Evaluation of the Diplomatic Corps Services Program – Summary Report
Why is it important?
The Diplomatic Corps Services Program is one of the oldest programs in the Canadian government. Housed within the Office of Protocol, the program aims to serve the diplomatic community in Canada and manages compliance with privileges and immunity provisions of the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act frameworks. The Diplomatic Corps Services Division administers various policies and programs to facilitate the establishment of foreign missions, international organizations and the presence of their representatives on Canadian territory.
The evaluation of the Diplomatic Corps Services Program is being conducted as per Treasury Board requirements. Evaluation of the program is required under section 42.1 (1) of the Financial Administration Act, as it includes Grants and Contributions totaling over $5M through the Payments in Lieu of Taxes. The evaluation was led by the Diplomacy, Trade and Corporate Evaluation Division of the Evaluation and Results Bureau. The Diplomatic Corps Services Program previously underwent an evaluation in 2011.
What the evaluation assessed:
This evaluation assessed the relevance and performance of programs, services and activities which comprise the Diplomatic Corps Services Program. Because much of the program is mandated by international legislation, questions of relevance focused on non-statutory services only.
To measure performance, the evaluation referred to current program practices and standards for each service, stakeholder perceptions, and to levels of satisfaction among diplomatic community as well as other stakeholders.
The evaluation questions that were asked:
- To what extent is the Diplomatic Corps Services Program, through various services and activities, meeting its requirements under Canada’s legal obligations and political commitments?
- To what extent are the program’s service standards being met?
- To what degree are clients within the diplomatic community satisfied with services provided?
- To what extent have the services provided by the program contributed to the projection/achievement of Canadian values and interests?
- How have political/legislative/administrative realities within the last five years affected delivery of the program, and what tools, if any, are needed for the Diplomatic Corps Services Program to remain responsive?
- Is there a continued need for the non-essential services provided under the program, and are these services aligned with the roles of the Office of Protocol?
- Are the relative levels of effort and resources devoted to each service/activity within the program appropriate?
- To what extent has the program addressed the recommendations issued in the previous evaluation?
- Evaluation Coverage: 2011/12-2016/17
- Average Annual Budget of the Diplomatic Corps Services Program (2011/12-2015/16): $14.7M
- Data Sources:
- Interviews (n=35)
- Survey of Ottawa-based foreign representatives (Participation rate of 56% (71/127))
- File and document review
- Evaluation Completed: August 2017
What the evaluation found
- The Diplomatic Corps Services Program is meeting its legal and political obligations, both in terms of fulfilling its international obligations as per the Vienna Conventions, and ensuring that foreign diplomats in Canada behave in accordance with Canadian laws and values.
- The Diplomatic Corps Services Program is meeting service standards for its core services most of the time, based on program statistics (limited to FY2016-2017), the survey and key informant interviews.
- The Payments in Lieu of Taxes are administered in a timely manner, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, and to the satisfaction of local governments and program partners.
- Members of the diplomatic community in Canada expressed high levels of satisfaction with the core services in terms of the availability of information, the timeliness of delivery and the quality of service.
- Partners within Global Affairs Canada, as well as external partners were satisfied with their working relationship with Diplomatic Corps Services Program staff, and praised their responsiveness and professionalism.
- The Diplomatic Corps Services Program is contributing to the advancement of Canada’s International agenda. Outreach Programs provide opportunities for Global Affairs Canada to advocate for Canada’s interests and values, while core services and programs create favourable conditions for Canadian representatives abroad.
- The Diplomatic Corps Services Program has adequate policy and staff capacity to enable effective delivery of core services, but is vulnerable to surges in workload and staff turnover. In recent years, the division has faced increased workload due to several factors. The result is that staffs have had to take on functions that are not typically associated with their classification group.
- The Diplomatic Corps Services Program has addressed most of the recommendations from the 2010 Evaluation. However, while the program has been systematically collecting data about its services and other activities, it has not yet established a performance measurement strategy or logic model.
- Most of the non-statutory programs and services delivered by the Diplomatic Corps Services Program, and particularly the Outreach Programs, are valuable and support Canada’s international agenda. A few non-statutory services, such as the issuance of Letters of Credence and Recall for Canadian Heads of Mission, are less useful and do not align closely with the program’s mandate.
- The Diplomatic Corps Services Program has adapted well to changing federal priorities and unforeseen challenges. The Office of Protocol has demonstrated a strong capacity to adjust to changing realities and has succeeded in adapting internal policies and procedures to deal with emerging issues.
Recommendations and Management Response and Action Plan
|Recommendations||Management Response and Action Plan|
|Recommendation 1: Re-focus on activities and services that are aligned with the program’s mandate.||Agree, subject to review with relevant Global Affairs Canada divisions and other government departments. As part of its 2018-2019 planning cycle, management will identify the services and programs (or components of services and programs) which fall outside the program’s core mandate and recommend which should cease altogether, decrease, or be transferred elsewhere. There are many examples of non-core services/programs in addition to the one cited above (the issuance of letters of Credence and Recall for Canada HOMs). The Diplomatic Corps Services Division will engage with key partners to implement these adjustments and plan for a timely and orderly transition.|
|Recommendation 2: Develop a performance measurement strategy.||Agree. The Diplomatic Corps Services Division will continue to promote a culture of excellence and high performance in its day-to-day operations. It will develop a performance measurement strategy that builds on the division’s existing tools which measure the performance of certain programs/operations. This overarching performance measurement strategy will align with all of the programs/operations with the relevant sections of the Departmental Results Framework, including results-based indicators, data sources and data collection frequency, and clearly defined roles and responsibilities.|
|Recommendation 3: Explore options to increase policy capacity.||Agree to explore options to strengthen the Diplomatic Corps Services Program’s policy capacity, taking into consideration limited resources (human and financial). To strengthen its policy work and mitigate the risks of a turnover in key positions, the Diplomatic Corps Services Division will identify and assess options to realign its work and resources (human and financial) to better support the policy function as well as explore the possibility of creating a new position responsible for the division’s policy work (which may entail some organizational restructuring).|
|Recommendation 4: Continue and, if possible, expand, outreach activities.||Agree to explore options to strengthen/expand outreach activities, subject to capacity and resources (human and financial). The Diplomatic Corps Services Division is reviewing options to strengthen and expand its outreach activities by building on the success of past outreach across the division’s various programs. The program will continue to: enhance the planning and execution of relevant outreach activities; ensure that all regional groups in the diplomatic community (and/or groups which present elevated risk profiles) are targeted; and maintain and strengthen relationships with Canadian partners (such as law enforcement entities, other government departments, provinces/territories and municipalities) by carrying out educational activities and developing appropriate training programs and materials.|
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