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Inspection of the Consulate General of Canada, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
November 5, 2013 to December 11, 2013
- 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: Mission Resources Fact Sheet - Boston
- Appendix B: Frequently Used Acronyms
Inspection Scope and Objectives
This inspection was undertaken as a remote inspection following a risk assessment and prioritization exercise by the Missions Inspection Division (ZIV) of the Office of the Inspector General. It was conducted remotely from headquarters using teleconferencing and video conferencing tools for virtual interviews with individuals and for group meetings. Original documents and electronic copies were sent to headquarters for examination.
The scope of the inspection included a review of Mission Management, Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service, Commercial Economic Program, as well Consular and Common Services programs. The virtual nature of this inspection placed limits on the scope of work. The inspection was limited to those areas that could be reviewed remotely, and consequently no opinion on the adequacy or effectiveness of controls, or recommendations for improvement, could be undertaken for physical controls such as inventories nor could properties be inspected.
The inspectors interviewed staff at the Common Service Delivery Point (CSDP) at the Consulate General, New York and the Regional Service Centre (RSCEUS) to understand the support provided to the mission and to enquire about processes and controls that affected the mission. This was not an inspection of the CSDP or the RSCEUS.
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 work was based on an assessment of materiality and related risk. This was done through communication with headquarters bureaux, including briefings by line management and the functional bureaux, review of relevant Headquarters (HQ) and mission documentation, past inspection findings, and an analysis of recurring trends and systemic issues.
Inspection issues and lines of enquiry were further refined during the inspection from information gathered through interviews with the HOM 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: Headquarters, mission management and mission operations.
A remote inspection Footnote 1 of Mission Management, the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service (FPDS), Commercial Economic program (CE), Consular and Common Services programs was conducted at the Consulate General of Canada in Boston, Massachusetts, USA from November 5 to December 11, 2013. A previous inspection of these programs took place in 2004.
The Consulate General is a small mission with four Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 16 locally engaged staff (LES). The mission is responsible for program delivery in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island.
There is also an Honorary Consul (HonCon) position based in Maine which has been vacant since December 1, 2013 when the incumbent resigned. Although a search has begun, a new appointee has not yet been identified. Historically, the HonCon's work was largely focused on CE issues (75% of time) but, in 2013, this was reduced to 25% so that his efforts could be concentrated on high priority FPDS issues (e.g. oilsands). The HonCon does not provide consular services.
The mission functions well under the leadership of an EX-03 Head of Mission (HOM) on his second assignment. The HOM meets regularly with program managers to leverage their positions, networks and resources to help them achieve their program objectives. Prior to making outcalls or undertaking travel, the HOM coordinates with staff to identify which priorities to advance. The mission operates in line with departmental and government priorities and has a strong understanding of its strengths and areas that require improvement. Morale across all programs is good although staff are continuing to adapt to recent position cuts, management changes, and a payroll/benefit issue that was the centre of an unsuccessful grievance by LES. Mission management ensures that employees remain informed of key priorities, common services policy decisions and other program activities through monthly scheduled staff meetings.
The mission's committee and management structures support effective mission governance and management. The Committee on Mission Management meets every two weeks and is viewed as an effective forum to review and make decisions on mission policies and management issues. Mission committees are meeting regularly and working effectively.
Although the mission staff numbers are below the threshold that would mandate one, there is an Occupational Health and Safety Committee which meets nine times per year with minutes recorded. Additionally, a good initiative has been taken to launch both a Green Committee and a Social Committee. The Locally Engaged Staff Management Consultation Board functioned effectively in the past with active participation of the LES representatives; however, the committee has not met recently.
The mission's outreach embraces a whole-of-government approach as evidenced in programming that involves both Canadian federal and provincial stakeholders and state governors. The whole-of-government approach is also supported through social media and the mission's public internet site. Although there are no partner departments, there are many high level visits (e.g. Governor General, premiers, and associations) that are supported by the mission.
Mission management has undertaken the necessary planning for emergency preparedness. However, planning could be further strengthened by including *** in accordance with departmental requirements. This is in addition to ***. An updated mission emergency plan was submitted to HQ in December 2013. Emergency management at the mission benefitted from HQ training in the fall of 2012 when they responded in the months following several serious instances including severe weather emergencies and the Boston Marathon bombing. The Emergency Management Bureau stated that they received good reporting following the Boston bombing which included lessons learned and suggestions for improvement.
The FPDS program is *** managed by a PM who is in his last year of a four year posting.***. Morale among the team is high.
Overall, the program is functioning well with a clearly defined planning process that is undertaken in a timely and coordinated manner. Activities are in line with program priorities and the program clearly places emphasis on high-value activities. The program's main areas of focus include energy, the environment, border security and economic competitiveness within the territory. The program has historically received support from an HonCon located in Maine, but the position has been vacant since 2013.
The Commercial Economic (CE) program is managed by an FS-04 Senior Trade Commissioner. Overall, the program is functioning well and is delivering on most of its commitments. The team is dedicated, works well together and effectively carries out activities as per the commercial economic program plan. The plan is aligned with the mission planning and reporting document and Government of Canada priorities.
The program has undergone significant changes in the past year. It has adjusted to the reduction of staff with the loss of one Trade Commissioner and one Trade Commissioner Assistant. The program has also increased its territory of responsibility (defence and security in Connecticut; agriculture, food and beverages in New Jersey). Staff report an increase in workload for the program.
The Consular program is under the direction of the HOM who fulfils the role of Consular Program Manager in the absence of a Management Consular Officer at the mission. Overall the program is *** managed and functioning effectively. Day-to-day operational activities are managed by a Senior Consular Officer who, although new to this senior position, has been in the section since 2002. The program has a strong client service focus and there is excellent capacity in French and English.
The Common Services program is managed by an LE-09 Mission Administration Officer. The mission is also part of the North East Quadrant and receives good common service support from the Common Service Delivery Point (CSDP) located at the Consulate General of Canada, New York and the Regional Service Centre in Washington, D.C. (RSCEUS).
The CSDP provides budget, financial and HR support to the mission. Financial transactions are processed at the CSDP within established service standards. Support for HR functions is expected to strengthen as HR staffing is completed at the CSDP. Staff working in the Common Services program at the mission have a strong client service focus and provide a high level of service.
A total of 73 recommendations are raised in the report: 59 are addressed to the mission and 4 are addressed to Headquarters and the remaining 10 to the CSDP and the RSCEUS. Management has responded to each recommendation indicating action already taken or decisions made, as well as future action. At the time of writing, management has stated that 24 have been implemented.
1. Mission Management
1.1.1 The Consulate General of Canada in Boston is a small mission with four Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 16 locally engaged staff (LES). There is also an Honorary Consul (HonCon) position based in Maine which has been vacant since December 1, 2013 ***. A new appointee has not yet been identified. The mission is responsible for departmental program delivery in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island.
1.1.2 The mission is managed by an EX-03 Head of Mission (HOM) who is responsible for overall operations and oversees an operational budget of $1.3 million. The mission also manages a property portfolio that includes a chancery in a multi-tenant building and an official residence (OR). There are three staff in private-lease arrangements.
1.1.3 The mission is part of the North East Quadrant and receives common service support from the Common Service Delivery Point (CSDP) located at the Consulate General of Canada, New York and the Regional Service Centre in Washington, D.C. (RSCEUS).
1.2 Mission Management
|Key Mission Management Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does Not Meet|
|The mission's strategic objectives are consistent with Government and DFATD 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|
|Mission management ensures that employees remain informed of key priorities and common services policy decisions.||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 dialogue.||X|
|Mission committees are meeting regularly and effectively discharging their governance responsibilities.||X|
|Canadian public service values and ethics are promoted and reinforced, and employees are aware of available support resources (values and ethics, staff relations, etc.).||X|
1.2.1 Overall the mission is functioning *** under the direction of an *** HOM on his second assignment. The mission operates in line with departmental and government priorities and has a strong understanding of its strengths and areas that require improvement. Morale across all programs is good; although, staff are continuing to transition from position cuts and management changes as a result of recent budgetary measures and departmental shifts in policy, and ***.
1.2.2 The Committee on Mission Management (CMM) meets every two weeks and is viewed as an effective forum to review and make decisions on mission policies and management issues. Minutes are recorded and made available to all staff.
1.2.3 Mission management ensures that employees remain informed of key priorities, common services policy decisions and other program activities through monthly scheduled staff meetings.
1.2.4 The Locally Engaged Staff Management Consultation Board (LESMCB) functioned effectively in the past with active participation of the LES representatives. Historically there has been an all-LES meeting prior to the quarterly LESMCB meetings; however, the committee has not met recently. It is recognized that the LESMCB in 2012 and 2013 was focused ***. The team has not yet resumed regularly scheduled LESMCB meetings.
1.2.5 Mission committees are meeting regularly and working effectively. The mission has a full list of committees with membership that are presented to CMM for approval. Although the mission staff numbers are below the threshold that would mandate a committee, there is an Occupational Health and Safety Committee which meets nine times per year with minutes recorded. Additionally, a good initiative has been taken to launch both a Green Committee and a Social Committee. Each committee has a written mandate.
1.2.6 The mission has actively promoted Public Service Values and Ethics through two all-staff exercises in the past two years including a mission-wide Values and Ethics session. In addition, all staff have completed the online Values and Ethics course.
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.||N/A|
|Common services are provided in line with the memorandum of understanding and any issues are addressed at CMM.||X|
1.3.1 The mission's outreach embraces a whole-of-government approach as evidenced in programming that involves both Canadian federal and provincial stakeholders and state governors. The HOM meets regularly with program managers to leverage their positions, networks and resources to help them achieve program objectives. Prior to making outcalls or undertaking travel, the HOM coordinates with staff to identify which priorities to advance. The mission could take advantage of synergies in Consular, CE and political programs to further leverage resources and enhance overall results.
1.3.2 The Whole of Government approach is also supported through social media (e.g. Twitter) and the mission's public internet site. Although there are no partner departments, there are many high-level visits (e.g. Governor General, premiers, and associations) that are supported by the mission.
1.3.3 The CMM is an effective forum where new policies and procedures including those related to common services are addressed. Although there are clear service standards developed by the RSCEUS that are shared with the missions in the quadrant, there is no formal agreement (MOU, SLA, LOU) signed by the HOM and CSDP and/or RSCEUS that describes the roles and responsibilities of each.
1.4 Emergency Preparedness
|Key Emergency Preparedness Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does Not Meet|
|The mission emergency plan (MEP) is up to date.||X|
|An emergency response team (ERT) has been identified and members are aware of their roles and responsibilities.||X|
|The MEP is tested regularly through the conduct of exercises and simulations.||X|
|The mission has identified an alternate command post and the appropriate secondary communications systems are in place and tested regularly.||X|
|Consultation occurs with like-minded and neighbouring Canadian missions regarding emergency planning.||X|
1.4.1 An updated mission emergency plan (MEP) was submitted to HQ in December 2013.***.
1.4.2 Emergency management at the mission benefitted from HQ training in the fall of 2012 when they responded in the months following to several serious instances including severe weather emergencies and the Boston Marathon bombing. The Emergency Management Bureau stated that they received good reporting following the Boston bombing which included lessons learned and suggestions for improvement. A good practice has been seen in some missions where emergency kits containing food are available in case staff are not able to leave for an extended period of time. Although their supplies are not set up in "kit style", the mission reports that it has food to last several days in case of emergency. These supplies should be monitored and replenished as required.
1.4.3 ***. Two staff members with private leases live within walking distance of the mission.
1.4.4 The mission has good communication with like-minded missions,***. As a good practice, multiple alternative locations should also be explored.
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 The Official Languages Act is promoted and respected by mission management. Through interviews it was determined that most CBS and many LES are conversant in both English and French, official signage is bilingual and the mission has sufficient capacity to provide services to the public in the official language of their choice. The mission has also appointed an Official Languages Champion.
1.6 Management Controls
|Key Management Control Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does Not Meet|
|Security policies and regulations are respected and promoted.||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.||N/A|
|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|
|Mechanisms are in place to monitor the completion of employees' performance evaluations.||X|
|A coordinated approach is taken with regards to training and a budget has been established.||X|
|The quarterly reconciliation of passport inventory is properly completed and certified.||X|
|The Honorary Consul (HonCon) has an up-to-date mandate letter and performance is reviewed annually.||X|
1.6.1 Overall, based on the controls that the inspection team were able to assess, key management and financial controls are in place and operating effectively. There is a strong segregation of duties as financial transactions are reviewed and recorded at the CSDP. To improve accuracy and timelines of financial transactions, the CSDP provides training for program assistants in order to facilitate the assistant's preparation of the regular financial payment packages and budget reports.***.
1.6.2 All hospitality activities within the mission are properly reviewed and documented; however, minor improvements are suggested in capturing objectives, value-for-money and results achieved for individual events.
1.6.3 Employees' performances are monitored through Performance Management Plans (PMPs), which also include their training objectives. The implementation of Strategia will assist in streamlining the process of setting performance targets and evaluating outcomes against strategic objectives across all mission programs.
1.6.4 The quarterly reconciliation of passport inventory is properly completed and certified by the HOM.
1.6.5 The Honorary Consul *** from his duties after serving the Consulate General from Maine since 2004. Historically, the HonCon's work was largely focused on CE issues (75% of time) but, in 2013, this was reduced to 25% to focus efforts on high priority FPDS issues (e.g. oilsands). During his tenure, both mandate letter updates and performance reviews were provided annually. At the time of inspection, the mission was in the process of seeking a new candidate to fill the position.
Recommendations to the Mission
1.7.1 The mission should leverage IT solutions to develop a stronger method to archive and share key documents and information.
1.7.2 Regular LESMCB meetings should be reinstated and the HOM should ensure his attendance at a minimum, once per year.
1.7.3 The mission should take advantage of synergies in the FPDS, CE and Consular programs.
1.7.4 An agreement (MOU and or SLA) should be updated and signed by each HOM when they arrive at the mission so there is clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the mission, CSDP and RSCEUS.
1.7.6 Hospitality diaries should be completed with greater clarity and consistency particularly in the identification of event objectives and the links to program priorities and in the provision of value for money assessment and record of results achieved.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
(Please note: The management actions below reflect the initial responses upon receiving the recommendations. They do not reflect the current status of implementation.)
1.7.1 The mission will work with IM/IT in HQ and at RSC to improve Information Management (use of eCollaboration tools, creation of the mission intranet, clean-up of I:drive). On the Program side, options for sharing contacts centrally will be investigated. In Progress for end of FY 2014/15
1.7.2 Management is now holding quarterly LESMCB meetings. Implemented March 2014.
1.7.3 CMM will continue to use bi-weekly meetings as a venue to identify areas where collaboration can be increased. Implemented March 2014.
1.7.4 The mission will work with RSC and CSDP to ensure that this kind of agreement is developed and instituted. In Progress for March 2015.
1.7.5 Mission will work with CED and CSRA divisions at HQ to plan another *** when 2 new CBS (including new HOM) have arrived and gotten settled. We believe there is an exercise planned at *** during that timeframe on which we could "piggyback." In Progress for October 2014.
1.7.6 Hospitality reporting best practices presentation and Q&A will be arranged for all mission staff early in 2014-15. Mission Management will increase vigilance when signing off on hospitality reports. In Progress for June 2014.
2. Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service (FPDS)
2.1.1 The Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service (FPDS) program is managed by an Information Services officer (substantive IS-06) acting in an FS-03 program manager (PM) position. The PM is supported by two LE-09 officers and one assistant at the LE-05 level. The program's financial resources are provided below.
|North American Partnership Program (NAPP)||58,000|
2.1.2 The program's main areas of focus include energy, the environment, border security and economic competitiveness within the territory. In addition to the team on the ground, the program has historically received support from an HonCon located in Maine. The mission is currently looking for potential candidates to fill this vacant position. The FPDS and CE programs cooperate closely by coordinating public affairs efforts during outreach activities, updating social media networks and mission website information. The program also partners closely with the CE program to identify and cultivate key private sector contacts in support of advocacy initiatives and other program objectives. Coordinated planning and execution of activities, as well as support for both media and social media outreach, are clearly evident and functioning well.
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|
|Internal communications within the program effectively support program delivery.||X|
2.2.1 The FPDS program is *** managed by a PM who in his last year of a four year posting.***. Morale among the team is high. The PM is attentive to team dynamics and has taken proactive steps to ensure that the members are aware of what is expected of them throughout the year.
2.2.2 Overall, the program is functioning well with a clearly defined planning process that is undertaken in a timely and coordinated manner. Program planning is guided by the Advocacy Planning Template (APT), with input from the HOM and HQ as necessary. The PM also uses the Mission Advocacy Activity Tracker (MAAT) results from the previous year in its planning process.The program however, would benefit if the results of the findings were shared with the entire team to lay out the strategic overview of the program, outline activities, resources, performance indicators and expected results for the fiscal year. The program reports its results through the APT which is linked to team members' individual PMPs.
2.2.3 The LE-05 position has seen a change in responsibilities in the realm of social media in the past year, but the job description associated with the position has not been updated to reflect those changes. The workload for the LE-05 position was characterized as heavy and overwhelming at certain times, such as the end of fiscal year. The PM is encouraged to review job descriptions for the team members and ensure that additional duties match the position levels. In addition, the program could benefit from the creation of individual workplans to assist in the planning process for the next fiscal year.
2.2.4 The program effectively employs both formal and informal communication tools. Weekly meetings are held with staff members to review and prioritize program activities and to share items arising from the CMM, with action items identified as needed. Meetings with the HOM take place on a regular basis and input from him, especially during outreach events, is forthcoming. An FPDS-wide retreat could be beneficial to the program, to introduce the launch of Strategia as a new departmental tool for planning, reinforce priorities and bring further clarity to the roles and responsibilities within the section.
|Key FPDS Implementation Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does Not Meet|
|The program facilitates a mission-wide coordinated approach to advocacy and common messaging.||X|
|Program reporting is in line with mission and government objectives, timely and relevant.||X|
|Activities and initiatives are aligned with the mission's key priorities and with FPDS plans and objectives.||X|
|Relations with other mission programs facilitate program delivery (e.g. public affairs).||X|
|The program develops and maintains a contact base that meets program needs and objectives.||X|
2.3.1 The FPDS team is working hard and their efforts are widely appreciated. The program has received strong feedback from Headquarters with respect to the quality of its reporting, the strength of its analysis and general communication back to Headquarters on its advocacy initiatives.
2.3.2 Activities are in line with program priorities and the program clearly places emphasis on high value activities. The program is also successfully leveraging all financial and other available resources to achieve mission objectives and support the advancement of Canadian priorities in the region. In addition, the program closely collaborates with others at the mission, notably the CE program, in preparation for events, promotion of Canadian commercial opportunities and informing the public of new developments pertaining to the mission's work in the territory.
2.3.3 The program reports that it has an extensive outreach plan in place that is in line with the Government of Canada priorities. In addition, it works closely with other programs, notably CE and Consular, in order to provide effective public affairs support to all mission activities.
2.3.4 Each member of the FPDS team maintains their own substantive contact list for the program. TRIO, used by the CE program, also has contact capabilities. In addition, there is a mission-wide list covering all the territory which is accessible and used by all staff. This list, however, is not being updated regularly. There is a lack of coordination to consolidate the contact information into categorized groups for easy access across the mission.
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 Mission Planning and Reporting (MPR) system at the end of the fiscal year.||X|
|Hospitality diaries demonstrate value-for-money and alignment with priorities.||X|
2.4.1 The program has a formal approach to performance measurement. Outputs are monitored and results communicated through the APT and mission reports on their activities. Individual contributions to the program are monitored through employee Performance Management Plans (PMPs). It is expected that with the launch of the Strategia, the program will be able to streamline the process of setting precise performance targets and evaluating outcomes against strategic objectives. This will provide a means to evaluate progress on key priorities as well as highlight lessons learned to apply to future planning.
2.4.2 Generally hospitality diaries were well documented and showed value for money. In some cases however, there was a lack of clear connection between the program's strategic goals and expected outcome of the event. The associated documentation did not always clearly state the purpose of each event and evaluate how this purpose was served or how value-for-money was achieved.
Recommendations to the Mission
2.5.1 The job descriptions of FPDS LES should be reviewed to ensure they are consistent with the needs of the program and the levels of the positions. Updates should be made as required.
2.5.2 Lists of contacts across the program should be easily accessible by all staff members.
2.5.3 The use of hospitality should ensure funds are strategically and fully leveraged. The associated documentation should clearly state the purpose of each event, evaluate if, and how, value-for-money was achieved and identify any follow up that was taken or will be required.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
(Please note: The management actions below reflect the initial responses upon receiving the recommendations. They do not reflect the current status of implementation.)
2.5.1 PM will meet with LES team members to review their workload and reflect necessary changes in their job descriptions. In Progress for April 2014.
2.5.2 The team is working on finding an efficient method to share contacts in one place on the mission's I: drive. In Progress for May 2014.
2.5.3 PM has discussed the recommendation with all team members and instructed the team to complete the Canadian Foreign Service Institute Official Hospitality Outside Canada online course. Implemented March 2014.
3. Commercial Economic (CE)
3.1.1 The Commercial Economic (CE) program is managed by an FS-04 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC). The STC is supported by one FS-03 trade commissioner (TC), and four LE-09 TCs. There are two trade commissioner assistants (TCA), an LE-06 and one LE-05. The program also receives support from an HonCon located in Maine (currently vacant). The program's financial resources are provided below.
|Budget||FY 2013-14 (S)|
|Client Service Fund (CSF)||20,906|
|Integrative Trade Strategy Fund (ITSF)||48,415|
3.1.2 The commercial relationship between New England and Canada is strong. Due to its close geographic proximity to Canada, the region is often the first choice for new Canadian exporters and companies seeking U.S. investment partners. In 2011, states in the Boston mission territory imported over $25 billion in goods from Canada; a significant portion of these goods are in mature sectors and are influenced primarily by economic cycles and trade barriers. Priority sectors for Boston include agriculture, food and beverages, defence and security, life sciences, information and communication technologies (ICT), and ocean technologies.
3.1.3 The program has undergone significant changes in the past year. It has adjusted to the cuts with the deletion of two TCs and one TCA position, and has taken on an expanded territory of responsibility (defence and security in Connecticut; agriculture, food and beverages in New Jersey). Staff report a significant increase in workload for the program. The STC, *** , has introduced a focused mission strategy that seeks to balance the increase in administrative work, the fast pace at the mission, and the influx of high-level visits.
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 clear and appropriately set.||X|
|Internal program communication effectively supports program delivery.||X|
3.2.1 Overall, the program is functioning well and is delivering on most of its commitments; the team is dedicated, works well together and effectively carries out activities as per the commercial economic program (CEP) plan. The plan is aligned with the mission planning and reporting (MPR) document and Government of Canada priorities.
3.2.2 The planning process starts with a retreat at the end of the calendar year to discuss results and the strategic direction for the upcoming year. This discussion helps shape the strategy for the CEP plan, which is drafted by the STC. Following the retreat, TCs draft their respective action plans in consultation with stakeholders, such as their sector networks, partner departments, provinces, HQ and neighbouring missions in the U.S.
3.2.3 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) planning by all TCs is done in consultation with the dedicated FS-03 Investment Officer. As one of only two Canada-based staff in the program, the FS-03 has absorbed many duties in addition to his primary investment role leaving only 25-30% of time dedicated to the area of investment.
3.2.4 As a result of measures taken across the mission network to gain efficiencies and the staff reductions mentioned above, the CE program has reduced its priority sectors from six to five and reoriented its focus to centre on innovation. Cleantech is no longer a priority sector however 0.7 FTE remains assigned to it in the CEP plan. At present a TCA is attending to the file, however, based on LE-05 job description, this position's role and responsibilities should not include oversight of a reactive sector; this role usually resides with an LE-06.***.
3.2.5 Despite the reduction of resources in the program, the portfolio of reactive sectors was expanded to include aerospace, business and financial services, and consumer products. Coverage of these files does not align with the workload of the TCs who cover the program's five priority sectors on a full time basis.
3.2.6 Performance targets are set by TCs during the planning process in consultation with the STC. The performance indicators set for this fiscal year were significantly higher than those attained in the previous year, however, the mission appears to be on track to meet these targets, largely through the Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) initiative (detailed below).
3.2.7 Communication within the program is effective. The weekly team meetings are structured with an agenda and action items are kept on record for follow up. Topics discussed at the team meetings vary from debriefs of CMMs to internal program issues such as TRIO results and budgets. One-on-one meetings between the STC and team members are frequent. Communications between the CE and the FPDS programs, however, could benefit from formalization to further enhance coordination and planning between the programs.
|Key CE Implementation Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does Not Meet|
|Business plan objectives and those outlined in management's Performance Management Agreements(PMAs) / Performance Management Programs(PMPs) appropriately cascade down into staff PMPs.||X|
|Activities and initiatives are aligned with the key priorities of the mission and the department.||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 The CEP's objectives are aligned with mission priorities and generally cascade into the Performance Management Programs (PMPs) of the CE team. All employees have PMPs in place. Activities and initiatives in the plan are also aligned with mission priorities.
3.3.2 The program has changed its focus from priority sector services to innovation and has established CTA programs for ICT and life sciences. The STC, who was responsible for setting up the first CTAs with his teams in San Francisco and Palo Alto, has focussed on two sectors that have potential for success. This is primarily due to the local presence of big industry, a strong environment for investment capital and renowned academic and research institutions in the region. Furthermore, the mission has been instrumental in establishing and working with the Canadian Entrepreneurs in New England (CENE), facilitating the much-needed Canadian mentorship.
3.3.3 The establishment of the CTAs has resulted in a greater administrative burden to the CE program. This is due to the requirement that contracts be in place with the service provider and other vendors who provide goods and services for hospitality, networking and events for demonstration days. This has added to the workloads of CE officers; however, the new initiative has brought a renewed energy in the mission. TCs are extremely positive about the project and the potential for success.
3.3.4 The program is providing effective services and is actively working to identify and promote business opportunities for clients, notably through the CTA. Activities are well aligned with mission objectives and are generating results in their respective sectors. The mission also has strong collaboration with partners.
3.3.5 TRIO is being used by the entire program. Although the TRIO champion (FS-03) is working with officers to ensure entries are appropriate and accurate, the timeliness of reporting could be improved. The TRIO champion role traditionally resides with a TCA. ***.
3.3.6 There is no formal InfoCentre within the program. The TD-inbox is monitored by the LE-05 who forwards requests to the appropriate TC based on the sector of responsibility. This approach is working well within the program.
3.4 Performance Measurement
|Key CE Performance Measurement Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does Not Meet|
|Tools and mechanisms are used 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 Performance targets are set and identified at the start of the fiscal year through the CEP plan. The STC and the team discuss targets as part of the CEP plan review.
3.4.2 The CE program uses various tools to measure performance of the program such as, the CEP plan, TRIO and client surveys. TCs are reviewing their own TRIO data and setting targets based on results from the previous year.
3.4.3 Hospitality diaries are being kept up-to-date; however, there are inconsistencies in the quality of entries. In some cases, there is not a sufficient connection between the purpose of the event, specific program strategies and the outcome. Also, some entries are not being completed in full (e.g. lacking numbers; vague results).
Recommendations to the Mission
3.5.3 The program should reassess the list of proactive sectors and adjust as necessary. An accurate account of dedicated full-time employees (FTEs) should also be determined.
3.5.4 The CE program should identify an officer to participate in the FPDS weekly meeting (and vice-versa) to ensure ongoing communication between the two programs.
3.5.5 The role of TRIO Champion should be moved to a TCA.
3.5.6 Documentation of hospitality diaries should be strengthened by providing a clear purpose for events, linking the events to program strategies and providing an accurate evaluation of results.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
(Please note: The management actions below reflect the initial responses upon receiving the recommendations. They do not reflect the current status of implementation.)
3.5.1 ***. Implemented April 2014.
3.5.2 ***. Implemented April 2014.
3.5.3 ***. Implemented April 2014.
3.5.4 A member of the commercial team will attend FPDS staff meetings once a month on a rotating basis. (and vice-versa). Implemented April 2014.
3.5.5 Currently, the TRIO champion role is temporarily a shared one during the transition from TRIO1 to TRIO2: an FS-03 officer to encourage quality and consistency and a TCA for transactional functions and technical issues. Once staff transitions are behind us and the practice of TRIO2 is well established we will revert back to a more traditional TRIO champion. In Progress for October 2014.
3.5.6 Hospitality reporting best practices presentation and Q&A will be arranged for all mission staff early in 2014-15. In Progress for October 2014.
4.1.1 The Consular program is under the direction of the HOM who fulfils the role of Consular Program Manager in the absence of a Management Consular Officer (MCO) position at the mission. The program is supported by an ***. LE-07 acting in the LE-09 Senior Consular Officer position and an LE-07 Consular Officer. The LE-07 Officer position is currently filled by an emergency worker who had previously held this position.
4.1.2 Boston is a full-service, low volume mission providing services in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island. While there is an HonCon position in the area, it does not provide consular services. Since September 2013, citizenship applications originating in the U.S. are submitted by clients directly to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Missions in the U.S. no longer provide CIC support to clients other than to guide them to the correct website. The mission still has some outstanding files from before this change took place which they will follow to completion.
4.1.3 There have been increases in services over the previous year. For instance, in FY 2012/13, 66 temporary passports had been issued with the same amount having been issued in the first six months of FY 2013/14. The demand for notarial services in 2013 has risen from 18 in FY 2012-13 to 89 in the first six months of the current fiscal year due to a new Internal Revenue Service requirement for Canadians to submit certified copies of their passports. There were no high level consular cases at the time of the inspection. There are 30-35 prisoners in the mission's area of responsibility.
4.1.4 Three hundred and eighty nine Canadian citizens are listed in the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) database for the five states of accreditation. However, this number is not indicative of the Canadians living in the area. According to U.S. Census data, it is estimated that approximately one-third of Maine's citizens are of French, French Canadian or Acadian origin. There are large populations of Canadian youth studying in universities in the region as well, in particular in Boston where over 100 institutes of higher learning are located. For example the Massachusetts Institute of Technology usually has around 225 Canadians enrolled while Harvard has approximately 550.
4.2 Planning and 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.||N/A in the U.S.|
4.2.1 Overall the program is *** managed and functioning effectively with *** support from the HOM. Day-to-day operational activities are managed by a Senior Consular Officer who, although new to this position, has been in the section since 2002. In addition, a trained and passport-certified individual is available to fill the LE-07 Consular Officer position. Morale is good in this small team.
4.2.2 ***. The emergency employee who previously worked at the mission, has been filling the LE-07 position since November 2013 on a 125 day contract; however, the position had been filled by two other individuals since July 2012. Given the level of knowledge required for this function, this is not a sustainable situation.
4.2.3 Recent changes in the program include the repatriation of Citizenship services to the Citizenship Processing Centre in Nova Scotia which, along with regular passport renewals that are done in Canada, has meant the Consular section has put more emphasis on emergency preparedness. The recent staffing of the US Consular and Emergency Country Manager position in the RSCEUS is expected to support some regionalization of the program notably in arrest and detention caseload, which will bring additional changes to program delivery.
4.2.4 Considering the significant changes that have taken place, the job descriptions of the consular positions should be updated after the regional review is completed.
4.2.5 Informal daily meetings take place and although no minutes or records of decisions are prepared, major issues affecting the program are discussed with the HOM and at the CMM and recorded there. Formalizing some consular planning meetings and taking notes would document key decisions and program priorities for the program.
4.2.6 At the time of the inspection, the newly hired LE-04 Receptionist was in Ottawa attending consular training. While cross training back-ups is a best practice, mission should consider the implications of using a common service resource *** to fulfill program requirements if this arrangement is for more than just for periods of consular absences. The workload data suggests that the LE-09 and LE-07 should still have time to devote to emergency management.
4.2.7 The Mission Emergency Plan (MEP) and the Duty Officer's Manual (DOM) are both up-to-date. The Policy, Emergency Planning and Training Division (CEP) from HQ visited the mission in the fall of 2012 to deliver emergency planning training and conduct desk top exercises. The mission was required to put their emergency preparedness plans to use during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 and during power outages caused by very severe weather that winter. The mission again put their emergency management into action during the Boston Marathon bombing which occurred in close proximity to the mission in April 2013. In order to keep their preparedness at ready, ***.
4.2.8 During the Boston Marathon bombing, the mission ran into bureaucratic obstacles when working with local hospitals to determine if Canadian citizens were affected. According to U.S. laws, no information can be disclosed about nationalities of victims. Based on the problems encountered at this time, the mission, along with colleagues from other missions in Boston, have formed a working group liaise with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) to resolve this issue for the future.
4.2.10 With the program no longer providing regular passport or citizenship services, staff can devote more time to emergency preparedness, developing local contacts and strategic forward planning. The Consular Officer has developed relationships with key local authorities particularly the Sherriff's office related to arrest and detention, US government and prison officials and emergency management organizations. The section is also conducting outreach to the international student offices at the many universities in Boston to provide information about services to Canadian students. They also plan to work with Canadian airlines (e.g. Porter, Air Canada) that fly frequently into the region, to set up relationships. They will continue to develop a wider group of contacts and other participants in emergency management within their territory. The mission participates in several networking initiatives including the US Consular Network, the North East Quadrant Regional Emergency Management Group and directly with missions in their quadrant and throughout the network. They have an arrangement with the Consulate General in New York to provide passport approval support in the event of an emergency or absence of an approver at the mission.
4.2.11 The section has a good foundation plan in place but should now translate this to individual workplans for section staff that can be monitored and provided to the HOM to keep him up-to-date on actions pending and taken.
4.2.12 There are multiple tools for planning and reporting in the FPDS and CE programs and although it is noted that consular can be a reactive program there is currently no efficient way to record non-case work such as a meeting with like-minded missions on emergency management.
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 program has a strong client service focus. Employees are well trained, experienced and capable of backing one another up when necessary. Through interviews with staff, inspectors confirmed that there is excellent capacity in French and English and were told that signage and printed material in the consular area are in both official languages.
4.3.2 Clients are encouraged to provide feedback using forms that are available in the Consular interview booth or online. There is no drop box in the reception area for them to deposit forms anonymously. The feedback is reviewed and acted on before being sent to headquarters. It was noted, that in the past, headquarters provided client feedback statistics and Boston consistently received high ratings. While the Consular Bureau confirms that these statistics are still being collated, information is no longer being received at the mission.
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.||X|
|Revenue held in the Consular program is kept to a minimum and are transferred to finance on a regular basis.||X|
|Upon receiving new inventory, two CBS verify all assets and sign and return the transmittal note.||X|
|Inventory is appropriately secured and removal of assets is appropriately recorded.||X|
|Working inventories provided to staff are appropriate and controlled by a daily log.||X|
|Monthly and quarterly reconciliations of inventory are properly completed and certified.||X|
|Official seals and stamps are properly inventoried, secured and access is provided to designated staff only.||X|
4.4.1 Overall, controls on passport and consular activities were in place and effective. Consular staff all have Passport Management Program certifications. Although a log is used to track passport inventory ***.
4.4.2 Since the implementation of departmental efficiency measures, the mission has been reduced to four CBS including the HOM who is responsible for the Consular program. Under the Mission Administration Officer (MAO) model, the LES Consular Officer takes on more responsibility in the area of passport approvals and inventory control than when there was an MCO present. There are challenges when new passport stock arrives at the mission. The official procedure is to have two CBS verify the passport stock, sign and return the transmittal form to HQ immediately ***.
4.4.3 ***. The mission reports that following a recent security inspection, a DASCO filing cabinet has been ordered and is expected to be received early in FY 2014/15 to replace filing cabinets that no longer meet security standards.***.
4.4.4 Since the implementation of the Mission Online Payment Services (MOPS), most Consular clients use credit cards and there is *** received at the mission. When *** is received, receipts are issued appropriately.***.
4.4.6 An inventory of seals and stamps is maintained and are *** accessible only to designated staff. The mission plans to return damaged and unused seals to headquarters.
Recommendations to the Mission
4.5.1 The job descriptions of the consular positions should be updated once the regional review is completed.
4.5.2 The program should institute regular consular planning meetings that are agenda-driven and that would document key decisions and program priorities.
4.5.3 The mission should arrange a formal exercise to test their emergency management preparations.
4.5.4 The mission should seek out opportunities for emergency planning training for the officer who will be responsible for the emergency management activities.
4.5.5 The program should take the consular workplan and develop it into individual staff work plans for the year.
4.5.6 A locked box should be installed in the reception area to allow clients to deposit completed feedback forms anonymously.
4.5.8 The Senior Consular Officer should participate in the reconciliation of Consular receipts and sign the EXT119 document.
Recommendations to Consular Operations Bureau (CND)
4.5.10 CND should provide regular summaries of feedback to missions so service can be improved as indicated.
Recommendations to RSCEUS and the Consular Operations Bureau
4.5.11 The RSCEUS and the Consular Bureau should finalize the review of consular resources in the US network to ensure that required key positions can be staffed in a manner that facilitates program delivery.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
4.5.1 This is being done on a nation-wide level by the new Consular country manager at WSHDC. In progress for May 2014.
4.5.2 In January 2014, the consular staff started agenda driven monthly meetings with minutes prepared afterward, which are shared with HOM and available to all staff. Implemented January 2014.
4.5.3 The mission will work with Security and Management (CED) and the Regional Security Abroad unit (CSRA) at HQ to plan another emergency exercise aiming for fall 2014 when 2 new CBS (including new HOM) have arrived and settled. We believe there is an exercise which will happen at Logan airport during that time frame on which we might "piggyback". In progress for October 2014.
4.5.4 The Senior Consular Officer has been researching such courses and will include them in the FY2014-2015 Performance Management Plan. In progress for April 2014.
4.5.5 Individual Consular staff workplans will be developed in the new fiscal year using Performance Measurement Plans after the consular positions are confirmed. In progress for May 2014.
4.5.6 The mission has purchased a lockbox and it will be installed once the chancery reconfiguration is complete in early July 2014. In progress for July 2014.
4.5.7 DASCO file cabinets have been ordered for both Consular offices. We anticipate arrival and usage in April 2014. In progress for April 2014.
4.5.8 The MAO is no longer involved with the consular revenue process; instead the Senior CO is responsible. Implemented January 2014.
4.5.9 The Senior Consular Officer will consider what is reasonable in this regard bearing in mind CBS availability and adjust level accordingly. In progress for April 2014.
CND Actions and Timeframes
4.5.10 Missions wishing to review their feedback in a regular fashion are able to request these reports directly from CNA when desired. An email to all mission consular staff will be sent out in mid-April to remind missions of this option. CNA also reviews client feedback forms upon receipt, and will be informing missions directly of any negative feedback, for which the missions should be aware immediately. In Progress for April 2014.
RSCEUS and CND Actions and Timeframes
4.5.11 The RSCEUS and the Consular Bureau plan to finalize the review of consular resources in the United States by December 2014. In Progress for December 2014.
5. Common Services
5.1.1 The Common Services program is managed by an LE-09 Mission Administration Officer (MAO) who is supported by a small team consisting of an LE-05 Chancery Operations Coordinator and an LE-04 Receptionist. The section has been downsized significantly over the past few years with the deletions of the following positions: Information Technology Professional (ITP) (2009), accountant (2012), Property/Materiel Assistant (2013), and Personnel and General Services Officer (2012). In addition, the CBS Management Consular Officer (MCO) position was converted to an MAO position in 2013.
5.1.2 The program receives services from both the Regional Service Centre USA (RSCEUS) and from the Common Services Delivery Point (CSDP) at the Consulate General in New York. The RSCEUS provides support to 21 points of service across the United States and offers national services in finance and contracting, LES human resources, information management, and CBS relocation and Foreign Service Directives (FSD) administration.
5.1.3 The CSDP provides budget, financial and HR support to the mission. When the CSDP originally took over these responsibilities in 2012, processes and procedures for the mission and CSDP were not in place. This resulted in untimely transaction processing and challenges for the mission which was relying on the CSDP for up-to-date information to support their budgeting exercise. However, changes made in the summer of 2013 have resulted in improved financial services to the mission at the time of the inspection. HR services are still not at the level that they reportedly should be but as the CSDP fills their vacant HR position and integrates a new employee, this should change.
|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|
5.1.4 Overall, the program is *** managed and staff function effectively as a team. The program has undergone considerable change over the past few years. The deletion of positions as well as service delivery from both the CSDP and RSCEUS, both outlined above, necessitated a complete reorganization of the common services section. The common service team has adapted well to the changes as they adjusted to new processes and responsibilities. Informal feedback from staff and clients indicated that the MAO's management style, *** is appreciated.
5.1.5 Many services are received from the RSCEUS and from the CSDP. While service standards exist for financial and HR transactions provided from these points of service, there is a need for greater clarification of policies and procedures, and roles and responsibilities related to the common service functions at the mission, CSDP and the RSCEUS. This will ensure better understanding of accountability and the assignment of responsibility and a stronger control framework.
5.1.6 The MAO sits on the Committee on Mission Management (CMM) and has frequent contact with the HOM and the other CBS. The Senior Consular Officer (LE-08) also sits on the CMM so there is full program integration in the mission and good communication. While the MAO does not hold regular meetings with her small team, there is continual contact and discussion. Regular agenda-driven Common Service team meetings could allow dedicated time to discuss challenges, conduct business and budget planning, and develop workplans.
|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|
5.1.7 Staff working in the Common Services program have a strong client service focus and provide a high level of service.
5.1.8 Mission service standards are dated December 2004 and have not been updated since this original version. Updated service standards should incorporate the standards for the services received from the CSDP, the RSCEUS, as well as those provided from within the mission. This updated document will allow staff to have information pertaining to all common services in one resource that could be posted on the mission wiki, making it easier to manage client expectations.
5.1.9 Although positive informal feedback is received by the program, a formal client feedback mechanism, such as an annual survey, is not in place to provide a more independent assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the program. As a result it is more difficult for the program to identify good practices and give appropriate acknowledgement and reinforcement or to address problems and take corrective action where warranted.
5.1.10 There is no formal agreement (Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Service Level Agreement (SLA) or Letter of Understanding (LOU)) between the mission and the CSDP or the RSCEUS.
Procurement and Contracting
|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|
|A plan is in place for major acquisitions and is approved by CMM annually.||X|
5.1.11 The CRB is effective in undertaking its role. The MAO is the chair which is appropriate in a mission where contracts often originate from the program areas. There are few contracts in the mission that meet the threshold of the CRB.
5.1.12 Considering the low volume of contracts, the MAO is planning a meeting with members of the CRB to refresh their understanding of their responsibilities and the process. Given how small the mission is, it would be desirable to have a regional or HQ-based CRB as it is difficult to have sufficient members on the Board who are not involved with the contract being reviewed. There is discussion at the RSCEUS of a regional CRB model which would solve this segregation issue.
5.1.13 The mission has generic Terms of Reference (TOR) for the CRB which does not show the list of members, the mission's contract threshold for CRB or the date the TOR were approved by the CMM. Any TOR should be updated and customized for Boston pending any move towards a regional CRB.
5.1.14 Contracting procedures are available electronically in the mission's "All Staff" folder on the I:drive. Program assistants are not required to prepare contracts very frequently making it difficult for them to maintain currency in contracting policies and to remain proficient in entering the required contract information on departmental systems. To assist staff at the mission the MAO plans to hold contracting refresher training this year.
5.1.15 As part of this remote inspection a small sample of three contract files were examined at headquarters and were found to be complete. In some cases, however, the mission is not preparing contracts and entering them into the system when multiple payments will be made to one vendor. This would allow payments to be made against a purchase order and facilitate the annual mandatory reporting. The new directive is for all contracts greater than $2,000 to be entered in the Materiel Management module (MM) of the Integrated Management System (IMS). This will apply to many recurring expenses in the mission, such as cleaning services. In addition, it is important that Event Partner Agreements be recognized as contracts, signed by officers with the appropriate financial delegations, and entered in MM.
5.1.16 Some common services contracts such as cleaning of the OR, are well below the $25,000 threshold for mandatory competitive bidding; however, Treasury Board contracting policy requires a competitive process unless it is not cost effective to do so, to ensure that the best value for money is being realized. If a full Request for Proposal (RFP) process is not indicated, it is important that documentation is in the file to support the mission's decision that it was not cost effective to run a competitive process and to show that the mission is paying a competitive rate and receiving value for money from a sole-sourced provider.
5.1.17 Major acquisitions are approved by CMM on an individual basis. A multi-year acquisition plan is not in place.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.1.18 The MAO should hold regular agenda-driven Common Service team meetings.
5.1.19 Comprehensive service standards should be developed in detail incorporating the standards for the services received from the RSCEUS, the CSDP and the mission.
5.1.20 The Common Services program should have a formal client feedback mechanism such as an annual survey to provide an independent assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the program.
5.1.21 The generic terms of reference for the CRB should be updated and customized for Boston. The TORs should show the list of members and the date approved by CMM.
5.1.22 The mission should put contracts in place for all services and ensure they are entered in the Materiel Management (MM) module of IMS by trained staff at the mission.
5.1.23 The mission should ensure that it uses competitive processes for contracting. Where necessary, it should document exceptions to the competitive process as per the contracting policy.
5.1.24 Event Partner Agreements (EPAs) are contracts and as such must be signed by officers with the appropriate financial delegations and entered in MM.
5.1.25 A multi-year acquisition plan should be developed and approved by CMM.
Recommendations to CSDP
5.1.26 Detailed policies and procedures should be developed by the CSDP and provided to the mission for all services provided (financial, contracting and HR) by the CSDP.
Recommendations to RSCEUS
5.1.27 An agreement (MOU, SLA, LOU) should be put in place between the RSCEUS , CSDP and the mission which clearly outlines roles and responsibilities of all applicable common services' areas, to be signed by the HOM and Heads of the RSCEUS and CSDP.
5.1.28 A regional CRB should be put in place recognizing the low volume of contracts being managed in the mission as well as the difficulty in having officers on a mission CRB not involved with the file.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.1.18 Bi-weekly meetings have been scheduled, starting in FY14/15. Implemented April 2014.
5.1.19 RSCEUS sent the updated, comprehensive service standards document in January 2014 as part of Strategia business planning exercise. This document included services received from the RSCEUS, the CSDP and the mission. Mission adopted the document (with some local tweaks) effective January 2014. Implemented January 2014.
5.1.20 Admin section will work to create a simple annual survey to measure client satisfaction and ensure service standards are being met. In Progress for December 2014.
5.1.21 Generic TOR to be reviewed and approved by CMM in early April 2014 as part of new FY procedures. A list of the members will be added. Regional CRB is expected to be established for FY14/15. In Progress for April 2014.
5.1.22 Effective immediately, all service contracts are entered in MM by the MAO, unless an acquisition card is used as the procurement and contracting tool (in this case, Contracting Policy, Monitoring and Operations (SPP) at HQ has advised that no MM entry is necessary). Mission was already doing this for all contracts over $2K. Implemented January 2014.
5.1.23 Staff are reminded on a regular basis that competitive bidding is the norm and that sole source contracting is to be used in exceptional circumstances only (most recently, a reminder message was sent on 8 Nov 2013 to all mission staff and the Summary of Contracting Procedures was posted to the I: drive at the same time). Any exceptions are documented and kept on file. CRB will continue to enforce this policy when reviewing contracts. Implemented November 2013.
5.1.24 Effective immediately, all EPAs are entered into MM by the MAO, unless an acquisition card is used as the procurement and contracting tool (in this case, SPP has advised that no MM entry is necessary). The mission has previously been doing this for all EPAs over $2K. EPAs are entered in MM by MAO. All EPAs are signed by HOM as a result of Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures (THCEE) directive. Implemented January 2014.
CSDP Actions and Timeframes
5.1.26 In addition to regular Quadrant-wide communications on financial policies and procedures, biweekly calls between the CSDP and missions and outreach by CSDP Finance team members to missions to clarify policies and procedures, the CSDP will clarify with the MAO which areas (including HR and contracting in a regional context) require further documented policies and procedures. In Progress for August 2014.
RSCEUS Actions and Timeframes
5.1.27 A draft agreement has been developed however the RSCEUS is awaiting the final evaluation report on the RSCs to incorporate any of their suggestions before sending to HOMs and MCOs/MAOs for finalization. In Progress for October 2014.
5.1.28 In FY2014-15, a national CRB will be put in place for the US and will be rolled out in a phased approach by CSDP groupings. The New York CSDP grouping in which Boston is included is targeted for the second quarter. In Progress for October 2014.
5.2 Human Resources
5.2.1 The HR function at the mission is the responsibility of the MAO who is supported by an LE-05 Chancery Operations Coordinator. No HR support is currently being provided by the CSDP at the Consulate General in New York. The RSCEUS and the Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (ALD) at headquarters are the remaining partners in the HR function.
5.2.2 There have been 12 staffing actions, one classification exercise and one *** in the current fiscal year.
|Key HR Management Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does Not Meet|
|A mission HR plan has been developed and submitted to Headquarters.||X|
|New LES are provided with an information package on the working conditions, benefits and regulations pertaining to employment at the mission.||X|
|Employee and position files are complete, maintained separately and properly secured.||X|
5.2.3 Human Resources at the mission are being managed effectively by the combined team listed above. Morale is good despite the implementation of staffing reductions, redistribution of workloads *** by the LES.
5.2.4 The mission HR plan will be updated and submitted with the Common Service Delivery Business plan for 2014/15. The mission does not have an HR work plan which outlines how the mission will achieve these actions in the coming year. It will be important to involve the CSDP and RSCEUS in the development of the workplan to ensure they can support the mission as required.
5.2.5 There are good processes in place for new LES hires including a welcoming presentation. A similar welcome package is provided to new CBS with appropriate information. In addition, information from the RSCEUS wiki is easily available and the RSC New Hire Intake Packet is provided when LES start in a position.
5.2.6 The mission reports that orderly preparation and maintenance of staffing files has been in place since September 2013. The Chancery Operations Coordinator has done a file review on competition, position and employee files and documented missing items for follow up.***.
5.2.7 The inspectors noted that notwithstanding disappointments related to the loss of a health benefit related to Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code in 2012, ***, the morale in the mission is high. Staff work well together as a team and report having respect for the HOM for the *** support he provides them. ALD has indicated that benefits will be reviewed in conjunction with the Total Compensation Review (TCR) to take place for the U.S. beginning in 2014 and concluding in 2015.
5.2.8 The CSDP HR support for missions is in transition. They are not currently providing HR services to the mission due to staffing issues within the section which are expected to be resolved shortly. The CSDP will then be able to take on HR support for the mission including the monitoring and auditing of ABRA transactions (the primary HR management system for the US missions). This function is currently managed in the mission. It is also expected that the CSDP will be in a position to provide support for staffing and other HR functions as well.
5.2.9 When the CSDP HR capability is established, it will be important to put an agreement in place between the CSDP and the mission which clearly outlines their roles and responsibilities and includes clear descriptions of accompanying processes.
5.2.10 All staff interviewed had current PMPs which included training objectives however this has not been translated into a comprehensive mission learning plan. LES staff referred positively to the Training Roadmaps prepared by the Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI). The MAO who is the Mission Learning Coordinator encourages staff to identify training activities; however, the mission reports a lack of funding restricts the opportunities available.
5.2.11 The mission has worked on strategies to address other issues related to CBS oversight such as opening and closing the mission, CBS availability to meet diplomatic courier deliveries, consular responsibilities and the receipt of passport inventory from Ottawa, to name a few.***. This has allowed more flexibility to work hours.
5.2.12 When new responsibilities are added, LES job descriptions need to be updated and priorities realigned to ensure staff have reasonable workloads and the risk of burnout is minimized. Currently there is no mechanism in place to ensure that mission-wide job descriptions are updated. In the past this was one of the roles of the Mission Classification Committee. When the classification function was taken over by the RSCEUS, the mission stopped its regular review of job descriptions. The mission is unaware of the role of the Regional Classification Committee.
5.2.13 Duties which were previously the responsibility of the MCO have been distributed. For example, the HOM is the Program Manager for Consular services. The FPDS Program Manager is the Mission Security Officer (MSO), a CBS Trade Commissioner is the deputy MSO, and the MAO manages the Common Services Section.
|Key HR Internal Control Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does Not Meet|
|Staffing actions are conducted in line with the Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau (ALD) guidelines.||X|
|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|
5.2.14 Through discussion with mission management it was determined that the HR processes and internal controls were *** in place; however, deficiencies in recruitment exercises at the mission in the past are recognized and indicate the need for more attention in this area.
5.2.15 The RSCEUS Intranet site is a well-developed resource which provides detailed information for both LES and management with guidelines and tools to help ensure policies are followed consistently. It would be helpful if links were added to guide users to other sites for detailed information related to a specific hiring process. (e.g. link to RCS Protocol page to find Green Card status information.)
5.2.16 The RSCEUS manages the use of a local company to perform background checks, social security number tracing and credit checks significantly reducing the work required of the mission during a hiring process. The mission conducts the reference checks.
5.2.17 The RSCEUS Letters of Offer template is used and these letters are signed by the HOM.
5.2.18 LES overtime and leave are managed through Shared Automated Personnel Services (ABRA). The audit of ABRA entries, such as a special leave request, is done manually. The CSDP accounts section has prepared their own tools to perform a check on entries before entering payroll into IMS. Although these are good steps to be taking, it is a labour intensive process. New department-wide processes being developed to manage LES will address some of these issues.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.2.19 The mission should develop an HR workplan that outlines how they will achieve HR actions written in the Business plan.
5.2.21 The mission should use the CSDP for ABRA transaction review and support for staffing and other HR functions.
5.2.22 The mission should build on the Training Roadmaps from CFSI and employees' PMPs to develop a mission-wide, cost-effective training plan.
Recommendations to RSCEUS
5.2.23 The role of Regional Classification Committees should be clarified.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.2.19 MAO will seek advice/input from CSDP HR Officer and RSC to strengthen HR work plan entered in Strategia. In Progress for May 2014.
5.2.20 ***. Implemented March 2014.
5.2.21 CSDP recently hired a new HR Professional. Opportunities for assistance and support will be explored by the Quadrant. In Progress for March 2015.
5.2.22 The mission will review data from staff Learning & Development plans to create an annual training plan and identify any common learning needs. In Progress for September 2015.
RSCEUS Actions and Timeframes
5.2.23 The RSCEUS is working with ALDC on a Virtual Classification Committee training pilot in order to establish a US VCC In progress for the end of FY 14-15.
5.3 Physical Resources
5.3.1 The physical resources functions at the mission are the responsibility of the LE-09 MAO who is assisted by an LE-05 Chancery Operations Coordinator and an LE-04 Receptionist. The GS-03 HOM Chauffeur position on the organizational chart reports to the Head of Mission (HOM); however, with the introduction of the new departmental policy on HOM vehicle usage and taxation, ***.
5.3.2 The section manages the chancery which is located on the 4th floor of a retail/business complex in central Boston. The location is easily accessible as it is near two of the main subway lines and one of the three city train stations, as well as a main highway intersection. The section also manages the Crown-owned official residence (OR). There are no staff quarters (SQ) as the other three CBS are in private leasing arrangements with little involvement from the mission. The mission fleet comprises two vehicles.
5.3.3 The lease for the chancery expires March 31, 2015. The mission and the Property Strategy Section (ARAK) recently finalized a lease renewal which includes a reduction in space at the current location, due to significant downsizing over the past few years. A reconfiguration of the space will be funded by a tenant incentive allowance provided by the landlord. The mission has worked extensively with ARAK to redesign the office to accommodate this reduction. It has been a challenge given the limitations on the scope of the reconfiguration and the allocated funding. Construction is expected to take place during 2014 which will allow the current excess space to be used as swing space during construction.
|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 is in place for receiving, processing and monitoring work orders.||X|
|Annual inspections are conducted to assess the state of staff quarters (SQs) and input into maintenance and acquisition planning.||N/A|
5.3.5 Overall physical resource functions are *** managed in the mission. The inspection team was not able to view the properties, but staff interviewed at the mission and officers from headquarters who had performed a security audit recently, reported the chancery to be in good condition. Significant changes will be made in the chancery in the coming year during the downsizing/reconfiguration project.
5.3.6 The mission does not have a work order system in place. Given the relatively small size of the mission and the properties managed, a sophisticated system is not required. There should be, however, a written record of all requests and actions taken. This will provide a historical base and allow analysis of the demands made on the common services program. It will also allow for better repair/replace analysis to be completed
5.3.7 Until the summer of 2013 the mission had a dedicated LES property resource. The LES working in the program had been there for several years and when the incumbent left, a significant amount of corporate knowledge was lost. The MAO and the Chancery Operations Coordinator are working diligently to put systems in place for maintenance of the properties and have access to this former employee for corporate history. If the mission developed a detailed workplan, it could request a review of the plan by the RSCEUS, CSDP, or another neighbouring mission, to ensure all aspects of maintenance of the two properties have been captured. The workplan should contain regularly scheduled maintenance items (e.g. clean gutters, furnace maintenance) as well as any approved work projects.
5.3.8 The GS-03, HOM Driver position has been vacant for some time as the incumbent is acting in the LE-06, Assistant to HOM position. He is providing both administrative and driving services to the HOM. This arrangement is satisfactory to both the incumbent of the LE-06 position and to the current HOM. However, this means that no other driver services are available to other members of the mission.
5.3.9 Given that the HOM vehicle was declared a fleet vehicle in the summer of 2013, a dedicated HOM driver position is no longer indicated. The mission has received approval from HQ to delay the conversion for operational reasons until the current HOM's departure in August 2014. Policy communications on this subject were provided to the mission at the time of the inspection to ensure they were aware of how they were to proceed.
5.3.10 The mission has not had the benefit of a common services driver/messenger position for some time and it does not appear to have had a negative impact on operations. The mission is encouraged to review the ongoing need to maintain this position.
5.3.11 Clients are satisfied with the level of service provided. The Mission Property Management Plan is up-to-date. The Mission Maintenance Workplan is up-to-date but contains few projects given that the focus is on the chancery *** under the lease renewal/downsizing project ***.
5.3.12 The mission has worked with ARAK to determine the space that will be returned to the landlord and to reconfigure the remaining space to meet operational needs. ARAK is working within the confines of the tenant incentive allowance (TIA) to complete the reconfiguration. Attempts to expand the scope would necessitate complicated project approvals which are not likely to meet with success in the current climate. The *** are reportedly not enough to satisfy all mission needs. The design is still under consideration and the exact amounts required will not be known until the scope of work is finalized and the tendering process complete. A prioritization exercise has taken place and the design goal is to incorporate as many priority items as possible. Construction will be undertaken and paid for by building management through the TIA.
Key Processes and Internal Controls
|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 fuel purchases are verified against consumption (e.g. mileage/usage rates for vehicles and generators).||X|
5.3.13 Overall, internal controls were found to be in place. Inventories are maintained by the Chancery Operations Coordinator. The inventory of the OR had recently been completed with the chancery to follow.
5.3.14 The mission will be downsizing their office space over the coming months and will have surplus office furniture/furnishings to be disposed. They are compiling a list of items that will be surplus and looking at options for disposal.
5.3.15 There are challenges to disposals as the office is located in a multi-tenant office building. Their lease does not allow them to run sales or have individuals or uninsured companies pick up materiel. The landlord requires only qualified haulers who are fully insured to access the building. The mission must identify companies that meet these criteria and who are willing to take surplus items. This limits significantly their ability to realize good prices for surplus materiel. However, the mission has documented these challenges and what they are doing to effectively dispose of materiel.
5.3.16 A review of disposal records for eight disposals, all held in 2012, was completed. The disposals were for a variety of items including IT equipment and surplus furniture from the OR. Problems were found in the completion of each Disposal Report including:
- A sign advertising the sale of OR surplus goods was posted in the public area at the Chancery and circulated amongst staff. Higher prices may have resulted from external advertising;
- At the same sale, although there was no indication of malfeasance, the purchase procedures did not always follow departmental policy (see Materiel Management manual, Chapter 7.1);
- In some cases, the original cost for items was indicated instead of the amount received when in fact, the items were scrapped and no money was exchanged;
- The company that collected the materiel was not noted;
- Forms were not consistently signed by the person managing the process, nor by the HOM; and
- In the case of IT equipment disposals, the reports did not include a certification that items were sanitized in accordance with IM-IT policies.
5.3.17 The LE-06, Assistant to the HOM, who is also the only driver, manages the mission vehicles including their usage, maintenance and gasoline purchases. Vehicle logs are maintained. Gasoline is purchased using a gasoline credit card which is linked to a commercial fleet management system. A unique PIN and the vehicle mileage are required to be input when each user makes a purchase, which provides good control. The monthly credit card bills are reviewed and reconciled by the Assistant and approved by the MAO. The statements received from the fleet management company *** provide information on gasoline usage. The Mission Fleet Management Guidelines indicate that oversight from the MAO in checking vehicle logs is required. The addition of the MAO's review of *** statements will also contribute to greater control.
5.3.18 The *** fleet management system in place in the mission is a system that provides good controls and reporting. Some benefits are:
- Security on the use of credit cards (need for a unique user PIN and mileage input);
- Consumption rates that are out of the ordinary are flagged;
- The card can only be used for gasoline therefore low risk of other purchases being made;
- The card can be used at any gas station, anywhere across the U.S.; and
- As part of the service, the company provides a list of the least expensive gas to assist in trip planning.
5.3.19 The RSCEUS may wish to explore the benefits of implementing a US-wide fleet management system, which would standardize gasoline purchasing and controls across the country.
5.3.20 The LE-06 Assistant arranges for maintenance on the vehicles ***. A competitive process should be undertaken, inviting a number of businesses to provide standard pricing to form a basis for the selection of garages for servicing the mission's vehicles.
5.3.21 One of the mission vehicles had an accident at the time of the inspection. As a result of this accident, the mission learned that there was a U.S.-wide insurance policy managed out of the Transportation and Warehousing Services Unit (AAGW) of the International Program Branch. In addition to covering third-party liability, this policy covers collision which the mission was able to use. This is in contrast to the normal situation in missions around the world where the missions only hold third-party liability policies.
5.3.22 Cleaning of the chancery is included in the lease for the building. This is working well. Cleaning of the OR is done by a private cleaning person who only cleans the representational areas. The HOM takes care of the balance of the cleaning of the house. Given the low dollar value of the work being completed, a competitive process may not be necessary but the mission could obtain standard pricing from local cleaning services and keep this information on file to justify that the amount paid to the cleaning person is in line with the local market costs.
5.3.23 There were issues with rental ceilings during the last rotation of CBS arriving in the mission. In all cases exceptions were requested and granted to raise the rental ceiling. The RSCEUS and ARAK understand the unique rental market in Boston and are prepared to review the ceilings again should incoming CBS experience problems in securing appropriate accommodations. The review would take place after the CBS have arrived and made efforts to identify suitable housing within the present ceiling.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.3.24 A work order system should be put in place which provides a written, historical record of all requests and actions taken.
5.3.25 The mission should prepare a property workplan and have it reviewed to ensure regular and preventative aspects of maintenance of the two properties have been captured.
5.3.27 Inventories of all assets should be completed and reviewed periodically by the MAO to ensure they are up-to-date and accurately reflect the holdings.
5.3.28 The MAO should regularly review vehicle logs and fleet management statements and investigate and document reasons for any anomalies that may come to light.
5.3.29 A competitive process should be undertaken inviting a selection of garages to provide standard pricing to form a basis for the selection of garages for maintenance.
5.3.30 Standard pricing from local cleaning services should be obtained and held on file in order to justify the price being paid to the cleaning person at the OR and ensure the amount paid is commensurate with local market costs,.
5.3.31 The mission should proceed with putting all aspects of the policy on the reintegration of HOM-dedicated vehicles into the mission fleet in place at the time of the current HOM's departure in August 2014.
Recommendations to Physical Resources Bureau (ARD)
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.3.24 Beginning in FY 2014/15, all staff have been asked to submit work orders by e-mail. The Common Services Assistant will receive these and take appropriate action and follow-up. Implemented March 2014.
5.3.25 The mission will develop a maintenance plan for mission properties for FY 14/15 and will request a review by the CSDP. In Progress for June 2014.
5.3.26 ***. In Progress for December 2014.
5.3.27 The Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) inventory project was completed in December 2013 for OR assets. Once the chancery reconfiguration is completed in summer FY 14/15, the mission will look to implementing RFID at the chancery. In Progress for December 2014.
5.3.28 The MAO reviews vehicle logs in conjunction with the vehicle booking calendar monthly when approving the payment of the gasoline invoice. Any anomalies will be investigated and documented. Implemented December 2013.
5.3.29 The mission will obtain pricing from a selection of local garages in April 2014 for start of FY14/15. In Progress for April 2014.
5.3.30 Quotes will be obtained from local cleaning companies before the OR Housekeeping contract is renewed for FY14/15. Implemented April 2014.
5.3.31 The mission has retained the HOM-dedicated vehicle. Personal usage was reported as taxable benefit in January 2014.***. In Progress for December 2014.
ARD Actions and Timeframes
5.3.32 ***. In Progress for end of FY 2014-15.
5.4.1 Financial responsibilities were decentralized at the mission after the introduction of the regionalization model for common services. An LE-09 MAO, supported by an LE-05 Chancery Operations Coordinator is responsible for transactions and the budget related to common services. The program assistants, under the direction of their program managers and with some guidance from the MAO interact directly with a CSDP at the Consulate General of Canada, New York. The regionalization model for common services in place in the U.S. divides the country into quadrants. Boston is part of the North East Quadrant served by a CSDP and by the RSCEUS.
5.4.2 Services from the CSDP are provided by a section consisting of an LE-09 Financial Management Officer (FMO) and four financial assistants, all under the direction of a Deputy Management Consular Officer (DMCO). An FMO and finance staff at the RSCEUS provide oversight on financial management for the entire network of missions in the U.S. They are the first point of contact for questions from CSDPs and also perform a training function for missions and the CSDPs. At HQ, Financial Operations, International (SMFF) supports finance functions through the Regional Manager for the Americas and a team of financial analysts.
|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).||N/A Financial transactions take place at the CSDP.|
|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.||N/A|
5.4.3 The launch of the CSDP model for the mission was advanced when the mission accountant *** prior to the planned implementation of regionalization. The CSDP was in the process of merging the financial sections of the Consulate General of Canada New York and the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations, thus the timing was not ideal to transition this mission. The service model has now solidified and the mission reports receiving good service from the CSDP with payments being made within the service standard. The deletion of the accountant position at the mission in March 2012 and the move to the regional model indicates a need to define roles and responsibilities. The CSDP is providing support for FINSTAT and budget management which is seen as a challenge to assistants who are learning financial reporting and payment tasks. Although the mission is quite independent in their contracting functions, increased contracting support would assist the programs in following good practices.
5.4.4 In the past, when an accountant was present in the mission, the HOM had frequent meetings and was confident in his understanding of the budget situation. He also completed the bank reconciliation with the MCO each month which gave him the opportunity to view monthly transactions which further provided a review of expenditures at the mission. ***.
5.4.5 Another challenge to the HOM is that FINSTAT reports do not reflect timely data partly due to delays in entering acquisition card expense information into IMS. To mitigate the problem, PAs take the time consuming steps to maintain parallel accounting systems to track and reconcile expenditures that have occurred but are not yet included in IMS. Missions are being encouraged to use acquisition cards because they provide efficiencies, but the lag manifested by the billing cycle and inefficiencies in getting transactions coded and recorded in IMS need to be addressed. Currently credit card purchase reconciliations are sent to the CSDP weekly instead of monthly in the last quarter of the fiscal year. This should be explored as a practice throughout the year. In addition, there may be improved procedures for recording in IMS the payment of larger recurring expenses such as utility bills currently paid by acquisition cards
5.4.6 The mission is minimizing financial transactions and the issuance of cheques, by requiring new merchants to accept electronic funds transfer for payment or to accept payment with an acquisition card. In addition to the reduced payment transactions, the use of the Mission Online Payment Services (MOPS) has resulted in nearly eliminating cash receipts from the Consular program. MOPS generates the Integrated Management System (IMS) entry and the reconciliation of consular clients' credit card payments is centralized at HQ, further reducing the mission's workload.
5.4.7 As noted in the Common Services overview, *** and those implicated in the mission. The responsibility for the administration of program finances has been delegated to the program assistants (PA) supporting the HOM, FPDS, CE, and Common Services programs. Before the CSDP roll-out, PAs had minimal involvement in the payment of invoices, contracting, or tracking their programs' budgets. PAs require clear definitions of their role and procedures for all types of transactions that they may be exposed to as well as tools to ensure that they are working as efficiently as possible with the CSDP.
5.4.8 The CSDP has developed a job aid to help PAs generate IMS reports. They have also developed a checklist that outlines all necessary steps including the documents required for a payment request. If PAs sign the checklist to attest to the completeness of the payment package, and submit this with the payment request, this could further assist the mission and the CSDP in efficiently processing payments. Complete payment packages reduce the need for follow-up communication between the mission and the CSDP, reduce delays in processing and IMS input, and help make FINSTAT reports more current. A CSDP-run training session at the mission for PAs and the MAO in February 2014 will not only help to improve services but will support relationship building between the mission and the financial staff in the CSDP.
5.4.9 The mission hired a consultant to develop a tool to assist PAs in completing payment documents. This was deemed necessary given the limited financial and IMS knowledge of the PAs. This system needs to be maintained and updated as changes are made in the departmental systems. This results in added costs to Boston. The mission along with the CSDP should assess the cost/benefit of maintaining the mission-owned system.
5.4.10 The removal of the centralized accounting section at missions means that policies and procedures for financial file retention need to be documented and PAs trained on financial file management to ensure files are being safeguarded and stored for the required length of time.
5.4.11 SLAs have been developed and used between missions and CSDP in other parts of the world; however, a formal agreement, clearly defining service, is not in place between the CSDP, the RSCEUS and the mission.
Key Processes and Internal Controls
|Key Finance Internal Control Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does Not Meet|
|Financial signing authorities are exercised by individuals who possess the appropriate delegation of authority.||X|
|The asset and liability report is reviewed on a monthly basis.||X|
|A CBS receives the original monthly bank statement directly from the bank and reviews it prior to giving it to the accountant.||N/A|
|Revenues are deposited into the mission bank account daily, or if not cost effective, within a week of receipt, per the Financial Administration Act: Receipt and Deposit of Public Money Regulations.||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|
|Travel and hospitality claim processes ensure that policies and guidelines are adhered to and that the completeness and accuracy of the claim is verified.||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|
5.4.12 Financial internal controls are exercised both at the mission and at the CSDP where transactions are recorded. Section 32 of the Financial Administration Act (FAA) is signed at the mission, certifying that there are funds for the payment. In some cases, when accountants at the CSDP entered the mission's invoices for payment, there were not sufficient funds in the fund centre to cover the cost in contravention of Section 32 of the FAA.
5.4.13 The authority for Section 34 of the FAA, which authorizes a payment by certifying that the good(s) was received or the service provided, is delegated to the program managers at missions. Section 33 of the FAA authorization is delegated to the CSDP and certifies that account verification took place, the payment is lawful and there are funds appropriated to cover the cost. It is important that roles and responsibilities at the mission and CSDP are clear to ensure that the extent of account verification at the mission and the extent of the pre-payment audit at the CSDP are known to each party and the authority who signs Section 33.
5.4.14 We confirmed that the asset and liability report is being reviewed at the CSDP by the FMO however it is not sent back to the mission. As a result, management at the mission was not aware of who had this oversight responsibility in this regionalized model, or that the review was being done.
5.4.15 ***. New mission specific procedures for the *** generated by consular clients should be documented. With the closing of mission bank accounts, communication to the CSDP has become particularly important because multiple deposits, originating from several missions, are made to the quadrant bank account through bank branches in the mission cities.***.
5.4.16 The CSDP has a checklist to be used for travel and hospitality claims which assists the PAs in ensuring claims are complete before sending to the CSDP.
5.4.17 The HonCon in Portland, Maine ***. To ensure clarity, when a new HonCon is appointed the mission should provide a list of admissible expense that will be considered for reimbursement as well as details on how these should presented for repayment. A good practice is to include this information as an appendix to the letter of appointment. Otherwise, misunderstanding could arise regarding what will be paid by the mission and what remain the responsibility of the HonCon.
5.4.18 The CBS have private leasing arrangements and no charges of a personal nature are reportedly paid by the mission.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.4.19 Program assistants should sign a checklist attesting to the completeness of a payment request and include it with the documents sent to the CSDP.
5.4.20 The mission, working with the CSDP should explore solutions to reduce the lag in inputting into IMS the coding of transactions for purchases made with acquisition cards particularly larger payments such as utility bills.
5.4.21 The mission should review the cost/benefit of maintaining the custom system designed to assist program assistants with payments.
5.4.22 Mission policies and procedures for financial file management and retention should be developed, documented and communicated to staff.
5.4.24 The mission and CSDP accountants should clarify the extent of the audit of claims undertaken by the mission and then by the CSDP and if necessary, seek standardization of the process to ensure responsibilities are clear for the process.
5.4.25 The asset and liabilities report, which is reviewed by the CSDP, should be sent to the mission on a monthly basis to ensure that outstanding liabilities are addressed in a timely manner.
5.4.27 Written instructions should be provided to HonCons that clearly outlines what expenses are admissible and how they should be presented for reimbursement. This should be referred to in the letter of appointment and appended to the letter.
Recommendations to the CSDP and RSCEUS
5.4.28 The CSDP should look at ways to better engage HOMs in their financial operations and to provide them with tools to exercise their accountabilities.
5.4.29 The CSDP should take steps to ensure that their mission clients, particularly the trade program assistants, are aware of the contracting support offered.
5.4.30 The mission should be provided with a copy of the certified asset and liability report monthly so they are aware of its contents and can action appropriately.
5.4.31 PAs should be asked to submit a signed payment request checklist with payment requests.
5.4.32 Clearly documented procedures, tools and training need to be provided to mission staff, especially PAs, to ensure they are working as efficiently as possible with the CSDP. The development of checklists for travel and hospitality claims which clearly assigns roles would be a type of tool which would be helpful.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.4.19 A new checklist for acquisition card logs, introduced by the CSDP is currently in use. Implemented February 2014.
5.4.20 Processing time for the posting of acquisition card purchases has improved in FY13/14. For the last month of Q4, acquisition card logs have been submitted on a weekly basis to further decrease lag time. This issue will continue to be monitored by the Quadrant. With the improved processing time of payment requests, mission recognizes that it does not need to rely on acquisition cards for timely payments to vendors as much as in previous years. In some cases, such as utility payments, acquisition card is the best method of payment (as they do not accept EFT payments). Implemented March 2014.
5.4.21 The cost/benefit of the custom payment system will be reviewed at start of the new FY with new coding. In progress for May 2014.
5.4.22 The mission will work with the IM Improvement Program (AIMI) and with the IM/IT team at the RSC to standardize filing procedures. In progress for August 2014.
5.4.23 The MAO will work with CSDP to arrange a quick refresher course on signing authority and/or send reminder messages for those with signing authority. In progress for December 2014.
5.4.24 This was discussed during CSDP Accountant visit to Boston in February. It was agreed that CSDP will provide copy of any claims audited and adjusted for a value of $10 or more. Implemented February 2014.
5.4.25 The CSDP will provide mission with A&L report on a monthly basis. Implemented April 2014.
5.4.26 A new deposit record form was developed by the mission, in consultation with the Quadrant, and deposit procedures have been clarified and documented. Implemented December 2013.
5.4.27 This will be done upon appointment of new Honorary Consul. In progress for June 2014.
CSDP/RSCEUS Actions and Timeframes
5.4.28 The CSDP will liaise with the MAO to establish areas of enhancement of support to the HOM to exercise their accountabilities. The CSDP will be launching new format budget reports for senior management across the Quadrant on an established and regular monthly schedule. The CSDP will also consult the RSCEUS on enhanced management of HOM expectations further to the regionalized model. In progress for June 2014.
5.4.29 The CSDP has provided the MAO with contracting tools and templates used at the CSDP, and will work with the MAO to develop a virtual training session for mission program assistants to enhance awareness of contracting procedures. In progress for July 2014.
5.4.30 The CSDP will provide the asset and liability report on a monthly basis to the MAO. In progress for May 2014.
5.4.31 The CSDP will engage mission program assistants in the next quarterly outreach videoconference call to implement the step to have program assistants attest and sign the checklist previously developed and provided by the CSDP, in order to mitigate incomplete payment requests. In progress for May 2014.
5.4.32 In addition to checklists for acquisition card payments used by the program assistants, the CSDP will launch travel and hospitality claim checklists across the Quadrant. Quarterly video conference calls and annual outreach by the CSDP Finance team to missions will continue to clarify policies, procedures and tools available. In progress for August 2014.
5.5 Information Management - Information Technology (IM-IT)
5.5.1 Services are provided to the mission by the Mission IT Client Support Section in HQ (AISZ) which arranges technical visits four times per year to conduct maintenance, installations and provide support. The Information Technology Professional (ITP) position was deleted effective March 31, 2009 resulting in no dedicated IM-IT resources present in the mission. There are 20 Signet accounts.
|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 the regional manager is effective.||X|
|The mission uses the required IM-IT service request system and maintains relevant data.||X|
5.5.2 Requests for service by end-users are made through the on-line service request system. The LE-05 common services Chancery Operations Coordinator is the designated Information Technology Professional Contact Person (ITPCP). The ITPCP role is to perform regular duties such as weekly back-ups and act as the "hands and eyes" of the Information Technology Professionals (ITP) in AISZ. All other service requests are to be made directly to headquarters by the staff requiring the service, through the on-line service request system. The ITPCP has been fielding all requests for service from users. He tries to solve the problem himself but if he cannot, he submits the on-line service request. This is beyond the intended scope of the job.
5.5.3 The duties and the scope of service associated with the ITPCP designation should be clearly outlined and be included in the job description for this position. Should the designation be changed to another staff member, the associated duties should be transferred to the job description of the staff member now responsible. It is important to note that this role can be undertaken by any staff member, not necessarily a common service resource. However, in this case, it would appear that the Chancery Operations Coordinator is well suited to the role.
5.5.4 In order to assist staff in becoming more autonomous, the mission may wish to consider arranging an IM-IT session for all staff. Recently an ITP from a CSDP delivered a one-day session for all staff at another mission. Topics covered included an overview of all IM/IT tools, collaborative tools, information management/awareness, and social media. This would assist in improving staff knowledge and confidence in these areas and increase their ability to use these tools with minimal or no support. The investment in providing this type of training would ultimately pay off in a reduction of service requests as well as a greater use of the tools available.
5.5.5 The number of BlackBerry users in the mission is high. Of the 20 staff members, the only one not assigned a BlackBerry at the time of the inspection was the Receptionist who had just been hired. The mission should develop a policy which clearly outlines the criteria to be applied for the assignment of a BlackBerry and the justification for such an assignment.
Key Processes and Internal Controls
|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|
|Employees formally sign out IT assets (mobility tools) and are advised of their accountabilities.||X|
|Surplus IT assets are disposed with the appropriate approvals per departmental policy.||X|
5.5.6 ***. There is no sign-out system for IT assets (e.g. blackberries, laptops, etc.) nor are agreements signed by blackberry users.***.
5.5.7 ***. In the meantime, AISZ will consider sending a broadcast message to missions communicating a suggested good practice pending the review and release of a policy. This will bring consistency to the storage of back-up drives.
5.5.8 There were issues related to the documentation around the disposal of obsolete/surplus IT assets which is outlined in the physical resources section of this report. A recommendation for improvement on this was made in that section.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.5.9 The duties of the ITPCP in the mission should remain restricted to those defined by HQ with all requests for service being routed through the on-line service request system by the individual in need of the service.
5.5.10 The job description of the ITPCP should be changed to reflect these additional duties.
5.5.11 The mission should explore the possibility of having an ITP visit the mission to conduct a training session for all staff on the use of IM-IT, collaborative tools and good information management practices.
5.5.12 The mission should develop a policy with clear criteria including cost recovery of personal use for the assignment of blackberries to staff.
5.5.13 A sign-out system should be instituted for all IT assets.
5.5.14 There should be a BlackBerry usage agreement signed by anyone issued a mission BlackBerry.
Recommendations to Information Technology Client Support (AID)
5.5.15 AISZ should develop a policy *** and communicate it to all missions.
5.5.16 Pending the development of the policy on the ***, AISZ should send a message to all missions outlining good practices in this regard.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.5.9 Mission staff will be advised of the role of the ITPCP by the end of April 2014. In progress for April 2014.
5.5.10 ITPCP duties are included as part of the LE-05 position job description. Implemented April 2013
5.5.11 The MAO met with IM Regional manager at the RSCEUS in January 2014 to discuss possible training opportunities in FY 14/15. In progress for August 2014.
5.5.12 BlackBerry policy is currently being developed to outline current plan details and cost recovery. In progress for April 2014.
5.5.13 IT assets will be relocated to a central location and a sign out system instituted and monitored. In progress for June 2014.
5.5.14 BlackBerry usage agreement document will be developed and signed by all at mission at the start of FY14/15. In progress for April 2014.
HQ Actions and Timeframes
5.5.15 AISZ will develop a procedure on the *** and communicate it to the ITPs in the field ***. In progress for April 2014.
5.5.16 Please see the response to 5.5.15. Since the procedure will be communicated before end of April 2014, AISZ does not feel that another message is warranted. In progress for April 2014.
Appendix A: Mission Resources Fact Sheet - Boston
|Head of Mission||3||1||2|
Appendix B: Frequently Used Acronyms
- Shared Automated Personnel Services - the primary human resources management system for U.S. Missions
- Alternate Command Post
- Advocacy Planning Template
- Consular Case Management Program - part of COSMOS
- Canadian Entrepreneurs in New England
- Canadian Technology Accelerator
- Canada-based staff
- Commercial Economic
- Commercial Economic Plan
- Canada Fund for Local Initiatives
- Committee on Mission Management
- Consulate General in New York
- Consular Management Information Program
- Contingency Plan
- Consular Management System
- Contract Review Board
- Common Service Delivery Point
- Client Service Fund
- Client Support Regional Manager (IM-IT)
- Canadian Technology Accelerator
- Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
- Duty Officer Manual
- Deputy Management Consular Officer
- Deputy Mission Security Officer
- Economic Outcomes Facilitated & Opportunities Pursued
- Electronic Funds Transfer
- Emergency Management
- Emergency Response Team
- Foreign Direct Investment
- Financial Management Officer
- Financial Status
- Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service
- Foreign Service Information Technology Professional
- Full Time Equivalent
- Fiscal Year
- Global Commerce Strategy
- Global Security Report Program
- Global Value Chains
- Head of Mission
- Honorary Consul
- Human Resources
- High Security Zone
- International Business Development
- Information Communication Technologies
- Information Management - Information Technology
- Integrated Management System
- Information Technology
- Information Technology Professional
- Information Technology Professional Contact Person
- Integrative Trade Strategy Fund
- Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional
- Locally engaged staff
- LES Management Consultation Board
- Mission Advocacy Activity Tracker
- Mission Administration Officer
- Management Consular Officer
- Mission Emergency Plan
- Mission Financial Officer
- Mission Housing Committee
- MM Module
- Materiel Management Module of IMS
- Mission Maintenance Workplan
- Mission Online Payment Services
- Memorandum of Understanding
- Mission Security Officer
- Mission Property Management Plan
- Mission Planning and Reporting
- North American Platform Program
- New England
- Official residence
- Operations Zone
- Program Assistant
- Post Initiative Fund
- Program Manager
- Performance Management Agreement
- PMP (HR)
- Human Resources - Performance Management Program
- Consular - Passport Management Program
- Physical Resources Information - Mission Environment
- Private Sector Investment Champion Speaker Program
- Regional Emergency Management Officer
- Request for Proposal
- Regional Maintenance Officer
- Registration of Canadians Abroad
- Regional Service Centre
- Regional Service Centre for US, Washington, D.C.
- Service Level Agreement
- Small and Medium Size Enterprises
- Security Program Manager
- Science and Technology
- Senior Trade Commissioner
- Staff Quarters
- Security Zone
- Trade Commissioner
- Trade Commissioner Assistant
- Tenant Incentive Allowance
- Terms of Reference
- Total Compensation Review
- Trade Commissioner Service
- The TCS' Client Relationship Management System
- United States
- Video Conference Network
- Office of the Inspector General
- Missions Inspection Division
- Date Modified: