of the operations and allow the HOM to focus almost exclusively on advancing Canadian priorities and policy objectives.***. At present Monterrey is a Consulate General led by an EX-01 HOM, whereas Guadalajara is a Consulate led by an FS-04 head of office, both reporting directly to the HOM in Mexico City.
1.2.6 The property portfolio is a key issue for mission management, in particular the uninhabitable official residence (OR) and the vacant property adjacent to the chancery (Tres Picos). The HOM is currently housed in a temporary OR, following a 2009 seismic study that deemed the previous OR unfit for habitation. The vacated premise remains a part of the mission's portfolio,***. The temporary OR is functional, but lacks sufficient external representational space ***. The dormant property adjacent to the chancery (Tres Picos) was originally purchased to facilitate expansion of the existing chancery, but the building on the site was designated as heritage following its acquisition. While in need of repair and a seismic assessment, the Tres Picos site could be retrofitted to incorporate representational space, thus minimizing the representational requirements for a new OR. A decision on the property portfolio is needed, but must be based on clear direction regarding the appropriate future representational requirements related to Canada's presence in Mexico.
1.3 Whole of Government
|Key Whole of Government Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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 in Mexico forms a key part of Canada's international platform and partner departments make up a significant part of overall mission operations. They are well integrated into overall management and program implementation. Partner programming is largely centred on trade and the security and stability agendas, with strong liaison and cooperation occurring at the mission level. Partners represented at the mission include Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the Department of National Defence (DND), ***, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and Export Development Canada (EDC).
1.3.2 The CIC program is a key player, accounting for approximately one third of all mission staff. Over a very short period of time the program increased in size from 9 to 77 staff, and currently processes approximately 100,000 visas each year. The program is now housed in an annex approximately 25 minutes away from the chancery and benefits from excellent office space. The size of the program and the distance between buildings has, however, created a sense of separation and concerns were expressed regarding a lack of community.
1.3.3 On trade related matters, there is strong collaboration between the Commercial Economic Program, the provinces and EDC. Where possible, the planning and implementation of activities and regional outreach are done in a coordinated manner to better leverage the Canadian presence. In the case of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, the representatives have received direct instructions from their respective capitals to work closely with the Embassy in the implementation of their objectives - this sets the foundation for a strong federal-provincial relationship at post.
1.3.4 The CMM reviews program plans, including commercial economic, immigration and common services, to facilitate consultation and collaboration on whole-of-government objectives. Mission management recently created two CMM sub-committees to enhance coherence across priorities; the Program Coordination Board and the Security and Stability Committee. These sub-committees incorporate a broad range of program managers, officers, provincial representatives as well as the offices in Monterrey and Guadalajara, and seek to encourage communication and collaboration on key priorities.
1.3.5 One area of risk that needs to be addressed, however, is the inclusion of all partners in discussions and decision making related to mission policy and administrative issues. At present, CMM membership incorporates DFAIT and CIC program managers, essentially functioning as an executive committee. An alternate or expanded mechanism needs to be implemented to ensure all partners, including spoke missions, are advised and consulted on mission decisions and effectively integrated into their implementation.
1.3.6 At present, organizing and supporting official visits consumes a large amount of program resources. Responsibilities are assigned on an ad hoc basis in keeping with the visit's purpose and/or the availability of staff. Without documented procedures and processes and designated staff, undue strain can be placed on individual sections. A virtual visits team could alleviate some of these pressures by assigning key support responsibilities to predetermined personnel and establishing procedures to guide staff and clients. This would include providing training to key individuals, establishing clear responsibilities and developing operational checklists and guidelines.
1.3.7 More coordination and collaboration between the CE and FPDS programs would improve synergies vis-à-vis economic reporting, advocacy, mutual support for visits/events and general information sharing. In addition to reinforcing communications at the officer level, the mission could implement a sub-committee on trade and economic issues chaired by a senior officer and with membership drawn from across the mission.
1.3.8 Services and support provided to partners and spoke missions are generally good, although clients noted a need for more autonomy for budget management, adherence to financial service standards and transparency in HR practices. A concern was noted by the CIC program with respect to a perceived lack of additional resources provided to the common services program relative to CIC growth.
1.4 Management Controls
|Key Management Control Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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.||X|
1.4.1 Overall, key management controls are in place and operating effectively. A strong emphasis is placed on emergency planning. At present the mission is revising the MEP and preparing for a disaster response simulation that is scheduled to occur in March 2012. The emergency response team meets regularly and has overseen the implementation of radio checks during the first two months of 2012.
1.4.2 Performance management plans (PMPs) are used effectively by most mission managers to manage performance, support employee development and reinforce mission priorities. Due to workloads, however, certain sections within the common services program had not yet formalized performance expectations in staff PMPs. Additionally, members of the LESMCB expressed a desire for managers to place more emphasis on professional development; a key outcome of the PMP process.
1.5 Official Languages
|Key Official Languages Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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 Official languages are widely promoted and respected by senior management. A considerable effort is made to ensure all three primary mission languages are used during face- to-face and electronic communications. Additionally, consular staff across all offices is able to provide services to clients in both official languages.
1.6.1 The mission in Monterrey is led by an EX-01 Consul General. The HOM is supported by an FS-03 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC), three commercial economic and five consular and common services LES. The commercial economic program is functioning well, and takes the lead for Mexico on the investment file. The deteriorating security situation has, however, hampered programming and presents significant challenges to both operations and personal safety.
1.6.2 The HOM has demonstrated *** leadership by promoting practices that help ensure employee safety in this hardship environment. Issues were noted, however, with respect to tensions within the office ***.
1.6.3 The commercial economic team is functioning well, having placed a good degree of focus on setting priorities and results, rather than activities. The region under the mission's accreditation is among the wealthiest in Latin America, thus the program functions as the lead on investment for Mexico, and also focussed a good amount of effort on supporting Canadian investments near the border with the U.S.
1.7.1 The consulate in Guadalajara is managed by an FS-04 Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner. She is supported by an FS-01 Trade Commissioner, three LES in the commercial economic section and four LES in the consular and common services sections. The Consul *** by staff and morale is good. She is recognized as *** leader who encourages team work and information sharing. There is good communication and coordination within the mission.
1.7.2 The consular section is very active servicing the estimated 4,000 full time Canadian residents in the region, which increases to 8,000-10,000 in the winter. Strong ties with the US consular section have also been developed, resulting in training being extended to Canadian staff free of charge by the US Consulate General last year prior to the Pan Am Games.
Recommendations to the Mission
1.8.1 The mission should ensure that mechanisms are in place to consult all partners within the mission on mission administrative and management matters which could directly or indirectly impact program delivery and support provided to staff.
1.8.2 Mission management should ensure that all staff has performance management plans or agreements in place and that professional development opportunities are discussed.
1.8.3 A sub-committee should be established to address economic and trade policy/Issues. Members should include, but not be limited to, officers from both the CE and FPDS teams.
1.8.4 A virtual visits team should be created, along with the associated tools and guidelines, to ease the burden on programs and leverage existing centres of expertise.
Recommendations to Headquarters (HQ)
1.8.5 The Physical Resources Bureau (ARD), in consultation with the mission and the North America Programs and Operations Bureau (GND), should establish an action plan to address key property issues in Mexico City for approval by senior management.
1.8.6 GND, in consultation with the mission in Mexico City, should revisit the organizational structure and assess whether or not:
- *** and
- The differentiation between the Consulate General in Monterrey and the Consulate in Guadalajara ***.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
1.8.1 The Mission has created two new committees for consultation on administrative and management issues. Firstly an "Expanded CMM" has been created, composed of all Program Managers (and Section Heads), as well as the HOM in Monterrey and Head of Consulate in Guadalajara and the provincial representatives. This committee, which met for the first time in May 2012, will meet every three or four months to discuss Mission- wide management issues. In addition, a sub-committee on human resources policy has been created (its first meeting was held in June 2012) with widely-representative membership from across the Embassy. Implemented June 2012.
1.8.2 CMM has reviewed outstanding PMPs, and managers have been reminded to complete them in a timely manner. Professional development opportunities are discussed as part of the PMP process, and training needs which are identified are reported through the PMP process to the Mission Training Coordinator. In progress for September 2012.
1.8.3 The HOM has created a discussion forum, which she will chair, on cross-cutting issues primarily of economic, education/academic and social policy interest. This forum, designed primarily but not exclusively to maximize cooperation and synergies between the CE and FPDS programs, will meet for the first time in August 2012 and every 3-4 months thereafter. Implemented July 2012.
1.8.4 The visits team that was created to deal with multiple G20 events in 2012 will be formalized, most notably with a view to informing staff of Standard Operating Procedures and their own specific responsibilities (and back-ups). A visits check list will be established and posted on the mission's intranet site. In progress for October 2012.
HQ Actions and Timeframes
1.8.5 The Physical Resources Bureau (ARD) has a strategy in place related to the Official Residence (OR) and Chancery in Mexico and will work with Mission and GND to address the "appropriate representational footprint" question in order to advance those plans.
The substantive (owned)***. A new long term *** is planned for FY 2012/13, to be selected in accordance with the new guidelines linked to the Departmental Deficit measures of Budget 2012. The issue of appropriate representational footprint for Mexico will be addressed with mission and GND and decided within this context. The temporary (leased) OR will be retained in the short term only.
ARD plans a revised feasibility phase analysis for a major project ***. This process is dependent on many fundamental inputs, including the results of seismic analyses of the chancery properties now expected in Q1, 2013. One element of the feasibility analysis will be to update the Mission space program to reflect deficit measures of Budget 2012 direction to adopt Government of Canada space standards. Space program development will also aim to clarify the new vision of "appropriate representational footprint" within the chancery. GND, mission and other stakeholders will be consulted as part of a requirements assessment and project direction. This major project is years away from full definition and implementation. Meanwhile, reconfiguration of the vacated CIC space is now complete, other minor works will be programmed, and a consensus interim view of representational footprint will also be sought through working with GND and Mission.
GND comments: GND will collaborate with ARD and the mission in the development of an action plan to address key property issues in Mexico City. Finding a more durable and responsive property arrangement in Mexico will be a departmental priority.
1.8.6 GND will work with the mission in Mexico City in the short term to assess the organizational structure and recommend whether or not;
- ***; and
- The differentiation between the Consulate General in Monterrey and the Consulate in Guadalajara appropriately ***. In progress for December 2012.
Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service (FPDS)
2.1.1 The FPDS program in Mexico is headed by an EX-02 program manager who oversees the political, economic and public affairs sections. In total there are eight CBS and 12 LES, including an AS-01 administrative assistant reporting to the program manager. Respectively, the sections are headed by an FS-04 political counsellor supported by 3 CBS and 3 LES, an FS-03 public affairs first secretary supported by 6 LES and a FS-03 economic counsellor supported by 2 LES and one Canada Fund contractor.
2.1.2 The program is resourced as per the budget details provided below.
|Post Initiative Fund||46,500|
|North American Platform Program||17,000|
2.1.3 The program applies Canada's foreign policy as it relates to Mexico and the region, including on the multilateral front. Priority work includes justice reform, human rights, narcotics trafficking as well as regional stability and economics - linked to Canada's Engagement in the Americas and North American policies and initiatives. The program is engaged in ****and facilitates whole-of-government security cooperation. It assesses domestic and international economic developments in order to advance Canadian prosperity and global governance interests. The public affairs section provides other mission programs with advocacy planning and management, media support and visits coordination. Advocacy initiatives include events and networking opportunities to engage with external clients. The section also coordinates the International Experience Canada program for Mexican youth to work in Canada and promotes Canadian education marketing and understanding of Canada through academic linkages and scholarships.
2.2 Planning and Program Management
|Key FPDS Program Management Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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|
|FPDS 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 Overall, the program is operating effectively and benefits from strong formal and informal communications including annual retreats and regular meetings. The management team is motivated, cooperative and has extensive experience. Morale is positive across the program due in large part to the high regard for program and mission management. Roles and responsibilities are clear among staff and PMPs are up-to-date and used effectively as a performance and development tool.
2.2.2 Program planning is taking place at the section level based on the MPR objectives. Activities and results are well aligned with GOC priorities. Each section has independently developed planning mechanisms to suit their needs. To ensure consistency and provide a base for monitoring and review, a high level operational workplan for the program should be developed and formalized. This workplan would serve to operationalize objectives by articulating strategies, activities, expected results, outputs and performance indicators, as well as demonstrating areas for collaboration and the application of modern advocacy principles.
2.2.3 While regular staff meetings are held at the section level, LES indicated that periodic all- program meetings could improve information sharing and allow for common issues to be raised and discussed. Management, in consultation with staff, should determine appropriate objectives and timing for these meetings and monitor their effectiveness.
|Key FPDS Implementation Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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 program 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 Overall, the work of the program is aligned well with departmental priorities and the principles of the New Way Forward. The program also demonstrates leadership in coordinating whole-of-government issues and fostering cooperation with partner departments and agencies to develop and support the mission advocacy plan, coordinate and provide logistical support to visits, and seek input and collaboration on relevant issues such as security cooperation.
2.3.2 The political section, headed by an FS-04 political counsellor, has an LE-05 administrative assistant, FS-03 GSRP officer, FS-03 officer responsible ***, and an FS-01 officer focussed on human rights and general bi-lateral issues. A congressional relations unit headed by an LE-08 officer acting in an LE-09 position, with an LE-06 providing support, completes the team. The officer responsible for *** also has a contractor to support program coordination. The team is working effectively, meeting objectives and benefits from good morale. The section meets every two weeks to share information and discuss issues. Priorities are established based on input from the HOM, the program manager and consultation with the Geographic Bureau. The advocacy plan is reviewed in the context of the New Way Forward with emphasis placed on developing and maintaining contacts and working on a whole-of-government basis. The congressional relations team provides valuable advice and information, which is particularly relevant given the up-coming federal election in Mexico.
2.3.3 The public affairs section, headed by an FS-03 first secretary, has an LE-09 academic relations officer, an LE-09 education marketing officer, an LE-05 administrative assistant, an LE- 06 program assistant as well as a communications and press relations unit with an LE-07 and LE-05. The section develops and manages an annual advocacy plan with input from the other mission programs, partner departments, provinces and local Canadian business and academic communities. Over 35 events were held last year with direct support of the public affairs section in the areas of media and academic relations, education marketing and cultural networking.
2.3.4 Education marketing makes up a large component of the public affairs section's workload, requiring the full time effort of an LE-09 officer. ***. The program has made efforts*** to ensure productive use of resources and achievement of objectives.
2.3.5 The economic section, headed by an FS-03 economic counsellor, has an LE-09 analyst, LE-06 assistant and a contractor to support the coordination of the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI). This small team works effectively in terms of reporting, analysing and advising on domestic and international economic developments. Specifically topics include environment, the macroeconomic developments and stability, G20, environmental policy, labour policy and development issues. The team was reinforced by contractors and interns during the lead-up to the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, given the workload associated with management of Canadian interests during Mexico's G20 Presidency. This included providing support to several G20 ministerial missions, visits of senior officials as well an array of G20 associated events. The mission intends to review the staffing situation in the economic affairs section following the conclusion of the Mexican G20 presidency.
2.3.6 At present, organizing and supporting official visits (73 in 2011) consumes a large amount of program resources which are assigned on an ad hoc basis in keeping with the visit's purpose and/or the availability of staff. Without documented procedures and processes and designated staff, undue strain is placed on the section responsible. As noted in mission management, a virtual visits team would better support program needs and leverage existing centres of expertise.
2.3.7 The implementation of a sub-committee on trade and economic issues, recommended in mission management, should improve overall coordination and collaboration between the CE and FPDS programs to leverage synergies vis-à-vis economic reporting, advocacy, mutual support for visits/events and general information sharing. This could be further enhanced by delegating an employee from each program to attend the corresponding regular meetings.
Each section has a program assistant reporting to the section head. There are two LE-06 positions, one of which has an acting LE-05 incumbent (***leave replacement), and the third position is an LE-05. In order to ensure that these classifications are valid, a review of the respective responsibilities and duties is required. As well, within the communications and press relations unit in the public affairs section there is no clear delineation between officer and operational support level work. ***. An assessment should be conducted that focuses on requirements ***.
2.4 Performance Measurement
|Key FPDS Performance Measurement Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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 Program performance review is based on the key priorities and objectives outlined in the MPR. On-going activity and related progress is reviewed at regular program and section meetings and overall at year end prior to the new MPR process. Individual performance is reviewed periodically throughout the year and at year end through the PMP process. Further to the development of a more comprehensive workplan for the program, the development of targets and performance indicators will help validate the related strategies and activities identified and will allow monitoring and reporting of results at all levels.
2.4.2 Hospitality activities are properly documented and in alignment with mission objectives. Program officers are appropriately allocated funds based on the officer's objectives and workplans.
2.5 Recommendations Recommendations to the Mission
2.5.1 A workplan should be developed for the program in line with a mission advocacy strategy. This plan should include targets and performance indicators.
2.5.2 Consideration should be given to holding regular staff meetings at the program level.
2.5.3 A review should be undertaken of the *** to ensure appropriate classification.
2.5.4 Staff resources devoted to education marketing need to be reviewed ***.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
2.5.1 A program-wide planning document is being developed, integrating main priority areas of the three sections in line with the MPR and the FPDS advocacy strategy. In progress for September 2012.
2.5.2 Meetings (including the annual retreat), chaired by the FPDS Manager, will be held on quarterly basis to ensure top-down and cross-section information sharing. Implemented July 2012.
2.5.3 FPDS managers have agreed on a plan to ***with a view to better reflecting job descriptions. A proposal will be submitted to CORA with HQ geographic support in September 2012. In progress for Fall 2012.
2.5.4 A work plan has been developed to ensure better use of resources involved in education marketing ***. Implemented July 2012.
Commercial Economic (CE)
3.1.1 The Commercial Economic (CE) Program in Mexico City is headed by an EX-02 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC). The STC is supported by three managers (one FS-04, one FS-03 and one CO-03), nine trade commissioners (TCs) (one FS-03, one FS-01, four LE-09 and three LE-08) and nine trade commissioner assistants (TCAs) (eight LE-06 and one LE-05). The STC also provides strategic advice and guidance to the one STC in Guadalajara and one STC in Monterrey. The program's financial resources are provided below.
|Client Service Fund (CSF)||247,565|
|Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Fund||8,000|
|North American Partnership Program (NAPP)||114,824|
3.1.2 Mexico's population is over 114 million people. It is one of the world's largest economies, ranked as the thirteenth largest gross domestic product (GDP). As a NAFTA partner and a Latin American country, Mexico is a key commercial ally for Canada. Mexico is an important market for Canadian goods in addition to a well-developed manufacturing platform. For Canadian business, however***. The program's priority sectors are agriculture and agri-food, aerospace, automotive, information and communication technologies (ICT), mining and oil and gas.
3.2 Planning and Program Management
|Key CE Program Management Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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 well and is delivering on its commitments; the team is dedicated, works well together and effectively carries out activities as per the commercial economic program (CEP) plan. Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey collectively produce one CEP plan for the country. The plan is aligned with the mission planning and reporting (MPR) document and Government of Canada priorities.
3.2.2 Planning within the program is complex due to its multiple delivery points, the different policies that apply to the various sources of funding and the high level of interest in the Mexican market expressed by numerous partners. A sectorial approach was adopted to meet this year's planning requirements. This resulted in the program developing a strategic, vertically-integrated, widely-consulted and detailed business plan that focussed on maximizing the impact for Canadian business clients. However, this approach is less focussed horizontally and therefore hinders the sharing of best practices between officers and across sectors. Sharing action plans horizontally amongst officers in the mission would allow for a broader understanding of the program's collective goals.
3.2.3 The STC in Mexico City was formerly responsible for the consulates in Monterrey and Guadalajara. Both consulates now report directly to the HOM in Mexico City. As a result, there is a lack of clarity with respect to the roles and responsibilities of the consulates with the CE program in Mexico City. The HOM needs to set clearer expectations as to how the programs should work together.
3.2.4 The CE program in Mexico City created a human resource (HR) plan which details its focus for priority sectors, its human resource capabilities and areas of responsibility. This HR plan provides a description of the program's responsibilities and a succession plan. The plan is considered a good practice that other sections within the embassy or other CE sections of similar size in other missions should consider adopting.
3.2.5 The Market Information Centre (MIC), Mexico's InfoCentre, is managed by an LE-09 who oversees the work of four MIC employees. There has been confusion as to the responsibilities of the LE-09 vis-à-vis his FS-03 manager. These roles and responsibilities need to be clearly differentiated. In addition, the roles and responsibilities of the MIC employees also need to be better defined in respect to assistance provided to officers in priority sectors versus work on non-priority sectors.
3.2.6 The CE program includes an office manager position that deals with IMS data entry, contract revision and invoice processing before they are sent to the finance section.***.
3.2.7 The governance structure of the program ensures regular and structured interactions between managers. Management meetings occur every week including a teleconference with the STCs in Guadalajara and Monterrey. ***. More effort is needed to ensure the downstream communication of priorities, objectives, policies and planned activities to all staff. Currently, the agriculture section holds regular team meetings, whereas the other two sections do not. Communication can be enhanced by implementing staff meetings within all three sub-sections in the CE program.
|Key CE Implementation Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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 providing effective services and is actively working to identify and promote business opportunities for clients. Activities are well aligned with mission objectives and the implementation of a regional approach is demonstrating results in terms of improved sector planning and overall performance measurement. Sector officers hold continuous consultations within the Mexican trade network and with the sector groups at headquarters.
3.3.2 The program is using TRIO adequately. The TRIO champion is working with officers to ensure entries are appropriate, accurate and entered in a timely fashion. The STC feels that the TRIO statistics accurately reflect the actual services delivered and outcalls that have taken place throughout the year.
3.3.3 In addition, Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey are maintaining good TRIO entry partially due to the hiring of students and emergency employees, who in addition help with logistics for projects and events. Guadalajara has also hired contractors who create company profiles by going on outcalls with TCs to collect background information on local firms. Although this gives TCs additional time to focus on other priorities, the value for money was not demonstrated clearly.
3.3.4 The MIC, generally recognized as a model within the Trade Commissioner Service, is comprised of TCAs who are responsible for supporting TCs on priority sectors and aim to improve service to clients in non-priority sectors. The STC has introduced a set target for service delivery, outcalls and leads for all TCs. For developmental purposes, the STC has also assigned the TCAs with set targets for their non-priority sectors. This change in the MIC has translated into the TCs reporting a decrease in support provided to priority sectors. Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the TCAs may help eliminate confusion within the team.
3.4 Performance Measurement
|Key CE Performance Measurement Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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 As previously mentioned in 3.3.4, the STC introduced a variety of set TRIO-monitored targets for all employees. 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. These targets trigger an ongoing communication of performance measurement between employees and managers. Overall results achieved are reviewed and recorded in the CEP plan by employees and are used to guide the development of future years' plans.
3.4.2 Hospitality activities reviewed are in line with CE and mission objectives and expenses are properly justified, including through an evaluation of their value for money.
Recommendations to the Mission
3.5.1 In consultation with the North America Programs and Operations Bureau (GND), the change in reporting relationship of the consulates from the STC to the HOM should be supported by a clear definition of roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders and reflected in PMPs and PMAs.
3.5.2 The program should clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the LE-09 manager of the MIC versus the FS-03 manager.
3.5.3 The STC should ensure that the activities in priority sectors continue to receive the support they need, from the TCAs in the MIC, to maximize their impact.
3.5.4 The STC should ensure downward communication is consistent across the program, including by implementing staff meetings within all three sub-sections.
3.5.5 The weekly management meetings should be supported by an agenda, to which all managers can contribute, and a record of decision should be issued to all staff.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
3.5.1 The STC in Mexico has advised all common services in Mexico of the new relationship and it is reflected in his draft PMA. PMA and PMPs of the HOM and Head of Office for Monterey and Guadalajara now reflect the direct reporting relationship to the HOM in Mexico City. Implemented June 2012.
3.5.2 Roles and responsibilities for the LES manager of the MIC and the FS manager of this LE-09 have been reviewed again in the context of the end of year PMP. ***. In progress for September 2012.
3.5.3 Priority sector TCs have direct relationships with a single officer in the MIC to provide for continuity and clarity of service. Service standards for the MIC were established last year and will be reviewed again this fiscal year. Implemented June 2012.
3.5.4 All Mexico City trade management have implemented staff meetings for information sharing and more frequent all staff meetings will be scheduled (monthly). Implemented June 2012.
3.5.5 This has been implemented in June 2012.
4.1.1 The mission has eleven consular points of service in Mexico, comprising the embassy in Mexico City, the consulate general in Monterrey, the consulate in Guadalajara, the honorary consulate in Tijuana and seven consular agencies located in: Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, Mazatlan, Oaxaca, Playa del Carmen, and Puerto Vallarta.
4.1.2 The consular program, including the network of consular agencies and the honorary consul, is managed by an AS-07 Deputy Management Consular Officer (DMCO) under the general direction of the MCO. Day-to-day consular operations in Mexico City are the responsibility of an AS-06 DMCO, who is supported by three *** senior officers including an LE- 09 consular officer, an LE-08 emergency management officer, and an LE-08 passport and citizenship officer. In addition, there are seven LE-06 assistants (four passport, two consular and one citizenship). Most agencies have two consular officers (LE-09 and LE-07). The financial resources available to the program are provided below.
4.1.3 The mission provided 6,494 passport services in 2011 and ranks as the third highest passport-producing mission worldwide. The number of cases of lost or stolen passports is high and 437 emergency travel documents (ETDs) were issued last year. The mission processes approximately 800 citizenship applications per year. As notarial requests are not consistently tracked, no annual figures are available. There are 3,742 Canadian citizens in the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) database, however, the estimated number of Canadians residing in Mexico is 75,000. This includes a very large Mennonite community.
4.1.4 In addition to the Canadians who live in Mexico, the client demographic includes high numbers of visiting Canadians. Mexico is Canada's second most popular tourist destination and receives more than 1.5 million Canadian tourists each year. There is also a large number of Canadian "snowbirds", who reside there on a seasonal basis.
4.1.5 A high level of attention is focused on consular cases in Mexico by both domestic and international media. This has increased the level of stress, effort and co-ordination required by the mission to ensure a consistent level of service and to ensure the appropriate information is released to all interested parties.
4.2 Program Management
|Key Consular Program Management Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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 Daily management of the program is a combined effort of the two DMCOs with close collaboration with the MCO. In practical application, however, the roles and responsibilities of the DMCOs often overlap and can cause some confusion in terms of direct lines of reporting and accountability for subordinate staff.
4.2.2 The AS-07 provides overall guidance and some mentoring of the AS-06, *** senior consular officers.
4.2.3 All senior consular officers are *** and understand their responsibilities. Staff is provided with performance objectives, however, there is no overall consular workplan in place to facilitate monitoring and follow-up of key activities. The lack of a workplan can create challenges for staff and management, especially during absences of one or both of the DMCOs. A workplan is recommended to record tasks such as official visits, program activities, visitations, reports, training to better organize and structure the program overall.
4.2.4 Regular monthly teleconferences are held with senior consular staff, including those from the consular agencies, to review priorities, discuss policies and procedures and improve standardization of services. Within the consular program in Mexico City, however, meetings are held on an ad hoc basis. Staff would benefit from regular meetings to review case management and to improve internal communications.
4.2.5 The Mission Emergency Plan (MEP) is in the final stages of completion and a training exercise will be conducted in March 2012 in cooperation with the Emergency Planning and Training Division (CEP). This will be an excellent opportunity for mission staff to familiarize themselves with their role in an emergency setting and at the same time review and refine the MEP. The current level of resourcing in the mission allows for a quick deployment of resources throughout the country, which greatly improves the mission's ability to respond to any crisis.
4.2.6 The mission hosts an annual consular conference and invites all consular agencies to participate. This is a good opportunity for the officers to meet and share ideas as well as participate in training sessions. Guest speakers are selected from the mission, HQ, local authorities and professionals. These conferences are a good practice which helps to strengthen the working relationship between staff in the different offices.
4.2.7 The program, in conjunction with all consular agencies, has conducted frequent outreach with local authorities, like-minded missions, residents, Mennonite colonies, snowbird communities, tourist resorts, cruise lines and local tour companies. Good communication is also maintained with the existing wardens, ***.
4.3 Client Service
|Key Consular Client Service Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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 dedicated program staff is providing a good level of services to clients and meeting client service standards as set out by both the department and Passport Canada. Consular staff across all offices is able to provide services to clients in both official languages.
4.3.2 Service standards, fee schedules and a copy of the official receipt were not consistently posted in public areas at all points of service. The availability of this information will better inform clients and help manage their expectations. While the mission has a good selection of pamphlets and forms available, in some consular agencies applications were over four years old. It is important to provide clients with current versions of all documentation.
4.3.3 Feedback forms are available in the consular booths at the mission, and are provided to clients by the consular assistants. The forms are deposited in a locked drop box available in the waiting area and are regularly reviewed by the DMCOs. However, the key to the drop box is held by the consular assistants who provide the service. As a best practice, access to feedback form drop boxes should be controlled by a DMCO.
4.3.4 Three of the consular agencies were visited as a part of the inspection (Acapulco, Playa del Carmen and Puerto Vallarta), whereas the remainder were interviewed by telephone. There is a very good working relationship between the agencies and the mission. Overall, all consular agencies indicated their satisfaction with the support and guidance provided by the mission. Several officers stated that they were very appreciative of the knowledge and expertise provided by the team in Mexico City.
4.3.5 Objectives for the year were provided to the honorary consul in Tijuana, and memorandums of understanding with the two consulates were signed in 2009. However, there is no service agreement yet in place for any of the consular agencies.
4.3.6 Three of the consular agencies operate on a full-time basis (Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Puerto Vallarta) the other agencies are only open part-time. Several of the part-time agencies reported difficulties in completing administrative tasks within their contracted hours during the peak season of November to April.
4.3.7 Although the Emergency Watch and Response Centre handles the majority of after- hours calls to the mission, the program requires that one staff from every office be on standby at all times. The LES terms and conditions of employment for Mexico do not address standby situations and staff is currently compensated only if they are called to take action in an emergency. This situation creates a hardship for staff, especially in agencies with only two staff to share in the rotation.
4.3.8 The mission is working closely with the Consular Operations Bureau (CND) to ensure that a consistent level of service is provided to all Canadians throughout Mexico. Case management is challenging given the high scrutiny from the media and interest by senior management. High profile cases receiving special attention can set precedents which make subsequent cases more difficult to manage.
4.4 Internal Controls
|Key Consular Internal Control Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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, and 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 internal controls were in place and in compliance with policies and procedures, ***. Personal information pertaining to passport applications is safely handled and stored securely. A regular destruction process is in place for completed passport applications.
4.4.3 Currently *** to the consular offices when new stocks are required. This is not in accordance with mandated security procedures.
4.4.4 Difficulties with the passport printers were noted in several consular agencies. Some of the agencies only have one printer for ETD issuance and back up procedures have not been established to respond to a breakdown. While it is still possible to issue an ETD manually until the printer is repaired, an electronically issued ETD is a far more secure document.
4.4.5 The mission has good controls for consular revenue collection. Each transaction is recorded by one individual into the cash register system and the revenues (cash or certified cheques) are safely stored ***.
4.4.6 Improvements can be made, however, to financial processes at the consular agencies related to the receipt of revenues. Currently, payments for passport and citizenship applications are made at the consular agencies, but clients send their applications to the Embassy for processing. Time would be saved and cash handling would be reduced by having passport and citizenship clients send their payment together with their applications directly to the Embassy. Recommendations can be found in the finance section of this report.
Recommendations to the Mission
4.5.1 Roles and responsibilities of the AS-07 and AS-06 consular DMCOs should be clarified.
4.5.2 A consular workplan should be developed.
4.5.4 All offices should have service standards, fee schedule and official receipt posted in both official languages.
4.5.5 Service agreements should be prepared for the consular agencies and reviewed yearly.
4.5.6 The mission, in consultation with CND, should review the *** and operational budgets.
4.5.8 *** must be transferred between offices in accordance with approved security procedures.
4.5.9 Back-up procedures should be developed to address printer breakdowns at the consular agencies.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
4.5.1 Discussions are on-going. Roles and responsibilities will be defined ***. In progress for October 2012.
4.5.2 A consular work plan, travel plan and training plan for 2012 and 2013 have been developed and presented to staff in late June, 2012. Implemented June 2012.
4.5.3 ***. In progress for December 2012.
4.5.4 Offices have been reminded of this requirement via the monthly conference call as well as e-mail communication. This requirement has been added to the visit checklist so that it is verified by a consular officer from Mexico City during annual operational visits.
Implemented June 2012
4.5.5 Service agreements will be developed together with the embassy administration section (IT, Property, Finance and HR) based on the MOU's already developed for the consulates. In progress for December 2012.
4.5.6 CNO has advised ***. Decision has been communicated to staff. Implemented June 2012.
4.5.7 Effective June 2012:
4.5.8 *** will be transferred to all points of service by CBS. Embassy will keep track of CBS visits to regions where consular agencies are located, so that *** deliveries can be coordinated. Implemented July 2012.
4.5.9 Back-up printers and scanners will be purchased and installed for all consular agencies. In progress for September 2012.
4.5.10 Obsolete *** have been sent back to HQ following proper security procedures. An inventory list has been prepared. The mission is in the process of having *** acknowledge responsibility in writing. Physical inventory will be verified annually as part of operational visits. Implemented July 2012.
5.1.1 The Common Services Program is managed by an *** AS-07 MCO acting in an EX-01 position. She is supported by a team of five CBS and 43 LES. The program is responsible for providing common services to 14 programs and 251 staff located in Mexico City, two consulates in Monterrey and Guadalajara and seven consular agency offices. The IM-IT section also provides services to the missions in Guatemala and El Salvador.
5.1.2 The visa imposition for Mexican citizens in 2009 led to the rapid growth of the CIC Program and the addition of an annex, which opened in April 2011. This occurred over the same period as the addition of the seven consular agency offices, resulting in an increase in the network's staff complement from 161 in 2009 to 251 in 2012 and the addition of seven physical sites outside of Mexico City. While the program was provided additional resources, demands have increased dramatically and most sections are experiencing high workloads.
|Key Common Services Program Management Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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|
5.1.3 Overall the program is functioning ***. The MCO's management style*** resulting in good team spirit and morale. Her team of DMCOs appreciate her *** and there is a good level of communication and information sharing within the group. However, more emphasis needs to be placed on providing more *** to ensure that the program as a whole is working to achieve defined objectives.
5.1.4 DMCOs are knowledgeable in their respective areas and, as such, the MCO allows them to manage the day-to-day operations and only becomes involved when required. The MCO holds weekly team meetings which also include the Security Program Manager, as well as weekly bilateral meetings with each DMCO (finance, HR and property).
5.1.5 By all accounts the mission responded well to accommodate the large influx of CIC staff and the opening of the annex. While the workloads remain high, the crisis period has passed and the mission has entered a period of relative stability. The program will now need to focus on reviewing existing structures to ensure they can adequately support mission operations in the long term. The mission is also on an HQ priority list ***. However, a reorganization and/or reallocation of tasks may be necessary in some sections,***. Specific examples are noted in the respective sections of this report.
5.1.6 Due to the extensive network of offices, more attention will have to be placed on ensuring consistent levels of services are provided to staff in all locations. A workflow analysis will have to be conducted to identify areas where potential efficiencies could be gained and where duties could be reallocated. In some cases the mission in Mexico City will need to take on more tasks and in others spoke missions will need to be given greater autonomy.
5.1.7 In general, there is a need for the program to ensure policies and procedures are documented and that service standards are up to date. Increased use of the mission intranet site or the Wiki would facilitate communication and sharing of information for both staff and clients. These tools will allow clients to more effectively access information and reduce the need for staff to repeat and explain the same information to each client.
|Key Common Services Client Service Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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.||X|
5.1.8 Sections within the common services program are providing varying levels of client service. Comments received by the inspection team ranged from prompt and client oriented, to slow and unresponsive. Services from the finance and HR sections in particular, were in need of improvement. All sections should be more proactive and client focussed especially given the number of clients and their dispersed location.
5.1.9 The MCO receives informal feedback from clients at the program manager level regarding services. In a mission of this size, however, a formal feedback mechanism would assist the program to accurately monitor the level of client satisfaction and identify areas for improvement. The results could also be used to update specific client service standards.
5.1.10 Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) exist between the embassy and the consulates to describe the responsibilities of each office. It was unclear whether these documents were up to date and had been discussed with staff, as a certain level of confusion existed with regards to the provision of some common services. MOUs for the consular agencies are currently under review.
|Key Procurement and Contracting Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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|
5.1.11 The contracting process is managed by the MCO who is the chair of the Contract Review Board (CRB). As most contracts are initiated by the common services program, the MCO should participate as a non-voting advisory member. The CRB is newly formed and while terms of reference (TOR) exist, not all members have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. A yearly meeting to discuss the TORs, contracting regulations and method of review would be beneficial especially when new members are appointed.
5.1.12 While a contracting officer position has been in place for approximately two years, the mission has not taken full advantage of this resource. The role and responsibilities of this position have not been clarified and as a result contracting processes do not benefit from her expertise. The position should take on a more official role for the network of missions in Mexico to bring greater consistency and controls to contracting practices.
5.1.13 While contracting processes conducted with the advice of the contracting officer show compliance with contracting rules ***. Employees involved in contracting are knowledgeable, *** increases ***. Several useful documents are on the mission intranet site, but it was unclear if they are used.
5.1.14 Contracting *** were noted in the mission in Monterrey. This matter was addressed through a formal investigation process following the inspection and, therefore, is not included in this report.
5.1.15 The mission does not currently make use of local standing offer agreements. The physical resources section, in particular, would benefit from their use as duplication of work and lengthy buying processes for recurring items would be reduced.
5.1.16 The CMM is presented with a capital purchase plan for the current fiscal year. To assist in forward planning and budgeting, the plan could be expanded to cover multiple years. This would minimize risks related to the availability of funding for major maintenance or materiel acquisition needs.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.1.17 The program should revisit the framework in place to manage and deliver services to clients, including:
- Documenting policies and procedures;
- Updating service standards;
- Reviewing and updating MOUs with spoke missions; and
- Implementing a formal client feedback mechanism.
5.1.18 In consultation with the common services model, the program's organizational structure should be revisited to ensure resources are allocated effectively to services, and that positions are classified at an appropriate level.
5.1.19 The following improvements to procurement and contracting are required:
- The CRB should meet in person at least yearly and take on a more influential role across all points of service;
- The MCO should participate on the CRB as a non-voting advisory member;
- Contracting/procurement procedures should be communicated to all staff involved in the process, including the role of the contracting officer;
- Use of local standing offers should be expanded; and
- A multi-year acquisition plan should be developed.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.1.17 Policies and procedures are documented on the mission Intranet site.
- Service standards are up to date and based on the Interdepartmental MOU, and are now posted on the mission's Intranet site.
- MOU's are being reviewed with consulates and new MOU's are being developed for the consular agencies.
- A formal feedback mechanism is being established.
- New Finance Service Standards have been approved by mission management.
- Procedures are actively being updated, documented and communicated to stakeholders. In progress for November 2012.
5.1.18 Some organizational changes have already taken place at the mission and a few other changes are being explored. Requests have been sent to HQ regarding changes in classification and the request for additional resources. Implemented 2012.
5.1.19 The MCO will now participate in CRB as a non-voting advisory member.
- The CRB will meet in person at least annually.
- CRB members will be provided with additional guidance to carry out their roles. Responsibility for procurement and contracting has now been centralized n the role of the mission contracting officer.
- Procedures have been communicated to all parties in Mexico as well as in Guadalajara and Monterrey through a visit by the contracting officer earlier this year.
- Physical Resources section has implemented the use of Standing Offer Agreement for works such as painting, furniture refinishing, carpentry, moving services, draperies, etc.
- The Embassy follows departmental guidelines for life cycle replacements within the MATs, for vehicle purchases and IT equipment, subject to the availability of capital funding from HQ. Implemented 2012.
5.2 Human Resources
5.2.1 The HR functions at the mission are the responsibility of the DMCO HR. The DMCO *** and is also responsible for the management of the general services section. For HR related matters, he is supported by an LE-07 HR officer and two HR assistants at the LE-06 and LE-05 levels. In the last year, 34 staffing and two classification actions have been conducted as well as one grievance and two conflict of interest cases.
|Key HR Management Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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 DMCO meets monthly with staff in the HR section who appreciates *** approach. Most elements of HR management and internal controls are in place, however, staff perception of HR practices is poor. While processes may adhere to guidelines and efforts have been made to communicate with applicants, staff and spouses stated that that HR processes lacked transparency. While workload and lack of resources may present challenges to the provision of services, more attention needs to be placed on internal and spousal applicants as clients in order to change this perception.
5.2.3 The workload of the section is high and despite the substantial increase in mission size, there has not been any corresponding growth in the HR section. ***. The HR officer has been in the position for ten months and the two HR assistants have only been acting in their positions for five months. A section meeting was held recently to discuss the workload and distribution of duties to identify areas where efficiencies could be gained.
5.2.4 Several good initiatives have been implemented by the section including a two day 'Embassy 101' course for new employees which is conducted twice a year. This course provides information on common services, programs, benefits, competitions, values and ethics and harassment. A yearly welcome session is also held for new CBS and their dependents to introduce common services staff and explain the key services provided by the mission.
5.2.5 An employee survey on job satisfaction was conducted in June 2011. The results were positive and shared with management and staff. The section plans to conduct the survey on a yearly basis.
5.2.6 The mission-developed electronic HR management system "Hercules" allows the section to effectively and efficiently manage employee leave and overtime. Both staff and managers are able to access the system to submit, approve and track requests, and reports are used by the HR and finance sections as well as managers to monitor balances.
5.2.7 New employees are provided with an arrival briefing from the HR section as well as a checklist to guide the orientation process. The checklist includes meetings with the property, IM- IT and security sections. There is also a CBS departure checklist that identifies activities to be performed by CBS prior to their departure, ensuring that all necessary activities take place. A similar process for LES departures is not yet in place.
5.2.8 The HR assistant has been designated as the mission training coordinator. Information gathered from staff PMPs form the basis of the yearly mission training plan which has a budget of $45,000.
5.2.9 While completion of staff PMPs are monitored and reminders are sent, certain sections in the common services area had not yet completed their PMPs due to workloads.
5.2.10 Position files and personnel files are maintained in separate filing cabinets that are locked after office hours. The section has recently undertaken a project to review all files to ensure they are organized and contain all required documents. Use of the Locally-Engaged Staff Services Bureau (ALD) filing checklists has facilitated this process and the project is nearing completion.
5.2.11 As noted in the consular section, the current LES terms and conditions of employment for Mexico do not incorporate an element on standby situations. At present, those on standby are not compensated unless required to respond to an emergency. One staff member from every office is required to be on stand-by at all times which is especially difficult in offices where there are only two staff members to share in the rotation. While it is a consular decision to have staff on standby, the department needs to ensure that a consistent approach to compensation is in place.
|Key HR Internal Control Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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|
5.2.12 The DMCO is ***. Files reviewed contained all required documents and demonstrated sound processes. As noted earlier, however, many issues and questions were raised by staff regarding HR processes during the inspection. In some instances, information and feedback were requested but not received. This indicates a need for a clear communication strategy, identified recourse mechanisms and consistent responses to staff inquiries. In some cases, the actions of hiring managers may have contributed to staff perceptions. It may be beneficial to outline hiring manager responsibilities more clearly at the beginning of the process so the requests from applicants are addressed appropriately.
5.2.13 A meeting with spouses was conducted by the inspection team. Spousal employment was raised as an issue, specifically poor communication and a perceived lack of transparency in hiring processes. The HR section should continue efforts to increase awareness and ensure feedback is always provided. The DMCO tries to meet with spouses on arrival to discuss spousal employment, but this has not been a consistent practice. A review of the mission and spousal employment report may also be needed to ensure the information is up to date and accurate regarding job opportunities at the mission.
5.2.14 The section's biggest client is the CIC program, both as the largest program but also due to the high number emergency employees hired during peak periods. The use of generic competitions and the establishment of eligibility lists have enabled the section to better manage the additional workload. This has been counterbalanced, however, by the fact that many competitions are won by internal candidates, resulting in a need to permanently or temporarily back-fill the position vacated by the successful candidate.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.2.15 The section should enhance efforts to communicate with respect to HR processes and the expectations placed on applicants and hiring managers.
5.2.16 Efforts to improve communication with spouses regarding employment opportunities should be made.
5.2.17 LES departure procedures should be developed in consultation with key sections, e.g. IM-IT and security.
Recommendations to the Locally-Engaged Staff Services Bureau (ALD)
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.2.15 The embassy has put in place a new planning and coordinating committee dedicated to HR issues. Through this committee we hope to improve the way HR processes are being carried on. Further informative measures should be implemented by the HR section in order to increase the knowledge and understanding of employees of HR processes. In addition the committee will be asked to review and prepare a feedback policy following internal competitions in order to improve communications with employees. In progress for October 2012.
5.2.16 Almost half of the mission's CBS staff will leave in summer 2012. In the fall, HR will be conducting outreach communication sessions with spouses upon arrival. The HR section has already started to share current job openings with incoming spouses. Additional information will also be put on the HR website. In addition, a policy on spousal employment will be developed and reviewed by the new HR committee. In progress for October 2012.
5.2.17 HR is implementing a departure process for LES, developed in consultation with all relevant sections of the embassy. In progress for September 2012.
ALD Actions and Timeframes
5.3 Physical Resources
5.3.1 The physical resources functions are the responsibility of an AS-06 DMCO. He is assisted by an LE-08 chancery manager, an LE-08 annex manager, an LE-07 property manager and an LE-07 client service manager and an additional 11 support staff. The DMCO has *** at large missions and a *** technical background. Given the complexity of the operations and planned projects, the mission would benefit from continued staffing of the DMCO position by an individual with technical and large mission experience.
5.3.2 The section is responsible for the chancery, annex, official residence (OR) and 56 staff quarters (SQ). The property portfolio also includes the old OR, vacated in 2009 following a failed seismic study, and a vacant property adjacent to the chancery which is currently used as a warehouse. The section also provides support to two consulates and seven consular agencies throughout Mexico.
|Key Physical Resources Management Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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 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 functioning *** and the DMCO is *** in identifying areas for improvement and addressing shortcomings in the section's work. The section has started to look at a country- wide approach to ensure a consistent level of service is provided to all offices. The section's service standards are being revised and will be communicated to clients once approved by CMM.
5.3.4 The section underwent a number of important changes over the past year, with the creation of additional positions and changes to reporting relationships. Now that the growth stage is complete, the section should re-assess its organizational structure to ensure it meets ongoing client needs and provides a more consistent approach to overall resource and project management.
5.3.5 Regular section meetings are held to review the status of projects and plan. It was noted, however, that LES officers tended to work in partial isolation focusing on their specific areas of responsibility and interacting little with other officers. As a result, managers assign work to staff under their direction with little awareness as to whether or not they are more acutely needed elsewhere. In certain cases, staff members are asked to undertake tasks that would more easily be handled by others with more appropriate training and experience. The development of a written workplan with established priorities and identified resource requirements would contribute to a more efficient work environment and team approach to the work of the section.
5.3.6 The chancery is well maintained and maintenance schedules are in place. The mission has been eager to renovate the space previously occupied by the Immigration Program, which has been vacant for the past year, to better house the consular program and alleviate other space issues. Due to multiple project assessments and frequent changes in HQ-based project managers, however, the renovations have not yet begun.
5.3.7 SQs are a mix of Crown-owned and Crown-leased apartments.***. Ten SQs were visited as part of the inspection and were in good condition.
5.3.8 A work order request system is in place, but is not used consistently by clients. A significant number of requests are made by email, phone or in person. This complicates tracking and increases chances that work orders are not properly addressed. Reminders to clients to use the system in place will improve efficiencies and client service.
|Key Physical Resources Internal Control Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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 SQ inventories are up to date and include photographs and information on all furniture schemes, with the year of purchase and condition. The furniture stored at the warehouse is also well maintained with efficient controls to avoid loss or damage. Controls over office supplies, however, were lacking.
5.3.10 ***. Only at a later stage does the DMCO become involved in the process. The *** as well as lead to questions regarding value-for-money. It is advisable that the ***.
5.3.11 The mission relies heavily on the same five contractors to undertake repairs and maintenance with little effort made to identify new ones. While services and standards of work performed are high, the lack of competition could lead to a situation where the mission is no longer receiving bids at fair market value.
5.3.12 Disposal of obsolete furniture, appliances and equipment are conducted in coordination with an external auction house. Files were well documented with lists of items, minimum sale value, details of successful bidders and prices for which items were sold. A review of winning bids compared to official receipts issued revealed several discrepancies in amounts. Increased oversight is required in the reconciliation process to ensure appropriate controls are in place to reduce risk and potential loss of funds.
Driver and Vehicle Management
5.3.13 Driver and vehicle management is the responsibility of the DMCO HR & General Services. Day-to-day activities are managed by an LE-06 fleet coordinator who supervises nine drivers and messengers and one contracted motorcycle messenger. Although the fleet coordinator has been in the position for less than a year he has introduced several improvements to enhance control of the unit's functions and to address issues raised by staff. For example:
- Improved controls over gas coupons using spreadsheets and spot checks of gas gauges and odometer readings;
- Systematic use of vehicle logs since October 2011;
- Introduction of guidelines for overnight stays at the chancery; and
- Improved monitoring and allocation of overtime to ensure more equitable distribution.
5.3.14 Areas for further improvement have been identified and include the need for an updated transportation policy, ensuring regular vehicle maintenance and increased CBS oversight on reconciliation of vehicle use. Currently, recurring situations are handled on a case-by-case basis i.e. overnight stays outside of Mexico City, late requests, use of taxis and after hours calls. Maintenance of vehicles is not performed regularly (one vehicle was not serviced at all last year), and vehicle maintenance books are not used or are missing. The fleet coordinator is aware of these deficiencies and is working on rectifying them.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.3.15 A workplan should be developed to guide the work of the section.
5.3.16 Clients should be encouraged to use the electronic work order request system.
5.3.17 CBS involvement in the SQ leasing process should occur earlier in the identification and negotiation process.
5.3.18 The section should ensure new contractors are invited to bid on mission projects on a regular basis.
5.3.19 The section should develop tighter controls to reconcile proceeds from auction sales.
5.3.20 Driver and vehicle management could be improved by:
- Updating the transportation policy;
- Ensuring regular vehicle maintenance is performed; and
- Increasing CBS oversight on reconciliation of vehicle use.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.3.15 A work plan is being developed which contains the relocation season plan, the ARAF projects and other section priorities for the year. In progress for September 2012.
5.3.16 Clients are regularly reminded to use the work order system. When work orders are received by email they are entered into the work order system by property staff. Implemented 2012.
5.3.17 New leases for 2012 have had CBS involvement from the onset for the search for properties or lease renewals. Implemented 2012.
5.3.18 SOA's are being prepared by all sections of Physical Resources and new contractors will be invited to participate. Mission has reached out to other friendly missions for contractor referrals. Implemented July 2012.
5.3.19 Controls are in place for auction proceeds but we will review current practices and improve prior to next auction. In progress for September 2012.
5.3.20 A new transportation policy is currently being drafted for presentation to CMM for approval. Monthly control of each vehicle by a CBS has been implemented since January 2012. A new data base will be implemented in order to track the use and maintenance of each vehicle of the fleet. In progress for October 2012.
5.4.1 The finance section is managed by an FI-03 DMCO with the support of two LE-08 officers, two LE-06 accountants and three LE-05 assistant accountants. The section has also benefited from the temporary support of an LE-05 administrative assistant, who had formerly been assigned to the annex as a combined HR/finance support position.
5.4.2 The section processes a monthly average of 300 electronic fund transfers (EFTs), and oversees the handling of consular and immigration revenues of approximately *** and *** respectively.
|Key Finance Management Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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|
5.4.3 Overall, the finance function is *** managed by the DMCO, who has demonstrated *** leadership since his arrival in the summer of 2011. Communication is strong, supported by regular staff meetings and the DMCO's open lines of communication with key clients and program managers. Improvements are required to help the section streamline processes and address high workloads.
5.4.4 While some improvements have been made, the ongoing impact of the substantial increase in the size of the CIC Program will require continued attention. Despite the strong efforts of the team, the workload exceeds their capacity and overtime is required on a regular basis. At the time of the inspection, the section had recently received a temporary resource which was helping to address the situation. The permanent addition of this position would ensure that the section is adequately resourced to provide an acceptable level of client service.
5.4.5 There is a need to revisit the section's organizational structure to ensure it makes the best use of available resources. At present, the section includes two LE-08 officers; one who functions as a client service manager and supervises no staff, and the other who operates as the financial management officer and supervises five staff. The client relationship manager should be better integrated as a member of the finance team to address workloads and delegation of tasks.
5.4.6 The DMCO has a plan to implement ten initiatives aimed at achieving the following objectives:
- Reducing workloads to manageable levels and limiting the need for overtime;
- Improving response times on priority service requests;
- Ensuring clients have the information and knowledge necessary to effectively plan and manage their budgets; and
- Enhancing internal procedures and controls (filing, value added tax, transaction accuracy, etc.).
5.4.7 Training has recently been provided to finance staff as well as staff working closely with the finance section. The section has also worked to develop internal training manuals for new and existing staff, as well as facilitate the implementation of internal controls at satellite offices. These include instructions on auditing petty cash, processing utility payments and travel advances. The section intends to develop more guides in the future.
5.4.8 Clients interviewed raised concerns that the finance section was not meeting its service standard of five days. Although the section's workload has been a large contributor to a lack of timeliness, a five day service standard is not a reasonable expectation to set for clients for all transactions. Revised standards would provide clients with realistic timeframes and allow finance staff to triage requests and plan their work. To support this, the mission may need to engage in discussions with suppliers to negotiate longer payment periods or monthly billing processes. Increased use of electronic funds transfers (EFTs) and acquisition cards could also improve the sections ability to manage workloads and meet service standards.
5.4.9 The processing of value-added tax reimbursements at the mission is an onerous task, requiring approximately one full-time finance resource. There is a need to explore opportunities to reduce the burden on the mission by establishing minimum amounts, reducing the number of claims per year, etc. It would also be worthwhile for the mission to consult with like-minded missions to determine if there are more efficient practices that could be adopted.
5.4.10 The finance section could also reduce the administrative burden through a streamlining of cost centres. At present, they are responsible for eleven cost centres, covering Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, the seven consular agency offices and the honorary consul in Tijuana. While it is important to maintain cost centres for the spoke missions, consolidating the seven consular agencies into one consular agency cost centre would provide for enhanced budget management.
5.4.11 Roles and responsibilities are clear and task lists are available that detail each team member's responsibilities. An effective back-up system is also in place to ensure work continues in the event of an absence. Employees have clear work objectives and have discussed them with their manager, although PMPs have not yet been formalized.
5.4.12 The segregation of duties was appropriate, although there is a need to restrict ***. At the time of the inspection, more than one staff member had access to these items, whereas the accountability only rested with one individual.
|Key Finance Internal Control Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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.||X|
|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|
5.4.13 Overall, internal controls were effective. Minor improvements are required to ensure that the asset and liability report is reviewed monthly as a part of the bank reconciliation process as well as ensuring that the agreement with the honorary consul includes a provision on allowable expenditures.
5.4.14 Controls over revenues were generally effective, with the majority of clients using certified cheques. An issue was noted, however, with respect to the operations of the consular agency offices. At the time of the inspection, revenue received at agency offices was deposited into the *** account and then transferred to Mexico City by means of a ***. This practice is not appropriate and exposes the employee to greater risk related to potential loss of funds. Depending on volumes, it is also possible that *** could interpret the revenues as personal rather than official.
5.4.15 Additionally, practices related to payments and the receipt of revenues at the consular agencies could be streamlined. Improvements would include:
- Reducing cash handling and reconciliation by having passport and citizenship clients send their payments together with their applications directly to the Embassy for processing; and
- Reducing the number of transactions and reliance on cash by using acquisition cards and having utilities paid directly by the Embassy.
5.4.16 Petty cash boxes are stored safely and unannounced verifications are undertaken and documented. Official receipts are used for revenues and transfers, ***.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.4.17 In addition to initiatives across all common services functions, the finance section should continue to explore options and implement initiatives to streamline operations, including:
- Increasing the use of acquisition cards and electronic fund transfers; and,
- Reducing the burden of the internal value added tax reimbursement process.
5.4.18 The asset and liability report should be reviewed monthly.
5.4.19 The consular agency cost centre structure should be streamlined.
5.4.20 Revenue received at consular agencies should be transferred to the mission in Mexico through official means ***. Additionally, the practice of receiving revenue at the agencies for applications mailed by clients to Mexico City should cease.
5.4.21 Access to *** should be limited to one person at a time.
5.4.22 Official Receipts should be systematically controlled and collected.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.4.17 Five new acquisition cards have been issued to mission staff in various areas (IT, Trade, PERPA, Guadalajara and Monterrey). New VAT recovery procedures have been put in place to reduce the workload, including more strict deadlines and an increase in the minimum recoverable purchase amount to 300 pesos from 100. Implemented April 2012.
5.4.18 Report is now being reviewed monthly. Implemented April 2012.
5.4.19 This issue has been resolved with HQ approval. In addition, procedures have been authorized to move funding between agencies without reverting to HQ. Implemented April 2012.
5.4.20 Procedures have been established by which consular agencies will now deposit revenues directly into the mission's bank account. The transition has been a joint effort between the finance and consular sections. Currently being implemented as a pilot project within a single agency and will be rolled out across the rest of the network over the summer. The means by which revenues are received is currently being reviewed in consultation with other missions, HQ and the Passport Office. In progress for October 2012.
5.4.21 The finance section will procure a special safe that only the DMCO/Finance and MCO will have access to that will contain ***. In progress for September 2012.
5.4.22 The distribution of Official Receipts is being more closely tracked within the finance section. Implemented June 2012.
5.5 Information Management - Information Technology (IM-IT)
5.5.1 The IM-IT section is led by a CS-03 Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) who is supported by a CS-02 FSITP, an LE-08 and two LE-07 Locally Engaged ITPs (LEITPs). The team provides support to approximately 251 clients at two sites in Mexico City, the consulates in Monterrey and Guadalajara and seven consular agencies. In addition, regional support is provided to missions in Guatemala and San Salvador.
|Key IM-IT Management Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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 at all locations. A weekly rotation of one staff to work at the annex has allowed for efficient management of both the annex and the chancery. The section has documented the responsibilities of each staff member and an IM-IT plan is in development. The plan will identify key priorities for the year and ensure that opportunities for cost savings, efficiencies, risk mitigation, communications and information management issues are addressed.
5.5.3 Following the growth of the CIC Program the section was provided with one additional LEITP resource. Workload pressures on the section remain heavy. The current ratio of IM-IT staff to clients is approximately 1 to 70 compared to the targeted departmental average of 1 to 50. Due to *** leadership from the FSITP team leader, who is on his *** posting to Mexico, the section is coping well. The section's workload should be monitored closely during staff absences and turnover this summer when two team members are expected to depart the mission.
5.5.4 The team makes efficient use of the Remedy system to track and follow-up on client requests and address issues. However, the IM-IT team noted that the system's slow response hinders their effectiveness.
5.5.5 The team is proactive and has taken steps to better organize its inventory by disposing of obsolete equipment and relocating key equipment for easy access ***. The section recently held a retreat in order to refocus its work and improve client services. As part of this retreat, an initial assessment of service standards was undertaken, with a plan to implement the results by the end of April 2012.
5.5.6 Given the size of the mission, partner department operations and needs of co-locators, the mission would benefit from the creation of an IM-IT committee. This committee would serve as a platform where all programs could raise issues pertaining to IM-IT and ensure follow-up.
|Key IM-IT Internal Control Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does 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|
5.5.7 Overall, IM-IT processes and controls were effective with some adjustments required to improve on an already efficient system. Mobility tools supporting the mission's contingency plans are tested regularly by the security section with the IM-IT section providing support as required. Tracking of on-loan cellular telephones as currently managed by the materiel section requires additional attention. Phones were not always *** and users are not consistently signing off when borrowing them.
5.5.8 System back-ups are completed daily and back-up tapes are securely stored ***.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.5.9 The mission should establish an IM-IT committee to provide oversight and guidance on IM-IT issues and initiatives.
5.5.11 All mobility tools should be securely stored and formally signed out by users.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.5.9 A clear mandate for this IM/IT Committee is being drafted. Other embassies that already have a committee will be consulted. Because the posting season in summer 2012 involves more than 20 CBS, participation from staff will be solicited once all the new CBS have settled in order to give the newcomers an opportunity to get involved. In progress for October 2012.
5.5.10 ***. Implemented June 2012.
5.5.11 Mobility tools are properly secured and formally signed out. This includes laptops, DISA tokens, blackberries and playbooks. IT has coordinated with the property section to also follow the same process for cellular phones. Clients are given or referred to a copy of the policy depending on which device they receive. Implemented June 2012.
Appendix A: Mexico Network Resource Fact Sheet
|1 The Crown-owned OR was vacated after a 2009 seismic study deemed it unsafe for habitation.|
|Chancery||1||1 CIC Annex|
|Official Residence||1 1||1|
|Staff Quarters||16 - Mexico City||40 - Mexico City|
2 - Monterrey
2 - Guadalajara
|Vehicles||*** - Mexico City|
*** - Monterrey
*** - Guadalajara
|Storage||1 - Mexico City|
|Head of Mission||10||2||8|
Appendix B: Frequently Used Acronyms
- Canada-based Staff
- Commercial Economic
- Committee on Mission Management
- Consular Management Information Program
- Contingency Plan
- Contract Review Board
- Client Service Fund
- Electronic Funds Transfer
- Deputy Management Consular Officer
- Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service
- Foreign Service Information Technology Professional
- Full Time Equivalent
- Fiscal Year
- Global Commerce Strategy
- Global Value Chains
- Head of Mission
- Honorary Consul
- Human Resources
- High Security Zone
- Information Communication Technologies
- Information Management - Information Technology
- Integrated Management System
- Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional
- Locally Engaged Staff
- LES Management Consultation Board
- Management Consular Officer
- Mission Emergency Plan
- Mission Financial Officer
- MM Module
- Materiel Management Module of IMS
- Mission Maintenance Work Plan
- Memorandum of Understanding
- Mission Security Officer
- Mission Property Management Plan
- North American Platform Program
- Official Residence
- Operations Zone
- Post Initiative Fund
- Program Manager
- Performance Management Agreement
- Human Resources - Performance Management Program
- Consular - Passport Management Program
- Physical Resources Information - Mission Environment
- Registration of Canadians Abroad
- Science and Technology
- Senior Trade Commissioner
- Staff Quarter
- Security Zone
- Trade Commissioner
- Trade Commissioner Assistant
- Trade Commissioner Service
- The TCS' Client Relationship Management System
- Office of the Inspector General
- Inspection Division
- Date Modified: