Inspection of the Mission of Canada to the European Union

Brussels, Belgium

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD)
Office of the Inspector General

Inspection Division

February 24 to March 10, 2014

Table of Contents

Inspection Scope and Objectives

The scope of the inspection included a review of Mission Management and the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service, Commercial Economic, and Common Services programs. The inspection objectives were to:

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 locally engaged staff (LES) representatives of the LES Management Consultation Board, individual interviews with staff, and results of other documentation reviewed. The level of inspection work was therefore based on issues and information identified and gathered at all levels: Headquarters, mission management and mission operations.

Executive Summary

An inspection of Mission Management, the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service (FPDS), Commercial Economic (CE), and Common Services programs was conducted in Brussels, Belgium from February 24 to March 10, 2014. A previous inspection of these programs took place in 2008.

The Mission of Canada to the European Union (the mission to the EU) is a large mission with 25 Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 38 locally engaged staff (LES). The mission’s priorities centre on Canada’s foreign and trade policy objectives with the EU, and the mission undertakes advocacy and support towards a range of Canada-EU negotiations. The mission shares a chancery with the Embassy of Canada to Belgium and Luxembourg (the bilateral mission).

The mission functions well under the leadership of the Head of Mission (HOM), who is *** by mission staff and his peers. Supported by a Deputy HOM (DHOM), he is responsible for overall operations and manages program, common services and property operational budgets amounting to $4,995,353, as reported by the mission.

The management team works well together and strong cross-program relationships contribute to the advancement of a wide range of Canadian interests within the complexities of various EU structures. The mission’s leadership emphasizes a whole-of-government approach, and the work lends itself to a collaborative approach. There are many good whole-of-government planning and implementation practices in place and partner departments and agencies identified the mission’s inclusiveness as exceptional.

The FPDS program effectively delivers on clear established priorities. The planning and implementation of initiatives are executed well through a collaborative approach both within the team and with other programs. Building on this, the FPDS program should lead on the creation of whole-of-government strategies for advocacy and social media.

The CE program functions well and delivers on its commitments, with notable accolades from stakeholders on the timeliness and quality of reporting. Overall, planning is well done and takes a whole-of-government approach. The program’s strategy is clear and the action plans for priority areas provide good direction.

The mission to the EU provides a full range of common services to the bilateral mission as well as the Joint Delegation of Canada to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (the mission to NATO), which is also present in Brussels. The mission has also been designated a Common Service Delivery Point (CSDP) for finance, which is working well, although still in early stages.

Overall, the Common Services program is functioning well. It is a complex program and has experienced a number of changes in recent years. Nonetheless, good service is provided to a large number of clients, positive relations are maintained with mission management across the three missions in Brussels, and good communication practices have been established with client missions that receive financial services. In addition to minor refinements in program delivery, roles and responsibilities should be reviewed and clarified with staff and clients alike. As well, it is important that the program effectively solicits client feedback and implements improvements to services, especially in the Physical Resources section.

The three missions in Brussels meet regularly and work collectively on areas of mutual interest. However, there is no formal agreement in place regarding the overall governance structure, particularly as it pertains to common services. The missions are encouraged to establish a memorandum of understanding to ensure a clear outline of roles and responsibilities. Action should also be taken to resolve challenges related to resource use across the three missions, such as the reduction in drivers and the absence of representational space for the bilateral mission.

A total of 49 recommendations are raised in the report: 41 are addressed to the mission, 5 to the three missions in Brussels and 3 to Headquarters. 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 23 have been implemented.

1 Mission Management

1.1 Overview

1.1.1 The Mission of Canada to the European Union (the mission to the EU) is located in Brussels, Belgium. It is a large mission with 25 Canada-based Staff (CBS) and 38 locally engaged staff (LES). Partner departments and agencies co-located at the mission include Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and the Department of Justice Canada. The mission provides services to the Joint Delegation of Canada to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (the mission to NATO) and the Embassy of Canada to Belgium and Luxembourg (the bilateral mission), which are also present in Brussels.

1.1.2 The mission is managed by an EX-04 Head of Mission (HOM), who is responsible for overall operations and manages program, common services and property operational budgets amounting to $4,995,353, as reported by the mission. The mission manages a property portfolio that includes a Crown-leased chancery, a Crown-owned official residence (OR); it also has responsibility for services to the Chancery and Crown-leased OR of the mission to NATO. There are an additional 3 Crown-owned and 29 Crown-leased staff quarters (SQs), 6 of which are for CBS based at the mission to NATO, that are managed by the mission.

1.1.3 The continued enhancement and development of the Canada-EU relationship is a key priority of the government. The EU is Canada’s second largest trade and investment partner, a close ally on critical foreign policy and international security issues, and has influence on issues related to Canadian interests at international fora. Canada maintains close connections with the EU on a number of fronts; it is an important counterpart for numerous federal departments and agencies, the provinces, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations and civil society. ***.

1.2 Mission Management

Table 1
Key Mission Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes 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 mission is functioning well. The HOM’s *** leadership and communication skills help foster an environment of collaboration within the mission. The management team works well together and strong cross-program relationships contribute to the advancement of a wide range of Canadian interests within the complexities of various EU structures. The HOM is *** within the mission as well as among his international colleagues.

1.2.2 The Deputy HOM (DHOM) position serves an *** internal management role, including supervising the mission’s seven program managers. He plays a problem-solving role within the mission, contributes to mission communication and governance initiatives, and backs up the HOM as required. On a day-to-day basis, he works most closely with the FPDS program. It was noted that, at times, the HOM’s direct engagement with other programs ***. Some managers were unsure which of the mission’s two senior officers should contribute to their performance evaluation. This should be clarified when a new DHOM arrives this summer. As well, consideration should be given to including him or her in all key internal meetings undertaken by the HOM. This would help to bring this person up to speed quickly and establish their role across the mission. It is important that the DHOM is fully informed of issues and able to constructively guide and support program managers.

1.2.3 Overall, mission morale is positive; staff members are confident and find their work stimulating and meaningful. The visit of the prime minister was widely considered a positive example of how the mission can work together to deliver good results under tight timelines. The mission has also addressed serious issues in a constructive way. For example, following position cuts a retreat was organized to address the effect on employees and to rebuild morale, which reflected the importance mission management placed on these issues. Nonetheless, job security remains a natural concern for some LES. CBS spoke positively of their experience and the HOM’s leadership; the principal complaints they shared were negative experiences related to the private-leasing process, which is addressed further under the Physical Resources section of this report.

1.2.4 Programs across the mission advance key strategic objectives for the department and the government. The management team has a good sense of their own priorities and those of their colleagues, and have done well to capture them in planning tools. Furthermore, strategic objectives are used to guide the measurement of performance even though the nature of the work makes this challenging. Qualitative and quantitative performance indicators have been developed in an attempt to evaluate the programs’ work in a meaningful way, which helps to track progress over time.

1.2.5 The mission also has a number of good communication practices in place. Each week, the HOM chairs a mission-specific management meeting as well as a voluntary all-staff meeting. These are used to address mission management issues, exchange information and explore cross-cutting issues. Managers and employees alike consider these forums valuable and find the discussions relevant and useful. Although there was an acknowledgement that repetition occurs on occasion, it was generally agreed that each meeting generates value. Written communication augments meetings and an informal, voluntary breakfast is held each Friday, which provides further opportunity for teambuilding and dialogue on work files.

1.2.6 One area to monitor is the integration of the Common Services program into the mission. The mission assumed responsibility for the program in 2012. Effort could be made to more fully integrate common services into some mission structures. For example, consideration could be given to focusing the weekly all-staff meeting on common services and security once per month to encourage greater participation from staff in those areas. Policies and decisions of the International Platform branch should be implemented with full mission support; any feedback from mission management on these issues should be directed to the appropriate accountable authority.

1.2.7 In general, values and ethics of the public service are promoted and reinforced. The DHOM is the values and ethics champion and addresses this subject at all staff meetings and is available for consultation. Senior managers across the mission provide good leadership and values and ethics are proactively incorporated into key processes, such as contracting activities. Some employees, however, reported that they still have not taken the mandatory online values and ethics training.

The Tri-Mission Governance Structure

1.2.8 The mission formally promotes the public service values and ethics. Following the recent revision to the code, an electronic copy was distributed to all staff and an overview presentation was given at a town-hall meeting. However, it was reported that a number of staff didn't read the material, and the overall awareness of the code's content was low. Values and ethics issues, including disrespectful behaviour and a perceived difference in treatment between CBS and LES, were raised by staff in the context of the inspection.

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 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

Table 2
Key Whole-of-Government CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Mechanisms are in place to ensure a whole-of-government approach is taken for mission and program planning.X  
Mission and program plans are implemented in a coordinated manner to ensure policy coherence and effectively leverage the Canadian presence.X  
Partner departments contribute to the overall effective governance of the mission and its operations.X  
Common services are provided in line with the memorandum of understanding and any issues are addressed at CMM.X  

1.3.1 Employees from DFATD and partner departments and agencies identified the mission’s inclusiveness as exceptional. The operational practices and communication structures in place effectively build a cohesive environment and the mission’s leadership emphasizes a whole-of-government approach at every opportunity. Partners relayed that the HOM is *** in all programs and leverages his position to advance their objectives while also providing managers the appropriate space to direct their own programs.

1.3.2 There are many good whole-of-government planning and implementation practices in place at the mission. For example, each year an all-staff planning exercise is held to share priorities and identify opportunities for programs to work together. This sets the tone for future collaboration, including at the weekly staff meetings. The HOM actively identifies linkages across programs and insists that communication channels remain open. As a result, employees have a good understanding of Canadian interests vis-à-vis the EU as well as the priorities of each program.

1.3.3 The mission’s work lends itself to a collaborative approach; staff and managers see immediate value in cooperating, sharing information and learning from one another. Sub-groups are formed in a natural way. For example, the Canada Border Services Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Department of Justice work together closely to ensure consistency in their messaging with EU interlocutors. The close and regular contact among programs helps to ensure policy coherence and consistency across the entire mission.

1.3.4 The mission also works closely with its neighboring Canadian missions. Each year, it hosts an EU 101 training session to introduce employees across the European network to the structures and operations of the EU. This training also establishes critical working relationships that are leveraged on an ongoing basis in the delivery of programs. The mission consults other relevant Canadian missions as standard practice and communicates its expectation to be consulted on anything related to the EU.

1.3.5 In general, partners are satisfied with the common services provided to their programs. Although managers are not all consistently aware of the mission-specific policies, procedures and service standards, they do not perceive this as a major concern because common service support is sufficient. Nonetheless, centralizing information and making staff aware of these guidelines could help to reduce inquiries from clients, clarify expectations and increase consistency. The representatives of partner departments and agencies generally felt well served on a personal level but shared the concerns of their DFATD colleagues with respect to the challenges of the private-leasing model.

1.4 Emergency Preparedness

Table 3
Key Emergency Preparedness CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes 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 mission to the EU and the bilateral mission 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. ***.

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 to develop an emergency planning exercise to test the MEP and the ERT structure. *** for the two missions that share the same chancery. As well, *** for the Consular program. The appropriate systems are in place *** and they are tested regularly.

1.4.3 One element that could be improved is ***. It was conveyed that *** are aware of what procedures to follow ***.

1.4.4 The MCO meets her counterparts from like-minded missions regularly. As well, the Consular program in the bilateral mission 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

Table 4
Key Official Languages CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
The Official Languages Act is respected and promoted by mission management.X  
Mission signage is provided in both English and French and a bilingual Official Languages Co-ordinator has been appointed.X  
The mission has sufficient capacity to communicate with and provide services to the public, both orally and in writing, in both official languages.X  

1.5.1 The mission is meeting all criteria with respect to official languages. An Official Languages Coordinator has been identified and acts in this role for the mission to the EU and the bilateral mission. 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

Table 5
Key Management Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes 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.X  
Mission hospitality guidelines are appropriate and reviewed annually by CMM.X  
Hospitality activities are properly documented, demonstrate value-for-money and align with mission objectives.X  
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.N/AN/AN/A
The Honorary Consul (HonCon) has an up-to-date mandate letter and performance is reviewed annually.N/AN/AN/A

1.6.1 The majority of the mission’s key management controls are in place and working well. The mission has responsibility over key financial and security elements for the three missions in Brussels. Overall, financial controls are working well and managers have access to the appropriate budget information. Attention *** was positive in general, but there was still notable concern ***. Further communication on this issue will be important.

1.6.2 The two management controls that require attention are:

1.6.3 Overall, hospitality documentation generally communicated outcomes, but attention should be paid to ensure that each activity’s purpose consists of more than just a description of the type of event (e.g. a dinner with stakeholders).

1.7 Recommendations

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:

1.7.5 ***.

Recommendations to the Mission to the EU

1.7.6 Program managers should be informed of the role that will be played by the HOM and DHOM in their program’s activities, as well as in their individual performance evaluations.

1.7.7 All employees should complete the mandatory online values and ethics course (ODS125) and confirm that they have done so to their manager.

1.7.8 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.

1.7.9 The professional development needs of all employees should be reviewed, and a mission-specific training plan should be established, drawing from the learning plans in the Public Service Performance Management Program.

Three Missions in Brussels 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 ***. In progress for February 2015.

Mission to the EU 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's program managers have been consulted and report that the role of the DHOM in performance management is now clear. This will be reinforced with the arrival of a new DHOM at the mission. Implemented September 2014.

1.7.7 Employees were instructed to confirm to their managers that they have completed the mandatory values and ethics course by the end of summer. Implemented August 2014.

1.7.8 Supervisors have had discussions with staff on previous year performance, and new objectives are in place for all LES and CBS. Implemented August 2014.

1.7.9 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.

2 Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service (FPDS)

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The FPDS program is managed by an EX-01 Program Manager who is supported by six employees: an FS-03, an FS-01 (substantive FS-02), an LE-08 Media Relations & Outreach Officer, an LE-08 Political & Economic officer, an LE-07 Program Officer and an LE-05 administrative assistant. The program’s financial resources, as reported by the mission, are provided below.

Table 6
Budget2013-2014
Operations$17,164
Travel$19,928
Hospitality$15,817
Post Initiative Fund$11,000
Total$63,909

2.1.2 The program’s main areas of focus include the Canada-EU bilateral foreign policy relationship and advocacy and support towards Canada-EU negotiations, such as the ***. The program also has country and geographic regions of focus, such as Russia, Ukraine, the US, Asia and Latin America. In addition, the program also provides indirect support to the ***.

2.2 Planning and Program Management

Table 7
Key FPDS Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
FPDS plans are aligned with the priorities and objectives outlined in the mission plan and informed by departmental and geographic bureau guidance and objectives.X  
FPDS plans outline intended outcomes and results are measurable.X  
Internal communications within the program effectively support program delivery.X  

2.2.1 Overall, the program is functioning well. The program manager has *** abroad and at Headquarters ***. The program manager consults and involves staff in decision-making processes and regularly shares information.

2.2.2 Morale within the program is good. Solid collaboration takes place among team members as well as with other programs in the mission. Planning is well done, with action items identified against clear, established priorities. Initiatives and activities for the year are drawn from departmental priorities and Performance Management Agreements (PMAs), and yearly objectives are discussed at the program’s annual retreat.

2.2.3 Roles and responsibilities for each member of the program are clear, understood and well-documented.

2.3 Implementation

Table 8
Key FPDS Implementation CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes 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 The FPDS team implements initiatives well. There is solid cooperation between the program and the rest of the mission and good understanding of the key issues of interest to Canada; however, an advocacy strategy, formally documenting key issues with accompanying messages to be delivered, has not been created. This strategy would benefit the mission by ensuring coordination across programs and would serve as a document that could be used by the whole mission. The program manager recognizes the importance of developing a mission-wide advocacy strategy and has indicated that one will be created.

2.3.2 The program has received positive feedback from Headquarters divisions with respect to the quality of its reporting. Regular discussions take place between the program manager and management in the geographic divisions responsible for the EU. While a positive working relationship exists, the FPDS program would benefit from more information and enhanced coordination by the geographic group. FPDS program officers are seeking greater coherence between geographic divisions and headquarters policy divisions, as well as with partner departments and agencies in order to have better clarity on Canada’s policy positions vis-à-vis the EU.

2.3.3 The team is currently creating a social media strategy, which includes building a case for a Twitter account. Development of social media tools will require coordination across programs. Maintenance and responsibility for social media tools should be discussed mission-wide to ensure that duties are assigned appropriately among programs.

2.3.4 The officer responsible for media relations supports other mission programs, notably the Commercial Economic (CE) program. As such it would be beneficial for her to participate in CE team meetings on a regular, perhaps monthly, basis. Liaising with other mission programs during their team meetings or in mission all-staff meetings could also be beneficial.

2.3.5 The program supports the DHOM in his capacity as Canada’s permanent representative to the Council of Europe. It was reported that there is presently ***.

2.4 Performance Measurement

Table 9
Key FPDS Performance Measurement CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
The program has an established performance measurement system in place to monitor activities towards the achievement of objectives.X  
The program assesses performance against strategies / objectives and plans, and provides a high-level assessment of performance through the Mission Planning and Reporting (MPR) system at the end of the fiscal year.X  
Hospitality diaries demonstrate value-for-money and alignment with priorities. X 

2.4.1 The FPDS program has established a good performance measurement system to assess the effectiveness of its initiatives. The program tracks and reports its key advocacy activities effectively through the Mission Advocacy Activity Tracker (MAAT). In addition, the program has developed performance indicators in an effort to improve systematic review of FPDS activities.

2.4.2 The program has appropriate frameworks in place for managing staff; this includes up-to-date Performance Management Programs (PMPs) for the team. The program manager has already had discussions with staff about objectives for the coming year.

2.4.3 One area that requires attention is the quality of input to hospitality diaries. It is inconsistent and activities are not always clearly linked to program plans or priorities. The purpose of each event, as well as the resulting outcome, should be clearly documented.

2.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

2.5.1 The FPDS program should coordinate the development of a mission-wide advocacy strategy, which would include key issues of interest to Canada, as well as pivotal messages to be delivered.

2.5.2 The program should develop its social media business case, which should include how responsibilities will be coordinated across the relevant mission programs.

2.5.3 The media relations officer should attend meetings of relevant mission programs.

2.5.4 The FPDS program manager and DHOM should outline expectations and respective responsibilities ***.

2.5.5 Justification for hospitality should be supported by a strong rationale and should be clearly linked to program priorities.

Recommendations to the Trade and Diplomacy Europe and Eurasia Bureau (GUD)

2.5.6 Monthly calls should be scheduled with the FPDS program to facilitate coordination and exchange of information on current policies and priorities at Headquarters or in partner departments and agencies.

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 We agree that a more comprehensive strategy is needed, including more information on how program events link to priorities, what we seek to achieve and what is the best advocacy approach. The mission is exploring the approach taken in London and Paris, which includes leveraging advocacy strategies and committees, to determine if it could be adapted to our needs. Advocacy meetings have already started and each program is developing plans related to their own advocacy initiatives. The FPDS program will develop its own strategy and help with the coordination and consolidation of a more comprehensive strategy that encompasses other programs. In progress for December 2014.

2.5.2 A business case was prepared and accepted for the creation of a Twitter account. The program is also exploring using social media program-wide ***. Working groups on social media have been created and work is underway to ensure a systemic approach across programs and a balanced workload. In progress for December 2014.

2.5.3 The FPDS program manager will initiate discussions with other program managers on the subject of the media relations officer attending meetings of other relevant programs. Discussions will take place to determine the appropriate frequency of attendance. In progress for September 2014.

2.5.4 The FPDS program has identified key areas related to the Council of Europe to follow and which events to attend. The next phase will be to identify roles for the DHOM and other program managers, as appropriate. The DHOM attended key meetings during parliamentary delegation visits but there is a need to re-examine and outline what events and themes the DHOM will follow. ***. In progress for December 2014.

2.5.5 The program is adjusting its process to ensure that new hospitality entries will systematically link events and activities to departmental and Government of Canada priorities. Implemented April 2014.

GUD 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.)

2.5.6 Monthly calls will be scheduled between the EU-EFTA Relations Division and the FPDS program to facilitate coordination and exchange of information on current policies and priorities at Headquarters or in partner departments and agencies. In progress for September 2014.

3 Commercial Economic (CE)

3.1 Overview

3.1.1 The CE program is managed by an EX-01 Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) and supported by five CBS (one FS-04, three FS-03s and one FS-01 (substantive FS-02)) and one LE-05. The program’s financial resources, as reported by the mission, are provided below.

Table 10
Budget2013-2014
Operations$16,633
Travel$17,000
Hospitality$17,000
Client Service Fund (CSF)$3,788
Total$54,421

3.1.2 The European Union (EU) is a diverse and highly integrated market. Its common legislations, standards, policies and initiatives shape the way business is conducted in all sectors across member states. The resulting single market can be of significant benefit to Canadians but it is often extremely complex to navigate. Many EU directives and regulations require proactive monitoring and advocacy ***. The strategic position of the CE program is unique in that it is the direct interface with the European Commission on policy matters that have a trade impact on Canadian commercial interests.

3.1.3 The CE program has significant and important lead responsibilities that span many of the key priorities of the Government of Canada. These often coincide with provincial and territorial interests and demand timely reporting, analysis and strategic advice on issues that are central to Canadian commercial interests. There are five key areas of focus:

3.2 Planning and Program Management

Table 11
Key CE Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes 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 The CE program is functioning well and is delivering on its commitments, with notable accolades from Headquarters and partner departments and agencies on the timeliness and quality of reporting. The Commercial Economic program (CEP) plan for 2013-14 and the Strategia plan for 2014-15 are both aligned with mission, departmental and Government of Canada priorities. The STC, *** and provides *** direction to facilitate the delivery of objectives. The team is energetic, dedicated and works well together to effectively carry out activities outlined in the CEP plan.

3.2.2 The program works closely with other mission programs to advance both program and mission objectives. Work is undertaken with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment program to advance CE priorities such as support related to CETA, market access and trade policy advocacy, intelligence gathering and the delivery of trade commissioner services. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment program manager and some officers are directly involved in contributing to the CE program’s planning and tracking tools. Good relationships and collaboration were also noted among the CE program and other partner departments and agencies as well as with the FPDS program.

3.2.3 Overall, planning is well done. The program’s strategy is clear and the action plans for priority areas have good direction. The planning process for 2014-15 began in December with a training session for Strategia. This was followed by a retreat in January where priorities were established. The team then wrote individual action plans in consultation with the STC and stakeholders (e.g. Headquarters, Multi-Country Sector Teams and partner departments and agencies).

3.2.4 It was noted that the Strategia outcall targets for 2014-15 are based on rough estimates. This is an area where strategic targets can and should be set. The program would benefit from creating an outcall initiative for each of the five key areas of focus.

3.2.5 Communication within the program is effective. Weekly meetings are regarded by staff as a good venue for planning and for sharing information; the structured approach, which includes an agenda and minutes, is appreciated by the team.

3.3 Implementation

Table 12
Key CE Implementation CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes 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.N/AN/AN/A

3.3.1 Planning within the program takes a whole of government approach and builds in priorities from senior mission management and the department. The program’s objectives are aligned with mission priorities and cascade into the PMPs of the CE team. The STC has developed a compendium of trade policy and advocacy performance indicators which set out quantifiable and qualifiable objectives. Mid-year discussions have also taken place.

3.3.2 The use of TRIO2 has been emphasised within the program, although trade policy performance indicators are still not fully in place within the tool. The mission is working closely with Headquarters to determine how to effectively integrate the work of programs focused on advocacy or policy into TRIO2. In the meantime, TRIO2 reporting is currently on track with services and outcalls being recorded as the primary performance indicators.

3.3.3 An FS-03 is currently the designated TRIO champion for the team; however, this role usually resides with an LE-05 or LE-06. There are proactive plans to transfer this over to the TCA but, in the meantime, the FS-03 continues to monitor and report on activities. It would be advisable to move this duty to the TCA in the near future.

3.4 Performance Measurement

Table 13
Key CE Performance Measurement CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes 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 Unlike most missions, the CE program is not focused primarily on business development. As such, performance measurement in the EU policy context can be difficult given the long-term nature of results and the predominately analytical role of the program in monitoring and assessing the EU regulatory environment. Nevertheless, performance outcomes are being measured in meaningful ways that are applicable to trade policy and advocacy.

3.4.2 The STC *** measures and monitors the performance of the program through a variety of tools. Officers review successes and best practices within the realm of trade policy (i.e. timeliness and quality of reports, and network engagement) and use TRIO data to set planning targets. Reporting in the CEP plan is good, but timeliness of both TRIO and CEP entries should be monitored to ensure that it stays on track throughout the year.

3.4.3 Hospitality was noted as vital to the work of the team in order to liaise with contacts. Overall, hospitality reporting is well done. Documents clearly demonstrate the purpose and outcomes. One area of refinement would be to more clearly link the purpose of the meeting to specific mission priorities and/or initiatives in all reports; outcall initiatives for priority areas of focus could serve as a means to track hospitality within Strategia.

3.5 Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

3.5.1 The team should create individual outcall initiatives to track their planned interactions and hospitality for the year.

3.5.2 The STC should move the TRIO champion responsibilities to the TCA.

3.5.3 Hospitality reporting should include clear linkages to specific priorities or initiatives.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

(Please note: The management actions below reflect the initial responses upon receiving the recommendations. They do not reflect the current status of implementation.)

3.5.1 A draft outcall template has been developed following discussions with the inspection officers. Additional efforts to update this document and to translate it to Strategia will be undertaken in September as part of the mid-term review. In progress for September 2014.

3.5.2 The TRIO champion responsibilities have been assigned to the TCA. This was implemented as part of annual PMP objective setting for the TCA. As a complement to the formal recommendation, a training plan will be developed to support this new role for the TCA. Implemented August 2014.

3.5.3 A discussion and formal guidance on best practices for hospitality reporting will be undertaken in September to coincide with the rotational cycle and arrival of two new officers. In progress for September 2014.

4 Common Services

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 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:

4.1.2 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.

4.1.3 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.

Program Management

Table 14
Key Common Services Program Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
A Common Services Business Plan is in place and used to establish priorities and guide operations.X  
Common services policies and procedures are documented and communicated to management, staff and clients. X 
Internal communications within the program effectively support program delivery.X  

4.1.4 The Common Services program has been faced with a *** of challenges in the last 12 to 18 months. These include:

4.1.5 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.

4.1.6 The program is appropriately represented in the governance structures of the three missions. The MCO meets frequently with the HOM and DHOM of the mission to the EU to discuss 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.

4.1.7 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 will meet its objectives.

4.1.8 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.

4.1.9 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.

4.1.10 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.

Client Service

Table 15
Key Common Services Client Service CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Service standards have been established and communicated to clients. X 
Services provided reflect fair and equitable allocation and access to common services for all mission programs.X  
A mechanism is in place to solicit and receive client feedback, and corrective action is taken when warranted. X 
Hub-and-spoke relationships are governed by an agreement outlining the roles and responsibilities of each mission. X 

4.1.11 The program has a strong client-service orientation and clients reported that they are generally well served.

4.1.12 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.

4.1.13 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:

4.1.14 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.

4.1.15 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.

4.1.16 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

Table 16
Key Procurement and Contracting CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
A Contract Review Board (CRB) is in place and operating effectively with terms of reference.X  
Procurement and contracting procedures have been documented and communicated to all staff involved in the process.X  
Contracting files demonstrate compliance with policies and procedures.X  
A plan is in place for major acquisitions and is approved by CMM annually.X  

4.1.17 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.

4.1.18 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.

4.1.19 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 are ***.

4.1.20 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.

4.1.21 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.

4.1.22 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

Recommendations to the Mission

4.1.23 Workplans related to the program’s planning commitments should be developed by each common services section.

4.1.24 Responsibility for maintaining the common services section of the missions’ wiki should be assigned and strategies put into place to increase client awareness.

4.1.25 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.

4.1.26 Service standards, which are applicable to all three missions, should be updated and made accessible to clients.

4.1.27 Program performance should be monitored against the service standards.

4.1.28 A system should be established to capture and address client feedback.

4.1.29 The mission should review the appropriate level of Common Services support for events.

4.1.30 The mission should put contracts in place when there will be recurring payments for the same service.

4.1.31 The mission should review guidelines on the proper use of standing offers and establish internal procedures to ensure they are followed.

4.1.32 The Terms of Reference for the mission’s CRB should be modified to respect the departmental policy on thresholds for CRB review.

4.1.33 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

4.1.34 A formal agreement between RSCEMA and the mission should be put in place outlining the services provided.

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.)

4.1.23 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.

4.1.24 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.

4.1.25 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.

4.1.26 The mission has updated its service standards; the Tri-Mission CMM will review them prior to distribution. In progress for September 2014.

4.1.27 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.

4.1.28 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.

4.1.29 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.

4.1.30 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.

4.1.31 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.

4.1.32 A new draft Terms of Reference has been developed and will be reviewed at the next CRB meeting. Implemented August 2014.

4.1.33 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

(Please note: The management actions below reflect the initial responses upon receiving the recommendations. They do not reflect the current status of implementation.)

4.1.34 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.

4.2 Human Resources

4.2.1 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.

4.2.2 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.

Table 17
Key Procurement and Contracting CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes 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  

4.2.3 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 *** has further reduced guidance. Clients at the missions are still uncertain as to which services are provided by the mission and which by the RSCEMA.

4.2.4 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, ***.

4.2.5 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 if further assistance is required.

4.2.6 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. ***.

4.2.7 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 *** 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.

4.2.8 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.

Internal Controls

Table 18
Key HR Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes 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  

4.2.9 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.

4.2.10 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

Recommendations to the Mission

4.2.11 The DMCO should evaluate what training may be necessary ***.

4.2.12 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.

4.2.13 An evaluation should take place to determine which job description require updating, and a process should be put in place to reviews take place, at minimum, every five years.

4.2.14 A standardized system for the management of HR files across the three missions should be established.

4.2.15 Procedures for the maintenance of staffing files should be clarified with the RSCEMA to ensure a complete file is maintained in one location.

4.2.16 Managers should be held accountable for monitoring leave balances throughout the year to ensure leave is used in the fiscal year it is earned.

4.2.17 The mission’s policy on the provision of uniforms should be clearly communicated to the appropriate members of staff.

Mission Actions and Timeframes

(Please note: The management actions below reflect the initial responses upon receiving the recommendations. They do not reflect the current status of implementation.)

4.2.11 Following an assessment of training needs, *** . Implemented June 2014.

4.2.12 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.

4.2.13 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 description systematically reviewed. To facilitate the process, we will encourage program managers to use generic job descriptions where appropriate. In progress for March 2015.

4.2.14 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.

4.2.15 Procedures for maintaining staffing files is under discussion with RSCEMA. In progress for September 2014.

4.2.16 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.

4.2.17 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.

4.3 Physical Resources

4.3.1 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.

4.3.2 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.

4.3.3 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) ***.

4.3.4 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.

Management

Table 19
Key Physical Resources Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Mission property and maintenance plans are up to date.X  
The chancery and official residence (OR) are well maintained and maintenance schedules are in place.X  
An efficient process 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  

4.3.5 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.

4.3.6 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.

4.3.7 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.

4.3.8 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.

4.3.9 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. ***.

4.3.10 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. ***.

4.3.11 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 ***.

4.3.12 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. ***.

4.3.13 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.

4.3.14 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

Table 20
Key Physical Resources Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
An inspection is conducted by new SQ occupants and a mission representative within 30 days of occupancy, after which occupancy agreements and distribution accounts are signed.X  
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  

4.3.15 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.

4.3.16 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.

4.3.17 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.

4.3.18 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.

4.3.19 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:

This would also apply to materiel transferred to other missions.

4.3.20 Vehicle logs and gasoline records, and the maintenance of the vehicles were found to be in good order. Each vehicle *** to make gas purchases. Maintaining individual cards assists in tracking costs for each vehicle. ***

Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

4.3.21 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.

4.3.22 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.

4.3.23 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.

4.3.24 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.

4.3.25 The mission should ensure that complete files are maintained for disposal of Crown assets.

4.3.26 ***

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.)

4.3.21 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.

4.3.22 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.

4.3.23 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.

4.3.24 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 *** in the short-term with a further reduction envisaged ***. In progress for September 2014.

4.3.25 Thorough documentation is now completed for all disposal files. Implemented June 2014.

4.3.26 ***. Implemented February 2014.

4.4 Finance

4.4.1 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 ***.

4.4.2 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.

4.4.3 Management

Table 21
Key Finance Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Roles and responsibilities ensure adequate segregation of duties.X  
The section employs methods to minimize disruption (e.g. setting of "quiet hours" and controlling access to the Finance section).X  
The section has explored alternate methods to minimize transactions and reduce reliance on cash (i.e. acquisition cards, electronic fund transfers).X  
Payment runs are kept to a minimum, but are sufficient to provide good client service.X  

4.4.4 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.

4.4.5 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.

4.4.6 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.

4.4.7 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.

4.4.8 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.

4.4.9 Client missions now all use *** 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.

4.4.10 The use of electronic funds transfers, credit cards, bank transfers and the Mission Online Payment Services ***.

Key Processes and Internal Controls

Table 22
Key Finance Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes 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  

4.4.11 Internal controls are in place with minor improvement required in the following areas:

Recommendations

Recommendations to the Mission

4.4.12 ***.

4.4.13 In accordance with the Petty Cash – Missions policy 4.3.1, all petty cash ***.

Recommendation to the Corporate Accounting Bureau (SMD)

4.4.14 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

(Please note: The management actions below reflect the initial responses upon receiving the recommendations. They do not reflect the current status of implementation.)

4.4.12 ***. Implemented February 2014.

4.4.13 Petty cash practices have been reviewed and updated, ***. Implemented February 2014.

SMD 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.)

4.4.14 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.

4.5 Information Management – Information Technology (IM-IT)

4.5.1 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.

4.5.2 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.

4.5.3 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.

Management

Table 23
Key IM-IT Management CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
An Information Management - Information Technology (IM-IT) plan exists and includes regional activities.X  
The liaison between the mission, HQ and the regional manager is effective.X  
The mission uses the required IM-IT service request system and maintains relevant data.X  

4.5.4 Overall, the IT section is *** managed by the FSITP; his *** approach *** 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.

4.5.5 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.

4.5.6 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.

4.5.7 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.

4.5.8 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.

4.5.9 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. ***.

4.5.10 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

Table 24
Key IM-IT Internal Control CriteriaMeetsNeeds ImprovementDoes Not Meet
Back-ups are performed routinely and tapes are stored appropriately in a secure location away from the primary use area.X  
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  

4.5.11 Overall, IM-IT processes and controls are strong with only minor suggestions for improvement. Back-ups at both chanceries are performed regularly ***.

4.5.12 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.

4.5.13 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

Recommendations to the Mission

4.5.14 Unmonitored organizational email boxes should be closed.

4.5.15 An effective handover plan should be implemented to ensure key information management practices are sustained following the 2014 summer rotation.

4.5.16 Employees should formally acknowledge their accountabilities when they take responsibilities for IT assets.

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.)

4.5.14 All unmonitored organizational email boxes have been closed. Implemented June 2014.

4.5.15 ***. Implemented July 2014.

4.5.16 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 A: Mission Resources Fact Sheet

Physical Resources
AssetsCrown-OwnedCrown-LeasedPrivate-Lease
Chancery 2 (1 at the mission to NATO) 
Official Residence11 (at the mission to NATO) 
Staff Quarters329 (6 at the mission to NATO)14 (4 at the mission to NATO)
Vehicles9 (3 at the mission to NATO)  
Storage 1 

*Figures include physical resources across the three missions in Brussels

Financial Information 2013/2014
BudgetProgramCommon ServicesProperty
Operating$211,000$329,753$4,454,600
CBS Salaries (actual)1,623,711309,402 
CBS Overtime3,0005,000 
LES Salaries and Overtime682,0301,808,407 
Total$2,519,741$2,452,562$4,454,600

 

Human Resources (FTEs)
ProgramTotalCBSLES
Head of Mission844
FPDS734
CE761
Common Services264*22*
Citizenship and Immigration Canada211
Canada Border Services Agency422
Justice211
Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment743
Total632538

*NOTE: Common services staff located at the mission to NATO are identified on that mission’s human resources chart. This includes the following positions: the AS-05 DMCO; the AS-02 Head of Registry; the LE-07 Office Manager; the LE-04 Registry Assistant; two half-time LE-04 Receptionist/Administrative Assistants; and the SG-04 Driver/Messenger.

Appendix B: Frequently Used Acronyms

CBS
Canada-based staff
CE
Commercial Economic
CMM
Committee on Mission Management
COMIP
Consular Management Information Program
CONPLAN
Contingency Plan
CRB
Contract Review Board
CSF
Client Service Fund
EFT
Electronic Funds Transfer
DMCO
Deputy Management Consular Officer
FPDS
Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service
FSITP
Foreign Service Information Technology Professional
FTE
Full Time Equivalent
FY
Fiscal Year
GCS
Global Commerce Strategy
GVC
Global Value Chains
HOM
Head of Mission
HONCON
Honorary Consul
HQ
Headquarters
HR
Human Resources
HSZ
High Security Zone
ICT
Information Communication Technologies
IM-IT
Information Management - Information Technology
IMS
Integrated Management System
LEITP
Locally Engaged Information Technology Professional
LES
Locally engaged staff
LESMCB
LES Management Consultation Board
MCO
Management Consular Officer
MEP
Mission Emergency Plan
MFO
Mission Financial Officer
MM Module
Materiel Management Module of IMS
MMWP
Mission Maintenance Workplan
MOU
Memorandum of Understanding
MSO
Mission Security Officer
MPMP
Mission Property Management Plan
NAAP
North American Platform Program
OR
Official residence
OZ
Operations Zone
PIF
Post Initiative Fund
PM
Program Manager
PMA
Performance Management Agreement
PMP
Human Resources - Performance Management Program
PMP
Consular - Passport Management Program
PRIME
Physical Resources Information - Mission Environment
ROCA
Registration of Canadians Abroad
S&T
Science and Technology
STC
Senior Trade Commissioner
SQ
Staff Quarter
SZ
Security Zone
TC
Trade Commissioner
TCA
Trade Commissioner Assistant
TCS
Trade Commissioner Service
TRIO
The TCS’ Client Relationship Management System
ZID
Office of the Inspector General
ZIV
Missions Inspection Division
Date Modified: