Inspection of the Embassy of Canada - Brussels, Belgium
March 3-10, 2014
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD)
Office of the Inspector General
- 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: The Mission of Canada to the European Union (Common Services)
- Appendix B: Mission Resources Fact Sheet
- Appendix C: Frequently Used Acronyms
Inspection Scope and Objectives
The scope of the inspection included a review of Mission Management and the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service (FPDS), Commercial Economic (CE) and Consular programs. The inspection objectives were to:
- Assess the effectiveness of the leadership and management practices of the Head of Mission (HOM) and the mission management team;
- Review the alignment of plans and activities, and program integration to Government of Canada and departmental objectives and priorities;
- Assess the adequacy of management controls and systems, procedures and the reliability of information for decision making and accountability purposes;
- Determine the extent of compliance with legislation, regulations and operating policies;
- Evaluate the use of resources to determine that they are judiciously used and if value-for-money is received; and
- Make recommendations, where warranted, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the mission and its programs.
The focus and extent of on-site work was based on an assessment of materiality and related risk. This was done through communication with headquarters 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 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.
An inspection of Mission Management, the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service (FPDS), Commercial Economic (CE) and Consular programs was conducted in Brussels, Belgium, from March 3 to March 10, 2014. A previous inspection of these programs took place in 2008.
The Embassy of Canada to Belgium and Luxembourg is a small mission with four Canada-based staff (CBS) and nine locally engaged staff (LES). It is responsible for program delivery in both the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The priorities of the mission are centered on the promotion and advocacy of Canada’s political and economic interests in these countries, such as public affairs, international trade and investment.
The mission is under the leadership of an EX-02 (substantive EX-01) Head of Mission (HOM) who has served in his role since the summer of 2012. The recent downsizing of the mission, followed by significant changes in the management team and the mission’s move within the chancery, has resulted in the HOM taking *** steps to maintain good morale and communication. Notwithstanding these efforts, a number of key management controls require attention, notably performance measurement in line with strategic planning.
The management and staff within the FPDS and CE programs demonstrate *** but the two programs ***. Recommendations have been put forward to improve planning and communication in both programs.
The day-to-day operations of the Consular program are functioning well and working effectively. Feedback regarding client service is positive with passport service, in particular, being delivered well within the standard departmental timeframe. Staff report significant workloads but no supporting evidence could be drawn from the program’s consular statistics.
The mission is co-located with the Mission of Canada to the European Union (mission to the European Union [EU]), from which it receives common services; as such, common services will not be covered in this report. The Joint Delegation of Canada to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), also located Brussels, likewise benefits from common services coordinated by the mission to the EU. The three missions meet regularly and work collectively on areas of mutual interest, but there is no formal agreement in place regarding the overall governance structure, particularly as it pertains to common services.
A total of 41 recommendations are raised in the report: 36 are addressed to the mission and 5 to the three missions in Brussels. 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 all 41 recommendations have been implemented.
1.1.1 The Embassy in Brussels is a small mission with four CBS and nine LES. It is responsible for program delivery in Belgium and Luxembourg. *** is co-located with the mission. The mission oversees the Honorary Consuls (HonCons) in Hansbeke, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
1.1.2 The mission is managed by an EX-02 HOM (substantive EX-01). He is responsible for overall operations and oversees an operational budget of $100,000, as reported by the mission. The mission shares a Crown-leased chancery with the mission to the EU. The property portfolio for all three missions in Brussels, including all housing for CBS, is managed out of the mission to the EU. When appropriate, the mission will be referred to as the bilateral mission to distinguish it from the mission to the EU and the mission to NATO, which is also located in Brussels.
1.1.3 Of note, Canada-Belgium political relations remain strong with cooperation in many multilateral fora and shared objectives related to international security, governance and development. 2014 marks the 75th anniversary of Canada-Belgium diplomatic relations, the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belgium during the Second World War. Canada’s commercial relations with Belgium are also good. Belgium is the 6th largest investor in Canada within the European Union (EU) and the 5th largest export market for Canadian goods going to the EU.
1.1.4 Canada and Luxembourg also enjoy strong political and economic relations that were forged through Canada’s contributions during World War II. Canada and Luxembourg continue to cooperate closely in international organizations. Luxembourg is also the 3rd largest European investor in Canada and 4th largest in the world.
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 The HOM is ***. He speaks regularly with his managers and involves himself in their programs ***. Although informal communication is good, the FPDS and CE program managers would likely benefit from individual meetings with the HOM on a weekly basis. Scheduled meetings would allow managers to better plan which topics they should raise and what they expect in terms of guidance. More fulsome meetings might also permit the HOM to mentor program managers and work *** with them to set priorities and manage workloads.
1.2.2 Overall, the mission is operating well despite undergoing significant change in recent years. Over the 2013-14 fiscal year, there was turnover of three of the four managers – the FPDS and CE program managers and the Management Consular Officer (MCO). During that same period, the mission underwent a physical move, consolidating it on the 2nd floor of the chancery that is shared with the mission to the EU. This move followed a significant downsizing of the mission, which included a number of position deletions in the FPDS and CE programs, a transfer of responsibility for the Common Services program from the bilateral mission to the mission to the EU, and a change in the accommodation for the HOM from an Official Residence (OR) to a Staff Quarters (SQ). Despite these challenges, the mission is looking forward to future opportunities, staff members remain motivated and the working environment is generally positive.
1.2.3 The HOM has taken *** steps to rebuild morale at the mission following this difficult period. There have been team-building events and a retreat in the fall of 2013 was used to build cohesion and discuss departmental and government priorities. Continued attention to morale will be important to maintain positive momentum and help the mission adapt to its current resource base.
1.2.4 The mission’s strategic objectives, as expressed through planning documents and conveyed through interviews, are consistent with governmental and departmental priorities. However, the mission’s strategic objectives do not guide performance measurement objectives. Neither the FPDS nor the CE program manager has Performance Management Program documents in place. Establishing performance objectives would assist staff in establishing priorities, managing workloads more efficiently and transitioning to more proactive work. Planning processes could also be improved to ensure greater focus on the highest-value activities, which would ensure the efficient use of limited resources.
1.2.5 Communication within the mission is generally good. Frequent informal communication works well in this mission considering its small size and that staff are comfortable approaching one another. As well, a management meeting takes place every two weeks. It serves as a forum to exchange information, discuss activities and address mission-specific management issues. The participants see value in this process and find the discussions relevant and useful. The mission does not, however, hold these meetings whenever the HOM is absent, which can result in long periods without formal discussion among the management team. The chargé d'affaires could chair the meetings in the absence of the HOM, as his external responsibilities require frequent travel.
1.2.6 The values and ethics of the public service are promoted and reinforced. The mission has held an information session on the values and ethics code and conveyed that it encourages employees to revisit the code on an annual basis.
1.2.7 As identified above, the mission´s property portfolio is managed out of the mission to the EU. In response to cost reduction commitments, it was decided to eliminate the OR for the bilateral mission and move the HOM into an SQ. The HOM is currently housed in a Crown-leased apartment SQ that is located in a good neighbourhood close to the mission. The SQ was selected prior to his arrival at the mission and *** as a family space or for representational purposes.
The Tri-Mission Governance Structure
1.2.8 Canada has three missions in Brussels: the bilateral mission, the mission to the EU and the mission to NATO. The missions work together on areas of mutual interest and their governance structures share some common elements, including mission committees. Although the missions work well together, there is no memorandum of understanding to outline the joint governance structure, each mission’s role and responsibilities and the services that are delivered from each mission. Developing a formal agreement would help to ensure that the structure is sustainable, roles are clear and service provision is consistent. This is especially relevant to the Common Services program, which is managed out of the mission to the EU but with staff at both chanceries.
1.2.9 Management decisions affecting all three missions, including the approval of common policies and procedures, are taken by a body made up of the MCO, the FPDS program manager at the bilateral mission and the Deputy HOMs (DHOMs) of the missions to NATO and the EU – referred to henceforth as the tri-mission Committee on Mission Management (tri-mission CMM). This is complemented by occasional meetings of the three HOMs, who discuss and decide upon any high-level or otherwise sensitive issues.
1.2.10 The tri-mission governance structure works well in this environment. Managers across the three missions are confident that the appropriate management decisions are taken when required. As well, the structure enhances consistency and helps the missions meet their governance obligations in an inclusive and efficient manner. It would nonetheless be beneficial for the tri-mission CMM to meet on a scheduled basis to increase consistency and regularity in decision making.
1.2.11 The missions could also communicate more effectively the discussions and decisions that take place at the tri-mission level. Notes are taken at the tri-mission CMM but minutes from only two meetings are available on the shared network drive. Information on governance committees is not consolidated in one location, and there is inconsistent awareness of the missions’ overall governance structure and what opportunities may exist to participate in committees. Increasing transparency around these structures would reinforce communication from management and help staff understand the rationale behind decisions.
1.2.12 LES across the three missions reported positive rapport and communication with management. The LES Management Consultation Board (LESMCB), which is shared by all three missions, functions well as an official forum for dialogue. The LES representatives conveyed that they feel management takes their views, concerns and suggestions seriously; they consider the Board an improvement over previous structures. However, some technical areas still require attention. For example, the Board has not been meeting on a quarterly basis and not all LES are aware of its mandate. As well, the LES representatives should attempt to consult their colleagues in a consistent manner ahead of board meetings. The LES are also encouraged to select representatives that reflect the diversity of position levels and programs at the missions.
1.3 Whole of Government
|Key Whole-of-Government Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does Not Meet|
|Mechanisms are in place to ensure a whole-of-government approach is taken for mission and program planning.||X|
|Mission and program plans are implemented in a coordinated manner to ensure policy coherence and effectively leverage the Canadian presence.||X|
|Partner departments contribute to the overall effective governance of the mission and its operations.||X|
|Common services are provided in line with the memorandum of understanding and any issues are addressed at CMM.||X|
1.3.1 *** is the only partner co-located with the bilateral mission. Nonetheless, the importance of a whole-of-government approach is recognized by mission management. The HOM takes interest in and offers his support to the *** program but also respects the boundaries inherent to the work. Mission management also takes into account the interests of other partner departments and agencies that are accredited to Belgium as well as with the province of Quebec, ***.
1.3.2 In the fall, the mission held a retreat to discuss departmental and government priorities and identify how they relate to the mission’s work. As well, annual consultations are held with the General Delegation of Quebec to discuss priorities. While good practices, there is some scope to improve planning among the programs at the mission. It was suggested that CBS would benefit from a presentation on the work of the *** program to help inform them of common interests. As well, including the Consular program in planning discussions for FPDS and CE events could help identify opportunities to combine consular outreach with other activities.
1.3.3 Overall, the programs are working well to implement their plans in a coordinated manner. Program managers readily share information and cooperate in the delivery of their objectives. Outcalls are undertaken in a coordinated fashion whenever it makes sense to do so. The mission also sustains positive relationships with other Canadian missions in the region, especially with The Hague, which benefits efficiencies and program delivery.
1.3.4 The *** partner present at the mission expressed his satisfaction with the common services provided to his program.
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 The bilateral mission and the mission to the EU share the same emergency preparedness framework. They meet all the key criteria and are proactive in this area. The missions continue to review planning documents and proactively seek ways to improve their ability to respond to a crisis. For example, the composition of the existing emergency response team (ERT) is under review to ensure that individuals are assigned roles that best suit their experience, responsibilities at the mission and competencies.
1.4.2 The mission emergency plan (MEP) is up to date and the MCO is liaising with Headquarters and the Regional Emergency Management Office ***. ***. The appropriate systems are in place ***and they are tested regularly.
1.4.3 One element that could be improved is the ***. It was conveyed that *** in case of an incident that might affect them, such as the ***.
1.4.4 The Consular program reported having good relationships with key local authorities and the MCO meets her counterparts from like-minded missions regularly. As well, the Consular program organized a visit to the Belgian Crisis Centre to learn more about the host country’s approach to emergency preparedness. Like-minded missions were included in this visit, which helped to strengthen existing networks.
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 mission is meeting all criteria with respect to official languages. An Official Languages Coordinator has been identified and acts in this role for the bilateral mission and the mission to the EU. The majority of employees are fluently bilingual in both official languages, which helps ensure that clients can receive service in the official language of their choice. Signage directed at the public is provided in both English and French.
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||N/A||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 The inspection identified a number of key management controls that require refinement or improvement:
- Hospitality documentation: the documentation did not, in all cases, sufficiently identify the activity’s intended purpose and communicate the full value of the activity;
- PMPs: a number of employees, including the FPDS and CE program managers, do not have formalized PMPs;
- Training: the mission does not have a coordinated training plan or a related budget;
- Passport counts: the HOM reviews the quarterly passport count report ***; and
- HonCons: the performance of HonCons is only reviewed upon renewal of their appointment, which occurs every three years.
1.6.2 It is noted that program mangers do receive the appropriate financial information to manage their programs and that the missions’ hospitality guidelines were reviewed recently by the tri-mission governance structure.
Recommendations to the Three Missions in Brussels
1.7.1 A formal agreement should be established among the three missions in Brussels to clearly define roles and responsibilities, identify the level of services provided by the Common Services program and outline the agreed upon governance structures.
1.7.2 The tri-mission CMM meetings should take place at least once per quarter. Meeting minutes should be taken and actively distributed to appropriate staff across the three missions.
1.7.3 The three missions should work together to consolidate all committee information in one location for ease of access. Staff should be informed of the missions’ overall governance structure including the tri-mission components.
1.7.4 The mission should review and adhere to the Locally Engaged Staff Bureau’s guiding documents on the LESMCB, including the terms of reference. Some recommended improvements include that:
- the board meet quarterly at minimum;
- the LES across all three missions be informed of the mandate of the board and the terms of reference that govern its operation; and
- a systematic approach be taken by the LES representatives to ensure that all LES are informed of upcoming meetings of the board and consulted on what issues could be raised.
1.7.5 Planning for the *** should be established, and a test should be carried out this fiscal year.
Recommendations to the Bilateral Mission
1.7.6 The mission should review its strategic plans to identify clearly the highest value activities and ensure that they cascade into the performance objectives of employees.
1.7.7 Formal management meetings should continue on a regular basis, even when the HOM is absent from the mission.
1.7.8 The strategic objectives established during key planning periods should be discussed and shared across the mission with a view to identifying common interests and enhancing ongoing collaboration.
1.7.9 The mission should ensure *** are aware of the relevant protocols and procedures to follow in an ***.
1.7.10 Management should remind staff of their *** responsibilities and review the related policies and procedures with them.
1.7.11 Supervisors should formally review performance for this fiscal year with employees and provide feedback. For fiscal year 2014-15, the mission should adhere to the guidelines and timelines for the implementation of the Public Service Performance Management Program.
1.7.12 All employees using hospitality funds should review the content of the Official Hospitality Outside Canada online course (FI4801) and familiarize themselves with the HOM Guide to Hospitality Outside Canada on GeoConcerto.
1.7.13 The professional development needs of all employees, including program managers, should be reviewed, and a mission-specific training plan should be established, drawing from the learning plans in the Public Service Performance Management Program.
1.7.14 The HOM *** the quarterly passport reconciliation in addition to signing the report.
1.7.15 The performance of HonCons should be formally reviewed on an annual basis. Mandate letters should also be revisited to ensure they are up to date and expectations are clear.
Three Missions 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 A memorandum of understanding has been developed and is under review by the three missions. In progress for September 2014.
1.7.2 The tri-mission CMM meetings are held every 6-8 weeks and complemented by tri-mission HOM meetings each quarter. Minutes from these meetings are posted on the shared wiki. Implemented April 2014.
1.7.3 The wiki has been updated to include a section on tri-mission governance. A list of the committees will be posted there, along with the related minutes (if possible). If it is not appropriate to post committee minutes on the wiki, these will be saved on the shared network drive and the link will be made available on the wiki. In progress for September 2014.
1.7.4 The LESMCB terms of reference and all meeting minutes are posted on the wiki. The committee has met frequently since 2010, although many meetings were informal consultations. Since July 2013, four formal meetings have taken place and the committee will continue to meet quarterly. The LES members of the committee have proposed ideas to reach out to other LES in the missions. In progress for October 2014.
1.7.5 The mission has tested its emergency telephone tree calling protocol and other emergency systems. A visit *** is scheduled for the next fiscal year, at which point a *** exercise will be conducted. In progress for February 2015.
Bilateral 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.)
1.7.6 The mission will review its strategic plans following a mission management retreat. In progress for September 2014.
1.7.7 Official management meetings continue to take place, even when the HOM is absent from the mission. Implemented August 2014.
1.7.8 From this point forward, strategic objectives will be discussed and shared across the mission to identify common interests and enhance collaboration. Implemented August 2014.
1.7.9 The security committee for the bilateral mission and the mission to the EU has reviewed the issue ***. This approach will be followed for the 2014 posting season. In progress for September 2014.
1.7.10 Staff will be reminded of their *** responsibilities. This will be done through the CMM and through the general staff meeting.
1.7.11 Supervisors have had discussions with employees related to performance last fiscal year, and goals have been established for this fiscal year. However, due to the visit of the Governor General and the "Global Business Leaders Series" to be held in the days following the visit, not everything has been finalized formally. This will be done in mid-November. In progress for November 2014.
1.7.12 All employees have reviewed the content of the online course on official hospitality outside of Canada and familiarized themselves with the HOM Guide to Hospitality Outside Canada. Implemented August 2014.
1.7.13 An organizational learning plan has been developed to address common requirements as identified by managers based on employee learning plans. Needs specific to a program or individual are managed within the program. Implemented June 2014.
1.7.14 As of Q1, the HOM *** in the quarterly passport reconciliation in addition to signing the report. Implemented June 2014.
1.7.15 A performance review was done recently with one of the HonCons. Annual reviews will be initiated for both HonCons this fiscal year. In progress for March 2015.
Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service (FPDS)
2.1.1 The FPDS program is managed by an FS-03 Program Manager who is supported by three employees: one LE-09 Public Affairs Officer, one LE-07 Political & Economic Officer and an LE-05 Administrative Assistant. The administrative assistant provides service to both the FPDS program and the HOM. The program’s financial resources, as reported by the mission, are provided below.
|Post Initiative Fund||4,857|
2.1.2 The program’s main focus for the 2014-15 fiscal year is public affairs, particularly the commemorative events marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War, the 70th anniversary of the Second World War, the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and the EU, and the 200th anniversary of the Treaty of Gent. In addition, the program monitors and reports on Belgian and Luxembourgian political and economic issues.
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 Members of the FPDS program expressed *** reviews of the program manager’s management style, noting that she speaks *** with staff on their files, ***, and *** shares communications from management meetings. The program manager’s assignment began at the end of August 2013. Due to the timing of the assignment confirmation, ***. She conveyed that she would benefit from future opportunities ***.
2.2.2 FPDS planning is an area that could be improved. While input to Strategia was discussed and consulted within the program, the objectives articulated for the upcoming fiscal year are broad in nature. The plan in Strategia should include a more detailed breakdown of the program’s main objectives and commitments, such as communications, media relations, advocacy, political reporting and commemoration event programs. These commitments, or activities, should also be linked to desired outcomes. As well, performance review criteria for FPDS initiatives should be built into planning, such as the outcome from media interactions, commemoration events, and e-communications.
2.2.3 The establishment of more specific FPDS objectives could assist the program in conducting its activities on a more proactive basis. The development of objectives could be discussed in a planning exercise. Consideration could be given to organizing a joint retreat with the CE program. This would benefit both programs and ensure coordination as some objectives and commitments between the two programs are related. Contracting an external facilitator to manage the planning may provide a beneficial outside perspective.
2.2.4 Communication within the FPDS program is mostly informal. The program manager meets and speaks daily with each individual on the team. Formal meetings are scheduled on a bi-weekly basis and alternate with the mission’s all-staff meetings. However, conflicting operational commitments sometimes result in the cancellation of these meetings. It will be necessary to ensure that meetings take place as scheduled so that day-to-day work does not trump broader communication and strategic discussions.
2.2.5 Roles and responsibilities for officers in the program are generally clearly established, but this is not the case for the LE-05 Administrative Assistant position. The administrative assistant is currently a shared resource between the FPDS program and the HOM. Given workload constraints, the Trade Commissioner Assistant (TCA) is also providing some support to the FPDS program, for example, on budget matters. As the assistants provide service to multiple programs, it is important to ensure roles and responsibilities and the division of tasks are clear for each assistant.
|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 timely, relevant and in line with mission and government objectives.||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 A coordinated advocacy strategy prepared by the FPDS program does not presently exist. Such a tool could break down silos between programs, particularly between the FPDS and CE programs, and would serve as a document that could be used by the whole mission.
2.3.2 The program manager is in regular contact with the geographic desk officer responsible for the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg). FPDS staff members have also noted that they receive regular feedback and/or queries from the director of the EU/European Bilateral and Institutional Relations division with respect to program reporting. The EU division has also given positive reviews of FPDS reports.
2.3.3 As the program’s only CBS, the program manager receives *** transmitted through the SIGNET-C computer system. At times the volume of demarches and reporting requests can be significant. When appropriate, it is recommended that the program manager converse with Headquarters to determine if some tasking contains non-classified elements that could be shared with and addressed by LES.
2.3.4 E-communications are a strong thread in the FPDS program and the program recently received approval for a Twitter account. In addition, there is good coordination between the bilateral mission and the mission to the EU. The public affairs officers in the two missions serve as back-ups for one another for their respective mission’s websites.
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 Performance measurement is an area that requires improvement. The program has not established a means to monitor or assess FPDS activities, including the outcome or value of the program’s initiatives. However, the FPDS program does utilize the Mission Advocacy Activity Tracker (MAAT) to report on advocacy activities. It was also cited for its positive cooperation with the Planning, Advocacy and Innovation Division at Headquarters.
2.4.2 The program’s hospitality diaries do not always clearly link activities to program priorities. Associated documentation should clearly state the purpose of each event, as well as the resulting outcome.
Recommendations to the Mission
2.5.1 The program should include more of its key business lines within Strategia (e.g. communications, media relations, political reporting, etc.).
2.5.2 The program should develop a workplan that outlines key activities and links human and financial resources to strategic and measurable objectives.
2.5.3 A yearly program exercise should be scheduled to discuss and identify objectives, key indicators, and expected results for activities for the coming year.
2.5.4 Roles, responsibilities and individual objectives for the FPDS and CE administrative assistants vis-à-vis the programs they serve should be clearly outlined.
2.5.5 A cohesive advocacy plan should be developed in close coordination with other mission programs, particularly the CE program.
2.5.6 A performance measurement system should be implemented to monitor activities on an ongoing basis and assess results against strategic objectives.
2.5.7 Lessons learned through the assessment of results should be captured and applied to future planning.
2.5.8 The program manager should review hospitality documentation to ensure it clearly states the purpose of the event, evaluates if and how value for money was achieved and identifies the outcome, such as any follow-up that was taken or that 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 Changes have been made to the desired results section of Strategia to list the main relevant business lines. In progress for October 2014.
2.5.2 A workplan plan has been established and it links activities to human and financial resources. The plan is reflected in the performance agreements of the employees and the program's budget. Implemented August 2014.
2.5.3 Program objectives have been set and discussions have addressed key indicators and expected results. Planning is in progress for activities that will take place this autumn. In progress for September 2014.
2.5.4 Objectives for the two assistants have been set. A meeting will be held soon to assure that the division of tasks is clear. In progress for September 2014.
2.5.5 An advocacy plan was submitted and approved in April of 2013. Discussions between the FPDS and CE programs have taken place and revisions to the plan will soon be made. In progress for September 2014.
2.5.6 Results are evaluated through discussion and also by reporting through departmental tools. Due to workload, some entries in one of the two systems are behind schedule, but measures are in place to remedy the situation. In progress for December 2014.
2.5.7 At the end of each activity, notes are taken on whether to repeat the activity or not. The recommendations are kept together in a binder, which lists all events / celebrations to which the embassy has been invited. This system allows us to quickly see what has been done that has been recommended in the past to make decisions for activities that repeat each year. For other more specific events, debriefing takes place after the event / activity and notes are kept on file. Now, the program reviews its activities more systematically to ensure that lessons learned are applied. Implemented April 2014.
2.5.8 Reports on every activity are reviewed by the program manager, who ensures that documentation indicates the purpose of the activity, evaluates value for money and what were the results. Reports are now reviewed more systematically and rigorously. Implemented April 2014.
Commercial Economic (CE)
3.1.1 The CE program is managed by an FS-03 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC). The STC is supported by two Trade Commissioners (TCs), one at the LE-09 level and the other at the LE-07 level, and one LE-05 TCA. The program covers Belgium and Luxembourg. Its financial resources, as provided by the mission, are provided below.
|Client Service Fund (CSF)||15,217|
3.1.2 Canada and Belgium enjoy a strong commercial relationship, with significant trade flows, two-way investment levels, science and technology cooperation, and interest on both sides for further cooperation and growth. Belgium is a sophisticated marketplace of more than 11 million consumers with a higher GDP per capita than the United Kingdom, France or Germany. For the period of January to November 2013, Canada’s exports to Belgium totalled $2.1 billion, making it the 14th most important export market globally. Foreign direct investment stock from Belgium in 2012 totalled $4.7 billion, making Belgium the 6th largest investor in Canada from the EU (the 14th largest investor globally).
3.1.3 Although small in size, Luxembourg has the 2nd highest GDP per capita in the world and has achieved a high level of economic development as a result of its success in adapting quickly to emerging trends in the European and global economies. Canada-Luxembourg commercial ties have diversified in recent years, ***. For 2013, Canada’s merchandise exports to Luxembourg totaled $93 million (ranking 79th for global exports).
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 Compounding circumstances within the CE program in recent years are driving the need for strategic realignment within the program. First, two LE-09 TCs and one LE-06 TCA position were eliminated. Following these cuts, the team saw a nine month gap between program managers before the arrival of the STC in September. To date, the STC, ***, has been largely focused on the implementation of sector initiatives; however, attention should be shifted to working with the team to shape the program’s course and fine-tune its activities in line with its reduced workforce.
3.2.2 Overall, the program is delivering on its commitments, but additional direction is needed to improve planning within the team. Although the main activities outlined in the 2013-14 CE program plan (CEP plan) are aligned with departmental and Government of Canada priorities, they are too ambitious for the current size of team. The same is true for the plan outlined in Strategia for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
3.2.3 The program needs to take a more collaborative approach when setting objectives for the year. For the 2014-15 fiscal year, planning was discussed at program meetings but no dedicated session took place. Officers wrote their action plans in consultation with the STC, the multi-country sector teams and with some input from Headquarters. Consultation with the FPDS program, which could have opened opportunities to collaborate on projects, share information and explore new opportunities, did not take place. An annual third quarter planning exercise, complemented by ongoing strategic discussions, would be beneficial for the program. A session that involves FPDS colleagues is also recommended.
3.2.4 The current CEP plan and the Strategia plan for fiscal year 2014-15 contain too many proactive priority sectors. Given the size of the program, it should only have two to three priority sectors (i.e. one per officer). Allocating, at minimum, 0.5 full time equivalent (FTE) of a position should ensure fulsome attention to the sector and permit the successful delivery of objectives. Once the sectors have been determined, a full rationale should be outlined in the respective action plans to communicate why the sector was selected and the opportunities and challenges that exist in the region. A detailed outcall plan for each of the priority sectors should also be added to the action plans.
3.2.5 At the time of the inspection, the program did not have any results noted in the CEP plan for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which indicates a lack of reporting throughout the year. In addition, the performance indicators for fiscal year 2014-15 were set without a firm methodology behind the target numbers. The program should revisit the targets and also make adjustments based on the refocused priority sectors.
3.2.6 The human resource allocations by functional area in the program plans do not accurately reflect the work undertaken within the program. For example, about 0.4 of an FTE is allocated to Canadian Direct Investment Abroad for the current and upcoming fiscal year, but this number does not coincide with the day-to-day activities reported by the TCs.
3.2.7 Communication within the program could be improved. Program meetings do not occur on a regular basis, adhere to any structure or convey information from CMM meetings. In addition, the new office configuration has placed the STC’s office in a secure area, which hinders impromptu discussions with the team. The STC will thus have to *** meet and exchange with all staff members on a regular basis, both informally and formally.
3.2.8 In addition, roles and responsibilities need to be updated for the entire team. In particular, the TCA’s job description needs to be refined to capture the service provided to the HOM and the FPDS program.
|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 All members of the CE program exhibit a strong enthusiasm for and dedication to their work; however, this needs to be adequately captured and channelled. The program does not have an appropriate performance measurement framework in place; neither the STC nor his staff has established in the PMP system.
3.3.2 Although initiatives align with key departmental priorities, the sector focus is too broad for strong coverage, especially with the small number of staff. The 2013-14 strategy focused on 6 priority sectors (and 13 non-priority sectors) whereas the 2014-15 strategy has expanded to 10 priority sectors. The 2014-15 strategy must be refined to ensure adequate pro-active coverage of selected key sectors.
3.3.3 The use of TRIO2 has been emphasised within the program and reporting is generally on track, although usage is inconsistent amongst team members. A review of the data at team meetings should be conducted by the TRIO champion to encourage timely reporting and assess where the team is in terms of targets and reporting.
3.3.4 The InfoCentre position was cut as part of departmental cost-saving measures. The function now resides with the TCA who monitors the program’s inbox and 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 The CE program largely relies on TRIO2 and the International Business Development Dashboard to evaluate the performance of activities and services. Strategia should also be used to record, track and measure results.
3.4.2 By strengthening the planning process, the program will be better positioned to justify performance targets and measure results. A quarterly review of program performance and results would contribute to the program’s understanding of its strengths and weaknesses and its ability to plan strategically. Activities should be assessed throughout the year with adjustments made to the plan to reflect changing conditions and the ability of the mission to deliver on its initiatives.
3.4.3 Hospitality reporting is generally well done. Links to specific initiatives should be indicated to show how the meeting/event ties into overarching goals of the program. The CE program does not have a hospitality plan; instead the commitment of these funds is managed on an event-by-event basis. As a result, the program is not sufficiently planning the use of these funds as a resource to advance program objectives.
Recommendations to the Mission
3.5.1 To improve planning, the STC should ensure that the following practices are put in place:
- An annual planning retreat to discuss the strategy and potential initiatives and to assess priority sectors;
- Meetings with individual team members to discuss initiatives; and
- A planning session with the FPDS program.
3.5.2 The program’s Strategia plans should be modified in the following ways:
- The proactive priority sectors should be limited to two to three.
- Realistic performance targets should be set against the performance indicators.
- The allocation of human resources by functional area should be refined to reflect an accurate account of how the work will be conducted.
3.5.3 The STC should ensure active and regular communication with staff through regular staff meetings, bilateral meetings, email, as well as frequent informal discussions with staff.
3.5.4 Roles and responsibilities for all members of the program should be clarified, and job descriptions updated as required.
3.5.5 The performance objectives set in managers' PMPs should cascade into staff PMPs.
3.5.6 The STC should monitor the use of TRIO2 to ensure reporting is consistent, timely and of high quality.
3.5.7 The STC should ensure timely reporting in Strategia in order to track and assess performance of activities.
3.5.8 Hospitality funds should be clearly aligned with outcalls and events in Strategia.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
3.5.1 A planning retreat is scheduled for November. In addition, individual meeting with team members will be established, as well as with the FPDS program. In progress for November 2014.
3.5.2 Performance targets and the allocation of human resources were refined in the final 2014-2015 plan in Strategia. The remaining recommendation, related to reducing the number of priority sectors, will be undertaken at the planning retreat in mid-November. In progress for November 2014.
3.5.3 Given the other means of communicating among a small team, as flagged in the report section (e.g. email or telephone), the usefulness of a weekly meeting has been discussed and may be too burdensome. However, a bi-weekly program meeting has been established. Program meetings will follow a standard agenda that includes: administrative items (including CMM debriefs); upcoming events; visits or matters of interest; sharing of information on past events and other items. Implemented August 2014.
3.5.4 Roles, responsibilities and job descriptions will be reviewed and updated following the program's planning retreat. In progress for November 2014.
3.5.5 Cascading performance objectives will be established following the program's planning retreat. In progress for November 2014.
3.5.6 A system to monitor TRIO reporting has been implemented. This subject is now raised every two weeks at the program's staff meeting. In progress for September 2014.
3.5.7 Reporting in Strategia is now tracked on a spreadsheet, which is discussed at program meetings and circulated for info and comment. Implemented August 2014.
3.5.8 Discussions were held on hospitality and proposals are reviewed prior to commitment to ensure alignment with the priority sectors and with priority partners of the mission. Implemented August 2014.
4.1.1 The Consular program is under the overall management of an EX-01 MCO. Day-to-day operations are the responsibility of an AS-06 Deputy MCO (DMCO), who is supported by an LE-09 Consular Officer and an LE-06 Consular Assistant. The program’s CBS management is principally based out of the mission to the EU whereas the LES positions are dedicated to the bilateral mission.
4.1.2 The mission provides consular services to Canadians in Belgium and Luxembourg. The HonCon in Luxembourg works approximately 80% of the time on the provision of consular services. The one in Flanders (Hansbeke, Belgium) works on consular issues 20% of the time. *** with a similar breakdown in responsibility. The program’s financial resources, as reported by the mission, are provided below.
4.1.3 The program provides approximately 1000 passport services, 150 citizenship services, and 180 notarial services per year. As of January 2014, there were 823 registrants in the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) system for Belgium and Luxembourg. A more accurate estimate, according to the mission, would be approximately 5,000 in Belgium and 600 in Luxembourg. This does not account for all the visitors passing through Belgium, particularly during the summer season. Complex consular cases are rare and there were no high-profile cases at the time of the inspection. Historically, cases are cleared quickly as local authorities and systems work well and allow for efficient handling.
4.1.4 The Order in Council appointment for the HonCon in Luxembourg ***.
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||N/A||N/A|
4.2.1 Overall, the program is *** managed and functioning effectively under the direction of the MCO and DMCO. Two LES deliver *** front-line services. The DMCO has formal bi-weekly meetings with the consular staff but also meets with them informally on a regular basis. The MCO keeps the HOM informed of consular operations and attends the mission’s management meetings and raises any consular issues deemed relevant. Given that there are few complex cases, ***.
4.2.2 The consular staff report high workloads; however, a review of operations and of the consular statistics did not support this. The DMCO responsible for the Consular program should review the workload and delivery methodologies to identify efficiencies.
4.2.3 In response to this perceived high workload, the two part time LE-04 Receptionists of the collocated mission to the EU also provide some passport and consular services. It is estimated that 50% of their time is spent on consular activities. However, the dedicated consular resources should be sufficient to handle the volume of work. In addition, many of the tasks delegated to the receptionists ***. Considering that one of the receptionists is the back-up to the consular assistant, it is important that she maintain some consular knowledge and skills. To ensure this, it would be appropriate to ask her to process a passport file from time-to-time.
4.2.4 ***, but has contact with Canadians throughout the country who could assist ***. The mission has plans to expand outreach activities to reach a wider range of consular contacts as well as Canadians in the community.
4.2.5 The passport error rate is higher than the global average but normal for a program of this size. However, *** have been mainly attributed to *** issues. The DMCO should attempt to determine if training or other solutions could assist in lowering the error rate.
4.2.6 A new entry requirement was introduced in the Schengen Zone (which includes Belgium) whereby a passport with a validity of at least three months beyond the intended date of departure is required. The mission stated that *** during the transition period for this new requirement. However, the mission was unable to say when that transition period would end and, along with it, ***. The mission should consult with local authorities to determine when ***. The entry/exit requirements are clearly outlined in the department’s travel advisory.
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. They receive regular written feedback from clients that shows a high rating of client satisfaction. For example, based on feedback forms from the period of June to October 2013, approximately 85% of clients indicated that they were very satisfied with the services provided. The consular officer reviews all feedback, particularly suggestions for improvements, and adjusts service delivery when possible.
4.3.2 Passport services are currently delivered in five-to-six days, which is much quicker than the 20-day standard. A computer has been installed in the lobby that can be used by clients to access information about Canada as well as on services not provided by the mission (e.g. visas).
4.3.3 The program has good capacity in both French and English. Information displayed in the waiting room and consular interview booths is available in both official languages.
4.3.4 The Consular Corporate Management Division (CNA) noted the program operates well but also spends a higher than average amount of time on immigration issues. The mission should determine the cause of this and work to bring it in line with other missions. Although, the program prints visas for diplomatic and official travellers on behalf of the Immigration program in Paris, the volume is not burdensome.
4.3.5 The Consular program spends significant time on the legalization of documents. The volume of service requests is sufficiently large to warrant the preparation of an information sheet that can be provided to clients to explain the complex process for legalizations in Belgium.
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, internal controls are good, but there is a need for minor improvements ***.
4.4.2 The mission has four passport approvers: three MCOs as well as the Foreign Service Administrative Assistant at the mission to NATO. Because of the high number of approvers, the mission has been able to provide back-up services to The Hague.
4.4.3 The program maintains minimal paper files because information on consular cases is recorded in the Consular Management System (COSMOS). Passport and citizenship files are maintained ***. The program has not been destroying passport files regularly and has approximately *** of files on hand. A shredder is readily available so there are no impediments to regular destruction.
4.4.4 The consular officer follows appropriate procedures to record revenue information and transfer funds ***. When custody changes due to absences, formal custody change procedures should be followed.
4.4.5 *** responsible for the Consular program is the custodian of the bulk passport supplies, which are stored securely ***. Although effective controls are in place to manage this stock and to document the use of supplies ***. New supplies are received in the mission ***.
4.4.6 As noted under the mission management section of this report, *** with the DMCO. The monthly inventories are completed as required.
4.4.7 The HonCons have not been provided with a detailed list of admissible expenses. This should have been provided with their respective letters of appointment. Consular and finance staff should also be provided with this list, so a proper audit of submitted claims can be guided by this approved document.
Recommendations to the Mission
4.5.1 The program should undertake a review of the workload and service delivery methodologies in the Consular program to identify efficiencies.
4.5.2 The use of the EU Receptionist position for consular service should be reviewed to ensure it is not utilized beyond basic and back-up services.
4.5.3 The program should take steps to reduce/eliminate passport issuance errors.
4.5.4 Consultations with local officials should be undertaken *** to the new Schengen Zone passport requirements will be put into effect.
4.5.5 The program should review the recording of time spent on immigration actions to determine the reason for the high average.
4.5.6 The program should prepare an information sheet that can be provided to clients on the complex process for document legalizations.
4.5.7 Passport files should be destroyed regularly in accordance with policy.
4.5.8 The program should ensure proper ***.
4.5.9 New passport supplies should be received by two CBS in accordance with policy.
4.5.10 The HonCons should be provided with a detailed list of admissible expenses; this should also be provided to the Consular Officer and Finance staff so they may conduct audits of claims against approved admissible expenses.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
4.5.1 The program has reviewed its work and services and is streamlining its workflow to gain efficiencies:
- Using of batching to process passport applications according to the service delivery timeframe;
- Using new tools to better organize files for improved sequence of work;
- Responding to calls in a more reasonable timeframe and based on priority;
- Strictly referring inquiries on immigration to the mission in Paris;
- Mailing new passports to reduce client traffic and time with clients;
- Reducing the errors in passport ***;
- Creating info sheets to better inform clients; and
- Following a consular workplan to track workload and to focus on priorities.
In progress for March 2015.
4.5.2 The role of the receptionist position at the mission to the EU has been reviewed and now only provides back-up assistance to the Consular program. Implemented June 2014.
4.5.3 The mission has reviewed the causes of passport issuance errors and will work with Passport Canada to clarify naming ***/decisions. In progress for March 2015.
4.5.4 The mission is in contact with counterparts of the host country concerning Schengen rules including new requirements for passport requirements. However, there is *** from the host nation on the effective date and on the application of the new passport rules. The mission will continue to pursue this information. In progress for March 2015.
4.5.5 The mission has identified that a number of factors that resulted in a large amount of time being spent on immigration-related queries. The program has since been more firm and consistent in referring clients to the responsible mission. As well, it is now clearly stated in the program’s voicemail that such queries will not be addressed by the mission. This will be complemented by ongoing efforts to direct all immigration calls and correspondence to the mission in Paris. Implemented July 2014.
4.5.6 An information sheet on document legalization has been discussed and will be prepared. In progress for November 2014.
4.5.7 The program has reviewed the policy on the destruction of passport files and will implement the appropriate practices this year. In progress for March 2015.
4.5.8 The program has started to adhere to appropriate ***. Implemented June 2014.
4.5.9 In the future, passport supplies will be received by two CBS. Implemented August 2014.
4.5.10 A list of admissible expenses for HonCons is under discussion and will be provided to the HonCons and Finance staff this year. The Finance section was involved in the development of the list. In progress for October 2014.
The mission to the EU provides all common services to the bilateral mission, which includes managing physical resources and the property portfolio. Considering this close relationship and the co-location of the two missions, the inspection findings for the Common Services program of the mission to the EU are included as a reference in Appendix A.
Appendix A: The Mission of Canada to the European Union (Common Services)
Excerpt from the report dated December 16, 2014 on the inspection of the Mission of Canada to the European Union from February 24 to March 10, 2014.
5.1.1 The Common Services program is managed by an EX-01 Management Consular Officer (MCO) supported by an AS-06 and an AS-05 Deputy MCO (DMCO). A CS-02 Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) leads the IT section and an AS-02 Head of Registry Services, stationed at the mission to NATO, also reports to the Common Services team. The LES management team consists of the following:
- LE-09 Financial Management Officer
- LE-09 Deputy Director Housing Services
- LE-07 Common Services Officer – Property
- LE-07 Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional (LEITP)
- LE-07 General Services Officer
- LE-07 Office Manager (located at the mission to NATO)
5.1.2 The program is supported by an additional nine LES office and seven non-office staff at the mission to the EU and three LES positions at the mission to NATO.
5.1.3 The program is responsible for providing common services to the three missions in Brussels. The mission to the EU and the bilateral mission share the same chancery downtown; the mission to NATO is located at NATO Headquarters, which is about 6 kilometers away.
|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 The Common Services program has been faced with *** of challenges in the last 12 to 18 months. These include:
- The transfer of the Common Services program from the bilateral mission to the mission to the EU. The HOM for the mission to the EU now has overall responsibility for Common Service delivery;
- The designation of the mission as a Common Service Delivery Point (CSDP) for financial services, which will eventually entail providing services to ***;
- The reduction of ***, which required common service support and continues to affect resource requirements;
- The undertaking of a renovation project to release surplus space at the chancery following staff reductions. The Common Services program managed the project in partnership with the Regional Service Centre for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (RSCEMA);
- The implementation of the private-leasing model for CBS accommodations. The mission has completed two relocation cycles under this model, which has been a cultural change for some CBS, as well as for the Common Services program;
- A reorganization of the Physical Resources section that involved changes in staffing and roles and responsibilities; and
- Preparations for upcoming moves of both chanceries in Brussels. The lease for the chancery shared by the mission to the EU and the bilateral mission ***, and NATO Headquarters will move around the same time, ***.
5.1.5 Notwithstanding the above, the program provides good service under the direction of an *** MCO. The MCO arrived at the mission in 2013 and, although early in her mandate, demonstrates a *** grasp of the program’s challenges, and has developed plans to improve services and review the organizational model for further efficiencies.
5.1.6 The program is appropriately represented in the governance structures of the three missions. She meets frequently with the HOM and DHOM of the mission to the EU to discuss the program and provide regular financial updates. As well, she attends the tri-mission CMM in addition to the management meetings of the bilateral mission and the mission to the EU. One of the DMCOs represents the program at the mission to NATO.
5.1.7 An up-to-date business plan for Common Services is in place. The MCO held a series of mini-retreats with each section of the program, which staff indicated was a good opportunity to contribute to the planning commitments. Each section of the program should develop operational workplans that detail the activities that will enable the section to meet its objectives.
5.1.8 Many Common Services policies and procedures exist and are available on a wiki. This provides a good basis for sharing policies and procedures. The ongoing challenge is to keep the site up to date and ensure that clients are aware its contents. A significant number of employees across the three missions are not aware of Common Services policies and procedures or what information is available on the wiki. Proactive communications are required to increase awareness.
5.1.9 In general, internal communications in the Common Services program are good. The MCO holds weekly meetings with section managers and monthly meetings with the entire program. Each section meets regularly, and there is good cooperation among the teams. Of note, the close proximity of finance and physical resources staff facilitates communication and collaboration. The FSITP and LEITP also share an office, which has also helped foster a strong working relationship.
5.1.10 Clarity around roles and responsibilities is an area that requires attention. For example, changes in the organizational model for the Physical Resources section are not fully understood by staff. In addition, *** has become a catch-all for duties that remained from positions that were eliminated or re-assigned during the reorganization. Other shifts in responsibilities have also occurred due to the *** leave of one of the two DMCOs and the elimination of the LES Human Resources Officer position from the mission. A review should be undertaken to ensure an appropriate distribution of duties, and role and responsibilities should be made clear to program staff and their clients.
|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|
5.1.11 The program has a strong client-service orientation and clients reported that they are generally well served.
5.1.12 The service standards were last revised in 2012 and will be updated when the new service standard template is released. There are separate, and out-of-date, service standards for the mission to NATO. The program should create one document that applies to all three missions and, if necessary, add an addendum to cover services that are unique to one particular mission. Once established, standards should be communicated to clients.
5.1.13 The program does not have a formal feedback system or an automated work order system. Service requests are received through a variety of means including verbal requests and e-mail. Some inconsistencies were reported with respect to service delivery and communication from the Physical Resources section, which received an estimated 1,800 work requests over the last year. With this high level of demand, a formal work order system could provide:
- A basis for repair/replace analysis, demand analysis and measurement of performance against service standards; and
- A mechanism for communication with and feedback from the client.
5.1.14 The program provides services in support of mission events and activities that go beyond its responsibilities. For example, the program organizes the provision of refreshments and cleans dishes. This puts pressure on the program, and in particular the handymen, who are frequently tasked with providing event support.
5.1.15 There are Service Level Agreements (SLA) in place under the CSDP model with the client missions receiving financial services (Tunis and Bamako). Plans are in place to add SLAs as new client missions begin to receive financial service from the program.
5.1.16 There is no agreement in place to outline the services provided by the RSCEMA to the missions in Brussels. While the services provided from the RSCEMA are still evolving, it would be advisable to have an agreement in place so that roles and responsibilities are well understood.
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|
5.1.17 In general, contracting and procurement processes are respected and good systems are in place. Purchase orders are used for small purchases and are initiated through the materiel management module (MM) of the Integrated Management System. Contracts are also entered in MM.
5.1.18 Some improvement is required to establish contracts for recurring expenditures, mainly in the Physical Resources section. Examples where contracts could be put in place include property inspection services, security alarm maintenance, and temporary help. The mission has a few standing offers (SO) in place, but it was found that they were not always used properly. For instance, in one case, the mission had an SO with a company but did not use a call-up when requesting services or reference the SO when making payments. It is also important to ensure that SOs accurately reflect vendor names.
5.1.19 The mission has an effective mission Contract Review Board (CRB) that is guided by up-to-date terms of reference. It fulfils a challenge function, documents the contracting process, and has a good mix of virtual and in-person meetings. To ensure consistency, the program has developed a standard contract request package to use when a contract requires CRB approval. The thresholds used to submit contracts to the CRB ***.
5.1.20 A review of select electronic and paper contracting documents indicated that proper policies were respected. There is an orderly structure to the electronic files on the shared drive and hard copy files provide a historical base.
5.1.21 The mission should look to expand its list of suppliers and contractors. The Physical Resources section, in particular, should look at developing a contractor database and expanding their list of acceptable service and goods providers. The MCO attends a regular meeting with her counterparts from other missions in Brussels. The group is looking at developing a common database of contractors sharing in each other’s experience. This will help the mission achieve a wider span and introduce more competitiveness.
5.1.22 The mission has a significant amount of surplus furniture and furnishings for disposal due to the move to private leasing. In addition, office space at the chancery shared by the mission to the EU and the bilateral mission has recently been downsized from four floors to three. As a result there have been no major acquisitions in the past two years and instead, the mission is challenged with disposal of surplus materials. Further details and recommendations are contained in the Physical Resources section of this report.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.1.23 Workplans related to the program’s planning commitments should be developed by each common services section.
5.1.24 Responsibility for maintaining the common services section of the missions’ wiki should be assigned and strategies put into place to increase client awareness.
5.1.25 Roles and responsibilities should be reviewed and clarified for common services staff as well as communicated so that clients understand who to contact for what service.
5.1.26 Service standards, which are applicable to all three missions, should be updated and made accessible to clients.
5.1.27 Program performance should be monitored against the service standards.
5.1.28 A system should be established to capture and address client feedback.
5.1.29 The mission should review the appropriate level of Common Services support for events.
5.1.30 The mission should put contracts in place when there will be recurring payments for the same service.
5.1.31 The mission should review guidelines on the proper use of standing offers and establish internal procedures to ensure they are followed.
5.1.32 The Terms of Reference for the mission’s CRB should be modified to respect the departmental policy on thresholds for CRB review.
5.1.33 The program should develop and execute a strategy to expand the mission’s contractor and supplier base.
Recommendations to the Regional Service Centre for Europe, the Middle East and Africa RSCEMA
5.1.34 A formal agreement between RSCEMA and the mission should be put in place outlining the services provided.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.1.23 Section plans have been integrated in a Consolidated Workplan for Common Services and Consular, based on the guiding principles behind the fiscal year 2014-15 Strategia objectives. Implemented June 2014.
5.1.24 There is now a person in charge of monitoring our wiki on a regular basis to ensure it is updated. Common services have been using this tool for a few years to communicate useful information to employees. We will continue to encourage clients to consult it. Implemented June 2014.
5.1.25 A document outlining 'who is who' in Common Services has been created and will be shared when the wiki is updated. In progress for October 2014.
5.1.26 The mission has updated its service standards; the Tri-Mission CMM will review them prior to distribution. In progress for September 2014.
5.1.27 The Property section has begun using new shared tools (a task list that can be tracked) to organize service requests. The mission plans to implement the "Remedy" work order solution as soon as it is available to missions. In progress for December 2014.
5.1.28 The mission is in touch with the RSCEMA regarding the new "Remedy" work order system under development. In the meantime, the mission will once again conduct a client survey after the relocation season and staff were encouraged and reminded to complete the International Platform Branch survey in the spring of 2014. In progress for December 2014.
5.1.29 The mission will review the support provided to events in preparation for the release of the new Service Standards template. In progress for September 2014.
5.1.30 The mission has completed a review of vendor payments in IMS and has identified a list of goods and services for which a contract or standing offer will be put in place. Four contracts have already been put in place and an additional six vendors are subject to review, with standing offers to be complete by the end of this fiscal year. Contracts with an additional three service providers will also be established in the same timeframe. In progress for March 2015.
5.1.31 The DMCO has held a refresher session with property and contracting staff on the appropriate use of standing offers. For the remainder of the fiscal year, he will pre-approve all call-ups to ensure that they are in line with the terms of Standing Offers. Implemented July 2014.
5.1.32 A new draft Terms of Reference has been developed and will be reviewed at the next CRB meeting. Implemented August 2014.
5.1.33 A new list of suppliers has been initiated by the property team. Additional suppliers will be vetted and added to this list as an ongoing exercise, but the initial push will be complete by the end of the third quarter. In progress for December 2014.
RSCEMA Actions and Timeframes
5.1.34 The services provided by the RSCEMA to missions are outlined on the wiki site of RSCEMA. The corresponding link will be provided to HOMs and MCOs/MAOs of the client missions and an acknowledgement of receipt will be requested from all of the relevant addressees. As well, a wider communication piece will be prepared to ensure that all RSCEMA client missions are aware of the services that the RSCEMA can provide to them with regard to the delivery of Common Services. In progress for December 2014.
5.2 Human Resources
5.2.1 The HR functions at the mission are the responsibility of the AS-05 DMCO, who is assisted by the LE-07 Office Manager at the mission to NATO and an LE-05 HR Assistant at the mission to the EU. The RSCEMA provides staffing, job description and classification services, as well as assistance in interpreting the LES Terms and Conditions of employment.
5.2.2 The HR team at the RSCEMA has conducted staffing actions for the mission since 2013. In the current calendar year, one classification exercise and one staffing action have been processed and staffing for several finance positions was underway. At the end of 2013, the RSCEMA assisted the mission with a review and reorganization of the Physical Resources section that resulted in classification and staffing actions.
|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 The full roles and responsibilities of the employees who provide HR services ***. The section has yet to fully adapt to the deletion of the HR Officer position almost one year ago and the *** further reduced guidance. Clients at the missions are still uncertain as to which services are provided by the mission and which by the RSCEMA.
5.2.4 The MCO is aware of this issue and has recently re-organized reporting relationships to try and address it. The HR assistant now reports to the office manager at the mission to NATO, who has experience in managing HR. This should facilitate the sharing of procedures, tools and good practices. Although already identified on the missions’ organizational charts, ***.
5.2.5 There is considerable HR information on the administration section of the wiki, which could be built upon to provide clarity regarding the first point of contact for HR issues. A reminder may be needed so that clients access the information already available there, such as the LES Terms and Conditions of Employment. Directing staff to these resources should make staff more self-sufficient while ensuring they know where to turn if further assistance is required.
5.2.6 Some job descriptions throughout the mission need to be updated earlier than the usual five year cycle due to position cuts and the realignment of duties. There are also other examples where staff members are not clear on their current roles and responsibilities. ***.
5.2.7 The Common Services program plans to review employee HR files. Currently, there are two different systems in place across the three missions. These should be standardized with particular attention given to the filing of *** such as labour relations issues or performance reviews. ***. The filing system at the mission to NATO is well organized and guided by a checklist. The files there contain all the relevant information and personal information is sealed.
5.2.8 The mission has revised its approach to the provision of uniforms for drivers, OR staff and cleaning staff, and, in some cases, uniforms are no longer being provided. The policy change is not clearly understood by all staff members who may be affected.
|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. 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|
5.2.9 Overall, HR processes and internal controls were found to be working well. The management of staffing actions by the RSCEMA ensures a systematic approach and provides a segregation that enhances the process. However, the procedure is not clear for assembling documents and completing staffing files when staffing actions are undertaken at the mission with the involvement of the RSCEMA. This should be clarified to ensure that a complete staffing file is held in one location for historical and audit purposes.
5.2.10 LES leave is tracked and PMs are provided with updates of outstanding balances. It was noted that in the last month of the FY some staff still had high leave balances; 15 staff members exceeded the carry-forward allowance. The DHOMs of the mission to the EU and the mission to NATO are developing a policy to restrict the carry-over of leave to one year and the missions will pay out some leave to reduce the amount of carried forward. The mission should enforce the terms of the employment which states that vacation should be taken in the fiscal year in which it was earned.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.2.11 The DMCO should evaluate what training may be necessary ***.
5.2.12 The mission should ensure up-to-date HR information is posted in an easily accessible location and that clients are aware of what is available.
5.2.13 An evaluation should take place to determine which job descriptions require updating, and a process should be put in place ensure to reviews take place, at minimum, every five years.
5.2.14 A standardized system for the management of HR files across the three missions should be established.
5.2.15 Procedures for the maintenance of staffing files should be clarified with the RSCEMA to ensure a complete file is maintained in one location.
5.2.16 Managers should be held accountable for monitoring leave balances throughout the year to ensure leave is used in the fiscal year it is earned.
5.2.17 The mission’s policy on the provision of uniforms should be clearly communicated to the appropriate members of staff.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.2.11 Following an assessment of training needs, ***. Implemented June 2014.
5.2.12 LES terms and conditions, salary scales, pension and insurance information, LESMCB minutes, overtime and acting pay information, Org Charts, PMP instructions, staffing and training information is all available on the missions’ Common Services wiki page. Employees have been reminded of this and the LESMCB will be encouraged to further publicize this with their colleagues. Implemented June 2014.
5.2.13 The mission has developed a table indicating when each work description was last reviewed. As of September, we will begin a project to have each work descriptions systematically reviewed. To facilitate the process, we will encourage program managers to use generic job descriptions where appropriate. In progress for March 2015.
5.2.14 A major clean-up of HR files was completed on July 17th. We are now working on keeping current files up to date. Implemented July 2014.
5.2.15 Procedures for maintaining staffing files is under discussion with RSCEMA. In progress for September 2014.
5.2.16 Managers are aware that they will be accountable for leave management and a new tool has been developed to make it easier to provide reports on leave balances. This is an ongoing commitment. Implemented July 2014.
5.2.17 A meeting on the provision of uniforms was held with all staff concerned to explain the mission’s uniform policy and address questions and concerns. Implemented April 2014.
5.3 Physical Resources
5.3.1 The MCO has the overall responsibility for the management of the section and the services provided. Responsibility for operations is divided between the AS-06 DMCO and the LE-09 Deputy Housing Officer, both of whom report to the MCO. In the fall of 2013, the mission reviewed positions in the Physical Resources section with the assistance of the RSCEMA. As a result, in January 2014, a new organizational design that included an LE-07 Common Services Officer – Property position was established.
5.3.2 The section is responsible for service delivery to all three missions in Brussels. The property portfolio across the three missions includes two chanceries, two ORs, a warehouse facility, 10 official vehicles, 3 Crown-owned SQs and 27 Crown-leased SQs. Two vacant ORs, which are on the market for sale, are also managed by the section. In addition, some support is provided to 17 CBS living in private-leased accommodations.
5.3.3 The lease of the chancery shared by the mission to the EU and the bilateral mission expires on *** and will not be renewed because the building will undergo major renovations. The Property Strategy Section (ARAK) ***.
5.3.4 The mission to NATO will *** move to a new chancery. NATO is building a new headquarters complex which will be ready for occupancy in 2016. The fit-up of the Canadian delegation offices will be managed by ARAK and supported by the mission.
|Key Physical Resources Management Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does Not Meet|
|Mission property and maintenance plans are up to date.||X|
|The chancery and official residence (OR) are well maintained and maintenance schedules are in place.||X|
|An efficient process in place for receiving, processing and monitoring work orders.||X|
|Annual inspections are conducted to assess the state of staff quarters (SQs) and input into maintenance and acquisition planning.||X|
5.3.5 The move to the private-leasing model in 2012 has entailed significant change for the section; it is now responsible for guiding incoming CBS in identifying appropriate private-leasing accommodation while also continuing with their role in vacating, emptying and releasing Crown-leased properties. Challenges associated with the process of finding and fitting up private-lease accommodations are a source of discontent for a number of CBS.
5.3.6 Employees of the section are still adapting to new roles and responsibilities following the reorganization of the section in January 2014, but the MCO indicated that additional refinements may be implemented in the future. Establishing some stability soon will be important in positioning the section well to help manage the chancery moves.
5.3.7 There are currently four Crown-owned ORs across the three missions in Brussels. Two are assigned to the HOMs of the mission to the EU and the mission to NATO respectively and the other two are no longer in use and are on the market for sale.
5.3.8 The representational space of the mission to the EU’s OR is not used effectively to support the objectives of all three missions, in particular the bilateral mission. In the longer term, including appropriate representational space in the design of the new chancery for the mission to the EU and the bilateral mission could be an appropriate solution. However, in the meantime, the missions should establish a model to better manage the Government of Canada assets currently available. As the OR of the mission to the EU is best suited for this purpose, its representational space should be leveraged more effectively.
5.3.9 The OR assigned to the HOM of the mission to the EU is a large and classic OR that is well situated and provides good representational and family space. The Property Bureau (ARD) ***. The OR assigned to the HOM of the mission to NATO is well located and is a good family home but its representational space is less useable ***.
5.3.10 The remaining two properties that are for sale were previously used as ORs but have since been vacated and are not equipped for use. ARAK is managing their sale. ***.
5.3.11 The HOM to the bilateral mission is housed in a Crown-leased SQ apartment in a good neighbourhood close to the mission. This apartment was selected prior to his arrival at the mission in 2012 ***.
5.3.12 Another area where Government of Canada assets can be used more effectively is with respect to driver resources. There is concern that the number of drivers assigned to the mission to the EU and the bilateral mission is inadequate for their needs. Two drivers service these missions. One is allocated exclusively to the HOM of the mission to the EU, leaving only one resource to serve all other programs of the two missions. Furthermore, the HOM of the bilateral mission, who has responsibility for travel throughout Belgium and Luxembourg, makes substantial use this driver, which further reduces the availability of a driver in support of the programs. ***. ***. ***.
5.3.13 The Mission Maintenance Workplan and the Mission Property Management Plan are up to date. A selection of SQs and both ORs were visited and found to be well maintained and managed.
5.3.14 As noted in the Common Services Overview of this report, the section manages a large volume of work orders and could benefit from an automated system. In the meantime, a plan should be established to better manage work orders received through current processes and systems.
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|
5.3.15 Overall, internal controls are effective. Crown-managed properties are in good condition and well managed. All inventories have been completed under the Radio Frequency Identification project and fine art inventories are also up to date.
5.3.16 The mission has been challenged with disposing of all the surplus furniture and furnishings resulting from the missions move to private leasing. In fiscal year 2012-13, 27 Crown-managed properties were vacated and all contents were declared surplus. In addition, the chancery shared by the mission to the EU and the bilateral mission was downsized from four to three floors in 2013, which resulted in additional surplus furnishings. The RSCEMA has helped the mission transfer some surplus to other missions (mainly in Africa). Due to a lack of demand for *** furniture, which tends to be larger than that available on the local market, other items have been sold with minimal return realized.
5.3.17 As the missions previously had a large inventory of SQs, the program manages a warehouse to store standard replacement items (e.g. mattresses, small and large appliances). For the most part, these items are no longer required and must be disposed of as well. As they approach the 2014 relocation season, when another ***, managing this large volume of surplus continues to be a challenge. The RSCEMA indicated it will place some furnishings in other missions, but it may not be possible to dispose of all in this manner.
5.3.18 The mission has undertaken a market study to analyse the disposal options that exist locally. It identifies that auction sales do not realize adequate returns to justify the effort and sales through local furniture resellers offer very little proceeds. Considering this, it is reasonable to continue to try to reuse these items in missions that are not under the private-leasing model.
5.3.19 A review of disposal files indicated inconsistent and incomplete files, which did not allow for a full analysis to ensure that disposals were completed in accordance with Chapter 7 of the Materiel Management manual. Files should contain all aspects of the disposal including:
- Details on the methodology for disposal and why this methodology was chosen;
- Correspondence related to the disposal (e.g. advertisements);
- The method for evaluating bids received and who performed the analysis;
- Evidence that payments were received and accounted for;
- Detail on any costs incurred to carry out the disposal exercise; and
- A completed EXT 369 Disposal Report signed by the HOM.
This would also apply to materiel transferred to other missions.
5.3.20 Vehicle logs and gasoline records, and the maintenance of the vehicles were found to be in good order. Each vehicle is *** to make gas purchases. Maintaining individual cards assists in tracking costs for each vehicle. ***.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.3.21 Lessons learned on private leasing should continue to be collected, as well as communicated to the appropriate stakeholders, so further refinements can be made to the services and support provided to incoming CBS.
5.3.22 As a Government of Canada asset, a framework should be developed to make better use of the representational space of the mission to the EU’s OR to support the program objectives of the three missions.
5.3.23 The missions should develop a plan to better leverage the driver resources available in the city to meet the business needs of the three missions.
5.3.24 The mission, in consultation with the RSCEMA, should develop a strategy for the disposition of surplus assets currently in the warehouse and those generated by the continuing implementation of private leasing.
5.3.25 The mission should ensure that complete files are maintained for disposal of Crown assets.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.3.21 Results of the private leasing survey for the two first years have been used to change the way this model is administered in Brussels for the summer of 2014. Success on house-hunting trips has been more consistent and initial feedback has been positive. The mission will conduct formal survey post-relocation season to better gauge results. In progress for November 2014.
5.3.22 Discussions have begun on the use of the OR of the mission to the EU, and work will be done with the other two missions in Brussels to develop an acceptable framework for occasional use of the OR in the future. This will build on existing cooperative efforts. This framework will, inter alia, address various pertinent logistical / practical / payment issues, e.g., security and privacy matters. It must also be consistent with decisions which involved downsizing assets and operational capacity as well as corresponding reductions to operational activities to reflect the decisions of ministers and the department. In progress for November 2014.
5.3.23 An updated draft of the Transportation Policy is being prepared for review by the Tri-Mission CMM. Discussion on driver pooling options has been ongoing at the mission but there are still issues to be addressed by Headquarters ***. In progress for November 2014.
5.3.24 The mission has developed a strategy for disposals for fiscal year 2014-15, and the strategy has been approved by the HOM. It encompasses a hybrid of re-allocation and sale of assets, with contingencies in place for material that cannot be sold. The mission is pursuing an option to *** in the short-term with a further reduction envisaged ***. In progress for September 2014.
5.3.25 Thorough documentation is now completed for all disposal files. Implemented June 2014.
5.3.26 ***. Implemented February 2014.
5.4.1 The Finance section is overseen by the MCO with day-to-day management by the LE-09 Financial Management Officer (FMO). The section is also supported by one LE-06 and two LE-05 Accountants. In addition to providing financial services to the three missions in Brussels, the section is a CSDP for the processing of financial transactions for the missions in Bamako and Tunis. There are plans for the CSDP to provide financial services ***.
5.4.2 The RSCEMA supports the mission in its role as a CSDP and assesses missions ahead of their transition to receiving service from the CSDP. The Financial Operations, International (SMFF) division also supports the mission in this role.
|Key Finance Management Criteria||Meets||Needs Improvement||Does Not Meet|
|Roles and responsibilities ensure adequate segregation of duties.||X|
|The section employs methods to minimize disruption (e.g. setting of "quiet hours" and controlling access to the Finance section).||X|
|The section has explored alternate methods to minimize transactions and reduce reliance on cash (i.e. acquisition cards, electronic fund transfers).||X|
|Payment runs are kept to a minimum, but are sufficient to provide good client service.||X|
5.4.4 The Finance section is *** managed by the LE-09 FMO, who demonstrates *** technical and leadership skills. The team is expected to be client-focused and pro-active, and to address problems quickly while also educating clients. Service is good, and clients are provided tools to help make them more self-sufficient. Finance staff and clients *** the LE-09 FMO’s management style and ***. Members of the section are motivated and morale is positive.
5.4.5 Communication in the section is strong, both internally and externally. In addition to monthly section meetings, regular communication is maintained with the DHOM, the MCO, client missions and the RSCEMA. Minutes of meetings are recorded in an evergreen document that has a rolling account of previous discussions and decisions. Members of the section also attend meetings of the Common Services program.
5.4.6 The roles and responsibilities of each member of the section are clearly communicated and charted on a grid. This is of particular importance during the transition to the CSDP role. Some advantages that come with this are standardization of processes and improved segregation of duties and continuity during absences. However, the evolution of roles has not been captured in employees’ job descriptions. As well, advertisements to recruit for CSDP positions have relied upon the standard benchmark job descriptions because no specific descriptions are available for CSDP positions.
5.4.7 The section currently exceeds service standards. While positive, it should be careful not to generate unrealistic expectations. Once all CSDP clients are receiving full service, it is not likely that the section will continue to exceed service standards to the same degree due to the increased workload. Clear communication and expectation management will be important to avoid this being perceived as poor service.
5.4.8 Overall, the Finance section has managed its move to become a CSDP. The mission has had the time to effectively assimilate the financial operations of two missions in Africa. The section has been able to develop mission-specific tools in support of the transition and continues to address issues as they arise. It was identified that ahead of transitioning it would be beneficial to identify what residual work will remain at a client mission to help accurately assess its future resource requirements. As well, the system could benefit from a mechanism to share the tools, practices and procedures missions have developed in support of CSDP operations.
5.4.9 Client missions now *** whereby clients scan documents from their sections/mission for processing and the status of payments can be tracked in real time. This reduces the need for clients to contact the Finance section. Even at the same mission, clients no longer need to provide signed documents and receipts before payment processes can be initiated. The Finance section reports that they do not have a problem with disruptions.
5.4.10 The use of electronic funds transfers, credit cards, bank transfers and the Mission Online Payment Services ***.
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.||X|
|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|
5.4.11 Internal controls are in place with minor improvement required in the following areas:
- Bank statement: ***. Standard practice is for the MCO to receive the statement and initial the pages to indicate that he/she has reviewed it before providing it to the accountant. It was noted that the MCO can check balances online, but the DFATD guidelines state that a CBS must receive the bank statement directly.
- HonCons: the reimbursement of HonCon expenses, which applies to the bilateral mission, is not based on an established agreement. A recommendation has been made to the bilateral mission to establish guidelines for reimbursement and to communicate them to the Finance section.
- Petty Cash: ***, as required by policy, are undertaken by the MCO, DMCO or LE-09 FMO.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.4.13 In accordance with the Petty Cash – Missions policy 4.3.1, all petty cash ***.
Recommendation to the Corporate Accounting Bureau (SMD)
5.4.14 Standardized job descriptions for finance positions at CSDPs should be developed and formalized in consultation with the Locally Engaged Staff Bureau.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.4.15 ***. Implemented February 2014.
5.4.16 Petty cash practices have been reviewed and updated, ***. Implemented February 2014.
SMD Actions and Timeframes
5.4.17 SMD has started to develop job descriptions for each position level created in CSDPs. SMD will ensure the Locally Engaged Staff Services Bureau is involved to confirm the appropriateness of the classification. All Positions should have job description by March 31, 2015. In progress for March 2015.
5.5 Information Management – Information Technology (IM-IT)
5.5.1 The IT section is led by a CS-02 Foreign Service Information Technology Professional (FSITP) who reports to the MCO. He is supported by an LE-07 Locally Engaged ITP (LEITP). The team supports approximately 125 Signet users across the three missions in Brussels. There is a Client Support Regional Manager (CSRM) based in London, England at the RSCEMA.
5.5.2 An AS-02 Head of Registry at the mission to NATO works with an LE-04 Registry Assistant and provides Information Management (IM) services at that mission. He also supports IM projects at the other two missions.
5.5.3 The IT and IM components at the mission to NATO are complex due to the need to handle high volumes of classified information and the numerous computer systems specific to NATO, DND and DFATD.
|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|
5.5.4 Overall, the IT section is *** managed by the FSITP; his *** approach is *** by his colleagues and clients. Mission staff characterized IT service providers as engaged, client-service oriented and pro-active. The RSCEMA also reports that the FSITP and LEITP maintain *** formal and informal communication with them.
5.5.5 An IM-IT committee for the three missions in Brussels was established in August 2013 to guide colleagues on IM/IT best practices. According to the minutes, it meets bi-monthly. There is reported good engagement of the group, particularly in terms of social media which is of increasing importance to the missions. This could be a good forum to discuss IT related issues such as when program managers wished to procure *** as a program tool.
5.5.6 The IT section has successfully implemented several new technologies but without the benefit of advanced technical training. This included Windows 7, a new phone system, and the Multifunctional Devices (MFD) that are replacing most printers. The FSITP and LEITP provided brief individual coaching to the staff when each phone was installed and had small group training at the MFDs when they were put into service to assist clients with these transitions.
5.5.7 Improving IM at the mission to the EU and the bilateral mission is a program objective for the 2014-15 fiscal year. Currently, information is stored across several platforms, including a shared network drive and the wiki. As well, some information is stored according to reporting responsibilities that are no longer valid. For example, the tri-mission administration section of the wiki site is embedded in the bilateral mission’s wiki. Clients would be better served if the administration wiki was stand alone and accessible to all three missions.
5.5.8 The missions have several organizational email boxes that are not monitored. This includes an IT-Organizational box that clients still use despite the move to manage work requests through Remedy.
5.5.9 The IM function at NATO has been updated to almost universally disperse information in an electronic format, which has dramatically reduced the use of paper at the mission. There is an annual cull of information on the shared drives. The head of registry has also initiated projects at both chanceries to cull files. ***.
5.5.10 Both the head of registry and the registry assistant will finish their duties at the missions in the summer of 2014. This will be a shift and good handover notes should be prepared to ensure the sustainability of practices and procedures.
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|
5.5.11 Overall, IM-IT processes and controls are strong with only minor suggestions for improvement. Back-ups at both chanceries are performed regularly ***.
5.5.12 The IT Asset Management Solutions (ITAMS) system provides inventory control for ***, cell phones and ***. However, the mission is still in the process of developing a Mobile Device Policy that users would be required to read and sign to acknowledge their accountabilities.
5.5.13 Appropriate approvals for the disposal of surplus IT assets are obtained. ***. The mission is aware that a new policy comes in effect on April 1, 2014 ***.
Recommendations to the Mission
5.5.14 Unmonitored organizational email boxes should be closed.
5.5.15 An effective handover plan should be implemented to ensure key information management practices are sustained following the 2014 summer rotation.
5.5.16 Employees should formally acknowledge their accountabilities when they take responsibilities for IT assets.
Mission Actions and Timeframes
5.5.14 All unmonitored organizational email boxes have been closed. Implemented June 2014.
5.5.15 ***. Implemented July 2014.
5.5.16 The missions' IM/IT committee proposed a new mobile device policy that contains a signed acknowledgement by the custodian. The policy was approved by the Tri-Mission CMM in May. Implemented May 2014.
Appendix B: Mission Resources Fact Sheet
|Chancery||Shared with the mission to the EU|
|Vehicles||Shared with the mission to the EU|
|Head of Mission||2.5||1||1.5|
*NOTE: The MCO and DCMO are identified under the mission to the EU but do undertake meaningful management responsibilities for the Consular program.
Appendix C: Frequently Used Acronyms
- Canada-based staff
- Commercial Economic
- Committee on Mission Management
- Consular Management Information Program
- Contingency Plan
- Contract Review Board
- Client Service Fund
- Electronic Funds Transfer
- Deputy Management Consular Officer
- Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service
- Foreign Service Information Technology Professional
- Full Time Equivalent
- Fiscal Year
- Global Commerce Strategy
- Global Value Chains
- Head of Mission
- Honorary Consul
- Human Resources
- High Security Zone
- Information Communication Technologies
- Information Management - Information Technology
- Integrated Management System
- Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional
- Locally engaged staff
- LES Management Consultation Board
- Management Consular Officer
- Mission Emergency Plan
- Mission Financial Officer
- MM Module
- Materiel Management Module of IMS
- Mission Maintenance Workplan
- Memorandum of Understanding
- Mission Security Officer
- Mission Property Management Plan
- North American Platform Program
- Official residence
- Operations Zone
- Post Initiative Fund
- Program Manager
- Performance Management Agreement
- Human Resources - Performance Management Program
- Consular - Passport Management Program
- Physical Resources Information - Mission Environment
- Registration of Canadians Abroad
- Science and Technology
- Senior Trade Commissioner
- Staff Quarter
- Security Zone
- Trade Commissioner
- Trade Commissioner Assistant
- Trade Commissioner Service
- The TCS’ Client Relationship Management System
- Office of the Inspector General
- Missions Inspection Division
- Date Modified: