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Table of Contents
- EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
- 1.1 Introduction
- 1.2 ESSB Mandate and Priorities
- 1.3 Context and History
- 1.4 Explosives Industry and Other Stakeholders
- 1.5 Governance and Administration
- 1.6 Description, Delivery, and Organizatio
- 1.7 Resources and Funding Sources
- 2.0 EVALUATION SCOPE AND METHODOLOGIES
3.0 EVALUATION FINDINGS
- 3.1 Relevance
- 3.2 Performance (Effectiveness, Efficiency and Economy)
- 4.0 Findings and Conclusions by Evaluation Issue
- ANNEX A – SUPPLEMENTARY TABLES
This report summarizes the results of an evaluation of the Explosives Safety and Security Branch (ESSB) part of Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Minerals and Metals Sector (MMS). The evaluation assesses the programs and major activities carried out, individually and in collaboration, by the Branch’s two component organizations, the Explosives Regulatory Division (ERD) and the Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory (CERL), from fiscal years 2004-05 to 2008-09. ESSB was created as part the renewal of MMS. The Branch and its current organizational structure have been in place since 2007-08. Before this period, CERL and ERD were part of the Minerals Technology Branch (MTB). This constitutes the first evaluation of ESSB.
Explosives Safety and Security Branch (ESSB)
ESSB is responsible for administering the Explosives Act and associated regulations (EA&R) and for pursuing the advancement of explosives safety and security science and technology (S&T). The Branch’s main objective is to ensure the safety and security of the public and all workers involved in the explosives industry throughout Canada. While public and worker safety is a continuing government priority, in recent years the Branch has increasingly worked in the area of explosives security. In 2002, the Government of Canada (GOC) introduced the Public Safety Act (which became law in 2004), giving ESSB responsibility for the implementation of enhanced explosives security provisions.
The Branch’s approach is based on the integration of science and policy, an approach that addresses the vital need for evidence-based regulations and policies. Its two divisions work in close partnership to ensure that ESSB achieves its two main strategic outcomes — improving public safety and strengthening national security through a variety of programs, activities and services. The main ESSB program areas and activities are: authorizing, inspecting and enforcing compliance; developing policy and standards; integrating science and regulation/policy; S&T support to external stakeholders in the areas of safety and security; education and outreach activities; and networking and policy support.
Explosives Regulatory Division (ERD): ERD’s primary role is to administer the EA&R by maintaining a system of explosives authorization and licensing (licences, certificates and permits) supported by a compliance inspection program. In addition, ERD ensures the continued relevance and functionality of theAct, over time, by reviewing and updating related regulations and policies and developing and delivering programs in the security area. It also assists industry in meeting the requirements of theActand promotes the safe use of fireworks and pyrotechnics.
Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory (CERL): CERL’s main role is to assist ERD in administering the EA&R by conducting tests on commercial explosives and providing S&T knowledge and advice to support decision-making. CERL also offers S&T services to external stakeholders (e.g., other federal government departments [OGDs] or private industry) in areas related to the safety and security of explosives. It is the only Canadian government laboratory dealing with commercial explosives and equipment for use in hazardous locations.
Resources and Funding
Budget, Expenditures and Funding Sources: ESSB has annual expenditures of approximately $8 million, representing nearly 15% of MMS budget and approximately 1% of NRCan’s budget. The shares of ESSB expenditures dedicated to ERD and CERL are approximately 58% and 42%, respectively. The Branch is funded by sources both internal and external to the GOC.
Internal sources of funding: Annual A-base appropriations from the NRCan budget provide approximately 36% of ESSB’s total budget, while federal government programs (B-base, such as the Public Security and Anti-terrorism [PSAT] Initiative) represent about 22%.
External sources of funding:Vote-netted revenue stems from the sale of licenses and permits and from services performed on a full or partial cost-recovery basis for organizations within or outside of the federal government. ERD’s implementation as of June 1, 2009, of a revised explosives user fees schedule is expected to increase its yearly intake of vote-netted revenues. CERL relies heavily on supplemental funding — in recent years, revenues from services and research contracts have accounted for about 45% of the laboratory’s total budget. The charge-out rates of the laboratory were last revised in 2002. The relative proportion of CERL’s cost recovery funding is based on the government’s direction to supply the S&T required to address the needs of all parties, including OGDs and industry.
Personnel: During the period under evaluation, ESSB employed between 66 and 69 full-time equivalents (FTEs). This represents approximately 10% of the total MMS staff and less than 2% of NRCan’s workforce. During the last five years, approximately 40 FTEs have worked in ERD and 25 have worked in CERL. As of 2008-09, three FTEs were working in the Office of the Director General. Nearly 80% of ESSB staff is composed of scientists, inspectors and technicians. The other 20% of the staff carry out executive and administrative functions. This level of FTEs has remained essentially unchanged over the time span encompassed by this evaluation.
Evaluation Issues and Methodology
Scope: This evaluation examines the relevance and performance of ESSB by addressing five main issues through a series of specific evaluation questions. The evaluation period is from fiscal year 2004-05 to 2008-09. The three main issues related to relevance are the continued need for the Branch’s activities/services, its alignment with federal and departmental priorities, and roles and responsibilities. The two main issues related to performance are achievement of expected outcomes and demonstration of efficiency and economy.
Methodology: Four methods were used in this evaluation: (1) a review of external literature (international and national) and a comparative analysis of explosives regulatory and S&T systems in other countries; (2) 28 structured interviews, 16 conducted with ESSB staff and 12 conducted with Canadian and international stakeholders; (3) case studies based on the study of 14 projects/activities across the five main activity areas of ESSB, and including 31 additional interviews with ESSB staff as well as clients and partners; and (4) an extensive review of over 200 internal files and documents provided by ESSB.
The Branch plays a vital role in keeping Canadian workers and the general public safe and secure throughout the entire commercial explosives life-cycle and in safeguarding the public from the use of homemade explosives. Evidence collected for this evaluation indicates that the mandate of the Branch is well-aligned with both departmental priorities and sector objectives. The objectives and S&T activities of ESSB also continue to be highly relevant to the needs of its partners, clients and stakeholders. The security-related portion of ESSB’s activities is relatively new compared to safety and was added through amendments to the Public Safety Act, 2002. The literature review indicates that strengthening the security-related activities of the Branch has been a priority over 2006-09.
Evaluation Issue 1—Continued Need for Program
The evidence clearly demonstrates a continued need for ESSB to administer the EA&R. The Branch’s objectives, evidence-based approach and activity areas have supported the effective administration of theEA&R. The S&T performed by CERL provides a credible basis for ERD’s activities in authorization, licensing and compliance monitoring, such as the certification of imported and new products and the development or review of regulations and policies.
Additionally, CERL’s non-regulatory S&T has led to enhanced knowledge among industry and OGD stakeholders of the safety and security risks associated with explosives and ways to minimize those risks. A crucial element of ESSB’s approach involves the extensive use of consultation, education and collaboration with stakeholders. Consulted stakeholders and clients generally believe that ESSB is attentive and responsive to the requirements and needs of their organizations. ESSB has remained relevant to the needs of all stakeholders by continually adapting its approach in response to innovations in explosives technology, changes in the industry and emerging global security threats.
Evaluation Issue 2—Alignment with Government Priorities
As federal priorities are focused on ensuring a safe and secure country, the Branch’s priority, which is evident throughout all of its activities, is strongly aligned with those of GOC. Further, ESSB’s mandate is consistent with NRCan’s strategic outcomes and MMS’ expected results.
Evaluation Issue 3—Alignment with Federal Roles and Responsibilities
Stakeholders overwhelmingly feel that the federal government plays an appropriate role as the authority responsible for ensuring the safety and security of those involved with commercial explosives. This is primarily due to the government’s accountability to Canadians for the ‘public good’ and its need to remain reliable, consistent, unbiased and objective. For these reasons, it is unlikely that any organization other than ESSB could appropriately carry out these wide-ranging responsibilities on a consistent, national basis.
The evidence indicates that very little duplication, overlap, or gaps in terms of both safety and security exist between the activities of ESSB and those of other programs or organizations in Canada. Most stakeholders believe that ESSB is appropriately housed within NRCan —especially in view of its safety-related objectives and activities – due to the importance of explosives in the extraction of natural resources.
However, some interviewees feel that the mandate, priorities and objectives of ESSB in security-related activities need to be better articulated with senior management in relevant OGDs. This situation is being addressed through targeted outreach at senior levels in relevant OGDs in order to advance ESSB priorities (e.g., the Restricted Components Regulations, the Explosives Security Partnership Program). Broader outreach will also be undertaken through ESSB’s Strategic Alignment, one of its objectives being to “facilitate results and management of expectations through timely and meaningful communication.”1
Performance (Effectiveness, Efficiency and Economy)
Multiple lines of evidence establish that ESSB has been successful in fulfilling its mandate and achieving its main objectives throughout the period encompassed by the evaluation. The overall effectiveness of ERD’s regulatory oversight and CERL’s S&T outputs was high: ERD successfully administered the EA&R and developed and validated regulations and policies on the basis of CERL’s scientific input. CERL also made significant contributions to external clients and stakeholders through the transfer of knowledge, expert advice and technology. These activities ensured a strong and credible framework that improved public safety, strengthened national security and enhanced industry efficiency.
The Branch demonstrated a high level of effectiveness, efficiency and economy. Requirements for security services arising from new or revised policies have increased demands for ESSB’s (especially CERL) products and services, which are occurring during a period of fiscal restraint as well as diminishing qualified HR in general, and in the explosives sector specifically. The Branch, including CERL, has successfully met these demands; however, the long-term sustainability of these resources and ensuring the ability to meet demands are also issues.2
ESSB would benefit from improvements in information technology (IT) infrastructure and support, financial tracking, performance measurement strategies, and sustained efforts to build linkages in priority areas at the senior levels of federal government.
Evaluation Issue 4—Achievement of Expected Outcomes
The evidence demonstrates that, at least in the short term, ERD’s activities – the authorization of new products, licensing for manufacturing and storage, issuing of import permits, compliance monitoring (inspection) activities and the development and implementation of new or revised regulations and policies – have led to improved safety in Canada. ERD’s contributions to security are likely to grow as it continues to implement security programs. The Division also seeks to improve the efficiency of the Canadian industry, and has succeeded in part, by engaging clients and partners in the development and implementation of standards and policies and keeping their costs to a minimum. Attribution of intermediate and long-term safety and security outcomes to ERD’s activities is hampered by a lack of associated data and — as is the case with some outcomes — the sharing of certain responsibilities (i.e., reducing the risks from explosives-related workplace accidents is addressed not only by ESSB’s programs but also by occupational health and safety programs).
CERL was very effective during the timeframe encompassed by the evaluation, lending highly-valued support to ERD’s science-based decision-making through the certification of products and internal S&T projects. Through its non-regulatory projects and reports, CERL successfully transferred its S&T results directly to explosives industry stakeholders, as well as OGDs and international bodies. The continued high demand for CERL’s products and services confirms its importance and utility for partners and clients, who apply these results to their practices and policies.
ESSB’s education, outreach and networking activities included the offering of certification programs; the production of bulletins, standards, guidelines, papers and reports; and conference and workshop presentations. These products and actions helped raise awareness of policy, safety and security issues related to explosives among the regulated community and stakeholders, and created links with national and international organizations having common interests. During the period under evaluation, the Branch excelled at partnerships, collaboration, information exchange and consultation, further bolstering its international reputation as a leader.
Evaluation Issue 5—Demonstration of Efficiency and Economy
Overall, ESSB exhibits an effective organizational structure that facilitates the integration of science and policy and leads to the successful management of activities. In support of more effective program delivery, the Branch management has recently revised its governance strategies and undertaken more project management, risk management and planning activities. Among the strengths that have undoubtedly contributed to ESSB’s effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its objectives and strategic outcomes are its science-policy linkages, the expertise of its personnel, the quality of its work, and its participatory engagement processes (close collaboration and exchange with Canadian and international stakeholders through networking, consulting and partnering activities).
The evaluation also identified areas in ESSB’s operational processes and performance monitoring that require strengthening. Internal interviewees found the available IT tools for the management of activities to be lacking; in particular, ESSB’s existing IT infrastructure was criticized for its outdated databases and inefficient means for online information sharing. Despite increased emphasis in recent years on implementing performance monitoring strategies at ESSB, there remains a significant lack of financial tracking and performance measurement strategies and tools that would allow the Branch, for example, to collect relevant performance indicator data and report on achievements and contributions. The document review also reflects these findings.
ERD has increased many of its activities, such as inspections, and assumed new responsibilities, such as security. CERL has also remained cost-effective, mostly by leveraging its cost-recovery opportunities (the share of CERL’s expenditures covered by cost-recovery increased from 33.5% to almost 45% during the last four years of the evaluation period).
Due to the lack of increase in ESSB’s share of A-base (continuous) funding and an increasing reliance on cost-recovery activities, resources at ESSB are quite limited. Project Management Information System (PMIS) data, although incomplete, reveal that cost-recovery projects are often subject to cost overruns absorbed by the laboratory. These overruns reached almost 80% in 2007-08, meaning that project costs were almost double the expected amounts. Evidence indicated that cost-effectiveness of revenue-generating projects at CERL could be improved through better mechanisms for estimating project costs, reviewing charge-out rates and increasing the understanding and capacity of staff in the area of project and time management.
ESSB is also facing human resource challenges. Increasing workload demands and requirements are intensifying in areas such as fireworks certification and post-authorization testing at a time when the Branch is facing the retirement of many of its experienced staff, and difficulties recruiting new highly-qualified personnel from a shrinking private sector — all occurring during a period of fiscal restraint. Both internal and external interviewees reported the view that there was a need to ensure the sustainability of ERD and CERL in critical areas, particularly related to security. The documentation review supports these findings. It also provided evidence indicating that this was a priority area for action, and that the Branch was taking action oriented toward addressing this situation.ESSB Assets 2009-12-18, Knowledge Management in MMS (undated)." id="r3">3
Comparisons of Canada’s ESSB to two similar organizations (those in Queensland, Australia and the United Kingdom) illustrate that the Branch compares favourably in terms of efficiency, especially with respect to the achievement of targets for the inspection and licensing of manufacturing and storage facilities and strategic outcomes related to explosives accidents and incidents. Many international stakeholders consider the Canadian system — because of ESSB — as unique and world-leading, primarily due to the close linkage between science and policy.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Given the growth in demand for its services, there is a need for ESSB to ensure the sustainability of CERL’s human and financial resources. This would ideally involve reassessing current and anticipated future risks and identifying appropriate mitigation strategies. ESSB is well-positioned and increasingly asked to respond to the needs of OGDs in areas that are not traditional to NRCan.
However, the support to external stakeholders is mainly project-based and funded using a revenue generating regime. This model could have negative implications for the Branch as it is uncertain how resources in the area of security would be deployed to meet shifts in potential future external needs and priorities.
According to the document review, appropriate risk management is one of the objectives of the Branch’s Strategic Alignment exercise, and the anticipated main benefits of the Strategic Alignment include succession planning, employee retention and “a responsive and agile organization well-positioned to meet current and future challenges.” This indicates that the situation is clearly recognized and is being addressed by senior management.4
ESSB is a relatively new organization and has recently started to engage the management of ERD and CERL in the development of a Results-based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF) and a performance measurement framework (PMF). Each division could greatly benefit from such frameworks, especially if they are developed in consultation with MMS, NRCan’s Strategic Evaluation Division, and OGDs engaged in explosives safety and security to ensure the equivalence of performance measures and avoid duplication of efforts.
The evaluation strongly supports the continued need for this process as it is important for the tracking and reporting of achievements according to targeted outcomes.
Such outcome measures would support ESSB’s efforts in communicating its achievements and challenges. Evidence indicates that the current IT tools and resources are not fully supportive of effective and efficient performance monitoring and reporting. Accordingly, ESSB should consider measures for overhauling its IT tools and support. Such action is implicit in the Strategic Alignment exercise in that its anticipated main benefits include “support effective knowledge management, ensure accountability and transparency, and support an integrated approach to business planning and human resource planning.”5
Further, the development of web-based applications/tools for the management and delivery of services (internal and external) has been identified in this evaluation as key for the improvement of the effectiveness and efficiency of ESSB. Accordingly, ESSB should also consider in its analysis of IT needs, the development of databases and web-based tools that respond to the most pressing needs of ESSB divisions, programs and management.
The quality and need for CERL’s work is widely recognized across government, as demonstrated by the demand for its services by OGDs. Some interviewees identified the need to address challenges and opportunities in delivering these services. This has been identified as a priority area for action under MMS renewal, and progress is being made in addressing this situation6 (see MMS Strategic Alignment priorities).
Recommendations, Management Response and Action Plan Table
|Management Responses and Action Plans||Responsibility (Target Date)|
|1. ESSB, particularly CERL, should continue its efforts to ensure and confirm the sustainability of its human and financial resources so that it is able to maintain its high level and quality of work.||Accepted. Through ESSB Strategic Alignment, the Branch is moving forward measures to strengthen financial and human resource planning, including:
|2. ESSB should continue to improve its financial tracking and performance measurement capacities that integrate ERD and CERL activities and that are tailored to management needs.||Accepted. ESSB will develop and implement an integrated business planning framework including a performance measurement framework:
ESSB participated in NRCan and MMS integrated planning exercises this year, which will improve its financial tracking and performance measurement capacities.
The Branch will also benefit from the departmental implementation of the FELIX/SAP system, which will include a project management module.
(FELIX/SAP portion March 2011)
|3. ESSB should develop and implement an integrated client-oriented information management system in order to improve its effectiveness and efficiency in administering the Explosives Act, delivering services, and monitoring progress.||
Accepted. ESSB is addressing this by (1) reviewing its IM/IT systems and (2) strengthening its outreach activities.
(1) ESSB is reviewing its IM/IT systems to identify potential solutions to improve the client-orientation and integration of Branch systems. This review is building on an initial needs assessment which will be refined as the various strategic alignment initiatives are implemented. The review will also leverage current improvement initiatives underway (i.e., the Felix project, roll-out of Sharepoint). Priorities for IM/IT improvement will be identified through this process and the financial business case will also be developed; and
(2) Integrated approach to stakeholder outreach will also be strengthened through Branch participation in the MMS stakeholder outreach strategy.
Business case for the improvement of Branch systems
(March 2011) Participation in MMS Outreach Strategy
|4. Current efforts to establish strategic linkages/partnerships with respect to the security-related aspects of ESSB’s mandate, particularly as they relate to CERL, should continue and if possible increase.||Accepted. ESSB is working with DRDC to establish a strategic partnership in advancing explosives security S&T. This includes establishing a systematic approach to undertaking blast vulnerability assessments, and other explosives security S&T considered critical by the two organizations. Partnership is to be finalized in early 2010-2011.||ADM, MMS
This report presents the results of an evaluation of the Explosives Safety and Security Branch (ESSB) within the Minerals and Metals Sector (MMS) of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), which is sub-activity 3.1.1 of NRCan’s Program Activity Architecture. This evaluation encompasses the five-year period from 2004-05 to 2008-09 and is focused on all the programs and major activities of ESSB whether they are performed by the Explosives Regulatory Division (ERD) or the Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory (CERL) individually or in collaboration. In 2008–09, the expenditures for the whole Branch totalled $8.3 million (ERD: $4.5 million; CERL: $3.4 million).
ESSB is responsible for administering the Explosives Act and associated regulations (EA&R). Its main objective is to administer the Act on the basis of sound science by integrative and participatory approaches based on strong science-policy interlink, education, consultation, and cooperation.
The health, safety and security of Canadians are a continuing government priority. Over the last 85 years, ESSB and its different embodiments have focused primarily on one priority: public and worker safety with respect to explosives. However, the events of September 11, 2001 changed this radically. In response to these events, the Government of Canada (GOC) introduced the Public Safety Act. This Act, which became law in 2004, amended the Explosives Act to enhance explosives security. Accordingly, ESSB now operates with two main priorities: to ensure the safety of the public and of all workers involved in the explosives industry throughout Canada, and to strengthen national security.
Through these priorities, ESSB contributes to the realization of NRCan’s strategic outcome “Safety, Security & Governance” by playing a pivotal role in the sub-activity “Mining, Infrastructure and Explosives Safety and Security” of the Department’s “Adapting to a Changing Climate and Hazard Risk Management” program activity.7, 8
ESSB consists of the Director General’s office and two complementary organizations, the ERD and the CERL that work in close partnership to ensure that the Branch achieves its priorities.
Explosives Regulatory Division (ERD): The primary role of ERD is to administer the EA&R by maintaining a system of explosives authorization and licensing (licences, certificates and permits) supported by a compliance inspection program. In addition, ERD ensures the functionality of the EA&R over time by reviewing and updating related regulations and policies, and developing and delivering programs in the security area. It also assists industry in meeting the requirements of the Act, and promotes the safe use of fireworks and pyrotechnics.
Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory (CERL): The primary role of CERL is to assist ERD in administering the EA&R by providing testing of commercial explosives as well as S&T knowledge and advice to support decision-making. CERL also provides S&T services to external stakeholders (e.g., other federal government departments [OGDs], private industry) in areas related to the safety and security of explosives. It is the only Canadian government laboratory dealing with commercial explosives.
Explosives play a vital role in our society, but they pose a potential risk to workers as well as to the general public. Accordingly, in Canada, the use of all explosives is regulated and controlled to ensure the safety and security of these two groups.
A federal law first promulgated by the Canadian House of Commons in 1921,9 the Explosives Act strictly regulates the manufacture, importation, storage, sale and possession of commercial explosives that pose a threat to the safety or security of Canadians, as well as certain aspects of these explosives’ transport by road.10 The Actcovers much more than blasting explosives, such as dynamite; it also applies to propellants, ammunition, fireworks for professional shows and those available for public purchase, toy and professional rocket motors, avalanche control equipment, and safety flares.11
The Explosives Act requires those working with explosives to have a license, certificate or permit issued by the federal government. The main exceptions are the use of explosives, and some storage activities, which are regulated provincially, and military explosives.12
From its creation, the Explosives Division of the Department of Mines, together with an associated laboratory, was given the responsibility of administering and enforcing the Explosives Act.13 Although it has maintained its focus since its inception, the Explosives Division and its laboratory have experienced several relocations, re-designations, and changes in structure. In 1969, the Explosives Laboratory, then part of the Mines Branch of the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, began operating under its current name — the Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory (CERL) — after it moved to the Bells Corners complex. A few years later, in 1975, the Mines Branch was transformed into the Canada Centre for Mineral and Energy Technology (CANMET). As a result, the laboratory became known as CANMET-CERL.
In 1995, NRCan was created through the merger of the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources with Forestry Canada. In an effort to achieve closer linkages between science and policy, the newly formed department was reorganized later that year. As part of this reorganization, CANMET and its two S&T streams were divided into two separate Branches: the Energy Technology Branch and the Minerals Technology Branch (MTB). Both the Explosives Division, now known as the ERD, and the MTB, which included CERL, were placed in the MMS of NRCan.
CERL and ERD were part of the MTB until December 2004, when CERL was placed under the Chief Inspector of Explosives in a newly formed Explosives Branch. The Branch was later reorganized in May 2007 and renamed ESSB.
Canada is one of the major explosives-consuming countries in the developed world, along with the United States (U.S.), Australia and South Africa. A variety of industries use explosives to extract ore, explore for oil and gas, and build highways and dams. In the U.S. and Canada alone, blasters use more than 6 billion pounds of explosives per year.14 Besides mining and quarrying, which account for approximately 90% of consumed explosives,15 many other industries utilize energetic materials for applications such as creating theatrical special effects, deploying air bags, breaking up ice jams, controlling avalanches, fighting oil well fires, and fuelling rockets.16 The manufacturing of explosives alone employed more than 800 Canadians in 32 establishments, and had revenues totalling more than 275 million in 2007.17
ESSB fulfills its mandate and role in a changing and challenging environment. Over the past five years, changes in national and global priorities and policies – in particular those that stem from growing security concerns and industry globalization – have posed a great challenge to regulatory bodies. The increase in international movement of explosives has highlighted the need, particularly in the context of increased security, to intensify efforts toward universally applicable standards and policies that would reduce barriers to trade and facilitate transport. In many countries, industry globalization has had major consequences, namely losses of experienced personnel from industry downsizing and growing numbers of imported products. Also, the advent of new technologies and new types of explosives material represents another constant challenge for regulators.
Over the last ten to fifteen years, the amount of fireworks imported into Canada has steadily increased as a domestic manufacturing industry was replaced by lower cost imports from Asia and Europe. As a result, there is no longer any domestic manufacturing of fireworks or pyrotechnics in Canada. All products are imported, and a limited number of companies maintain distribution networks for companies and individuals in the business of display fireworks.
As the consent of ESSB is required to handle commercial explosives within Canada, the industrial client base of ESSB is diverse, ranging from small, single-product or service companies to large multi-national corporations located in Canada or abroad. On an annual basis, ESSB issues approximately 2,000 explosives magazines or storage licenses, 300 manufacturing licenses of which a third are for perforating gun assembly facilities and 500 importation permits.18
In addition, changes to policies worldwide following the events of September 11, 2001 also affected Canada. Canada's Public Safety Act, 2002 amended or repealed 24 pieces of legislation including the Explosives Act and its regulations. The changes to the EA&R and the Public Safety and Anti-terrorism Initiative resulted in higher demand for ESSB services, especially in the area of explosives security S&T, by a number of government departments including Transport Canada and others. Since ESSB provides services to the departments involved related to explosives safety and security, ESSB stakeholders include OGDs and agencies.19
In summary, the stakeholders of ESSB include the manufacturers, importers, distributors and users of explosives, as well as government agencies, policy makers, the scientific community, and the Canadian public.
ESSB operates under the authority of the Deputy and Associate Deputy Ministers responsible for NRCan, and the Assistant Deputy Minister, MMS. ESSB is managed by a Director General, to whom the heads of ERD and CERL report separately.
ERD, led by the Chief Inspector of Explosives, currently comprises four sections: Policy/Administration; Licensing, Compliance & Authorization; Security; and Regional Inspection and Enforcement.
CERL, led by a Director, is assisted by section heads for each of the groups within the laboratory: Explosives Certification, Explosives Analysis, Explosives Applications (currently Explosives Effects), Explosives Research, and Hazardous Locations.
Since the evaluation was completed, the Hazardous Locations group has been eliminated as part of a strategic realignment exercise conducted in order to re-profile the Branch’s A-base to allow it to carry out explosives work. However, this group was considered within the scope of this evaluation because it was operational during the evaluation period.
A logic model combining ERD and CERL was developed in consultation with ERD, CERL and ESSB management. It displays the main external factors that influence the activities and illustrates the resources, activities, outputs and expected outcomes. The timeframe for expected short-term outcomes is one to three years, four to seven years for intermediate outcomes and eight or more years for long-term outcomes.
Over the five-year period encompassed by the evaluation, the activities undertaken by ESSB were primarily focused on the following short-term outcomes:
- efficient and effective administration of theEA&R;
- well-aligned and science-based policies, Act, regulations, and standards;
- increased awareness and knowledge of explosive policies and safe use practice among stakeholders;
- strong linkage, both with Canadian and international stakeholders; and
- scientific and technical knowledge transferred to stakeholders.
The following sections provide details on most elements of the logic model, in order to describe the Branch’s resources and organizational activities as well as the main characteristics of their explosives regulation and S&T delivery and outputs.
Source: Designed in consultation with ESSB and the Strategic Evaluation Division.
ESSB is comprised of the Director General’s office and two complementary organizations, the Explosives Regulatory Division (ERD) and the Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory (CERL) as was noted previously. ESSB fulfills its responsibilities as Canada’s national regulator of explosives and centre of expertise for explosives testing and S&T through the activities of ERD and CERL, which conduct diversified and interlinked activities at the national and international levels.
ESSB aims to accomplish two main strategic outcomes — improving public safety and strengthening national security — through a variety of activities. These include: the control and monitoring of explosives; the development and implementation of explosives-related regulations and standards; educating and networking with industry stakeholders, policy-makers, and the Canadian public; and conducting explosives S&T. More details on the activities of each of CERL’s S&T groups are provided in Table 19 (Annex A).
Authorizing, Inspecting and Enforcing Compliance
Control and monitoring of explosives are achieved by maintaining a system of authorization (granting licenses, certificates and permits) supported by a compliance and enforcement program. These activities are administered by ERD and cover a wide range of operations, from the authorization of commercial explosives and fireworks available in Canada to the licensing of explosives factory sites for the production, storage, sale, and possession of explosives.
Developing Policy and Standards
ESSB plays an important regulatory role in the area of safety through the development and implementation of regulations, and the revision or specification of standards/procedures for operations involving explosives. The Branch also develops programs and strategies to enhance explosives security (e.g., by implementing the PSAct amendments to the Explosives Act such as those requiring controls over the sale of explosives precursor chemicals).20
Integrating Science and Regulation/Policy
ESSB’s activities are mainly expected to safeguard public safety and national security through the integration of regulatory mechanisms and S&T. CERL supports ERD in this function by providing testing and certification for a broad range of explosives products including blasting explosives, fireworks, and pyrotechnic articles. This work is most often conducted in response to a request from the Chief Inspector of Explosives for product authorization and classification under the EA&R. CERL also conducts S&T work on the safety and security aspects of commercial and homemade explosives in support of ERD’s policy decisions and to provide sound science on which to base new regulations.
Safety: S&T Support to Stakeholders (External Support)
In the field of explosives safety technology, CERL conducts extensive S&T research to assess the hazards associated with explosives to improve the safety of their manufacturing, storage, some aspects of transportation and use. In particular, CERL helps private industry to improve the safety of its processes, and to investigate the properties of new and unusual energetic materials.21 In addition CERL tests and certifies equipment for use in underground coal mines and other hazardous locations (this activity was recently discontinued by CERL). These services are provided to industry and regulatory authorities that require expert assessment of products. CERL is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) under ISO Guide 17025 to provide conformity assessment services.
Security: S&T Support to Stakeholders (External Support)
Since 2001, CERL has increasingly worked in the area of explosives security, mostly in support of other government departments (OGDs). These projects have covered a wide range of subjects, including the marking, identification and detection of energetic materials; investigating the damage and mitigation of explosives effects; and blast protection for critical energy infrastructure and buildings.
Educating and Outreach Activities
ESSB also undertakes activities aimed at educating and raising awareness, particularly with regard to the safe operation of explosives. These activities include the provision of training courses for the certification of fireworks supervisors and pyrotechnicians, as well as the investigation of accidents involving explosives. The Branch also prepares and distributes explosives safety and security-related information such as educational materials that promote the safe use of pyrotechnics and display fireworks across Canada.
Networking and Policy Support
ESSB plays a very active role in networking and policy support at the national and international levels. ERD and CERL work with OGDs and agencies of local and foreign governments to ensure that federal policies and strategies are consistent with governmental priorities and to strengthen the safety and security of Canadians. ESSB represents Canada in multilateral initiatives on explosives, shares information and expertise in regulation and S&T through publications and conferences, and serves on committees of organizations with regulatory or policy roles. As a result of the activities conducted at CERL, ESSB is also Canada’s national centre for the advancement of S&T related to the safety and security of explosives.
ESSB conducts a number of other activities through ERD and CERL, such as process and product safety assessments, literature reviews, and the gathering and reporting of data on various aspects of explosives safety and security (e.g., accidents and incidents involving explosives, theft, explosives import and export and sales of explosive precursors). Finally, as required by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), ERD oversees environmental assessments before a factory or storage license is issued.
ESSB has annual expenditures of approximately $8M (Table 1). This amount is distributed between ERD and CERL and represents nearly 15% of the MMS budget and a small fraction (approximately 1%) of NRCan’s budget. ESSB’s funding sources are both internal and external to NRCan and the GOC. Annual A-base appropriations from the NRCan budget provide approximately 36% of the total budget. Federal government programs (B-base, such as the Public Security and Anti-terrorism [PSAT] Initiative) are also significant sources of funding (22%).
The other main source of revenue, vote-netted,22 stems from the sale of licenses and permits and from services and sponsored S&T projects performed on a full or partial cost-recovery basis for organizations within or outside the federal government. From 2006-07 to 2008-09, user fees represented less than 15% of ERD’s budget. As of June 1, 2009, a revised schedule of user fees for ERD activities came into force.23 CERL relies heavily on supplemental (non-A-base) funding.
In recent years, revenues from services and research contracts have accounted for around 45% of the laboratory’s total budget. This level of cost-recovery is high compared to many government laboratories and is the highest of the three MMS laboratories.24
During the timeframe encompassed by this evaluation, ESSB has employed between 66 and 69 full-time equivalents (FTEs). This represents approximately 10% of the total MMS staff and less than 2% of NRCan’s workforce. During the last five years, approximately 40 FTEs have worked at ERD and 25 have worked at CERL. As at 2008–09, three FTEs were working in the Office of the DG. ESSB staff is composed of nearly 80% scientists, professionals (e.g., inspectors), and technicians. The executive and administrative functions are provided by about 20% of FTEs. CERL also hosts a small number of interns, students and/or post-doctoral fellows each year.
ESSB headquarters is located in Ottawa. ERD conducts its activities from ESSB headquarters office and five regional offices across the country (Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Saint-Hyacinthe and Halifax). The CERL laboratory is located at the CANMET complex in Bells Corners in Ottawa. The laboratory maintains a comprehensive set of facilities and equipment for explosives firing, fireworks testing, advanced analytical chemistry, thermal hazard evaluation, and thermal characterization. They include specialized equipment such as a large indoor detonation chamber, designed to contain the effects from the firing of up to five kilograms of high explosives. CERL also makes use of the military ranges at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Petawawa (Ontario) and CFB Suffield (Alberta) for large-scale field testing of explosives.
Table 1 ESSB Balance Sheet: 2004-05 to 2008-09 ($'000)
|ExB [a]||ExB [a]||ESSB||ESSB|
|Adjusted A-base [b]||2,937||3,150||3,153||3,007||2,979|
|PSAT (B-base) [b]||4,044||2,110||1,874||1,867||1,867|
|Net Voted Revenue [c]|
|Rights, licences & permits||1,369||773||596||529||473|
|Net Voted Revenue [c]||614||663||692||665||881|
|OGD receipts (Client revenues)||484||806||1,048||786||702|
|Others Government Funding Sources||0||0||0||0||46|
|Other Internal Funding Sources||0||741||1,178||200||1,364|
|Salaries (including EBP & students)||4,137||4,184||4,417||4,537||5,172|
|Operating & Minor Capital||1,271||1,790||2,061||1,500||1,264|
|PSAT (B-base) Salaries (incl. EBP)||1,296||1,387||1,755||1,399||1,171|
|PSAT (B-base) Operating/Minor Capital||667||823||490||377||696|
|Grants & Contributions||5||6||0||0||0|
|Adjusted Annual surplus/deficit||2,072||53||188||-759||9|
|Total cost-recovery revenues||2,467||2,242||2,336||1,980||2,056|
|Cost-recovery % [e]||33.4%||27.4%||26.8%||25.3%||24.8%|
[a] Explosives Branch; [b] includes salary, benefits and operating; [c] net voted revenue from sources external to government; [d] expenditures related to activities; [e] as a percentage of total funding. Source: Balance sheet provided by ESSB management and finance.
Table 2 Share of expenditures within ESSB, and vote-netted revenues at CERL and ERD, 2004-05 to 2008-09 (in % and thousands of dollars)
|Share of total ESSB expenditures|
|Revenues within ERD|
|Total vote-netted revenues ($)||1,369||773||596||529||561|
|Revenues within CERL|
|Total vote-netted revenues ($)||1,098||1,469||1,740||1,451||1,495|
|Cost recovery (%)||33.5||44.8||46.0||44.6||44.1|
Source: Compiled from data provided by ESSB.
This evaluation focused on all programs and major activities of ESSB whether they were performed by ERD or CERL, individually or in collaboration. The period under evaluation was from fiscal year 2004–05 to 2008–09.
This evaluation constitutes the first review of ESSB and its two constituents and examines the relevance and performance of ESSB by addressing five main issues:
Relevance of ESSB’s programs and activities:
- Issue #1: Continued need for program;
- Issue #2: Alignment with government priorities; and
- Issue #3: Alignment with federal roles and responsibilities.
Performance (effectiveness, efficiency and economy) of ESSB’s programs and activities:
- Issue #4: Achievement of expected outcomes; and
- Issue #5: Demonstration of efficiency and economy.
These five evaluation issues are addressed by a series of specific evaluation questions, which are answered in Section 3.0.
Four methodologies were used in this evaluation:
Literature review and comparative analysis: a review of external literature (international and national) including a comparative analysis of explosives regulatory and S&T systems in Australia, and the United Kingdom (U.K.).
Document and file/data review: an extensive review of internal documents, files and data including the results of feedback reports collected by ESSB from its clients.
Interviews: 28 interviews with key ESSB, ERD and CERL management representatives (16 interviewees) and with partners and stakeholder organizations (12 interviewees). Part of the interview guides included questions that asked interviewees to rate several functions on a scale of one to five, where a rating of five indicated extremely high satisfaction with the functions. Thus the data reported on these questions must be regarded as interview, not survey, data.
- Case studies: a detailed review of the five main activities led by ERD and CERL, independently and/or collaboratively based on the study of 14 projects/activities. The review examined project documents and included 30 additional structured interviews with project managers and client/partners representatives (basic characteristics of the 14 projects reviewed appear in Table 20, Annex A).
An embedded multiple case study design25 (hereafter referred to as ‘case studies’) was used to investigate each of the major activity areas of ESSB. These main activity areas are:
- Area 1: Authorizing, inspecting and enforcing compliance;
- Area 2: Developing and implementing new or revised regulations, and policies;
- Area 3: External S&T support to stakeholders: safety;
- Area 4: External S&T support to stakeholders: security; and
- Area 5: S&T support to ESSB (science and regulation/policy integration).
Measurable outcomes: ESSB is working towards the prevention (non-occurrence) of events, making it challenging to collect evidence of achievement or contribution.
Attribution: The lack of standardized statistics and the sharing of responsibilities for safety and security in Canada necessitate caution when attributing outcomes to ESSB activities, especially longer-term outcomes.
Uniqueness: The uniqueness of ESSB’s structure (integration of science and policy) makes it challenging to compare ERD and CERL with similar organizations in other countries.
Cost-effectiveness: The cost-effectiveness cannot be fully assessed given the absence of complete and precise costing at activities-level (staff time not tracked against all projects or services, and the Project Management Information System [PMIS] was only recently introduced at CERL to monitor the costs of revenue-generating projects).
Qualitative evidence: A small number of clients, partners and stakeholders have been consulted (25 interviewees). As the evaluation team and the Program staff discussed in the evaluation assessment phase, a larger consultation process (such as surveys) would have been necessary to support more quantitative assessment of the views of clients, partners and stakeholders. However, an initial examination indicated concerns as to the feasibility of undertaking surveys with readily available information.
Comparative analysis: The comparison of ratios (inputs/outputs or inputs/outcomes) of ESSB with comparable organizations must be interpreted with caution as the compilation methods for available statistics and data are not well defined.
Table 3 Details on Data Collection Methodologies
|1. Review of external literature||A review of external literature (international and national) includes a comparative analysis of explosives regulatory and S&T systems in Australia and the U.K.
It also includes information, data and evidence provided by international interviewees from regulatory bodies.
|2. Document and file/data review||An extensive review of internal documents, files and data (over 200 files, documents and databases provided by ESSB)|
|3. Structured interviews with key stakeholders||Total number of interviews:||28|
|Number of internal interviews:
|Number of external interviews:
|4. Multiple case studies (including structured interviews and document/file review) Basic characteristics of the 14 projects reviewed can be found in Annex A||Total number of program activity areas:
Total number of projects/activities reviewed:
|Total number of ERD projects/activities:||6|
|Total number of CERL projects/activities:||8|
|Total number of interviews:*
|Including the review of available project documents and files|
|Total number of interviews (Methods 2 and 4)|
|In total, 58 interviews with ESSB staff and with clients, partners and other stakeholder organizations were conducted:
*A minimum of one staff and one client/partner interview was conducted per project.
ESSB has played and will continue to play an essential and necessary role in keeping Canadian workers and the general public safe and secure throughout the entire commercial explosives life-cycle, including their manufacture, sale, and handling. The evidence shows that ESSB has remained relevant by continually adapting to its environment. The Branch’s objectives, approach, and activity areas support the effective administration of the Explosives Act andregulations, the performance of S&T in support of regulation as well as non-regulatory S&T, and international leadership in explosives science and regulation. The evidence demonstrates that ESSB, as opposed to the industry or other OGDs, is the most appropriate authority to carry out these functions. The Branch is unique in Canada, as well as internationally, in terms of its expertise and services, infrastructure and equipment, and capabilities.
Question: To what extent were ESSB’s objectives, approach, and activity areas tailored to address and satisfy the current and future needs of clients/partners and stakeholders?
Summary: ESSB has met the needs of stakeholders in government, the explosives industry, and the general public by assuring the safety and security of Canadians from hazards associated with commercial and homemade explosives to a great extent.
ESSB serves a compelling need to safeguard the public from accidents involving, and misuse of, widely available commercial explosives and the making and use of homemade explosives. Its approaches and activity areas were continually adjusted to innovations in explosives technology, changes in the explosives industry, and emerging global security threats in order for ESSB to meet its objectives. A key element of ESSB’s approach consists in the integration of science and policy that touches on all of its activities. Another important part of its approach involves extensive education, consultation, and information exchange with clients/partners and stakeholders. This process allows the Branch to keep its activities relevant to stakeholder needs, maintain a high level of transparency, and gain buy-in and cooperation from those being regulated.
Commercial explosives are used in a multiplicity of applications that are fundamental to the economy of Canada. If manufactured, stored, transported or used unwisely or improperly, explosives can be extremely dangerous. History provides many examples of catastrophic accidents caused by the improper handling of explosives. Further, explosives are the first choice of terrorists and criminals who are seeking to inflict death and destruction.
The well-being and economic prosperity of Canadians greatly depend on the development and adoption of proper safety and security measures by all parties involved in the commercial explosives supply chain. Given that the common good is one of the core functions, governments often use regulations and policies that will assure the public that industry is doing everything within reason to protect them. The EA&R were designed with the aim of protecting industry workers and the public in the area of explosives.
Initially, the Explosives Act was primarily safety-driven, but amendments made through the Public Security Act (2002) expanded its security provisions. These provisions were designed to prevent terrorists or criminals from acquiring explosives or the materials needed to construct a homemade bomb. Under the Explosives Act,NRCan and its Chief Inspector of Explosives are responsible for its enforcement. Accordingly, ESSB administers the Explosives Act through the development, implementation, and compliance monitoring of regulations and policies.
The main objective of ESSB is to administer the EA&R on the basis of sound science. This objective, as well as the underlying activities undertaken by ESSB, support the purpose and requirements set forth in the Act through: the authorization of all commercial explosives before they are made available to Canadians, the approval and licensing of facilities that manufacture and store explosives, and standards and policy development that restricts, for example, access to materials needed to make homemade bombs.
The objectives and activities of ESSB support the EA&Rand have met the needs of stakeholders, in particular by having adapted to the changes in its environment. CERL’s conducting of S&T to support the administration of the EA&R through pre-authorization testing of explosives products, or to provide knowledge and advice to adapt regulations and policies to new technologies, is essential to ensure that safety and security levels remain intact in the face of progress in explosives technologies and globalization (e.g., more explosives are imported from facilities that do not adhere to Canadian standards).
Other programs developed and operated by CERL also accomplish the aims of the Act by providing S&T services in the area of product and process safety to the industry and, increasingly, of security (mostly to OGDs). Further, during the period covered by the evaluation, the scientific expertise of CERL enhanced worker safety from explosives-based events in underground coal mines and offshore oil fields through the certification testing of equipment and materials for use in hazardous locations. Due to low demand for these services, the operations of this part of ESSB have been discontinued since the time that this evaluation was conducted (2009) as part of a recent strategic realignment exercise.
This evaluation provided multiple lines of evidence that the objective and activities of ERD and CERL addressed and met the needs of clients, partners, and stakeholders. Internal interviewees indicated that ESSB was meeting the needs of the federal government by contributing to the overall federal mandate of assuring the safety and security of Canadians. The scarcity of significant incidents associated with explosives in Canada attested to this assertion.
Within ESSB, case studies have demonstrated the significant role of CERL in supporting the administration and purpose of the Act. For instance, testing results from CERL prompted a client to make safety improvements to an explosives product prior to its market authorization by ERD. In another example, S&T data produced by CERL provided a sound basis for the development of guidelines aimed at improving safety in a segment of the Canadian explosives manufacturing industry — facilities for the assembly of Jet-Perforating guns. In the context of case studies, external clients and partners of ESSB have also overwhelmingly indicated that their needs for support on regulatory or safety issues were addressed and met.
Over the past five years, the industry and regulators of commercial explosives (including fireworks) were confronted with a number of continuing and emerging challenges related to security issues. ESSB has responded to these challenges in order to appropriately meet the needs of clients, partners and stakeholders.
In the area of safety, ESSB has found ways of effectively dealing with changes such as the industry shift toward new technologies and increasing numbers of products (particularly imports) requiring safety assessments including:
- the introduction of new or modernized standards that set up-to-date goals, metrics and tools to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of technologies;
- increased scrutiny on previously overlooked or emerging areas (e.g., industry segments such as the assembly of perforating guns and the re-assessment of authorized products);
- new processes to improve the effectiveness of authorization testing; and
- S&T projects that lead to an improved knowledge of novel explosives and a better understanding of the potential hazards of fireworks.
In response to the diminishing expertise in the explosives industry, ERD has placed more focus on monitoring and educating ‘regulatees’ and stakeholders. Increasingly, ERD staff spend more time interacting with clients and assisting them with their needs.
ESSB has also adapted to a market for explosives materials that has become far more international by making a more focused effort towards reducing technical barriers to trade and transportation issues. This has been accomplished through networking, participation on international committees, the development of international accreditation, and collaboration with foreign regulating authorities.
ESSB’s approach is based on the integration of science and policy and the use of education, consultation, and cooperation to address the needs of its stakeholders and achieve strategic objectives. Consulted stakeholders and clients are generally of the opinion that ESSB is attentive and responsive to the requirements and needs of their organizations. The cornerstones of ESSB’s approach are: to ensure public and worker safety and security while not placing an undue regulatory requirement on organizations with limited resources, the integration of science and policy, educating stakeholders about the EA&R, and consultation and cooperation with national stakeholders.
Performing S&T is essential to the development of effective and appropriate regulations and policies. Internal and external interviewees have indicated that S&T provides the evidence required to ensure that regulations and policies are based on informed judgment. Scientific understanding is believed to underlie the development of responsible and realistic regulations and policies, which in turn increases both credibility and compliance within the industry.
Internal interviewees viewed CERL as an important contributor to the development of regulations and standards, in addition to serving as a testing and authorization center. All of these functions support the overarching objective of administering the EA&R and meeting the needs of the regulated community and stakeholders.
A traditional approach of ERD has been to use education as a means to assist industry in meeting the requirements of the EA&R. Downsizing and significant loss of knowledge and expertise in industry and government have resulted in an increasing need for ESSB to develop and disseminate comprehensive written guidelines and standards, and for ERD inspectors to promote voluntary compliance and act as educators. Internal interviewees indicated that clients now required more assistance with their license applications and the application of policies and standards. Overall, internal interviewees believed that training needs of regulatees were being effectively met. A regulatee interviewed noted that ERD could teach other regulators about having good relationships with industry rather than being adversarial. The modus operandi of the ERD was described as obtaining results by educating people and obtaining their cooperation.
Another main thrust of ESSB is to maintain effective client dialogue and cooperation on regulatory matters. ERD relies on consultation (both pre- and post-regulatory changes) to allow clients and stakeholders to provide input on regulatory development and to exchange information with regulators/scientists on technical issues. The high degree of transparency and collaboration ensures that regulations and policies achieve objectives that are clear, pragmatic, and do not place undue regulatory requirements or costs on industry. Therefore, regulations and policies receive less resistance from clients when implemented because they are well conceived and enable industry to meet requirements in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Stakeholders interviewed for the case study on developing and implementing new or revised regulations and policies indicated that the consultation process undertaken by ERD met their need for pragmatism and constituted a model that should be followed worldwide. The internal interviewees involved in the same case study noted the importance of the approach, as it allowed for smoother and fairer regulatory development due to an increased understanding of the industries on the part of ERD.
The consultation process is increasingly being used by ERD for the development of standards. In conjunction with education, these standards support non-regulatory routes to compliance. Rather than enforcement, compliance assistance fosters better relationships with the regulated community and maximizes the efficient use of the resources of ESSB to be maximized. However, the need for ESSB to rely more on a mandatory regulatory system (compared to voluntary), is growing, given the need to address the reporting of stolen explosives.26
ESSB also recognizes the value of partnering with national stakeholders to foster information sharing and coordination. ESSB maintains relationships with OGDs as well as provincial, territorial, and municipal stakeholders (e.g., chief inspectors of mines, police forces, fire departments). Through the establishment of effective channels of communication, ERD aims to ensure that regulations are aligned and that duplications or gaps are minimized.
In particular, some Canadian stakeholders noted the importance of a high degree of communication between ESSB and other departments in the area of security because some responsibilities were shared. Internal interviewees noted that ESSB was a productive and important contributor to these partnerships and met their needs (e.g., by supplying advice and factual scientific and technical information on explosives safety and security).
Documents reviewed as well as interviewees provided evidence that the objective, activities and approaches of ESSB addressed and met the needs of clients, partners and stakeholders.
Perhaps one of the best and most explicit indicators of whether ESSB (specifically CERL) was successfully meeting its stakeholders’ needs was found in the results of ESSB’s client feedback reports,27 which were completed by an average of 38% of clients who used CERL’s services. Based on reports from 2005 to 2008, the evaluation team noted that comments were overwhelmingly positive, indicating that CERL had met the needs of former or current clients. These reports also revealed that new clients chose to work with CERL due to its strong reputation and the word of mouth from colleagues or other government agencies, as well as its ISO/IEC Guide 17025 accreditation status. Internal interviewees cited the provision of custom S&T work, testing and hazard assessments as substantiation that CERL was highly attentive and responsive to the needs of external clients.
The attention and responsiveness of CERL and ERD to clients’ needs were generally rated very highly by clients and partners interviewed in the context of case studies. The level of support and cooperation provided by ERD through education and consultation was noted by several external stakeholders. Specifically, the opportunity given to industry stakeholders to participate in, and influence regulations and standards, was identified as unique and valuable. In the majority of case studies developed for this evaluation, the scientific information generated by CERL was found to have met the needs of clients and stakeholders (most reported having adopted the knowledge or data into practice or for policy-making).
Canadian stakeholders consulted were unanimous in their agreement that ESSB was meeting their organizations’ needs. In particular, they were very satisfied with ESSB’s level of consultation with them on both the development and application of policies or best practices.
Question: Is there an ongoing need for ESSB program and its components?
Summary: Yes. The evidence clearly demonstrates that there is a long-term need for the administration of the Explosives Act & Regulations on the basis of sound science in order to ensure the safety and security of processes involved in explosives manufacturing and sales.
In particular, ESSB must maintain its regulatory tools in view of the lack of capacity of industry to self-regulate (in addition to anticipated public perception issues). It must also continue to address global changes, such as the explosives industry’s loss of expertise, growing numbers of imported products, and terrorism concerns. CERL is needed to perform S&T that supports the authorization of new and imported explosives, and that supports the regulations and policies developed at ERD. Furthermore, non-regulatory S&T performed by CERL, which is primarily focused on products and processes or infrastructure, ensures the further mitigation of safety and security risks. Finally, there is a continued need for ESSB to represent Canadian knowledge and innovation, and to exhibit leadership at the international level.
The demand for explosives in many sectors of the Canadian economy is long-term in nature, so the need to control all aspects of their life cycle, from manufacturing or import to use or destruction, will always exist. Several internal and external interviewees noted that regulatory tools would always be needed, reporting that industry did not have the expertise, commitment, and independence to self-regulate. Since a decrease in standards of safety would be unacceptable to the public, there is a continuing need for ERD to administer the Canadian regulatory framework for explosives safety. This includes making sure that the regulations, policies and approaches are responsive to technological innovation, globalization, and loss of expertise in the industry. There is a continuing need for ESSB to administer the EA&R, mainly in view of the essential role of explosives in the national economy, industry innovation and globalization, and security priorities.
Explosives will continue to be a weapon of choice for terrorists. Security issues surrounding chemical, biological, radiological-nuclear, and explosives materials are a growing priority for the government. Accordingly, there is a continuing need for ERD to be involved in regulatory work for explosives security. This includes not only the administration of the current security provisions of the Explosives Act, but also the development and implementation of additional programs mandated by the PSAct (2002), such as global positioning systems (GPS) tracking of explosives transport trucks and background checks for purchasers of explosives.
Stakeholders consulted were unanimous in their conviction that there was a long-term need for ERD to administer the safety and security provisions of the EA&R. There is a continuing need for the ESBB to 1) conduct S&T in order to ensure evidence-based and effective regulatory and policy activities, and 2) to support industry and OGDs through non-regulatory S&T to minimize explosives safety and security risks in areas of need.
ESSB must continue its efforts to ensure that the regulations and policies that govern the authorization, manufacturing, importation, storage and some aspects of transportation of explosives are supported by sound science.
Internal interviewees were in agreement that the continuation of explosives-related S&T within ESSB was essential to its overall mandate. The activities of the laboratory in the area of authorization testing were viewed as particularly crucial in light of the need for increased and ongoing technical scrutiny of international products. The continued contribution of CERL to the development of effective and scientifically-sound policies and regulations was also said to be essential to the administration of the EA&R. Above all, a need to support efforts towards adapting the regulatory framework to new technologies with S&T was identified. For example, one of the more immediate and upcoming needs for S&T capacity within ESSB was the identification and technical understanding of new and ‘homemade’ explosives materials.
Canadian stakeholders consulted agreed that there was an overall continued need for S&T within ESSB for assessing the safety of new and imported products, as well as for the regulatory framework to keep pace with new developments and improvements. The presence of a science-based organization that consistently oversees the products and activities of the industry was identified as beneficial to public perceptions of the safety of explosives manufacturing, transport and use in Canada.
International stakeholders unanimously agreed that there would always be a need for science-based policy in the field of explosives. Evidence-based approaches to policy were believed to be required in the development of appropriate, effective, and efficient policies. This was viewed as particularly crucial with respect to ongoing developments in both technology and products that continually challenged regulatory frameworks.
The need to better understand new technologies was recognized by both Canadian and international stakeholders as the most important ongoing challenge for regulators. Interviewees cited the need for increased knowledge in areas such as emulsion explosives, electronic detonators, and novel or homemade explosives to allow the development of regulations and policies that reduce the risks associated with their manufacture, storage, transport or use.
There is a continuing need for ESSB to support industry and OGDs through non-regulatory S&T to minimize explosives safety and security risks in areas of need. CERL currently conducts S&T in non-regulatory areas for private industry and OGDs. This work generally focuses on areas that pose a high risk to the safety and security of Canadians. Generally, CERL’s work serves to assure or enhance the safety and security of explosives products and processes or of infrastructures (e.g., buildings, pipelines, or dams) that are vulnerable to blasts caused by explosives.
There was agreement among most internal interviewees that CERL’s activities to support external clients and partners had to be pursued. Similarly, several interviewees noted the continual need for expert laboratories like CERL to provide S&T support to industry and OGDs.
The internal and external stakeholders have identified four major areas of need, where more non-regulatory S&T is warranted:
- Internal interviewees have indicated that in light of the diminishing expertise within the industry, companies have been moving away from S&T on the safety of explosives materials and processes. Accordingly, they increasingly rely on laboratories such as CERL for the provision of data to gain a better understanding of processes so as to optimize their safety.
- The identification of fireworks with a high hazard potential poses a significant challenge. Several accidents have occurred over the last 10 to 20 years because the fireworks used were much more energetic than initially expected.
- Advances are required in the identification and marking of explosives, particularly in response to growing security concerns. For example, the ability to track explosives from cradle to grave would assist in preventing the diversion of explosives for criminal use.
- Urgent and ongoing needs also are in the area of blast vulnerability assessments for the protection of critical infrastructures. CERL has developed an expertise in this field, which sets it apart from other Canadian laboratories. Internal interviewees have noted a strong and ongoing demand from OGDs for CERL’s services.
ESSB must maintain a strong international presence to ensure that it remains on the leading edge of explosives knowledge and regulations and continues to support and meet Canada’s needs and obligations. ESSB contributes to the international discussion surrounding the safety and security of explosives. Continued collaboration and cooperation between ESSB and international stakeholders are especially valuable when considering that the safety and security of workers and the public are of global interest. Industry rationalization and internationalization are leading to the increased transport of explosives across borders.
The comments of Canadian and international stakeholders point to the importance of ESSB’s continued international presence. International stakeholders noted the importance of sharing approaches and methods. This allows for the development and implementation of policies and regulations that are clear, harmonized, and based on the latest knowledge and experience; it also enables the (oftentimes limited) resources of each country to be augmented or maximized.
Stakeholders also remarked on the continued need for the harmonization of standards and policies to address the shipping and transport of explosives, which were growing internationally. Variances among countries were described as possibly leading to certain challenges in terms of trade and safety/security enforcement.
Internal interviewees indicated that ESSB had to continue to play an important role in the international discourse, primarily to leverage its resources and address the consequences of industry globalization and rationalization (e.g., loss of expertise, growing imports). Interviewees cited a routine exchange of information with foreign regulators and with international industry through organizations such as SAFEX.28
ESSB was also said to play an important role in the development of international standards through its engagement with groups such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the American Society for Testing and Materials, and the Canadian Standards Association. Additionally, ESSB represents Canada’s position in international fora such as the United Nations (UN) and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Question: Were ESSB’s expertise/services, infrastructure, and capability unique (in Canada)?
Summary: Yes. No other organization in Canada is capable of providing the same comprehensive range of services and expertise on explosives safety and security.
ERD is the only federal regulatory body that has extensive oversight of commercial explosives manufacture, storage, and some aspects of transportation. However, provinces, although decreasingly, and some federal agencies [e.g., Transport Canada, and the Canadian Border Services Agency, are also active in support of explosives safety and security. CERL is the only civilian government laboratory in Canada that deals with commercial explosives, and one of the few in the world with the expertise and wide-ranging testing capabilities to support regulatory programs. In recent years, CERL has acquired considerable expertise in the field of security, particularly in the study of infrastructure vulnerability to blast.
ERD is the only Canadian regulatory body with staff that deals with all facets of commercial explosives manufacture, storage, and some aspects of transportation. Staff expertise may not be completely unique in some facets, as provinces and territories also regulate some or all aspects of commercial explosives, namely their storage on mine and quarry sites and all types of uses.
In recent years, a general downsizing of provincial expertise and activity in explosives occurred (fewer provincial licensing/inspection activities). Three provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Alberta) have ceased to issue licenses, instead handing over this responsibility to ERD. This illustrates the increasingly important role of the Branch as the centre of explosives expertise in Canada.29
Aside from NRCan, numerous other federal Canadian government departments play some role in supporting the safety and security of the country’s commercial explosives industry: Transport Canada, which houses the Transport of Dangerous Goods Directorate and also has an interest in explosives security; Defence Research and Development Canada, to which the Centre for Security Science belongs; Public Safety Canada, that has a long-standing interest in explosives security and is developing, in partnership with ESSB, an electronic database of commercial explosives and articles that can be used by law enforcement, incident analysts, and regulatory authorities;30 the Canadian Border Services Agency, which works to keep illicit shipments of explosives from entering the country through the Canada-US border;31 and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT), which recently signed an agreement with NRCan for the provision of expert advice that would help in the development of standards for embassy protection and ensure quality control in blast protection.32
Both ERD and CERL are unique in the Canadian context, as no other organization offers the same range and combination of regulatory and scientific expertise on explosives safety and security. CERL is the only civilian government laboratory dealing with explosives in Canada. Accordingly, it is the only laboratory in Canada and one of the few in the world with the expertise and capability to undertake S&T on commercial explosives with a regulatory basis.
CERL addresses many of the scientific aspects of commercial explosives, including safety testing, chemical and thermal analysis, hazardous locations testing, and explosives identification. Only a few other organizations in Canada offer similar services, but their range is generally far less comprehensive.
Internal interviewees indicated that the specialization and centralization of expertise within CERL was unique throughout Canada. In particular, they noted that no other Canadian laboratory had a greater ability to deal with the safety of commercial explosives, and that the leading expertise within CERL allowed for the development of novel testing methodologies for hazard assessments and product certification/licensing that were not available anywhere else.
In recent years, CERL has acquired considerable expertise in the field of security; particularly in assessing the vulnerability of non-military targets against blasts, including the potential effects and mitigation strategies. As a result, CERL is now considered by many to be the federal government’s primary resource in the area of civilian blast protection.33
Canadian stakeholders highlighted that no other organization could match the wealth of expertise held by the staff at ESSB in the area of explosives safety and security.
CERL has well-equipped laboratory facilities and extensive testing capabilities that are either unique or are among the very few in Canada. These include its large indoor explosion chamber, its laboratories for thermal characterization and analytical chemistry, its large indoor facility for testing hazardous locations products, and its altitude testing facility.
Although CERL does not have its own large-scale test site for explosives testing, its access to military ranges at Department of National Defence (DND) sites such as CFB Petawawa and CFB Suffield gives it a unique capability to test large quantities of commercial explosives. The lack of a dedicated large-scale test site was noted by a number of internal and external interviewees as the main issue with CERL’s infrastructure and equipment.
In interviews conducted for one of this evaluation’s case studies, the flexibility of CERL facilities for testing equipment for use in hazardous locations in a wide range of sizes was described as highly distinctive. The client representative indicated that even though two other laboratories in Canada were accredited for the type of testing required, only CERL had the proper facilities to test larger products. Furthermore, the interviewee commented that other laboratories had been used for smaller projects, but they did not offer the benefit of the equipment, size of testing area, expertise, or reputation found at CERL. This service is no longer available due to a recent strategic realignment.
Similarly, external case study interviewees noted that CERL was the only lab in Canada that had the required equipment and expertise to address their S&T needs. Although they stressed that private laboratories should be given work as appropriate, they indicated that the latter were often unequipped and incapable. One interviewee added that his company had built up significant internal S&T capabilities, but he believed that they did not match those offered by CERL. Other positive aspects of CERL’s uniqueness highlighted by external interviewees in the context of case studies included:
- Confidentiality: An interviewee noted that because the protection of information was often a key issue for projects in the area of security, they were more comfortable going through a government laboratory such as CERL.
- Difficulties with shipping some explosives across borders: An interviewee indicated that an S&T project with CERL was delayed for several months due to problems associated with the shipping of unmarked explosives to Canada. Ultimately, authorities in the two countries had to be persuaded to authorize the shipments on an ‘exception’ basis. This underscores the need for Canadian companies to have a locally-based provider of S&T services when shipping to other countries.
Question: Is the Program consistent with government priorities and NRCan’s strategic objectives?
Summary: Yes. ESSB has a clear security-related mandate. As ESSB moves its strategic priorities forward, the Branch needs to continue building linkages/partnerships with key government departments.
ESSB’s main priority is the safety and security of the public and of all workers involved in the explosives industry in Canada. As federal priorities are focused on ensuring a safe and secure country, the Branch’s priority – which is evident throughout all of the Branch’s authorization, licensing, compliance, and regulatory development activities – is well-aligned with those of the Government of Canada. Further, ESSB’s mandate is consistent with the strategic objectives of the Department and the Minerals and Metals Sector where public safety and security figure prominently.
ESSB’s main priority is the safety and security of the public and of all workers involved in the explosives industry throughout Canada. This is well-aligned with, and fulfills the federal government’s perennial priority to ensure “A safe and secure Canada”.
Internal interviewees were confident that ESSB contributed to the overall federal mandate of assuring the safety and security of Canadians by playing a clear and important role in the administration of the EA&R. This was achieved in a variety of ways: the authorization of explosives products ascertained that explosives on the Canadian market were safe; a licensing and compliance monitoring process ensured that explosives were manufactured with the highest safety standards and were safely and securely stored and distributed. ESSB’s S&T activities were also closely aligned with public policy and the safety and security priorities of government. Explosives S&T ensured that decision-making surrounding regulations and policies (including authorization) were based on sound science, produced knowledge, and provided advice to OGDs and industry to enhance the safety and security of workers, facilities, and the Canadian public.
ESSB’s priorities and activities also fit well within the scope of other government priorities. By helping Canada to fulfill its international commitment and obligations, and by representing Canada on the international stage, ESSB adheres to the following outcome areas of the GOC: “A safe and secure world through international cooperation” and “A prosperous Canada through global commerce.”34
Overall, the mandate of ESSB is consistent with NRCan’s departmental priorities and objectives, including MMS’ expected results. Evidence from documents and interviews suggests that the mandate of ESSB, to ensure public and worker safety and security in explosives-related areas, is well-aligned with the priorities of the Department and Sector.
Although the description has changed over the period encompassed by the evaluation, providing Canadians with enhanced safety and security has remained a priority or outcome at NRCan. In the department’s Program Activity Architecture (PAA) 35 and Departmental Performance Report of 2008-09 36, the work of ESSB falls under Strategic Outcome 3—Safety, security, and governance: Natural resources and landmass knowledge strengthens the safety and security of Canadians and contributes to the effective governance of Canada. Specifically, it falls under one of the three program activities of Strategic Outcome 3: Adapting to a changing climate and hazard risk management (PAA 3.1) and its sub-activity (PAA 3.1.1): Mining, infrastructure and explosives safety and security (safety and security of Canadians are improved with respect to mining, pipeline infrastructure and explosives).
ESSB’s mandate and activities are also well-aligned with the priorities and strategic needs of MMS. In a document prepared by MMS 37 – which presents the sector’s plan for strategic re-alignment with, and supports NRCan’s vision and policy framework and government priorities – five strategic priorities are identified, one of them being “Security and Safety”.
ESSB’s mandate and activities are also consistent with the current mission of NRCan, particularly its last segment: “to be a leader in policy and science.” 38 Yet, as noted in an internal ESSB document, 39 some stakeholders thought that the Branch was not well-situated in NRCan — particularly ERD — as NRCan was not generally considered to be a regulatory department. Several internal interviewees reported that they could see the role of ESSB and CERL within NRCan under the third strategic outcome of the PAA. They considered the Branch’s role in ensuring the safety and security of explosives materials in Canada as an important component of the larger mandate and pointed out that ESSB’s business plan had been re-tailored to align more with NRCan’s overall strategic objectives.
Following the events of September 11, 2001, the mandate of ESSB was significantly broadened, particularly with regards to security issues. The Public Safety Act is a cornerstone of Canada’s response to the threat of terrorism. Its adoption introduced amendments to several federal laws, including the Explosives Act. 40
In the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001, the GOC made fighting terrorism and ensuring the security of Canadians a top priority. Two key pieces of legislation were developed and implemented. The Anti-terrorism Act 41 focused mainly on the criminal law aspects of combating terrorism, whereas the PSAct 42 amended 23 Acts, including the Explosives Act, to increase the GOC’s capacity to prevent terrorist attacks and to respond swiftly to significant threats or attacks. Concurrently, the federal government developed the PSAT Initiative, to which it allocated $7.7 billion in new funds in the 2001 budget to support the implementation of the legislation and reinforce public security.
In addition to these efforts, the federal government created Public Safety Canada (PSC) to enhance synergies between national security, emergency management, and law enforcement. It also financed programs aiding in the development of science and technology solutions to prevent, prepare for, and respond to various forms of terrorist threats, such as the Chemical, Biological, Radiological-Nuclear and Explosives Research & Technology Initiative. 43
As a result, the changes and amendments to the Act required ESSB to take a more prominent role in security. For instance, amendments provided explicit authority to strengthen the control of explosives precursors and contained specific requirements to implement tougher security measures related to the storage, transportation and acquisition of explosives. The scope of ESSB’s activities was significantly broadened, particularly with regard to security issues.
This expansion was also recognized by the allocation of funds from the PSAT Initiative to ERD and CERL. This Initiative, aimed at supporting the government’s commitment to fight terrorism and address national security concerns, provides resources to federal departments and agencies involved in the delivery of the national security program.
Internal interviewees indicated that PSAT funding provided a clear and continued role for ESSB in explosives security issues going forward, as do the requirements for the implementation and administration of new security provisions within the Explosives Act.
However, appreciation of the role of ESSB with respect to security was reported by interviewees as not uniform across government. As an example, interviewees pointed to a comment made in NRCan’s 2007 Management Accountability Framework (MAF) assessment 44 that appeared to indicate a lack of appreciation of NRCan’s full mandate. However, this appears to have been a one-time observation as that comment has not been repeated since 2007. Additionally, the need to undertake strategic outreach and establish partnerships to advance ESSB priorities, especially with respect to cross-cutting/horizontal security issues (e.g., planning and response associated with the 2010 Olympics and other major events; and blast vulnerability of buildings), is recognized by the Branch and the sector as a high priority and is being addressed by strengthening linkages across other departments in priority areas (as reflected in MMS Renewal and ESSB Strategic Alignment material). 45
The emerging role of ESSB in national public security as it relates to explosives was described by interviewees as unclear and not fully integrated into NRCan’s mandate, priorities and objectives. Canadian stakeholders consulted identified security issues as an important need, but pointed out that there was a lack of clarity regarding the mandate of ESSB in that area. Some interviewees indicated that a clear mandate was needed to give ESSB the flexibility and scope to address this important issue. In particular, one stakeholder highlighted the need to establish a clear and legitimate mandate in the protection of critical infrastructure against blasts in order to establish a systematic approach to dealing with infrastructure blast vulnerability.
In addition to NRCan, several OGDs are in need of risk management support because a key priority of the action plan set out by PSC is to undertake all hazards’ risk assessments of Canada’s critical infrastructure to enhance its resiliency. The need for expertise in blast vulnerability is clearly demonstrated by the high demand for CERL’s services from OGDs.
Question: Is there a legitimate, appropriate and necessary role for the federal government and NRCan in explosives safety and security?
Summary: Yes. ESSB needs to continue building partnerships and linkages with key OGDs on security-related priorities. MMS Renewal and Strategic Alignment documentation indicates that the Branch and senior management are addressing this need.46
Evidence indicates that the federal government plays an appropriate role as the authority responsible for ensuring commercial explosives safety and security. This is primarily due to the government’s enhanced accountability to Canadians for the ‘public good’ and the need for unbiased and consistent requirements across the nation. For these reasons, the government also has a relevant role in conducting explosives S&T to support government and industry decision-making.
It appears unlikely that any organization other than ESSB could appropriately carry out these wide-ranging responsibilities. Furthermore, limited duplications, gaps or overlaps were identified in terms of both safety and security between the activities of ESSB and those of OGDs. Most stakeholders believed that ESSB was appropriately housed within NRCan—especially with respect to safety-related objectives and activities—due to the importance of explosives in the extraction of natural resources, but some felt that the explosives security-related role of NRCan within the federal government was not well delineated.
The federal government has a legitimate, appropriate and necessary role in ensuring the safety and security of commercial explosives. The work conducted by ERD and CERL in safety and security related to explosives appears, by all accounts, to represent an appropriate role for government, in particular at the federal level.
Stakeholders interviewed in one of the case studies indicated that the government’s and, more specifically, ESSB’s involvement in performing authorizations, inspections, and enforcement of compliance were appropriate and essential. In the context of the case study on developing and implementing new or revised regulation and policies, both internal and external interviewees noted that it was appropriate and necessary for ESSB to conduct this activity to ensure the prevention and reduction of the safety and security risks associated with explosives products.
International stakeholders and Canadian clients interviewed in the context of other case studies also noted the advantages associated with the government conducting S&T related to commercial explosives safety and security to support government programs or industry clients.
- International stakeholders (as well as an internal interviewee) generally noted that explosives S&T had to remain a government mandate, as it provided an unbiased and objective “challenge function” in order to reassure the public that industry approaches were safe and secure. To that effect, one CERL client from the industry indicated that public opinion was often against private companies doing safety and security work, and it was believed that government should play a prominent role in this area. Other interviewees made similar observations.
- Ensuring the competitiveness and sustainability of the Canadian industry was not seen as a direct and necessary role of ESSB by clients and stakeholders. However, several interviewees involved in the case studies (Area 3) indicated that the government had a relevant role in supporting the industry in the area of safety S&T. This kind of government support ensured the prevention of harm to workers and the Canadian public. In turn, this could indirectly lead to economic benefit if, for example, a greater process understanding allowed the different restrictions that would not compromise safety.
- Finally, a CERL partner noted the importance of having access to government laboratories when conducting S&T on confidential subject matter linked to national security. This same comment was also made by other partners.
Placing the administration of commercial explosives under a unique federally-mandated authority was also viewed as legitimate, appropriate, and necessary. One authority ensured consistency in the application and interpretation of regulations and policies across all provinces.
For industry, a single set of rules had direct implications for levelling the playing field and establishing an effective set of regulatory requirements, especially for companies that operated in more than one province. Similarly, the presence of a single federal authority contributed to the public good, especially in areas that require international cooperation (such as trade) or were better served by a strong coordinated effort (such as national public security).
There was a unanimous response among Canadian stakeholders that both the regulation of commercial explosives in Canada and the S&T related to the safety and security of commercial explosives should fall within the purview of the federal government.
Similarly, all international stakeholders agreed that the regulation of commercial explosives was a task that had to be controlled by the government, most indicating that a federally mandated agenda was more effective than a shared one at the provincial or state levels.
Most internal interviewees highlighted potential difficulties that could result from discontinuing ESSB or having other organizations take over all of its roles and responsibilities.
Interviewees indicated that bringing an end to ESSB’s administration of the EA&R was unrealistic and would likely be viewed as unacceptable by the public, especially as industry did not have the capacity (e.g., expertise, commitment, and independence) required to self-govern. CERL’s unique expertise, combined with the relatively small market, made it unlikely that a commercial enterprise would be interested in, or capable of providing the same services. In all, only two areas were put forward as potentially being transferable to private companies and their associations:
- the work carried out by the hazardous locations group, which some reported was being carried out mostly by independent companies in the U.S.;47 and
- the training of fireworks and pyrotechnics professionals, as some larger corporations were said to have begun offering their own in-house programs.
Some internal interviewees noted that given the highly-specialized nature of the expertise required to conduct the activities of ERD and CERL, transferring responsibilities to another department or agency would also not be productive or appropriate. One area that was identified by an interviewee as potentially transferable was the import and export48 of hazardous materials, which potentially could be taken over entirely by DFAIT.
The provinces were not viewed by internal interviewees as having the facilities or personnel to fulfill ESSB’s responsibilities. Further, interviewees mentioned that a split in responsibilities would likely result in province-to-province variations that could impact industry efficiency. Indeed, it had proven difficult in the past to reach consensus on best practices or policies among jurisdictions.
Conversely, Canadian stakeholders and internal interviewees indicated that there were no activities currently undertaken by other organizations that would be better performed by ESSB. The uptake of more responsibilities by ESSB was generally viewed as unfeasible and undesirable, given the specific nature of its mandate and the overall limited resources within the Branch. The only example that was provided of a potential complete transfer of responsibility to ESSB was the inspection of transport vehicles carrying explosives materials, the responsibility for which currently resides with the Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Division of Transport Canada.
Very few duplications or gaps, whether in safety or security, exist between ESSB’s programs and activities and those offered by other organizations in Canada. No other organization is currently in a position to assume the role and responsibilities of ESSB.
Internal interviewees identified three areas of overlapping responsibilities for explosives materials between ESSB and OGDs; none of these areas were related to CERL S&T activities including its work on blast vulnerability assessment. ESSB and the TDG Division shared responsibilities for the transport of explosives. DFAIT had some responsibilities that overlapped with ESSB with respect to the import and export of explosives. Finally, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) administered a security program that controlled certain goods, some of which were explosives also under the control of the Explosives Act.49
In general, however, none of these overlaps were indicated by internal interviewees as being particularly significant or prohibitively detrimental to the operations of ESSB. Similarly, only one of the above-mentioned areas of overlap – the transportation of dangerous goods – was identified by external interviewees (including a few Canadian stakeholders) as challenging and in need of clarification.
No significant gaps were identified between the Program and activities of ESSB and those of OGDs other than a potential gap/overlap that could arise as a consequence of the inability of CERL and DRDC laboratories to better coordinate their efforts (despite their projects often being of a complementary nature).
The federal-provincial sharing of responsibilities has also been viewed as having the potential to create a gap in tracking, since it remains difficult to track and monitor the usage of explosives (under provincial jurisdiction) in relation to quantities taken out of storage (mostly under federal jurisdiction). This gap raises the possibility of unaccounted-for explosives materials that could at least partly explain why more explosives are being recovered by police than declared lost or stolen (as was reported in interviews).
NRCan was seen as providing an appropriate setting for ESSB to assume its role and responsibilities with respect to the safety of commercial explosives. Among internal interviewees and Canadian stakeholders that expressed an opinion on the most appropriate setting for ESSB, a majority indicated that the Branch was best-positioned within NRCan, primarily given the fact that the largest percentage of legitimate explosives used in Canada was for natural resources extraction. In addition, one individual noted that safety was a pillar of NRCan.
Canadian stakeholders from OGDs that were consulted also noted the need for ESSB to have a more clearly defined and commonly understood role within government in the public security area. In particular, a revision of roles and responsibilities was cited as being required in the area of critical infrastructure.
Under MMS Renewal, sustainability of explosives security S&T was identified as a priority area for action. Part of this work entails the assessment of capabilities in priority areas for action and then establishing partnerships with appropriate government departments to address these gaps. Current work, which falls outside the evaluation period, involves partnership discussions in the area of critical infrastructure,homemade explosives; and testing of new types and applications related to explosives security.50
A suggestion from stakeholder interviewees was to revisit the roles and responsibilities of the various government agencies involved in explosives and public security in order to ensure a clear delineation of mandates and avoid overlap or ambiguity.
Summary: In keeping with ESSB’s primary objective, ERD’s activities aim to improve the safety and security of workers, facilities and the Canadian public. Evidence demonstrated that it had achieved improved safety through the authorization of new products, licensing for manufacturing and storage, issuing of import permits, compliance monitoring (inspection) activities, and the development and implementation of new or revised regulations and policies.
ERD developed national security initiatives and implemented security objectives, and its contributions to security continue to grow. The Division also aimed to improve the efficiency of the Canadian industry, and it succeeded, at least in part, by engaging clients and partners in the development and implementation of standards and policies and keeping costs to a minimum.
CERL lent support described as invaluable to ERD’s science-based decision-making, both in regulatory and non-regulatory areas, through projects involving the certification of products and internal S&T projects, as well as participation in committees and other areas of engagement. Through reports and projects, CERL transferred knowledge and technology to external clients including those belonging to private industry, OGDs, and international bodies.
ESSB’s education, outreach, and networking activities included the offering of courses and workshops, the production of information packages, guidelines, peer-reviewed papers, and conferences, and the establishment of cooperation agreements. These helped to raise stakeholder awareness of policy, safety and security issues related to explosives and created links with stakeholders in Canada and abroad. The importance of security programs within ESSB was likely the foremost unexpected outcome during the time period encompassed by the evaluation.
Question: To what extent have ERD activities contributed to the improved safety and security of workers, facilities and the greater Canadian public and the efficiency of the Canadian industry?
Summary: To a great extent. ERD has made a significant and unmistakable contribution to improving the safety of workers, facilities and the Canadian public; and indirectly to industry efficiency.
ERD has maintained a high and consistent level of regulatory activities (authorization of new products, licensing of manufacturing and storage facilities, and issuance of import permits) during the five-year period encompassed by this evaluation. In the area of compliance monitoring through inspections, its activities grew by nearly 35% during the period encompassed by this evaluation.
ERD also contributed to the development and implementation of new or revised regulations and policies, such as the program to regulate ammonium nitrate and other critical precursor chemicals. ERD is continuously engaged with industry to ensure that the need for policy, regulation, inspection, and compliance is measured against the costs and other potential impacts on industry competitiveness.
ERD may also have played a role in enhancing the efficiency of Canadian industry through the development and implementation of standards and policies that reduce risks and accident occurrences. Stakeholders believe that ERD’s influence and role have grown steadily, but the evaluation found that intermediate and long-term outcomes for safety, security, and industry efficiency cannot be attributed to ERD due to a dearth of relevant and high-quality data, as well as shared responsibilities with OGDs.
The effective administration of the EA&R by ERD is the primary driver for the achievement of improved safety and security of Canadians with respect to commercial explosives. Three major activities underway on a continuous basis are: authorization, licensing and inspections.
Improved Public Safety: Authorization, Licensing and Inspection
ERD has maintained a high level of activity to ensure that commercial explosives, pyrotechnics and other energetic materials are properly classified and authorized for use in Canada. In 2007 and 2008, 51 approximately 520 applications for product authorization were processed by ERD headquarters. Nearly 2,500 new products were approved for sale in Canada (Table 4). While the number of applications reviewed by ERD remained relatively unchanged, the number of products approved has grown by 70% from 2007 to 2008 (898 to 1,531). From 2007 to 2008, this growth was solely attributable to fireworks and pyrotechnics articles. In the absence of data from multiple years, it is impossible to state if this was a consistent trend.
ERD headquarters has also continually provided authorization for mobile process units (vehicles or portable units that allow manufacturing on-site) and for the importation of explosives into Canada. From 2004 to 2008, mobile process units have become more numerous across the country, increasing almost 25% from 230 active units in 2004 to 285 in 2008. The number of importation permits issued has remained consistent at around 550 during the five-year period.52
ERD controls the manufacture and storage of commercial explosives and explosives articles by a licensing program. All licenses for manufacturing are processed by ERD headquarters, with the exception of those for the assembly of perforating guns53 which are the responsibility of the Western regional office. All such assembly sites are currently located in Alberta. Over the past five years, the total number of licenses for manufacturing issued by headquarters has remained, by and large, constant at around 190. Similarly, the number of recognized operations for the assembly of perforating guns has remained relatively stable at 110 (Table 4).
(2007 & 2008)
|Blasting explosives & access.||58||204||57||116||115||320|
|Oil and gas well charges||12||103||14||91||26||194|
|Propellants, primers, ammunitions||88||151||88||134||176||285|
|Fireworks & pyrotechnics||111||440||94||1,190||205||1,630|
[a] Applic: Number of applications processed; Approv: Number of products approved.
Source: From an internal document provided by ERD: Product Authorization (2007, and 2008).
ERD also administers a significant number of licenses for the establishment of storage magazines for the sale or use of explosives. These licenses are issued by the five regional offices. On a yearly basis, ERD oversees approximately 2000 active storage licenses.
Among the four main types of licenses issued by ERD, those for the storage of blasting explosives and any other type of industrial explosives consistently represented about 80% of active storage licenses (Table 5).
|Category of licenses||2004||2005||2006||2007||2008|
|Manufacturing of explosives and explosives articles|
|Vendor of industrial explosives||144||142||144||140||133|
|User of industrial explosives||1,508||1,562||1,535||1,608||1,671|
|Vendor & users of propellant [a]||89||94||95||109||119|
|Vendor & users of fireworks||140||135||132||145||131|
[a] Includes propellant powder, primers and small arms ammunition.
Source: From internal documents obtained from ERD: Active licences – Licence & Compliance Group (2004-08) and Active licences – Regions (2004-08).
Furthermore, differences between the various regional offices in terms of their licensing activities are noteworthy, as it can affect the capacity of ERD to effectively administer the EA&R in certain regions (Table 6). In 2008 (the only year for which data were readily available), the western office was responsible for over 42% (989/2355) of the licenses delivered by regional offices.
Category of licenses
|% of TOTAL||20%||42%||12%||11%||7%||100%|
Source: From an internal document provided by ERD: Active Licenses - Regions (Year 2008).
ERD has consistently increased its compliance monitoring activities. Both headquarters and the regional offices share the responsibility of verifying that activities governed by theEA&Rare carried out in accordance with the legislation. Over five years, the number of inspections conducted by ERD inspectors has grown by almost 35%, from 890 inspections in 2004 to nearly 1,150 in 2008. Since the number of inspectors has remained by-and-large stable throughout the five-year evaluation period, the average number of inspections conducted by each individual has risen from 39 in 2004 to 52 in 2008 (Table 7).
|Total number of inspections||890||1,074||na||1,097||1,148|
|Total number of ERD inspectors||23||22||na||23||22|
Note: na = 2006 data not available.
Source: From an internal document provided by ERD: Total Number of Inspections and/or Technical Visits (2004-08).
The growth in inspections is mainly due to management strategies aimed at increasing inspections of perforator assemblies,54 certain types of storage magazines and unlicensed premises.55 Further, ERD initiated inspections of the sites of restricted components in 2008–09.
In 2008 (the only year for which a breakdown of inspections between the different ERD offices was provided), most inspections were conducted by inspectors based at regional offices (914/1148 = 80%). Apart from the Atlantic office, most other offices have conducted similar numbers of inspections (Table 8). Besides the western office, which has devoted a lot of resources to the inspection of perforator assemblies, all other regional offices have concentrated on storage magazines. Headquarters’ inspectors concentrate mostly on inspections of factories and mobile process vehicles. They also conduct inspections of magazines (56 in 2008).56
Territorial specificities and management strategies were shown to have an important impact on the effectiveness of the different regional offices to monitor compliance of their licensees. In 2008, the Quebec and Ontario offices inspected between 50% and 60% of storage magazines under their purview, whereas the Pacific office inspected about 40% of the magazines it had licensed. These numbers were similar to the inspection rate of factories achieved by headquarters’ inspectors. Although most perforating assemblies appeared to have been inspected by the western office in 2008, less than 20% of storage magazines were inspected. Similar levels of storage magazine inspections were observed in the Atlantic region (Table 8). Overall, regional offices inspected about 25% of their licensed premises on a yearly basis.
Type of operation
|Restricted components site||30||10%||9||4%|
1 Includes inspections of factories, unlicensed premises, fireworks displays or pyrotechnic set-ups, firework site incidents, mobile process units, explosives transportation trucks, ports and manufacturers of protective equipment (e.g., magazine doors).
Source: From an internal document provided by ERD: Total Number of Inspections and/or Technical Visits for Canada (by regions, year 2008).
Even though the number of inspections has been growing at a faster pace than the number of licenses administered by ERD over the past five years, there is a wide variation in the proportion of licensees being inspected on a yearly basis. This suggests that resources are currently not sufficient in some regional offices to allow for more than the administering of license applications and ensuring compliance in high priority areas. However, as formal targets have not been set, it is not possible to determine if inspection levels within each category of license can be considered safe and appropriate.
The level of resources has had an impact on compliance monitoring. In 2004, licensed factories were visited more than once a year (165 inspections for 99 factory licenses); in 2008, no more than 78% were inspected. The inspection of mobile process units was also highly variable, but in general about 13% of licensed vehicles were inspected in a single year.
Despite this, some data suggest that ERD activities are instrumental in achieving higher rates of compliance with policies, regulations and standards. In recent years, ERD started rating the performance of licensees based on the number and seriousness of deficiencies found during inspections. An improvement in these ratings was observed for perforating gun factories after ERD increased its focus toward these facilities. While deficiencies ranging from major to critical were noted in 53% of inspections in 2007, only 32% obtained similar results in 2008.
Internal interviewees also indicated that certain management strategies, such as an increased focus on jet perforator assembly facilities, had positively influenced the safety of Canadian workers and the general public. An international stakeholder viewed the role of regulatory bodies in conducting licensing and compliance monitoring activities as providing independent reassurance to the public and to Parliament that the risks of explosives were being properly managed by manufacturers, storers and transporters of these materials.
By ensuring that the regulated community engaged in the manufacture, distribution, sale and storage of explosives adhered to the EA&R, ERD kept the Canadian public and workers in the explosives industry safe and secure and provided evidence that:
- In both authorization projects, the products did not meet certain requirements and were not approved for sale, therefore protecting Canadians from these potentially unsafe or unreliable products.
- According to a manufacturing representative, the main benefits of the licensing and compliance processes were that they are fully aware of what they were permitted and not permitted to do on their factory sites and, as a result, their processes were safer.
- Outcome of a storage inspection attested to the importance of compliance monitoring to safeguard Canadians from the risks of explosives. The ERD inspector contacted the client after determining, through the use of Google Earth that the location of one of its magazines was close to a newly-built house and within the safety distances that were stated on the magazine license. In order to be in compliance, the client lowered the net volume of explosives stored on the site.
Development and Implementation of Regulations and Policies
In accordance with its role, ERD has developed and updated regulations and policies governing the various areas of explosives safety and security to ensure that they reflect changes in the industry and are well-aligned with federal laws and priorities.
- Since 2004, ERD has issued several new or revised versions of guidelines and standards. These are intended to help the industry understand and meet regulatory requirements in fields such as Jet-Perforating gun assembly and bulk explosives. New standards can also be developed with the aim of modernizing policies in accordance with emerging technologies, as exemplified by the standard for explosives initiation devices and initiation device systems reviewed in the case study on developing and implementing regulations and policies.
- ERD initiated the development of several security programs that support amendments to the Explosives Act introduced by the government in response to the event of September 11, 2001 via the adoption of the PSAct (2002). The Restricted Areas Regulations of the Explosives Act, enacted in early 2008, are aimed at monitoring the distribution and sale of explosives precursors that are of criminal and terrorist interest. They require sellers and users of nine precursor chemicals of explosives, including ammonium nitrate (AN),57to meet new security measures. Concurrently, amendments that increase penalties for non-compliance to the EA&R were introduced, as well as a new storage security program that restricts the use of vulnerable magazine types and calls for increased surveillance.
- Another important undertaking has been a revision of ERD user fees, in the summer of 2009.58 The revised fees were intended to reflect a more appropriate public-private split of the costs related to the services provided by ERD, as well as to increase Branch revenues.
The leading role and high quality of regulations and policies developed by ERD has been highlighted by case studies. Canada was among the first countries to launch and implement a program to regulate ammonium nitrate, and it was the first nation in the world to introduce regulations that went beyond this explosive precursor by introducing controls over eight additional critical precursors. Both partner interviewees indicated that they were highly satisfied with the quality of the developed documents. One interviewee also noted that the regulations and policies of ERD were generally well written and far easier to understand than regulations of OGDs.
Another consistent message regarding the main achievements of ERD that has emerged from Canadian stakeholders and partners, as well as internal interviewees, is its ability to effectively engage stakeholders in regulatory and policy development. Both partners and internal interviewees reported being highly-satisfied with the cooperative process, noting that the opportunity they had been given to participate in, and provide input to regulations and standards was highly unique and valuable. According to industry representatives, the process — which involved extensive discussion with stakeholders beforehand followed by a formal consultation and review of the document prior to final approval — was presented as a model to be followed in regulatory and policy development.
Additionally, it demonstrated that government and industry could work well together. The end result was the development of streamlined, comprehensive and practical regulations and policies supported by the stakeholder community. For example, the fertilizer industry developed, alongside the Restricted Components Regulations, an ammonium nitrate (AN) code of practice. As such, the industry was already addressing many of the same concerns, which should help to facilitate the achievement of the targeted security outcomes for the Restricted Components Regulations.
Canadian stakeholders felt that ESSB’s role in developing guidelines and standards for manufacturing and storage represented a significant contribution toward improving the safety of workers, facilities, and the greater Canadian public through the reduction of risks associated with commercial explosives. It was noted that the regulations regarding fireworks had substantially improved the safety of workers and the public. Case study interviewees also noted that the new standard for explosives initiation devices and systems prevented the commercialization of poor quality products and, as a result, ensured the safety of workers and the public.
The development of policies can also benefit ERD. The development of a new standard captured knowledge from ERD employees to help minimize any loss of expertise relating to initiation devices and initiation device systems. In the future, this document will facilitate the transfer and reuse of this knowledge. Further, it formalized for the first time the authorization and regulatory processes for these types of products.
However, the development of regulations in a timely fashion has been challenging for ERD. Several major security programs are still in the development stage. The details of a program that will introduce criminal and intelligence background checks for those who possess or acquire explosives are being finalized. Two more security programs required by the PSAct will be included in an ongoing plain language regulations initiative that has been underway for more than a decade. This project, which consists of a complete rewriting of Explosives Regulations to modernize the EA&R and make them readily understandable, is expected to be published in the Canada Gazette in 2010.59
Many representatives from the regulated community stated that they were awaiting the plain language revisions of the EA&R, as they felt that these revisions would better represent current practice in the industry (e.g., reflecting the types of explosives used and the way explosives are delivered). Some commented on the slow progress in the process of the plain language revision despite the fact that industry had campaigned for it for years. Some internal interviewees mentioned perceptions of a lack of support from NRCan as a contributing factor to the slow progress of the revision. At that time, multiple federal elections occurred which prevented the completion of the regulatory revision cycle.
Strengthening National Security
The contribution of ERD to national security is, for the moment, limited, as the first security components added to the Explosives Act came into effect in 2008. Since June 1, 2008, all companies that manufacture, import, export, purchase, provide or distribute for sale any amount of AN must register with ERD to ensure that they are listed as authorized seller. On June 1, 2009, this process was extended to vendors of eight additional restricted components.60 At the end of 2008, the number of restricted components inscriptions had reached 132.61 The enrolment process was supported by a compliance monitoring program which resulted in the inspection of 39 registered companies in 2008–09.
The newly-introduced security measures dealing with commercially produced explosives were described by internal interviewees as a productive means to reduce accessibility and therefore security risks, including those from the illicit use of explosives precursors to produce explosions intentionally.
Canadian stakeholders were unanimous that ESSB was making a significant contribution toward strengthening national security. However, several interviewees indicated that the current level of allocated resources (both human and financial) make it challenging for ERD to address all of the important issues. This issue is a key priority under ESSB Strategic Alignment. Strategic Alignment is intended to help the Branch, including ERD, be well-positioned to address such issues.62
The relative absence of the deliberate misuse of explosives within Canada, the dearth of large-scale accidents within the industry over the past decade, and the presence of data indicating a general decrease in fatalities and injuries linked to explosives over the last few decades point to the EA&Rbeing effectively administered by ESSB. However, both the quality of data and attribution issues made it difficult to assess the contribution of ERD to improved safety and security from commercial explosives in Canada.
ERD compiles a listing of accidents and incidents involving explosives in Canada. This listing shows that the total number of individuals injured or killed by explosives accidents or incidents decreased from 227 in the 1970s (28 deaths) to 54 in the 1990s (13 deaths). Of note is the fact that deaths and injuries related exclusively to the manufacture and storage of explosives – two activities that are mostly under the control of ERD (as compared to transport and use) – have declined even more significantly (from 21 deaths to 7). Further, since 2000, no deaths have been associated with explosives manufacturing and storage.
However, the completeness, accuracy, and consistency of the listing need to be improved. For instance, it includes traffic accidents involving the transport of explosives, even where the latter played no role in reported injuries or deaths. In addition, the number of events included in the database has grown significantly in recent years, making historical comparisons difficult.
The demonstration of attribution of outcomes to ESSB activities is an ongoing challenge. Several internal interviewees noted that safety and security were often a shared responsibility among stakeholders. The development of security programs was said to be an inter-departmental effort. Companies were cited by several interviewees as contributing through increased levels of training, engagement and cooperation with new regulations. The Sûreté du Québec and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were mentioned as partners in the monitoring and enforcement of explosives regulations.
There is indirect evidence that ERD has contributed to the continuing competitiveness of the Canadian industry in the global economy. Although the safety and security of Canadians remains the primary objective of ESSB, several internal interviewees stated that ERD’s role in setting reasonable and effective regulations and policies increased the efficiency of Canadian companies. In the development of standards, ERD can bring together expertise from a variety of sources that is otherwise unavailable to them. Further, any safety improvement in the industry is seen by interviewees as leading to more efficiency. However, this is a careful balancing act that requires ERD to continuously engage with industry to ensure that the need for policy, regulation, inspection and compliance is measured against the cost and impact on competitiveness to the industry that it regulates. Ultimately, the quantification of any such benefit to the industry is elusive.
Canadian stakeholders generally share the views of internal interviewees. The development and implementation of standards and policies that reduce risks and accident occurrences has a direct benefit to industry by increasing productivity and reducing liability. Also recognized is the impact of Canadian policies in ensuring a level playing field within the industry and the contribution of Canadian safety standards on the reputation of the country’s products (e.g., the revised standards for mortars and mortar racks).
The case study on developing and implementing new or revised regulations and policies provided evidence that by setting pragmatic regulations and policies through consultation with the regulated community, ERD increased the efficiency of Canadian companies.
- The initial estimates of the Canadian Fertilizer Institute for the costs to implement the provisions of the Restricted Components Regulations were approximately $3,000 per vendor per year. In the end, these costs were largely avoided through the consultation process.
- The Institute of Makers of Explosives (IME) estimated that the costs to the industry for complying with a draft version of the standard for explosives initiation devices and initiation device systems (produced before stakeholder consultation) were about $50,000 to $100,000 per product. However, the final version brought those costs closer to $5,000 to $20,000 per product, according to an IME representative.
The authorization of explosives products can also have major economic consequences for companies. For instance, one client interviewed in the context of the case study on authorizing, inspecting and enforcing compliance cited a recent approval obtained by the company that allowed it to offer a product at a more competitive price. The company’s sales objectives for the product are $2 million to $5 million per year.
Although it is an important part of ERD’s approach to compliance, only international stakeholders mentioned the benefits to the commercial explosives industry resulting from ERD’s focus on the prevention of accidents and diminution of their impacts (in contrast to one that fines and prosecutes offenders and investigates after the events). Proactive measures, such as those taken by ERD, have positive impacts through a reduction in the likelihood and scale of accidents.
Question: To what extent has internal S&T support, provided by CERL to ERD, strengthened science-based decision-making in regulatory and non-regulatory (standards) areas, and contributed to immediate, intermediate, and ultimate outcomes?
Summary: To a great extent. CERL’s S&T project results and expert advice provided a credible, science-based framework to ERD’s administration of the EA&R and development and validation of regulations and policies.
CERL transferred knowledge and expert advice to ERD in support of its regulatory work. Much of this support took the form of S&T projects dealing with the certification testing of explosives to provide supporting evidence for authorization. In all, CERL tested almost 700 product samples during the five-year period encompassed by the evaluation and produced more than 330 reports featuring the results from certification testing of explosives. CERL has also conducted internal S&T projects to support policy development and address policy issues and participated in technical committees and accident investigations.
Ultimately, stakeholders believed that this system of support—and the integration of science and policy—provided ESSB with credibility and improved the safety and security of Canadian stakeholders and the efficiency of the industry by keeping products that were not chemically and mechanically safe from reaching the Canadian market. CERL’s work is needed more than ever because of the high failure rate of samples (mostly fireworks).
The S&T projects aimed at certification testing of explosives provided strong support to the administration of the EA&R by ERD. The testing of new and existing products for authorization is a major route by which CERL contributes to science-based decision-making in the application of explosives regulations. From fiscal year 2004–05 to 2008–09, CERL tested almost 700 product samples, two-thirds of which were fireworks, to provide supporting evidence for authorization (Table 9). This testing process is initiated when ERD issues a decision to require testing upon review of an application for authorization submitted by a manufacturer or vendor. These tests are conducted by the Certification and Explosives Analysis groups of CERL and are at the expense of the applicant.
Over the five-year period encompassed by the evaluation, the Certification and Explosives Analysis groups completed 314 revenue-generating projects, most on behalf of ERD to support authorization.63 These represent more than 60% of revenue-generating projects conducted by CERL during the period. However, because these projects are of limited scope and low value, they account for less than one-third of the S&T efforts and cost-recovery revenues of CERL.
A decline in the number of projects completed by the two groups was observed in recent years. This was attributable to several factors. Manufacturers and vendors increasingly resorted to batch authorizations when submitting an application to ERD, even though the process was riskier because all products on the request needed to gain approval. The downturn in the economy and difficulty related to importing products from China also contributed to the reduction.
CERL has produced more than 330 reports featuring the results from certification testing of explosives. These have served to transfer results and recommendations from CERL to ERD for the purpose of decision-making with regards to product authorization.
|Projects completed [a]||84||71||71||41||47||314|
|Samples tested – Certification||130||199||135||89||129||682|
|Report – Certification [b]||77||84||76||56||44||337|
[a] The total number of projects completed by the Certification and Explosives Analysis groups. Some may not be related to certification. [b] The number of reports for 2008–09 is likely higher since some reports may have been in the process of being finalized when the data was provided.
Source: Compiled by Science-Metrix from various internal documents provided by CERL, and that listed reports produced as well as cost-recovery projects (ongoing and completed) conducted by each of CERL’s S&T groups.
Adoption of Sound Science into Practice and Policy Making
The knowledge and expert advice transferred from CERL to ERD provided a solid basis for the application of science in the development and validation of regulations and policies. The case study on authorizing, inspecting and enforcing compliance provided evidence that testing of explosives was instrumental in keeping products that were not chemically and mechanically safe from reaching the Canadian market. In both authorization projects reviewed, the products tested by CERL did not meet certain requirements and were not recommended. ERD accepted the recommendations and rejected the applications. The products of one applicant were later reassessed and approved after corrective actions had been taken.
CERL has led internal S&T projects to support policy development and address policy issues. These projects, exclusively supported by A-base funding, can be conducted by any of the CERL S&T groups.
ERD has used the scientific input provided by CERL in the development of regulations and policies, particularly in the area of safety. In the last five years, important policy areas where scientific data produced by CERL were used as input to develop or strengthen national policies include the testing of energetic fireworks, the study of minimum ignition energies of emulsions and of fireworks’ susceptibility to bullet impact, and the investigation of the hazards of propellant storage in residences. The results of experimental and modeling work on the effects of accidental explosions on a range of firework mortar racks are currently being used by ERD to develop new regulations for the industry. 64
The case study related to S&T support to ESSB (Science and Regulation/Policy Integration) found evidence of CERL providing scientific input into the development of policies and the validation of existing regulations.
- In an effort to define the threat of an accidental initiation of a Jet-Perforating gun during its assembly or storage, CERL conducted a scientific study which indicated that the detonation of one or more perforators in a manufacturing setting presented a significant hazard. Most importantly, these results allowed ERD to develop, in conjunction with industry, the Guidelines for Jet-Perforating Gun Assembly Facilities, first published in 2007.
- In a separate undertaking, ERD turned to CERL to investigate the mass explosion hazards of powerful fireworks display shells, which are often transported and stored in large quantities. The results showed that even the products that represented the “worst case” scenario did not mass explode.65 This confirmed that the current transportation ad storage requirements for these shells were appropriate. This confirmed that the current transportation and storage requirements for these shells were appropriate.
Other ways in which CERL has supported ERD have also been identified by internal and external interviewees. For instance, members of CERL staff participate in ERD technical committees to provide scientific advice for policymaking. CERL supports ERD in investigations of explosives accidents. CERL is also working with ERD to help develop an alternative plan for a rail development near an explosives facility in Montreal.
In the safety and security areas, international stakeholders identified ESSB’s work on AN as an excellent case of a scientific integration to the regulatory process. AN is a material that has been defined differently by various countries.66 In Canada, CERL has researched the properties of AN thoroughly and identified those situations in which AN behaves as an explosive. Canada’s legislation has taken this research into account.
The authorization of explosives products by ESSB improves the safety of the Canadian public. Indeed, about 50% of fireworks tested by CERL failed to meet Canadian standards.67 Consequently, these products, which would have presented a potential danger to users, were not authorized for sale and remain unavailable on the Canadian market.
The contribution of CERL to the improved safety of Canadians could be even greater with a higher capacity for post-authorization testing. In particular, two factors underscore the need for ESSB to test products once they are available on the market:
- Although applicants for product authorization are allowed to select the samples they provide to CERL, and some will perform their own tests prior to submission, a high percentage of tested products fail to meet requirements.
- CERL ultimately tests only about 10% of the products being approved for sale in Canada (e.g., although no more than 130 products were tested in 2008, more than 1,500 products were approved [Table 9]). For the moment, this process also known as “continuing authorization” is only occasionally performed to ensure that products sold in Canada still meet national standards. Between 2004–05 and 2008–09, 43 product samples were tested by CERL in the context of continuing authorization.
The scientific and technical knowledge produced by CERL contributes to the improved safety of workers, facilities and the Canadian public as it validates and strengthens regulations and policies with the latest science. The case study related to S&T support to ESSB (Science and Regulation/Policy Integration) found evidence of benefits associated with the improved safety of workers and the Canadian public:
- The Guidelines for Jet-Perforating Gun Assembly Facilities are intended to help licensees understand and meet minimal safety requirements. In conjunction with compliance monitoring by ERD inspectors, they aim to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to protect workers and the public from the hazards of these operations. One interviewee considers the guidelinesa good example of the contribution of scientific data to the development of sensible rules that account for the distinctive characteristics of an industry without compromising on safety.
- The transport and storage requirements of powerful display shells were proof-tested, confirming that current safety practices are adequate to protect the public from their hazards.
The evaluation found limited evidence of a contribution to strengthened national security that integrates the work of both CERL and ERD. However, this is not completely unexpected as security is an emerging area at ESSB. One example is the work conducted by CERL on homemade explosives which informed ERD’s policy decisions regarding which chemical precursor of explosives to regulate under the Restricted Components Regulations.
Nearly all internal interviewees reported that CERL activities provided the underlying credibility and justification for the development of regulations related to explosives materials in Canada. Whether it is at the policy level or enforcement level, the capacity to support best practices and policies with the appropriate tests and assessments was critical.
Canadian stakeholders also unanimously stated that it was critical for science to support the decision-making processes leading to the development of explosives regulations. They believed that effective communication between the policy makers and the scientists was key, and that this was one of the primary strengths of ESSB. Interviewees felt that the integration of science and policy was crucial, citing the need for regulations to be based on sound science. The existence of both functions in one organization was viewed as beneficial.
The application of science-based decision-making by ERD enhances industry efficiency as it establishes credibility with this group of stakeholders and favours the development of regulations and policies that are pragmatic. As a result, the industry has a better understanding of the importance of complying with regulations and policies put forward by ESSB. This is expected to lead to a lesser likelihood of explosives-related accidents which can reduce their liability and increase their productivity.
Other previously mentioned positive impacts can also be envisioned, such as gaining a competitive edge with a newly-approved product or ensuring a level playing field within the industry through fair regulations and policies. Further, a case study interviewee (client) observed that the authorization process might identify gaps in industry’s manufacturing or testing processes.
Generally, the Canadian system was commended by international stakeholders for its effective integration of the regulatory and S&T components of explosives safety and security, which allowed Canada to conduct science-based regulatory development. ESSB was described as highly-regarded in international fora for its pragmatic, balanced and evidence-based approach.
Furthermore, international stakeholders viewed the strong scientific link between the science body and the regulating body as unique. This link assists in the development of policies based on scientific evidence rather than opinion. The absence of a bias that results from CERL being an independent body was also considered an important benefit to ESSB when industry issues are examined. These important differences between ESSB programs and those of other jurisdictions position it as a world leader.
Question: To what extent has S&T support provided by CERL to external stakeholders contributed to immediate, intermediate, and ultimate outcomes?
Summary: To a great extent. The products of CERL’s S&T work were effectively transferred to, and applied by stakeholders in private industry, OGDs, and international bodies. The long-term benefits of this support are difficult to gauge. During fiscal years 2004–05 to 2008–09, CERL consistently delivered projects and reports in response to demands from industrial clients or OGDs. The evaluation found that scientific knowledge, expert advice, conformity assessments, and technologies stemming from CERL were effectively translated into practice or used to inform decision-making in private industry, OGDs, and international bodies. While the long-term benefits of improved safety and security of explosives resulting from this work are more difficult to quantify, they could reasonably include improved process safety and economic benefits such as improvements in industry efficiency and reduction in liabilities.
CERL is widely called upon by external stakeholders to provide certification services and to contribute to knowledge, advice, and technology creation and transfer in the areas of safety and security. CERL conducts numerous S&T projects every year to help external stakeholders understand and solve critical issues in the area of safety and security or to support external reporting (conformity). These projects respond to a direct demand from industrial clients or other government Branches, departments or agencies; they have not been requested by ERD. The nature of the projects has varying applications and ranges from tests that determine whether products can be used safely in explosives atmospheres to tests aimed at reducing the effects of accidental or terrorist blasts.68
One or many of the five different S&T groups of the laboratory may be involved in the projects, which are conducted on a full (or sometimes partial) cost-recovery basis.
From fiscal years 2004–05 to 2008–09, CERL completed 200 projects in response to client requests unrelated to product certification. Among these projects, 51 were completed by the Explosives Applications group, and 30 were completed by the Explosives Research group (Table 10). The projects completed by these two groups were conducted for, and sponsored by private industry (61/81 = 75%) and OGDs (20/81 = 25%). In particular, OGDs are significant partners of the Explosives Applications group (15/51 = 29% of their completed projects). These activities undertaken by CERL to assist OGDs in decision-making have been mostly security oriented.
Source: Compiled from internal documents provided by CERL and that listed cost-recovery projects (ongoing and completed) conducted by each of CERL’s S&T groups.
S&T projects conducted by the Explosives Applications and Explosives Research groups mobilized the most resources and generated the most revenues for CERL. Overall, these projects represented 16% of revenue-generating projects conducted by CERL during the evaluation period (81/514 = 16%; Table 11). However, they accounted for more than half of the S&T efforts (55% of expenditures) and cost-recovery revenues of CERL (56%) in 2008–09 (Table 11).
Further, these projects could be of larger scope and higher value. Several projects sponsored by OGDs have generated revenues in excess of $100,000. This analysis appears to be supported by an internal MMS analysis which indicated that 90%-95% of CERL’s approximate workload of 100-120 annual projects was small, less than $10,000, being related to testing and authorizing explosives. Thus, most of the funding is provided by a limited number of projects carried out by CERL for OGDs (e.g., blast mitigation work for Canadian embassies and train stations).69
|Completed projects[a]||% of completed projects||% of total S&T expenditures[b]||% of total revenues generated[b]|
|Certification and Explosives Analysis||314||61%||32%||38%|
[a] Total 2004–05 to 2008–09; [b] Data for 2008–09.
Source: Compiled from internal documents provided by CERL and that listed cost-recovery projects (ongoing and completed) conducted by each of CERL’s S&T groups.
The Hazardous Locations group – the main objective of which is to assess equipment for conformity to safety standards – completed the vast majority of projects for external stakeholders that do not involve certification testing of explosives (119/200 = 60%; Table 10). The projects conducted by the group were almost exclusively for private industry (110/119) and of low value (117/119 below $20,000).
In 2008-09, the Hazardous Locations group experienced a significant reduction of its activities (Table 12).70 This was part of a planned exit from this area based on analysis of changes in demand (according to interview data) and a deliberate transitioning of the services to the private sector. The work is no longer conducted at CERL and the former activity’s A-base allocated to the group will be used to strengthen other core ESSB areas. In addition, the client base of the group has steadily declined in the five-year period encompassed by the evaluation, from 16 different clients in 2004–05 to three in the last two fiscal years.
Although the primary purpose of the projects conducted by the Certification and Explosives Analysis groups was the support of ERD in product authorization, some of the 314 projects they conducted during the same period were in direct support of external stakeholders. This was exemplified by the case study of external S&T support to stakeholders in the area of security where one project led by the certification group tested a client’s proprietary armour against the threat of improvised explosives devices. There were also some large projects that were led by one group, but which engaged the entire laboratory.
The internal MMS analysis noted that the small projects (~100 of them annually) were single partner projects and usually were related to requests for authorizing or testing of products. Multi-partner projects were described as fewer in number (about 1 in 100), but in dollar value making up 53% - 73% of the projects, and of longer term duration.
Thus, the internal analysis concluded that the small-term projects might not be effective to the laboratory because the full costs were not recovered. However, this line of work remained part of the lab's mandate to conduct testing in support of the decisions made by the Explosives Regulatory Division. Thus the laboratory costs and revenue did not precisely align with one another.71
CERL Sources of Cost Recovery (2005-2008)72
CERL Cost Recovery Statistics 2008-09
Source of diagrams: MMS internal analysis entitled Draft Final Report Review of Cost-Recovery Approach within MMS Laboratories (Dec. 12, 2009), page 44.
CERL effectively transferred S&T to explosives industry stakeholders. It uses several methods to transfer the scientific and technical knowledge it generates for external stakeholders. Over the five-year period, it has produced nearly 300 reports. Of those, 84 detailed the results of conformity assessment tests conducted by the (recently-eliminated) Hazardous Locations group. These reports detail altitude simulation testing or the assessment of products for use in explosive gas atmospheres. The latter test reports are accepted in support of product approvals by certification agencies in Canada, the U.S. and the European community. Private industry, OGDs, and international bodies translated into practice and policy the scientific knowledge, expert advice, and technologies stemming from CERL S&T projects.
|Completed projects [a]||% of completed projects||% of total S&T expenditures [b]||% of total revenues generated [b]|
|Certification and Explosives Analysis||314||61%||32%||38%|
[a] Total 2004–05 to 2008–09; [b] Data for 2008–09.
Source: Compiled from internal documents provided by CERL and that listed cost-recovery projects (ongoing and completed) conducted by each of CERL’s S&T groups.
The case study on external S&T support to stakeholders in the area of safety provided evidence of direct use of a report produced by the Hazardous Locations group (now disbanded). A client that manufactures custom design products for use in the offshore production and storage of oil (known as a slip ring assembly), a potentially explosive atmosphere, had a unit bound for the Terra Nova oilfield-tested by the CERL group. Such testing was required to demonstrate conformity to the appropriate standard. The unit passed the test according to the standard and the final test report from CERL was submitted by the client to the certifying authority as evidence that the product had been assessed by an independent third party.
During the same period, CERL produced 210 technical reports that generally presented results from research work conducted for clients by the Explosives Applications and Explosives Research groups. On occasion, S&T advances were also transferred to a larger audience of peers, industry experts and regulators through conference presentations and peer-reviewed papers. Through these media, clients and stakeholders obtained a better understanding of issues and challenges they faced or needed to overcome in order to improve the safety of their processes or products. In addition, OGDs and their stakeholders were provided results, advice and recommendations in the area of blast protection.
Finally, reports transferred expert advice from CERL to decision-makers in organizations such as police services through the provision of supporting evidence in investigations of explosions/incidents and to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency through the provision of know-how on explosion effects in the review of two proposed liquefied natural gas facilities in Quebec.73
Canadian stakeholders generally viewed CERL as the national centre for scientific expertise and showed high regard for the quality of the scientific knowledge it produced on explosives. In particular, most reported having benefited from CERL’s high-level capability and expertise on scientific issues through the provision of technical reports from contractual work, information, or advice.
Adoption of Sound Science into Practice and Policy Making
Through its S&T projects and reports, CERL has transferred knowledge, expert advice and technologies to private industry. Although it can be expected that these projects are fully or partially funded by private companies because of their strong potential to have a practical impact on their operations, there is little direct evidence that S&T results from CERL were used to inform decisions in industry. Overwhelmingly, clients rated the quality of work conducted by CERL highly, as well as the quality of its reports. Further, the needs of the clients were said to have been met in all cases.
The case study on external S&T support to stakeholders in the area of safety found some applications of S&T results from CERL. In two projects, where it investigated the hazards of products and processes from different manufacturers, CERL produced data that identified and characterized significant risk factors. Test results were used by the clients as the basis for a review of their process parameters to make adjustments to their process controls, and to draw up or revise internal standards and guidelines.
In the context of the case study on external S&T support to stakeholders in the area of security, the provision of S&T support to private industry was also demonstrated. Following a study of the capability of different armour solutions to withstand the impact of fragments generated by improvised explosives devices (IED), CERL presented the clients with results demonstrating the effectiveness of the different types of armour protection. According to a client representative, the information on armour vulnerability was to be used internally to develop improved protective measures.
Some comments provided in response to a feedback form provided to its clients by CERL suggested other positive contributions, such as the support that CERL research data provided to clients’ development of new products and improvement of existing ones.74
Internal interviewees also cited the contribution of CERL to the marking of explosives to facilitate airport detection; the collaborative work with pipeline companies, dam owners and electrical transmission companies to better understand and reduce potential threats; and the assistance provided to companies with product development (e.g., bomb disposal suit, research on detonation arresters in tanker) as examples of how the application of knowledge and advice by external stakeholders has improved explosives safety and security in Canada.
Other Government Departments (OGDs)
CERL has become an important resource to NRCan and numerous other federal government departments and agencies in the provision of advice and research on blast threats and mitigation. A four-year partnership developed with NRCan’s Energy Infrastructure Protection Division (EIPD) – which became very substantial in scope and an important part of the activities of the laboratory – provided analysis of blast risks and advice on blast mitigation to energy stakeholders in the oil and gas, electricity and nuclear industries.75 This expertise in the area of blast vulnerability assessment was later leveraged to provide services to other stakeholders.
The case study of external S&T support to stakeholders in the area of security demonstrated the role of CERL toward improving the security of the energy supply. In the context of a Canada-U.S. initiative led by NRCan’s Energy Infrastructure Protection Division and aimed at determining the vulnerability of critical infrastructure, CERL’s work produced key results that were used to lobby for improved industry standards and were shared with partners and stakeholders.76
Some documents obtained from ESSB provided evidence of additional contributions to OGDs in the area of security. CERL’s work has led to the production of an improved screening tool used to assess the vulnerability of infrastructures against blast (e.g., DND, PWGSC) and the provision of recommendations to departments and agencies (e.g., DFAIT, CSIS, Transport Canada) regarding the protection of key buildings (e.g., embassies, train stations, Vancouver Olympic venues) in Canada and abroad. CERL also provided recommendations for standards for window protection against blast loads.77
However, information and advice provided in the context of security work were most often confidential, making it very difficult to determine if CERL’s input was used or implemented by stakeholders.
Occasionally, the scientific knowledge provided by CERL is also used by the police in the investigation of incidents involving explosives (e.g., by the analysis and testing of post-blast residues or products involved in an explosion or the assessment of post-blast damage). To that effect, a RCMP respondent to the CERL client feedback survey noted that its investigation would have been incomplete without CERL’s scientific contribution.78
The case study of external S&T support to stakeholders in the area of security provided another example of CERL’s contribution to the security arena, but on a global scale. Effective 1991, an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Convention79 made it compulsory for plastic and sheet explosives to be marked with a vapour-producing agent in all member countries to make them readily detectable. In light of concerns that sheet explosives did not hold marking agents well, particularly under extreme weather conditions, a U.S. group joined forces with CERL to investigate the possibility of increasing the required concentration of a marking agent.
This work, carried out under the umbrella of the Canada/U.S. Counter-Terrorism Research and Development Agreement, established that increasing the level of the marking agent had no effect on the safety characteristics of the explosives and significantly improved the useful lifetime of the marking agent. Based on the results from the different parties involved (CERL had performed the safety and detectability testing), a recommendation was made to change the marking level. It was adopted by ICAO and is in the process of being implemented internationally.
International stakeholders identified another area where CERL’s work was put into practice. CERL developed a scientific explanation and understanding of why emulsion explosives would explode when pumping systems were running dry. Based partly on that work, the industry developed several essential practices to safeguard pumps. Consequently, explosions caused by over-pumping or running dry were avoided.
The main benefits of S&T projects sponsored by external stakeholders are related primarily to the safety and security of Canadians. However, the benefits of these projects are often difficult to establish due to the absence of information on their detailed use and outcomes. Industry can be very secretive about its processes and research in the area of national security is often classified and designated as protected information. Accordingly, evidence of benefits from the transfer and adoption of CERL’s work into practice is limited.
Some internal interviewees noted that CERL likely improved process safety in the explosives industry. However, they recognized that it was difficult to provide examples of such a benefit as an effective execution meant that there were no incidents to report.
The case study of external S&T support to stakeholders in the area of safety provided some indication of safety benefits stemming from the transfer and adoption of scientific and technical knowledge produced by CERL:
- By establishing the conformity of the slip ring assembly to a safety standard, the Hazardous Locations group ascertained that the unit could be used safely for its intended application.
- By providing a better fundamental understanding of client’s products and processes, CERL allowed companies to draw up guidelines and standards on a more informed basis. This, in turn, led to enhanced safety through better handling of the risks or provided assurance to the company that the systems in place met safety requirements.
The work in the area of blast resistance likely improved security in Canada and for Canadians. Better protection of energy infrastructures and government assets against explosion hazards, both within and outside of Canada, is likely to have resulted from research on retrofit technologies, the development of a national standard for building protection against blast, and actions taken by stakeholders to reduce identified vulnerabilities. A Canadian stakeholder noted that CERL’s work on blast vulnerability of buildings was being used in embassies across the world for improving the safety and security of workers.
The case study of external S&T support to stakeholders in the area of security provided some indication of current and potential benefits to Canadian and international communities.
- The changes in the international convention that governs the marking of sheet explosives has improved security by making these materials even more readily detectable at airports. CERL had provided scientific support to the convention not only in the recent past, but also from the late 1980s when this instrument was first developed. Accordingly, CERL played a part in a convention that led to the current absence of bombing incidents using plastic explosives. In 2006, the convention was identified by the U.N. as one of the top 13 protocols against terrorism.80
- Following CERL’s and EIPD’s work on the blast vulnerability of pipelines, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) developed the CSA Security Management for Petroleum and Natural Gas Industry Systems standard. This new standard is designed to help manage the security of land-based pipeline systems and assets from security threats.
- According to the client representative, the knowledge acquired on the vulnerability of armour solutions to IEDs should ultimately translate into more secure light armoured vehicles for the Canadian forces overseas.
In 2007–08, CERL embarked on a substantial new project also aimed at strengthening national security. This project involves several other government departments and is funded by the CBRNE-CRTI. The goal of this project is to deliver a database of scientifically validated information on many improvised explosives formulations. The database is expected to provide an important tool for the operational security community in its work on reducing the threat to Canadians from improvised explosives.81
The improvements in safety and security, as well as the knowledge gained through S&T projects, also have the potential to generate economic impacts that can be either positive or negative. The case study on external S&T support to stakeholders in the area of safety provided some indications of direct economic benefits stemming from the conformity assessment of products for use in explosive atmospheres. The testing results produced by CERL demonstrated to the certifying authority that the slip ring assembly could be used effectively and safely for its intended purpose.
CERL was instrumental in allowing the company to sell and ship the unit. According to the client representative, additional economic benefits arose from the fact that Canadian companies could have this work performed locally (i.e., within Canada). The unique capability of CERL to test the conformity of large units, such as the slip ring assembly, led to avoidance of costs and delays that would otherwise have resulted from having to ship and export a device bound for the Canadian oilfield.
The improvements in efficiency and the reduction in liabilities that resulted from a better control of processes and their hazards were also mentioned by case study interviewees as economic benefits of CERL’s S&T work.
Two respondents of CERL’s client feedback survey82 also attested to the safety and economic benefits of CERL’s work. They indicated that the data was important to their business, for the safety of their operators and processes and cost effectiveness of the design.
Internal interviewees were generally in agreement that CERL might influence the efficiency of the Canadian industry. However, this was generally an indirect consequence of its safety work. On the subject of the benefits to industry efficiency, one individual interviewee observed that the task of CERL – being part of a regulatory group – was not company efficiency, but supporting the enforcement of the Canada Explosives Act which is intended to protect safety. This view was reported by other interviewees as well.
Work performed for external stakeholders also informed Canada’s regulatory framework. For instance, some of the work on AN – mentioned by international stakeholders as an excellent example of a scientific contribution to the regulatory process – stemmed from S&T projects conducted for external clients. These clients enlisted the help of CERL to better understand the properties of AN to reduce the safety risks of their processes, in turn allowing CERL to gain knowledge that was used internally in the drafting of the Restricted Components Regulations.
Other examples of benefits to CERL from clients’ work were noted by case study interviewees. An internal interviewee intended to use the experience in testing slip rings to improve the current IEC standard (this individual was currently the Canadian representative on the standards’ committee). Another internal interviewee cited the credibility and expertise gained by CERL in the field of security through its work with EIPD; it allowed CERL to hire a structural engineer and perform work on the impact of explosives on infrastructure and buildings.
Question: To what extent have education, outreach, and networking activities of the ESSB contributed to the immediate, intermediate and ultimate outcomes?
Summary: Potentially, to a great extent. ESSB engaged in activities that raised awareness of issues related to explosives safety and security, created linkages with a range of stakeholders in Canada and abroad, and enhanced its international profile.
ESSB’s educational activities are performed for the main purpose of raising the awareness of stakeholders and the general public about policy, safety and security issues related to explosives. Documents are produced that communicate and clarify laws, regulations and policies. These include guidelines that help the industry understand and meet regulatory requirements in various explosives fields, as well as bulletins and directive letters informing the industry of changes in requirements or reminding them of their responsibilities.
In addition, a significant body of scientific papers and conference presentations was produced by ESSB during the evaluation period. ERD inspectors also play a large role in educating stakeholders, and the Division administers a certification program and trains stakeholders through workshops on specialized issues.
ESSB has also been very active in creating links with stakeholders both in Canada and abroad, helping to expand its partnerships with other agencies, such as through Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and cooperation agreements. These efforts have led to the development and strengthening of regulations, policies and standards at both the national and international levels. Consequently, the national and international communities are well aware of these efforts and ESSB is widely regarded internationally as a leader.
However, some areas to be strengthened were also identified by interviewees who commented that education and outreach efforts remain both ad-hoc and in the early stage of development due to resource limitations. They also noted that a consolidated training program needs to be implemented across the country. The literature and document review (i.e., ESSB Strategic Planning deliberations) also indicated that the Branch does not respond with sufficient speed to situations in its business environment, in part because of its lack of high profile and being what was described as “out of the loop.”83
ESSB undertook several educational activities intended to raise policy, safety and security awareness among stakeholders and the Canadian public. Education and outreach activities toward the regulated community are integral components of the ESSB program. A function of ERD is to assist industry to meet the requirements of the EA&R. To that end, ERD produces documentation to communicate and clarify the laws, regulations and policies. These documents include bulletins and directive letters that inform the industry of changes in requirements or to remind them of their responsibilities.84
The standards and guidelines issued by ESSB are intended to help the industry understand and meet regulatory requirements in various explosives fields. Inspectors also play an important education role within the regulated community due to their regular interactions with them and their knowledge of regulatory requirements and policies. Further, their engagement with certain regulated communities, like perforating gun assembly facilities, can help call attention to safety issues requiring consideration.
Training and Certification Program
ERD administers a certification program to ensure that individuals who engage in the use of display fireworks and pyrotechnics special effects have the prerequisite experience and training needed. From 2004 to 2008, ERD delivered 123 safety and legal awareness courses at various locations across Canada. Within this five-year period, ERD tripled its course offerings (from 14 in 2004 to 42 in 2008) and more than doubled the number of attendees (from 488 in 2004 to 1170 in 2008) on an annual basis. Overall, the 50 courses with a focus on pyrotechnics special effects were attended by 1,717 individuals, whereas 2,496 attendees participated in the 73 display fireworks courses.85
ESSB also engaged in the training of stakeholders, including professionals and members of public services. During the evaluation period, ERD held three workshops on issues related to the security and import, export and transit of explosives to audiences of non-expert security stakeholders, including those from federal and provincial governments, municipalities, first-responder organizations and transit authorities. Similarly, CERL organized three specialized workshops that informed architects, engineers and government officials about the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to blast effects. CERL also gave pyrotechnic training sessions to the staff of federal and provincial security agencies, including forensic laboratory technicians.86
Some members of the public service responsible for the authorization and support of fireworks displays – such as fire prevention officers, firefighters and other members of agencies in charge of carrying out fireworks events – were also trained by attending the certification courses. Further, ERD educated stakeholders by producing documents, such as a bulletin and an information package aimed at retailers (a group it does not regulate) on responsibilities involved in the sale of consumer fireworks.87
Dissemination and Transfer of S&T Knowledge
ESSB reaches a larger audience of peers, industry experts and regulators through the production of refereed and non-refereed papers, as well as conference presentations:
- Between 2004 and 2008, more than 20 peer-reviewed papers were published by CERL’s scientists.88 This scientific production was equivalent to 1% of NRCan’s total peer-reviewed publications (1997-2006).89
- Nine papers appeared over the last three years in the SAFEX newsletter,90 a publication aimed at sharing safety information among the more than 100 manufacturers of explosives that were members of SAFEX International.
- CERL staff members made presentations at nearly 119 conferences over the past five years in various national and international fora; more than two-thirds of these events (72) produced publicly-available proceedings. Several other presentations (47) made to groups of experts or at classified meetings allowed CERL to transfer knowledge and expert advice.91
Although it does not have an active program of public outreach, ESSB accomplished part of its mandate by participating in outreach events, and issuing information in matters of public safety through various means, such as its web site. ESSB undertakes many activities to inform and educate workers and the public. ERD provides several publications related to the safety, storage, possession, transportation, destruction and sale of explosives. The Branch promotes the safe use of fireworks by preparing and distributing leaflets such as "A Quick Guide to Family Fireworks Safety".92 It has also had the opportunity to increase its profile and inform the public about its work by being featured in television and newspaper reports and through staff members giving lectures to university students.93, 94
The case studies have provided some examples of outreach efforts undertaken by ESSB toward improved safety and security:
- ERD has produced two brochures to increase awareness of stakeholders about the new Restricted Components Regulations: one devoted to AN95 and the other focusing on the other eight restricted components. 96 In addition, ERD produced a bulletin that provided guidance on the minimum requirement relating to a provision of the Restricted Components Regulations that required sellers of AN to have a written safety and security plan.
- CERL published in open literature and presented the results in various fora of its work conducted for the private industry on the characterization of hazards and risks associated with products and processes. Interviewees associated with this project stated that much interest was generated by the results, and it was likely that experts and other manufacturers had examined these results and gained knowledge about the testing methods used and the risks identified.
- The results from the assessment of buried pipeline vulnerability to blast were also shared with the international security community and pipeline owners through reports and presentations. However, because of the nature of the work, the results were not openly shared.
- The Guidelines for Jet-Perforating Gun Assembly Facilities are intended to help licensees understand and meet regulatory requirements. Additionally, presentations that demonstrated the potential risks posed to workers and the public by perforating gun assembly operations were made by ESSB to industry members. Interviewees also indicated that designers and builders of containment facilities for the assembly of perforating guns would likely make use of the results and guidelines to develop better mitigation strategies.
- By sharing the results of its work on the hazards of powerful display shells with members of the Canadian Pyrotechnics Council, ESSB made fireworks vendors more aware of the risks associated with these shells and the importance of storing and transporting them safely.
Education and outreach were unanimously viewed by internal interviewees as key activities to the achievement of improved safety and security. Major activities identified by interviewees in this area included ERD’s educational efforts which ‘demystified’ regulations for clients and stakeholders and led to increased user buy-in and compliance; an increased focus on the education of local fireworks distributors; and ESSB’s awareness efforts regarding the storage of black powder and the hazards of perforating gun factories.
However, some areas to be strengthened were also identified by interviewees, who commented that education and outreach efforts remained both ad-hoc and in the early stage of development due to resource limitations. They also noted that a consolidated training program needed to be implemented across the country.
Most Canadian stakeholders stated that their organization or members had benefited from ESSB activities focused on educating the regulated industry on new procedures and regulations, and training stakeholders about pyrotechnic safety issues, for example.
Some international interviewees described the extended benefits of having ESSB’s work widely distributed through publications and conferences. For example, papers in the SAFEX newsletter were viewed as having allowed industry members to benefit from CERL’s research and development (R&D) in many areas of explosives safety. ESSB has established strong ties with local and international stakeholders that favoured greater multilateral exchange, cooperation, and convergence.
Networking, Outreach and Policy Support
ESSB is an active participant and partner in national efforts to improve the safety and security of explosives. The Branch maintains and continues to establish partnerships with OGDs and the private sector to build sustained capacity and leverage its resources. The Branch works alongside and responds to requests by OGDs and partners in national intelligence and security (such as CSIS, DND, and the RCMP to enhance the security of Canada’s explosives supply.
In support of efforts to advance the security of Canadians, CERL has signed MOUs with two OGDs to conduct peer review and blast assessment of critical infrastructure. With a view to jointly gain a better understanding of explosives safety hazards, CERL has established a S&T partnership with a major industry player. The collaborative services agreement between the two organizations is effective until October 2010. 97
The considerable involvement of CERL in establishing the Explosives Cluster of the CRTI also demonstrates ESSB’s commitment to cooperation and convergence within Canada. The Director of CERL acts as co-lead of this cluster which aims to bring together representatives from federal laboratories and the operational community to enhance Canada's preparedness for potential explosives threats.
Through its involvement in various working groups and committees, ESSB has been able to provide input and make proposals to amend regulations and standards that have promoted greater international convergence and harmonization. ESSB is a member of the Canadian delegation that sits on the working group on Class 1 materials (explosives) of the U.N. Sub-Committee on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.
This committee has recently adopted an explosives classification test developed by ESSB (U.N. 6(d) Unconfined Package Test), which will be implemented internationally. Additionally, CERL is engaged with the American Society for Testing and Materials where it has made significant contributions to the preparation of standard test methods for thermal measurements and the certification of equipment for hazardous locations.
Staff members are also active participants in the International Group on Unstable Substances of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), more specifically its Explosives Propellants and Pyrotechnics working group and in the Explosives Technical Commission of the ICAO. 98
The case studies provided some examples of ESSB activities that involved cooperation and led to new or strengthened policies. The adoption by ICAO of an amendment that reinforces the marking of flexible explosives followed collaborative work conducted by CERL and the U.S. Technical Support Working Group (U.S. TSWG).
In addition, the participation of CERL in a project aimed at investigating the vulnerability of pipelines to blasts in partnership with organizations such as NRCan’s EIPD, U.S.TSWG, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, and the Canadian Gas Association led to the drafting of a new CSA standard developed to help mitigate threats to the energy supply systems.
The signing of a MOU and co-operation agreements between CERL and several international regulatory bodies (e.g., U.K.’s Health and Safety Laboratory, France’s INERIS and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology) allow ESSB to maintain strong and effective linkages while fostering greater multilateral exchange, cooperation and convergence. These MOUs ensure reciprocal recognition of tests results, establish joint R&D projects and promote the exchange of personnel and information.
ESSB’s contributions to conferences and symposia promote and strengthen networking. As previously mentioned, ESSB staff regularly attend national and international events where they have the opportunity to network and to share their work, experience and knowledge in the regulatory and S&T areas with their peers and industry experts. Occasionally, ESSB staff will be actively involved in the organization of these events (e.g., International Chief Inspector of Explosives Meeting).
To maintain effective linkages with industry stakeholders, ESSB regularly attends annual meetings of various associations representing manufacturers and importers of explosives. ESSB has been instrumental in the development of a web-based discussion database—the Global Explosives Regulatory Module (GERM)—that supports ongoing communication and networking among the community of regulators.
Networking was viewed by internal interviewees as a key component of ESSB’s activities. Among the main achievements cited by ESSB staff were its participation in the development of national and international standards to ensure both public and worker safety (e.g., the Unconfined Package Test); its continued engagement with Canadian associations (e.g., the Petroleum Service Association, the Geophysical Contractors’ Association, and the Avalanche Association) which favourably impacts compliance; the leveraging of ESSB’s work by other countries; and the launch of the GERM discussion database, which have heightened awareness of ESSB and enhanced its reputation.
The role played by ESSB in building links, both within and between/among government departments that control explosives and industrial communities, was cited by many Canadian stakeholders as critical to its success and one of its main achievements. In particular, the work of CERL within the CRTI explosives cluster was described several times as very influential and helpful by interviewees.
ERD and CERL are regarded as leaders by the international community. In particular, CERL expertise is viewed as unique and unquestionably valuable. Canadian stakeholders also stated the following ways in which their organization or their members had benefited from partnership and networking with ESSB:
- assistance with national and international level networking, including facilitating government agency meetings;
- international leadership regarding issues of explosives safety and security, including the development of regulations; and
- support to investigating partners within the RCMP and other agencies through the provision of information in relation to regulatory and scientific issues.
Outreach and networking activities have allowed ESSB to increase its visibility and raise its profile on the international scene, particularly through the sharing of good practices and the provision of guidance on numerous issues.
The case studies found evidence of multilateral exchange and cooperation between ESSB and international organizations through networking and sharing of information, knowledge and experience.
- The S&T results and guidelines stemming from the work on perforating gun operations were usedby companies in the U.K. and the U.S. to improve the design of their assembly facilities. For instance, an interviewee indicated that the U.K. Health and Safety Executive used ESSB's scientific work to help educate the industry in the U.K. on the hazards of perforating gun assembly operations. As a result, a company used the guidelines developed by ESSB to optimize the design and configuration of safety barriers in a new U.K. facility. 99
- An interviewee pointed out that South Africa obtained a copy of the Canadian standard for initiation devices and essentially implemented it. In addition, many European countries were said to have been influenced by the standard and modified their own after 2005.
- International stakeholders were also said to have benefitted from CERL’s work on blast vulnerability of pipelines. For instance, England’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure built on this work to design and perform its own testing.
- The Canadian approach to the control of explosives precursors other than AN is being reviewed by other countries, including Australia.
International interviewees also recognized ESSB’s work on jet-perforating gun facilities and its regulatory framework on restricted components, as well as other undertakings, such as:
- Canada’s approach to describing hazards in storage and manufacturing of explosives is being considered for application in the U.K.
- The U.N. 6(d) Unconfined Package Test was recently adopted internationally. 100 Most countries expect to have the new standard implemented by the beginning of 2011.
- Other issues where the leadership of ESSB was noted included firework mortars, AN properties and pumping of bulk explosives.
The participation of staff members on international scientific committees, the invitation for CERL to present some of its S&T work in the SAFEX Newsletter (the only invitation of its kind to a government research laboratory), and the willingness of organizations from outside of Canada to establish collaborations and partnerships with ESSB were viewed as further proof of its strong global reputation.
Many Canadian and international stakeholders identified ERD and CERL as world leaders, describing them as producers of high quality work, using terms such as ‘bench-marker.’
Paradoxically, the literature (document) review found that ESSB does not respond with sufficient speed to situations in its business environment, in part, because of its lack of high profile and being what was described as “out of the loop.” 101 Interviewees also reported that the role of ESSB in conducting blast vulnerability assessments outside of NRCan is not clearly recognized, even though the Branch is providing services to a number of OGDs on a cost-recovery basis. OGD interviewees commented on the need for ESSB to have a more clearly-defined and commonly-understood role within government in the public security area.
Question: Have there been unintended (positive or negative) outcomes?
Summary: Yes. The most prominent unexpected outcome for ESSB during the evaluation period was the importance of security S&T projects within CERL.
These projects are in great demand by OGDs and have, as a result, come to represent an important part of CERL’s activities. In response to this demand, CERL has developed its expertise and capacity, specifically for the provision of risk assessment studies and expert advice for blast mitigation.
On the plus side, these projects have provided ESSB with new sources of cost-recovery revenues and have given the organization a new level of visibility; however, much of this S&T work currently supports the strategic outcomes of OGDs rather than those of NRCan. An unexpected positive outcome was the high level of engagement exhibited by industry, such as the frequency with which clients report incidents and the adoption by international organizations of regulations and policies developed by ESSB for the Canadian context.
One negative outcome has arisen from the increase in applications for the authorization of fireworks. The demand for authorization testing has increased as a result of some imports requiring scrutiny of their quality. This in turn has created increased workloads and delays at CERL. Another negative outcome was the length of time required occasionally to work through issues raised by industry in the development of new regulations.
Unintended Positive Outcomes
The importance of security S&T projects within CERL is likely the foremost unexpected outcome on ESSB during the period encompassed by the evaluation. Prior to its work with the EIPD on the vulnerability of energy infrastructure which began in 2003, security was an area of relatively minor involvement for CERL.
However, in view of an increasing and unfulfilled demand from OGDs in the area, CERL has quickly built on its new expertise and capacity to provide risk assessment studies and advice for blast mitigation. This work, which now accounts for 30% of CERL’s efforts, has benefited ESSB by enabling new sources of cost-recovery revenues and giving the organization a new level of visibility. However, much of this S&T work currently supports the strategic outcomes of OGDs rather than those of NRCan, especially since its EIPD program was discontinued.
The engagement of industry can occasionally have unexpected positive implications. As an example, there is high frequency of client incident reports which indicates industry compliance with regulatory requirements.
In the case study of developing and implementing new or revised regulations and policies, both the Standard for Initiation Devices and Initiation Device Systems and the industry code of practice on AN were said to be stricter than anticipated by one or both interviewees.
Unintended Negative Outcomes
A few noteworthy negative implications for ESSB have also been identified. The increase in applications for the authorization of fireworks and heightened concerns over the quality of some imports, have placed more demand on CERL for authorization testing. This increased workload lengthened the time for obtaining approvals. In an effort to mitigate this, CERL has introduced a step-by-step approach to testing that allows the process to be stopped as soon as a major defect in a product is detected.
Another negative outcome stems from the length of time required occasionally to work through issues raised by industry in the development of new regulations. For instance, both the internal and external interviewees indicated that unanticipated opposition from a few organizations to the Restricted Components Regulations, which arose late in the process, delayed progress for nearly a year. Additionally, some internal interviewees believed that concerns from the perforating gun industry required a longer timeframe to complete the related S&T work.
The administration and cost implications of new regulations and policies may have unintentional outcomes. While these concerns are taken into consideration by regulators and efforts are made to minimize them to the extent possible, internal interviewees have cited one particular situation in which ESSB actions created non-beneficial outcomes.
The costs of compliance with magazine standards modifications (undertaken in order to improve security) were relatively high. As a result, some companies decided not to make these investments and to cease their activities, which strained relations between ESSB and industry. On the other hand, internal interviewees identified situations wherein ESSB activities already had or might have positive consequences: workshops were held that elucidated gaps in the export and transit controls that had previously not been known, and new testing of old protocols could demonstrate erroneous safety industrial procedures leading to revised measures and reduced risks for workers.
Summary: ESSB exhibits an effective organizational structure that facilitates the integration of science and policy and allows CERL and ERD to successfully manage activities, leading to the achievement of objectives and strategic outcomes.
While ESSB is meeting its objectives well currently, both financial and human resources at ESSB cannot be stretched further, and many stakeholders reported that ESSB was too dependent on cost-recovery activities.
Strategic alignment and cost-recovery related material reviewed indicate that the Branch is focusing on resolving these issues (for example, one of the challenges recognized by the Strategic Alignment exercise is to address capacity gaps in the areas of post-authorization testing and to ensure sustainable S&T work on explosives security). One of its objectives is to move towards financial sustainability and focus work within the budget envelope.102
In recent years, the Branch has undertaken more planning activities and developed strategies and mechanisms in support of effective program delivery. Internal staff and management are satisfied with these mechanisms, as well as the staff expertise, quality of work, and participatory engagement processes.
However, evidence showed IT infrastructure and performance monitoring at the Branch level – in particular, tracking of activity costs and outcomes – require significant strengthening. Two of the objectives of Strategic Alignment address these needs: (a) supporting an integrated approach to business and human resource planning; and (b) facilitating results achievement and management of expectations through effective communications.103
ESSB has excelled at the development and maintenance of external stakeholder interactions through networking, consulting and partnering activities, and this is considered a best practice. The evidence suggests the Branch should continue and, if possible, increase its current activities aimed at creating a greater presence within the federal government and NRCan (e.g., through the Strategic Alignment exercise).104
In terms of efficiency, both ERD and CERL have managed to maintain or increase their outputs in response to demand while maintaining the same level (or less) of staff and expenditures. However, data from a PMIS system used by CERL to monitor the costs of cost-recovery projects demonstrated that these projects were often subject to cost overruns absorbed by the laboratory. Strategic Alignment has among its objectives to support an integrated approach to business and human resource planning and facilitate results achievement and management of expectations through effective communication.105
Other planned improvements (identified through the literature and document review) to planning and to IT – targeted through the Strategic Alignment, Knowledge Management/HR planning and cost-recovery planning – may also improve this situation.
Question: How could the effectiveness of ESSB be improved?
Summary: The organizational structure of ESSB supports effective program delivery, and new efforts have been made to develop and implement project and risk management strategies.
The need for improved financial tracking and performance measurement tools, as well as stretched financial and human resources, presents significant risks to the long-term effectiveness/sustainability of the Branch. Although cost-recovery activities are essential to the maintenance and improvement of services and facilities, they are increasingly becoming an obligatory source of revenue for CERL. Cost-recovery planning, succession/human resource planning, and Strategic Alignment efforts are all focused on these issues, among others.106 The Branch, through the Strategic Alignment exercise, is working towards resolving this situation (e.g., one of the objectives of the Strategic Alignment exercise is to support integrated approach to business planning and human resource planning).”107
The governance, management structures, and distribution of roles and responsibilities were found to be appropriate at both CERL and ERD.
The efficiency of ESSB’s HR may also be a factor for consideration, as more experienced personnel are retiring and significant difficulties in recruiting new highly-experienced personnel to replace them have been encountered (as is the case in many areas of government). As well, new demands and requirements in program areas such as explosives security are placing greater demands on staff. The Branch’s staffing plan108 presents some innovative approaches to resolving the situation. Time is required to determine the effectiveness of these approaches.
During the evaluation period, ESSB has focused more heavily on program planning and risk management, taking measures that not only support the effective delivery of programs and activities but also assure greater cohesion and adherence and strengthen the relationship between ERD and CERL.
Many internal interviewees reported that the databases and IT tools for management or information sharing were inadequate. The evaluation found the performance measurement strategies—such as the tracking of financial components and the collection of indicators on strategic outcomes—to be limited at the Branch level. While ESSB has a good strategy for communication and relationship building with external stakeholders (such as through consultation and collaborative projects), interviewees reported that it required a greater presence within the federal government and NRCan. It is noted that these needs are being addressed in the Strategic Alignment exercise, as reported previously.
MMS has made important strides towards greater cohesiveness, relevance and effectiveness in recent years. In particular, the merger of ERD and CERL in 2004 and the creation of ESSB in 2007 have helped to create closer links between science and policy through greater collaboration and enhanced understanding between scientists and regulators. Since then, the sector, the department (NRCan), and the Branch have worked to reduce overlaps and the duplication of work, group like-functions together, and ensure greater accountability.
As a result of such efforts, the roles, responsibilities and accountability of ESSB appear to be adequately clear, well-defined and well-understood. Organizational charts provided by ESSB detail the structures of ERD and CERL and demonstrate the main lines of responsibility and accountability for both organizations. CERL’s structure is particularly clear as it is built on nodes of activity such as the Certification group and the Explosives Research group. Its primary role in performing S&T related to the safety and security of explosives is equally unambiguous.
Although some interviewees commented that a laboratory housed in a federal organization inherently makes its governance more complicated, CERL staff rated the structure of the laboratory highly, giving it an average score of four out of five. In particular, interviewees cited the creation of the Director General position, the “flatness” of CERL’s management structure, and the relatively small size of the organization as contributors to the organization’s overall effectiveness. These characteristics were thought to facilitate faster decision-making and allowed resources to receive support as they needed it, among other benefits. Internal interviewees from ERD rated the governance structure more moderately, with an average score of three out of five.
On the whole, the evidence suggests that the structure of ESSB allows for the effective management of activities and the achievement of objectives and strategic outcomes, in particular improved compliance for licensed activities and declining injuries and fatalities from explosives accidents.109 The structure is also thought to contribute to the improved safety and security of Canadians through strengthened policies and regulations. However, some internal interviewees cited a need for balance (in terms of financial and human resources) between safety and security in ERD’s organizational structure. This was described as being primarily due to the absence of a formal division dedicated to security. Senior management, on the other hand, indicated that separating the two functions had been considered but that given the size of the organization and the requirement for cost-effectiveness, the safety and security mandate needed to be carried out in an integrated manner—i.e., all inspectors carrying out functions related to these two areas.
Multiple lines of evidence suggest that while internal and external funding and staffing levels have effectively assured program delivery, achieved ESSB’s objectives and expected outcomes, and delivered on its mandate, resources are limited and the current levels of performance and achievement may pose challenges in the future. In particular, CERL’s explosives security-related activities are essentially supported by cost-recovery revenues and, to a lesser extent by B-based funding. This reliance on revenue generation as a source of funds presents a risk that needs to be appropriately managed, as indicated by interview and document review data (at ERD, cost-recovery revenues are obtained primarily through the licensing programs.) The literature and document review, as well as interview information, indicate that ensuring the sustainability of human and financial resources is a major focus for the Branch and senior management, and is under review through the Strategic Alignment exercise as well as through succession/HR planning, knowledge management, and negotiations with partners and stakeholders.110
The implementation of the PSAct required the development of new regulations, which in turn required the performance of more administrative responsibilities and duties (e.g., listing and inspection of restricted components sites). The adoption of a new fee schedule amendment in June 2009, as well as the funds received from the PSAT Initiative, should help to cover some of the costs of the new responsibilities and duties, but post-authorization testing and security work capacity may continue to be limited.111
The events of September 11, 2001 and the regulatory aftermath (e.g., the Public Security Act) expanded the scope of ESSB’s activities in terms of safety and security related to NRCan and other government departments (whose scope of activities was also expanded). It is not clear that this expansion was matched with commensurate resourcing (e.g., taking into account ESSB’s OGD support). Thus there appears to be a gap between ESSB’s mandate/activities and resource levels, which to a limited extent is being addressed through cost-recovery.
The extent of the cost-recovery funding was described by interviewees as having a strong impact on the Branch’s capacity to sustain current program delivery and address key government priorities (e.g., ensuring strong inspection capacity, establishing capacity for post-authorization testing, sustainability of security S&T work such as blast vulnerability, and ensuring adequate inspection capacity for precursors and secure storage. The latter was expressed as an area of potential challenge in the context of major events.
Another perspective on this issue is found in the discussion document prepared for the required public consultation on ERD’s user fees.112 It presents the following data regarding core programs (those marked N/A in the % Recovery column), work carried out for other parties, and the level of cost-recovery as of 2007. It indicates that the degree of cost-recovery is based on consideration of the role of government (ERD) and which services are of benefit to industry.
|Activity||Revenues ($)||% Recovery|
|Fireworks and pyrotechnical certification||0||0|
|Developing standards and regulations||0||N/A|
|Other work related activities||4,100||N/A|
|Management and administration||2,090||N/A|
Source: Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada, Proposed revision to User Fees, February 15, 2008, page 6.
The degree of cost-recovery, as depicted in the table above, was described as ranging from 0% for work related to the authorization lists, fireworks and pyrotechnical certification, and manufacturing certificates to 30% for factory licensing. On a total dollar basis, the majority of revenue was described as having been derived from factory licensing and magazine licensing. These two activities were described as requiring the most HR in the ERD.113
Cost recovery for import permits was 7%, which resulted in a situation where, from a user fee perspective, it was cheaper to manufacture an explosive outside of Canada and import it, than to manufacture in Canada. The fee schedule was intended to partially address this imbalance.114
At that time, the Branch was recovering 13% of its costs ($4.692M) through user fees, which did not reflect an appropriate division of costs between the public and private sector, as the federal activities were public safety and security. 115
The services that ERD provides were described in terms of the following broad groups:116
- Authorization lists: Services provided were estimated to provide a 20% benefit to address public good through safety. The other 80% of the service was described as conferring a competitive advantage on the company seeking the addition of a product to the authorization list. Thus, it was argued that the 80% cost should be subject to cost-recovery. Given that the authorization lists are the foundation for all regulatory activity, it was felt to be appropriate to charge fees related to the work required to authorize additions to the lists.
Minimal work was undertaken by ERD to review articles on the authorization lists at that time; however, it was observed that ERD should be undertaking periodic audit activity to validate the continuing appropriateness of articles on the lists and related costs should be recovered from those who maintain articles on the lists.117
- For the rest of ERD’s activities: It was estimated that there was a 40% benefit to address public safety and security. This meant that 60% of the costs should be subject to cost-recovery. However, for those services that were used mainly by smaller industry groups, the amount of costs subject to cost-recovery was further reduced to 40%, to be sensitive to the challenges facing smaller industry groups.118
The proposed fee schedule also incorporated fees related to some new costs that would be incurred. For example, while explosives manufactured in Canada are part of the ongoing inspection of factory licenses, no such work has been inspected as carried out related to the periodic assessment of explosives being imported. It was seen as being imperative to do so.119
Development of standards and regulations and other work-related activities would continue to be funded fully from appropriations and not from fees.120
ERD staff members interviewed for the evaluation believed that the Division was operating effectively, though at maximum capacity considering its current resources. They provided an average score of 4.2 out of 5 to the ratio of cost-recovery projects to those covered by A-base funding. Some interviewees believed more funding could allow for the implementation of dedicated divisions within ERD (most notably a security division, and a policy development group).
Many of those who work at the regional offices pointed out that they were not responsible for setting the budget, or for administration — that was done largely at headquarters — but that an increase in budget would allow regional staff to be deployed in more areas (e.g., inspections of non-licensed sites that fall under the threshold amounts). Indeed, many of the case studies demonstrated that new or enhanced means of oversight were needed at ERD, most notably in inspections.
More than half of CERL’s total budget consists of funding other than A-base. While cost-recovery revenues are essential to the maintenance and improvement of services, facilities and the support of conference travel and training budgets, they also increase funding variability, create a strong dependence on a limited number of clients (in CERL’s case, OGDs), and can divert efforts from S&T in support of regulation towards work that is externally funded. This funding model poses a particular risk given the recent discontinuation of the EIPD, which has resulted in losses of $500K per year for CERL,121 although this loss has been offset somewhat by engagement in CRTI-funded projects, leveraging of EIPD expertise to other projects, and a collaborative agreement with an explosives company.122
Recognizing this, sector and Branch management noted that to effectively manage in this environment, measures needed to be in place to increase predictability of funding (i.e., through longer-term strategic partnerships, for example, with DRDC), manage knowledge and HR requirements.123 A number of exercises are underway to help ensure this, notably Strategic Alignment, renewing cost-recovery charge-out rates, and HR measures such as critical skills identification and succession planning to ensure long-term sustainability of the resources.124
Internal interviewees from CERL were nearly unanimous in their agreement that the current ratio of cost-recovery to A-base funding was too high. In response to interview questions, these interviewees rated the suitability/adequacy of CERL’s budget at an average score of less than two out of five (a rating of five being the highest satisfaction rating possible). About half of the interviewees believed that the lack of increase in A-base funding was the primary cause of their limited capacity in some areas. While most interviewees indicated that cost-recovery was both appropriate and necessary on some projects, many felt that it was ineffective in the long-term for the development of expertise and conducting basic research. The document review also supports this.125
Two internal senior interviewees, however, expressed the view that the cost-recovery ratio was appropriate and consistent with related government policies. Mainly due to revenues stemming from external sources, they observed, CERL has improved many of its facilities and equipment in order to enhance effectiveness and capabilities and meet operating requirements. This included upgrading of the altitude testing facility, a new detonator testing facility, an advanced modeling capability for explosives effects, and many new pieces of equipment related to analytical chemistry work.126
Case study interviewees generally rated CERL’s infrastructure and equipment very highly, noting that the equipment and expertise offered by CERL were unmatched in Canada.
However, the case studies also provided evidence that resources had an impact on some projects—at times, CERL did not have the money to buy particular equipment or its infrastructure was otherwise lacking—and the inability to access (or delays in accessing) a large-scale test site hindered some projects.
The document and file review revealed that ESSB continued to require access to an appropriate large-scale testing facility (such as those at DND sites, including CFB Petawawa and CFB Suffield), especially in view of its changing and expanding program requirements. Some external interviewees felt that CERL should have its own dedicated large-scale test site. Some internal interviewees also felt that CERL had some inefficient procedures and relied heavily on cost-recovery funds for the purchase of equipment. ESSB is currently addressing these issues through the establishment of a strategic partnership with DRDC.127
ESSB resource capacity issue also encompasses HR. As is the case across government, its competency and effectiveness are challenged by the retirement of experienced people and difficulties recruiting new highly-experienced personnel due to the shrinking size of the Canadian (explosives) private sector. As noted, in recent years, ERD and CERL staff was faced with additional pre- and post-authorization activities and responsibilities.
Documents and files provided by ESSB revealed that more resources were needed to cope with the growing number of applications for fireworks authorization and testing, new requirements for the review of environmental assessments for some licensees, new security requirements, and new sector regulations and policies, among other responsibilities. The Branch would also need to collect higher quality data related to the environmental impact of explosives and firework as well as improve its expertise in assessing emerging explosives technologies.128 Senior management notes that the renewal of explosives user fees and measures underway to review CERL charge-out rates are aimed at addressing resources related to pre- and post-authorization activities and responsibilities. These latter priorities are also identified as measures under ESSB Strategic Alignment.
Currently, A-base funding covers less than 65% of salaries and benefits at CERL, indicating a relatively high reliance on cost-recovery for maintaining staff capacity.129 About half of CERL internal interviewees identified insufficient HR capacity and expertise in its group due to the noted reliance on “soft” (externally-supplied, non-A base) money, increased retirements, and difficulties in recruiting, as well as limitations of physical space at the laboratory. Those who believed that the level of staff and expertise was adequate generally qualified this rating by saying that it was sufficient at present, but that the dependence on maintaining sufficient staffing levels through cost-recovery projects money was an approach that needed to be re-examined.
ERD interviewees, in response to interview questions, rated the overall sufficiency/adequateness of budget allocations at an average score of two out of five (where a response of five would indicate the highest degree of satisfaction). This rating was described by the interviewees as being primarily due to increased responsibilities and requirements on staff, and their increased workload. Although the current quality of its staff members was rated fairly highly, with ERD interviewees providing an average score of nearly 3.5 out of 5, nearly all ERD interviewees acknowledged a staffing shortage and resulting gap in division capacity. One regional ERD employee noted the difficulty of executing certain projects because of a shortage of preparation and development time. Planning documents indicated that between 2006 and 2012, ERD will lose 12 of its 25 inspectors to retirement, most of these being the most senior and experienced personnel130 and that for the first time, ERD will have on staff a significant proportion of inspectors who will not have worked in the industry.131
The need to ensure appropriate knowledge management and succession planning is recognized by ESSB management and as noted previously, creative approaches to deal with the situation, or to ameliorate its impacts are being considered.132 ESSB strategic alignment work underway is focusing on: the efficient and effective organization of strategic/program policy and administrative services; addressing knowledge management issues by reviewing and developing plans to address critical IM/IT gaps; implementing HR renewal initiatives aimed at supporting career management and learning (including the implementation of the SG-SRE development program in August 2009 to support structured development of new inspectorate recruits).133
Interviewees, both internal and external to ESSB associated with the case studies, rated the staff expertise at ESSB (when seen as a relevant aspect to the project being conducted) as satisfactory to very satisfactory. At least one interviewee for each component made note of the superiority of ESSB staff and felt that the competence of the individuals involved was a key part of the success of the process. The loss of expertise, however, was also observed, with some external stakeholders noting that the Branch would not be able to operate to its maximum potential if further funding reductions were made. Some internal interviewees observed a lack of knowledge among ERD staff in particular key areas.
Some interviewees indicated that the availability of staff was also sometimes limited. At CERL, certain staff members (often technicians) belonged to two or more different groups and worked on multiple (often cost-recovery) projects at one time thus limiting their availability and resulting in clients and partners having to structure the work around these individuals’ availability. Likewise, at ERD, employees would often be required to split their time between everyday tasks and special projects, further limiting resources for inspection and enforcement (e.g., follow-up inspections did not take place immediately after corrective action was requested by ERD). These cases indicated that HR factors tended to affect the completion of projects more than almost any other.
International stakeholders consulted confirmed the importance of ensuring that staff had the relevant knowledge base and competencies in the field of explosives (both in industry and regulation) to build capacity and enhance credibility.
The Branch has taken several measures that not only support the effective delivery of programs and activities but assure greater cohesion and adherence and strengthen the relationship between ERD and CERL. A listing of some of the more notable planning and project management mechanisms, as found in the documents and files provided by ESSB, follows:
- ESSB produces quarterly reports, consistent with MMS renewal, that inform sector management of the status of Branch milestones and deliverables against Branch priorities.134
- Both ERD and CERL have produced yearly business plans throughout the evaluation period that establish objectives and outputs for each expected outcome. The identification of trends and risks (risk management) is a process that has been embedded in the production of these business plans.
- CERL produces year-end reports.
- Priorities are established at the managerial or operational levels through:
- ESSB Management Committee, a Branch-level committee dedicated to supporting integrated governance across ERD and CERL, which meets at least once per year to discuss strategic directions and priorities in the areas of policy, science and programs.135
- A dozen committees maintained by ERD, including the ERD Management Committee (responsible for approving and authorizing the policies that will ensure efficient operation of the Division, uniform application of the EA&R across Canada and equitable treatment of all stakeholders) and several technical committees that develop programs, policies and procedures in specific areas.136
- CERL’s Management Committee, the purpose of which is largely to share information on laboratory activities and to discuss laboratory-wide administrative issues, such as travel and training plans or capital purchases. CERL staff also serve on several ERD committees.137
- CERL and ERD senior staff, who meet on at least an annual basis to review the research and development work done on behalf of ERD policy during the course of the previous year, discuss policy issues, and establish a plan for the coming year.138
- In the last five years, due to the loss of key staff, ESSB has placed more importance on succession planning and training of HR:ESSB to the evaluation team." id="r139">139
- The Branch has developed and implemented detailed training plans and protocols.140 , 141
- Health and safety have taken centre stage, with both CERL and ERD having workplace health and safety committees that meet regularly.142 CERL, in particular, has implemented training protocols, including a health and safety plan, and carried out an ergonomic review of its explosives handling operations and implemented several improvements.143
- CERL collects client feedback on completed projects. From 2005 to 2008, forms were sent to collect feedback on approximately 360 projects, of which 140 were completed and returned to CERL resulting in a response rate of around 40%. The feedback is subsequently used to act on performance issues noted by clients.
- CERL developed standard operating procedures for most routine tests and, since 1994, has maintained an ISO accreditation that enforces good practices.
- Since 2004, ERD has developed about a dozen guidelines and technical standards for internal use.144
- More recently, in 2009, ESSB held a strategic planning workshop and retreat in the context of an undertaking aimed at developing a Branch business plan. The main documents that have emerged from this undertaking offer a comprehensive inventory of internal and external factors that can influence the effectiveness and efficiency of ESSB.145
- ESSB’s financial resource planning includes financial management reports (produced monthly), annual travel and training plans, and an annual capital budget (CERL).
Both CERL and ERD internal interviewees rated the laboratory’s planning practices highly. CERL staff gave the laboratory’s efforts at planning an average score of four out of five, believing the amount of planning undertaken to be suitable given the size of the organization. Risk management practices also received a high average rating (although only half of the participants provided a numerical ranking) primarily due to the frequency of meetings held with industry or with Branch and laboratory management.
CERL also rated well in the area of processes and tools for activities management (average score of four out of five) though a number of interviewees acknowledged the need for better project and time management tools/expertise (PMIS is not used for planning in CERL, except as an accounting tool and for project time tracking). Communication among staff members within and between CERL and ERD was rated highly.
ERD staff also gave generally favourable reviews of the organization’s planning practices (almost four out of five), though differences between ERD’s headquarters and regional offices should be noted. The administration of regional budgets remains mostly a headquarters function, so the majority of the budget development and planning for all of ERD continues to be done in the National Capital Region (NCR) (although in the last three years, financial planning has increasingly been transferred to the regional offices).
Planning at the regional level is locally-focused, much of it revolving around where and when inspections will take place. In general, the adequacy of processes and tools for management used at ERD was rated modestly (three out of five) by respondents, with the current databases and the lack of IT support for online tools development or for information sharing tools identified as potential areas of improvement. Communication at ERD was rated highly (more than four out of five), especially within regions, but some interviewees noted that the level of communication between the regions and headquarters could be increased.
Documents and files received from ESSB indicated that particular activities had also been discontinued at ERD: the Division had not prepared an annual report since 2003, and the Annual General Meetings had not been held since 2006. Furthermore, a risk assessment of the ERD program was said to have been conducted in the context of the development of the ERD Results-based Management Accountability Framework (RMAF).146 However, its results were not provided.
Case studies demonstrated that project management and planning were generally adequate, the most highly-rated aspects of project management including planning, organization of projects, and management of confidentiality. Interviewees that had been engaged in CERL projects were pleased with the effectiveness of the projects and believed that they were adequately managed given the outcomes achieved and the fact that the clients could not get the same work done elsewhere at the same price. Additionally, project follow-up was rated highly for most projects, when relevant.
Many internal interviewees involved in the case studies mentioned heavy reliance on informal processes, once again noting the ineffectiveness of the databases and other IT tools used for tracking and monitoring projects. ERD staff relied primarily on informal systems and processes—meeting minutes, telephone calls, and emails— to track the progress of applications for authorization or to stay aware of licenses up for renewal or inspection follow-ups.
The cases studies also brought to view the gap in formal tracking of staff time and expenditures (other than travel expenses) against ERD activities. Similarly, formal budgeting processes for ERD activities that involved the development of new or revised regulations and policies were not observed. In addition, timelines or deadlines were generally not established at the beginning of these projects.
Limited evidence exists in the documents and files regarding performance monitoring and management, or in the collection of data to be used in support of decision-making. CERL’s year-end reports provided details of progress against the corresponding business plans. Additionally, in 2006-2007 and 2007-2008,147 CERL produced a report that provided data on several indicators for the NRCan S&T reports, and most of the indicators were also featured in the year-end report. For ERD, an RMAF was developed in 2005-06 to assist the organization in measuring and reporting on the performance of the administration of the EA&R and the PSAT Initiative,148 but no evidence was provided to attest to its implementation.
ESSB managers and CERL staff are largely satisfied with the efficiency and user-friendliness of the mechanisms used for the evaluation and monitoring of performance. According to CERL interviewees, performance assessment is conducted in four ways: ISO accreditation reports and renewals; PMIS as a financial accounting system; client feedback and repeat customers; and annual employee evaluations.
ERD staff was generally less satisfied, stating that regional differences existed in measuring and monitoring systems, but that overall the ability to carry out performance measurement at ERD was highly limited. For example, the existing database allowed for the extraction of basic inspection statistics, but other data was not collected for performance.
Many of the international stakeholders interviewed described why it was important to collect appropriate data on achievements and assess contributions to broader security outcomes. Their countries had been effective in addressing the management of explosives safety risks, as evidenced by, for example, the decrease in or the absence of large-scale accidents within the industry over the past decade. This type of data could not only be used to demonstrate outcomes but to enable international benchmarking.
Interviews with ERD and CERL employees indicated that improved IT tools and support—in particular, integrated and effective databases for management and monitoring of ERD and CERL operations (e.g., licensing and inspections, authorization, testing)—were needed to deliver and manage program activities more effectively and efficiently. Again, although PMIS was implemented at CERL in 2007-08, it was not used to support ongoing project management, and no formal system existed at ERD for tracking staff time against activities (e.g., licensing, inspection, and writing guidelines).
Multiple lines of evidence attest to the fact that ESSB has taken appropriate actions to develop and maintain external interactions. This has been accomplished primarily through consistent communication and consultation with stakeholders and clients.
The files and documents provide some evidence of these efforts to maintain and improve communication with stakeholders and clients over the past five years. For instance, ESSB maintains a website that allows stakeholders and clients to obtain forms and information, but that also serves for the transmission of the latest regulatory actions. The thorough consultation of stakeholders before the tabling of the proposed revisions to the user fees is another example of how ERD engages its stakeholders on all policies, guidelines, standards and legislation,149, 150 as well as with the Guidelines for Jet-Perforating Gun Assembly Facilities,151 and plain language regulations152 , to ensure that the underlying policy is correct. ERD produced reports to stakeholders during the evaluation period, though the last was in 2004.153 For its part, CERL also focuses on the potential impact of its activities to local communities, tracks any issues that may arise, and conducts the client satisfaction survey.154
In summary, despite placing greater emphasis on performance monitoring and management in recent years, strategies for carrying these out remain items for significant focus. There is a need for the development and collection of relevant indicators on strategic outcomes for management purposes and to report on achievements and contributions, including financial tracking and performance measurement tools.
ESSB staff members alsoappear to be very satisfied with the quality of external relationships, with both CERL and ERD interviewees rating stakeholder interaction as highly favourable (an average score of four out of five). Some CERL interviewees noted the laboratory’s attitude of openness; one staff member stated that employees were encouraged to discuss business development with peers and potential customers.
Interviewees also cited CERL’s regular attendance at conferences. For ERD, stakeholder interaction was rated more highly at the headquarters than the regional level, with one interviewee explaining that links with stakeholder associations are strong at the headquarters level, although a good deal of exchange takes place informally.
The case studies also offered some evidence of industry engagement. On some projects, stakeholders were given the opportunity to participate in and influence regulations and standards. Among the internal and external interviewees associated with these projects, a number were surprised by the high level of cooperation exhibited between ESSB and stakeholder organizations. Stakeholders were consulted on regulatory matters in order to get realistic solutions and to determine what the ramifications of new regulations would be, among other benefits.
External interviewees stressed that the opportunity was highly unique and valuable. Additional evidence of the strong relationship between ESSB and its clients and stakeholders was represented by the fact that in some cases, companies would notify the ERD about new projects far in advance of an actual license application. In general, communication between ESSB and the clients involved in the case studies was rated highly. However, some clients noted that once product samples were submitted for testing, no contact was made with the client unless initiated by the client themselves.
Although ESSB and its achievements are highly praised within the relevant industries, its mandate, roles and responsibilities, and services are less recognized at the federal government level. The document and file review confirmed that the Branch was renowned internationally but needed to build “a stronger profile in the safety and security community in Canada,” especially at the senior levels of the federal government.155 Aside from gaining a higher profile, ESSB would also benefit by becoming better integrated in the safety and security communities and being more aware of the latest developments in the areas of safety and/or security.
Interviewees both internal and external to ESSB have anecdotally observed its need for increased visibility within the government. A Canadian stakeholder suggested that only continued interaction between ESSB representatives and the various relevant communities would guarantee the Branch’s ongoing effectiveness and user engagement/buy-in to new policies and standards.
These findings lend strength to current Branch efforts to strengthen strategic partnerships, (e.g., with DRDC) through the Strategic Alignment and related exercises.
With respect to program delivery/effectiveness, stakeholders are most satisfied with ESSB’s staff expertise, the quality of work, and the participatory engagement processes. Overall, Canadian stakeholders believed ESSB services and activities/processes to be very effective in assuring a fair and effective regulatory regime. Its level of engagement with the industry was viewed as the primary reason for the Branch’s success in the development of effective regulations. Canadian stakeholders also rated ESSB’s contribution to S&T and its contribution to decision-making highly (though no specific examples or further clarification were provided). Similarly, interviewees associated with the case studies were largely satisfied with the performance of ESSB, both with respect to its authorization, licensing and inspection activities and the execution and outcomes of special projects.
The results from CERL’s satisfaction surveys were the only source of data among the files and documents received from ESSB that provided indications of the client’s perspective on satisfaction.156 While the feedback was very positive overall, one of the weakest points appeared to be related to the delivery time of projects and, in particular, the turnaround time for CERL’s certification testing of explosives products.
Some Canadian stakeholders and case study interviewees verified this finding by indicating that the timelines for product testing were not the ones that they preferred. The issue was not related to unmet delivery dates but rather, the timelines set by CERL in its contractual agreements which had unwanted potential impacts on business activities.
Internal CERL interviewees posited that the amount of time needed to test was tied to resource unavailability and high workloads. They also indicated that the laboratory had recently introduced a staggered method to streamline the testing process. Yet, it should be noted that the evaluation demonstrated the absence of quality data on project timeframes in PMIS and the inability of CERL to report on its timeliness in the delivery of projects.
Another factor identified in the context of case studies that influenced the timeliness of projects conducted by CERL was the delay resulting from limited access to large-scale test sites operated by DND.
Most external stakeholders, on the other hand, considered ERD to be timely in its process to review and respond to an application for authorization or licensing.
Best Practices, Lessons Learned and Alternatives
Both the case studies and the files and documents provided by ESSB indicated that the Branch was highly engaged in networking, consulting and partnering with a variety of ESSB stakeholders, which was considered a best practice. In particular, the case studies explicitly demonstrated that formal involvement and consultation of stakeholders in activities (such as the development of regulations or drafting codes of practice), especially when these stakeholders were consulted early in the process, had helped to mitigate concerns, increase buy-in, and decrease resistance of clients and the industry.
Internal documents show that ESSB also partners with national or local organizations with safety or security mandates. Involvement with these organizations—which include Transport Canada, Public Safety Canada (PSC), municipal police forces and fire departments—has helped to reduce overlaps and eliminate gaps, improve efficiency and permit innovative ways to deliver programs and services. Additionally, the Branch has established and maintained close links with intelligence agencies in the U.S. and Canada and with international organizations and agencies, which has allowed it to keep abreast of emerging trends in security and expand its science, technology, and regulatory capacity.157
International stakeholders consulted through an environmental scan of explosives regulatory regimes revealed that agencies in other countries used similar methods of collaboration and networking to enhance the engagement of clients and stakeholders, facilitate the development of good standards and codes, and ensure that all stakeholders are capable of working to acceptable risk. Queensland Mines and Energy in Australia introduced safety alerts and monthly incident reports targeted towards industry, something that, as of yet, had not been done in Canada.
Another best practice reported by international stakeholders involved having systems in place that would help to ensure a sustained knowledge base and maintain “corporate memory” within organizations in view of staff turnover, retirement, and declining experience of recruits. For instance, the Health and Safety Executive in England made improvement and regulation of competence as one of its top priorities. As previously noted, ESSB was also focusing increasingly on staff competency issues.
Many international stakeholders felt that the establishment of CERL as a more centralized, independent research laboratory supporting the development of science-based regulatory policies was a best practice distinctive to Canada.
CERL has also adopted best practices in many of its processes, such as hazards studies, risk analysis, and lab safety setups and ESSB’s adherence to standards such as the American Society for Testing and Materials and ISO.
Question: Is the Program the most economic means (efficiency) of achieving the intended objectives?
Summary: Yes. ESSB remained cost-effective primarily as a result of ERD’s increased efficiency and CERL’s engagement in revenue-generating projects, though evidence suggests that many of these projects result in cost overruns.
Faced with both a lack of increase in the A-base budget and growing demand, ERD has managed to increase its efficiency by increasing its outputs (such as inspections) and taking on new responsibilities (such as security programs) while maintaining the same level of staff and expenditures. CERL has also remained cost-effective by maintaining roughly the same level of output with the same levels of staff and expenditures, mostly by leveraging its cost-recovery opportunities.
Similarly, the adoption of a new user fee schedule for ERD services is likely to increase external revenues of the Division. However, the potential risks stemming from an increased reliance on cost-recovery revenues require careful management and mitigation strategies.
The evaluation has also found that the cost-effectiveness of revenue-generating projects at CERL could be improved. An analysis of PMIS data revealed that cost-recovery projects were often subject to cost overruns absorbed by the laboratory. Among the means identified to increase the economy of these S&T projects were: better mechanisms for estimating project costs, reviewing charge-out rates, and increasing the understanding and capacity of staff in the area of project and time management.
For the most part, the divisions of ESSB manage their resources independently. As a result, both organizations track the use of their resources in different ways and are unable to provide information with the same level of aggregation and detail. Accordingly, the assessment of economy is based on separate cost-effectiveness analyses with different scopes. It should be noted that this evaluation was conducted prior to the introduction of the new user fees. Starting in 2010-11, the budget will be consolidated and allocated to the Branch. ESSB is cost-effective in view of its success in leveraging cost-recovery opportunities (mostly CERL) and maintaining and expanding its levels of service and activity despite current resourcing.
Explosives Regulatory Division
In general, this evaluation found that ERD had increased its efficiency during the evaluation period. As previously demonstrated, ERD maintained or increased its outputs in most aspects that relate to administering the EA&R. In particular, ERD assumed new responsibilities for environmental assessments and security programs and significantly increased the number of inspections. This was achieved with the same level of staff (41) and little growth in expenditures (10.7% over 5-years or 1.25% per year).
However, a growing trend in recent years has led ERD to cover an increasing amount of the expenditures associated with permitting and compliance monitoring. From to 2004-05 to 2008-09, ERD cost-recovery revenues declined significantly, from nearly $1.4M to less than $600,000 (a decrease of about 70%). This brought the cost-recovery percentage of the Division from 33% to only 13% (Table 13). Partly responsible for this decline was the schedule of fees which until recently dated back to 1993. This indicates that ERD was able to do more with less, in the context of a growing demand but declining budget. However, this also suggests that clients pay a lesser proportion of the services provided by ERD. ERD supports this in order to ensure that the clients fulfill their regulatory requirements.
|Resource||ERD||CERL||ERD and CERL|
|Total cost-recovery revenues||1,369||561||1,098||1,495||2,467||2,056|
[a] The staff and expenditures associated with the Director General office created in 2007-08 are not included.
Source: Balance sheet provided by ESSB management and finance.
In an effort to recover a more substantial part of the ERD expenditures without unduly impacting the regulated community, a new schedule of user fees was recently implemented (effective as of June 2009). With this new schedule of fees, the yearly revenues of ERD are expected to rise to $2.2M, of which $517,000 (23.53%) would be used to cover indirect costs and $1.683M for direct costs. 158 Such a rise will significantly increase ESSB’s reliance on cost-recovery by bringing ERD’s level of cost-recovery to about 37%.
A Canadian stakeholder noted that the revision of fees was overdue and that, as a result, ERD lost revenues despite the fact that the increase had been approved by industry for many years. Fees charged by ESSB to the industry for authorization and licensing were generally seen as minimal by the clients interviewed in the context of a case study. Further, one case study interviewee confirmed that the new fees were appropriate, especially when considering the benefits obtained by industry for the work invested. Internal interviewees agreed that clients were receiving good value for their money.
The ability of the evaluation team to assess the efficiency of ERD at the level of its different activities was limited, as staff did not account for their time against activities; however, several internal interviewees from ERD viewed ESSB as cost-effective.
Access to an improved IT infrastructure was identified by several internal interviewees from ERD as a critical factor to improving the efficiency of the organization. These individuals noted that updated and integrated databases, as well as a shift toward web-based tools (including the delivery of training courses) would have a positive impact on the workload and efficiency of ESSB staff.
The improvement of IT infrastructure and the development of web-based applications/tools for the management and delivery of services (internal and external) are key to the improvement of the effectiveness and efficiency of ESSB.
Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory
CERL is a project-driven organization. Its projects can be divided into two categories:
- those required by its mandate to support ERD in policy development and that do not generate revenues; and
- those conducted for external clients on a cost-recovery basis and that may (e.g., testing for authorization), or may not, support ERD’s mandate.
CERL has been an efficient organization so far, as it has delivered approximately the same level of outputs (e.g., number of projects, reports, presentations) between 2004-05 and 2008-09, with generally the same levels of staff and expenditures. Its efficiency is even more notable if one considers that it has had to increase its efforts for raising revenues through cost-recovery during the same period in order to achieve a steady budget.
Revenues rose by more than 36% between 2004-05 and 2008-09 (from $1.1M to $1.5M), whereas total spending rose by approximately 3% (from $3.3M to $3.4M). As a result, cost-recovery of CERL expenditures increased from 33.5% in 2004-05 to almost 45%, a rate maintained during the last four years of the evaluation period.
Although CERL experienced a financial loss of around $500,000 per year when the EIPD program was sunsetted in 2007-08, it was able to quickly engage in new S&T security projects (e.g., blast vulnerability work for OGDs, CRTI funded projects) that compensated for an important part of the shortcoming. This trend is, however, not without risk for CERL, since it creates a strong dependency on a small number of clients with high-value projects or recurrent demands from industry for small projects of low value. 159
During the evaluation period, more than 70% of all revenues from completed projects were obtained from 15 clients, ten from private companies and five from OGDs (results not shown for confidentiality reasons). OGD revenues alone accounted for more than two-thirds of revenues from these 15 CERL clients. Overall, CERL estimates that 53% of cost-recovery funds received in 2005-06 and 2006-07 were obtained from OGDs. In 2007-08, funding from OGDs increased to 73% of the total cost-recovery funds. 160
Within CERL, the capacity of S&T groups to recover their costs was highly variable. Data obtained from CERL that provided a breakdown of budget spending by S&T group, as well as revenues from projects under its direction, showed that revenues for the Explosives Applications group represented nearly 80% of their expenditures in 2008-09.
Conversely, the cost-recovery rates of the Hazardous Locations and Explosives Research group were less than 33%, whereas those of the Certification and Explosives Analysis group covered approximately two-thirds of costs. Although this data suggests that some activities may be less cost-effective than others, the evidence should be interpreted with caution.
Some groups may be called upon to conduct more non-revenue-generating projects (e.g., for internal support) than others or to contribute to projects they do not direct. Further, revenues of some S&T groups may be lower, as they may occasionally perform work on a cost-shared basis. This was exemplified by the case studies of external S&T support to stakeholders in the area of safety where cost-recovery was set at either 50% or 67%, in all three projects.
This analysis also raises noteworthy issues:
- The generally applied 67:33 cost-sharing ratio between CERL and OGDs (e.g., work carried out in cooperation with CRTI or under the auspices of bilateral agreements with foreign countries) for security projects is legitimate because these projects support a government priority.
- However, cost-sharing with industry is debatable. The 50:50 cost-sharing ratio normally applied to these projects not only implies that ESSB assumes a larger share of project costs than for work carried out with OGDs (above-mentioned 67:33 ratio), but the decision to undertake the cost-shared projects with industry is unclear—it appears to be based as much on the willingness of clients to let CERL disseminate the results as it is on making a significant impact on the safety and security of Canadians. The evaluation could not find evidence, positive or negative, regarding the economy of this approach.
- The Explosives Applications group, which performs mostly security work, achieves a high cost-recovery rate. However, such a high rate is required for this group, as funds received from the PSAT Initiative ($280K) to examine security issues only represent 10% of CERL total expenditures ($3.4M) in 2008-09. The reliance on limited B-base funding (PSAT) and the ensuing requirement for increased cost-recovery levels could impact the sustainability of S&T work in the area of explosives security.
Explosives Safety and Security Branch
The overall efficiency of ESSB in maintaining its level of service while limiting its expenditures is further exemplified by a comparison with other resource allocation data.
From 2004-05 to 2008-09, the combined expenditures of CERL and ERD increased from $7.4M to $7.9M for an identical number of FTEs (Table 13). This represents a growth in expenditure of 7.4%, or approximately 1.8% per year. This is below inflation—estimated at approximately 2.1% over the same period — and also well below the average annual increase in spending (14.2% or 3.4% per year) and staff (9.3% or 2.3% per year) in the federal government from 2004 to 2009. 161 The growth in spending at NRCan between 2005-06 and 2008-09 was similar to that of the federal government (15% between 2005-06 and 2008-09 or 4.7% per year).
Although project-level financial information is mainly collected for revenue-generating projects, the data indicate that these projects are not always cost-effective because they often lead to cost-overruns that are absorbed by the laboratory. Since the last quarter of fiscal year 2007-08, CERL has been using the PMIS system that allows the actual costs of projects (time cost and government financial system costs) to be tracked. Although this system has been used exclusively for the tracking of revenue-generating projects, it can provide some indication of CERL’s cost-effectiveness, at both the corporate and activity levels.
Using summaries provided by CERL that consolidate PMIS data on actual costs and revenues, with data on the status and expected cost for all revenue-generating projects, the evaluation team conducted an analysis of all projects tracked with PMIS and marked as completed. Only the latter projects were considered as they alone had complete cost and revenue data.
The number of completed projects was relatively similar for both years, 54 in 2007-08, and 69 in 2008-09, even though the system was only active for two quarters in 2007-08. This was likely due to the fact that many projects initiated in 2008-09 were still ongoing when the data was provided. For the purpose of the analysis, the Certification and Explosives Analysis groups were also combined because of their close ties and the fact that only a few projects were associated with the latter.
This analysis showed that actual expenditures linked to cost-recovery projects were generally much higher than the revenue they generated. In general, cost overruns reached almost 80% in 2007-08, which meant that project costs were almost double the expected amounts (Table 14). The average project cost was higher than revenue in all S&T groups. The cost overruns were mostly attributable to the Certification and Explosives Analysis groups and the Explosives Research group, with average costs in excess of revenues of 91% and 135%, respectively. In the second year (2008-09), cost overruns of completed projects fell to about 20%. All groups, with the exception of Hazardous Locations (the latter is no longer located within ESSB), improved their performance significantly.
Cost overruns were mostly attributable to the issuance of proposals that did not reflect actual costs. The average cost overrun by project was approximately $4,600 in 2007-08 (Table 14). However, a separate analysis (not shown) found that only a $672 difference was attributable to lower revenues than expected, indicating that costs of projects were underestimated, on average, by $4,000 in 2007-08. In 2008-09, costs were underestimated by an average of $2,800 (ranging from $2,929 to $101 per project). Such evidence suggested that PMIS had been used efficiently by CERL to improve its control of internal costs. However, much of the improvement might also have come from better use of the system by staff members to report their time against the different projects.
|# [a]||PMIS cost||Revenues (Invoiced)||Cost excess (-) / revenue surplus (+)|
[a] Number of completed projects only; [b] Total cost excess or revenue surplus expressed as % of revenues (invoiced).
Source: Compiled from data provided by CERL on cost and revenue data on revenue-generating projects.
It is not expected that CERL will recover 100% of its costs on all of its projects, as some are performed on a cost-shared basis. The costs of some services, such as the testing of explosives to support regulation, are expected to be fully recovered. Despite this, CERL covers approximately 40% of the expenditures related to client projects conducted by the Certification and Explosives analysis groups. Similarly, a high percentage of overspending is associated with projects of the (now defunct) Hazardous Locations group, although they should also be delivered on the basis of 100% cost-recovery.
Evidence from the four case study projects that had PMIS data was consistent with the previous analysis. Of the four projects, only one, a research project, did not result in a significant cost overrun (less than 10%). In the other three projects (two for authorization testing and one for certification of equipment for use in hazardous locations), the fees paid by the client covered one-third to one-half of the actual cost. In all cases, revenues obtained were in line with expected revenues. Yet, all interviewees, including staff from CERL, were pleased with the cost-effectiveness of the projects.
A recently completed review of cost-recovery within MMS concluded that some cost-recovery was desirable. It allowed for the hiring of extra staff and the development of expertise that would otherwise not be available if A-base was the only source of funding. Further, it helped to keep the organization relevant and allowed for partnerships with the private sector. 162 However, this evaluation, as well as some internal interviewees, identified two areas of concern that impact the cost-effectiveness of revenue-generating projects:
- There is a need to review the charge-out rates, including fee schedules for classification and certification (hazardous locations) testing, which were set in 2002.
- There is a need to increase the understanding and capacity of staff in the area of project and time management.
The evaluation team also noted two areas of improvement that should be addressed in order to make PMIS more effective for the purpose of cost-effectiveness analysis:
- Data on the expected costs of project (proposal costing) should be collected in PMIS. Proposals data used in this analysis were from an informal file maintained by CERL’s financial officer.
- Some indication of the expected level of cost-recovery should be found in PMIS. If the cost-recovery percentage is not gathered, the expected total cost of projects, including the financial contributions of both clients and CERL, should be included.
Question: How does ESSB’s efficiency and economy compare to that of similar programs or alternative program design and delivery models?
Summary: Very well. In comparison to similar programs, ESSB is highly regarded for its sophisticated S&T infrastructure and expertise, and it performs well with respect to its use of resources and achievement of safety and security objectives.
ESSB’s efficiency and economy compare favourably to organizations and jurisdictions with similar explosives control regimes, in particular Queensland, Australia’s Explosives Directorate (Department of Mines and Energy, DME) and the U.K.’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The Canadian system — represented by ESSB — is considered unique in the world, primarily due to the close linkage between science and policy.
CERL is especially distinctive in terms of the scope of expertise and infrastructure. External interviewees regarded CERL as a world leader in explosives S&T.
For its part, ERD is operating with a roughly similar level of resources in terms of funding and full-time equivalents as the HSE and the DME, but it is allocated a lower portion of the greater department and sector budgets than the comparables.
However, ERD’s levels of licensing, authorization/classification, and inspection activities are generally higher than those of similar organizations. Additionally, in terms of meeting its safety and security objectives, external (international) interviewees reported that Canada performed well, particularly with respect to explosives-related accidents and incidents.
An environmental scan and consultation with ESSB representatives identified two jurisdictions with explosives control regimes that were among the most similar to that of Canada—namely, the U.K. and the state of Queensland in Australia. It should be noted that this analysis was based on the available data and made comparisons only where it was prudent, given the considerable complexities of comparing three regulatory systems that, despite some acknowledged similarities, diverge in many important aspects. This comparative analysis was based on a variety of sources, including scientific publications, government-issued reports, organizational newsletters, and interviews and correspondence with key informants from similar organizations to that of ERD and CERL.
Canada, similar to the U.K. and Australia, has a relatively small domestic explosives industry. Based on 2007 Industry Canada data, Canada’s 32 explosives manufacturing companies, almost all of which are small establishments, employ 681 workers. In Australia, based on 2002-03 published data (the latest available), 18 enterprises employ 958 people.163 The smaller number of enterprises and larger number of personnel relative to Canada are due to the fact that Australia is now the home base for many of the leading commercial explosives manufacturers in the world, such as Orica and Dyno-Nobel. Similar industry data were not located for the U.K.
Similar to the U.K. and Australia, Canada is a relatively large consumer of explosives, and a vast proportion of the explosives consumed are imported.164
Stakeholders’ safety and security needs are broadly comparable across these jurisdictions, and explosives are regulated in a similar manner (i.e., all three control the import, manufacture, storage and sale of explosives through a system of licenses, permits, certificates, etc.).
Canadian and international stakeholders identified the Canadian system as distinctive for its effective integration of the regulatory and S&T component of explosives safety and security. ESSB was described by external stakeholders as contributing to commercial explosives internationally by providing leadership and guidance toward science-based regulations. Science-based explosives regulation depends on the performance of high quality R&D. CERL, Canada’s S&T research-performing body, is the only such government laboratory in Canada and one of the few in the world to work closely with a regulatory agency in support of policy development.
External interviewees regarded CERL as a leader in explosives laboratories. CERL’s S&T infrastructure and expertise are more developed than those of other countries and represent a great value for the achievement of Canadian safety and security objectives.
Efficiency and Economy
This section reports the available data to support a comparison of safety and security outcomes and measures of efficiency and economy (cost-effectiveness). In terms of performance, the uniqueness of ESSB’s structure makes it challenging to compare the efficiency and economy of ERD and CERL with similar organizations in other countries. Consequently, the analysis presented in this section mainly focuses on the comparison of ERD with HSE (U.K.) and DME (Queensland, Australia).
ERD is operating with a roughly similar level of resources (funding and FTEs) as the HSE and the DME (Table 15). The most notable difference is the weight or proportion of ERD resources (funding and FTEs) within the MMS divisions and NRCan’s departmental budgets and workforce. At the Division level, ERD represents 6.4% of MMS budget and 6.8% of MMS FTEs, which is about twice that of the DME in Queensland Australia. This lower relative share is also exemplified at the department level: 0.21% of NRCan’s budget, compared to HSE (0.72%) and DME (0.52%).
|ESSB (ERD)||HSE - Explosives Inspectorate [d]||DME - Explosives Inspectorate[d]|
|Total number of employees (FTEs) [a]||44||30.6||40.4|
|Total budget||CAD $4.86M||£1.5M (or CAD $2.87M)||AUD $5.1 M (or CAD $4.49M)|
|Overall Division budget [b]||CAD $75.70M (MMS)||£209.6M (or CAD $401M)
|AUD $45.4M (or CAD$40M)
|Overall number of FTEs within the Division||645
(DME SHD) [c]
|Overall department budget||CAD $2,343M [c]||£209,6M (or CAD $401M)||AUD $974M (or CAD $857M)|
|Overall number of FTEs within the department||4,470||3,591||5,500|
|% Division budget [e]||6.42%||Not applicable||12.14%|
|% Division FTEs||6.82%||Not applicable||15.25%|
|% Department budget [e]||0.21%||0.72%||0.52%|
|% Departmental FTEs||0.98%||0.85%||0.74%|
Note: [a] ERD and ESSB FTEs: CERL not included; [b] 2007-2008; [c] spending 2008-09; [d] British pounds (£) and Australian dollars (AUD $) were converted into Canadian dollars using average conversion rates for fiscal year 2008-09 (£ to CAD: 1.9147; AUD to CAD: 0.8802); this conversion does not take into account the different purchasing power of currencies.
Source: Compiled by Science-Metrix from public data and information provided by the organizations.
ERD is cost-effective and performs well based on its level of resources when compared to similar organizations in terms of outputs (inspection and licensing of manufacturing and storage facilities) and outcomes (explosives-related accidents and incidents).
ERD’s levels of licensing, authorization/classification, and inspection activities are generally higher than those of similar organizations (Table 16). In addition, ERD is doing more than the comparable organizations in licensing storage facilities, especially when each agency’s total FTEs and total expenditures are considered.
|ESSB (ERD)||HSE - Explosives Inspectorate[a]||DME - Explosives Inspectorate[a]|
|Total number of employees (FTEs)||44||30.6||40.4|
|Total expenditures||CAD $4.53M||£1.5M (or CAD $2.87M)||AUD $5.1M (or CAD $4.49M)|
|Number of inspections||1,048||Not available||900|
|Number of factories licensed to manufacture commercial explosives (stationary)||189||132||32|
|Number of licensed storage facilities for commercial explosives||2,186||457||214|
|Nb inspections/Nb of inspectors||48||Not available||45|
|Total expenditures/Nb inspections||4,325||Not available||5,667|
|Nb factories licensed/total FTEs||4||4||1|
|Nb factories licensed/total expenditures ($M) [b]||42||46||7|
|Nb of licensed storage facilities/total FTEs||50||15||5|
|Nb of licensed storage facilities/total expenditures ($M) [b]||483||159||48|
Note: [a] British pounds (£) and Australian dollars (AUD $) were converted into Canadian dollars using average conversion rates for fiscal year 2008-09 (£ to CAD: 1.9147; AUD to CAD: 0.8802); [b] Ratios were calculated using the values converted in Canadian dollars, this conversion does not take into account the different purchasing power of currencies.
Source: Compiled by Science-Metrix from public data and information provided by the organizations.
Based on available data, the comparative analysis of achievements of safety and security benefits for workers and the general public that have resulted from effective explosives legislation can be performed using rates of accidents and incidents involving explosives.
Although the definition and compilation methods may vary among countries, Canada compares favourably to the other two countries when looking at the relation between the public safety outcomes (Table 17), expressed in terms of fatalities, injuries and incidents, and country statistics (such as population and GPD per capita).
|Country statistics||Canada||United Kingdom||Queensland,
|Fatalities (2002/03-2008/09) [a]||4||6||1|
|Injuries (2002/03-2008/09) [a]||74||176||31|
|Incidents (2002/03-2008/09) [a, b]||580||175||1,298|
|GDP (PPP) per capita in $US [d, e]||$38,400||$35,400||$38,500|
Source/Note: [a] Canada: data obtained form ESSB; U.K.: data provided by the HSE HID Explosives Inspectorate; Queensland: data provided by SHD Explosive Inspectorate; [b] dangerous occurrence only; [c] CIA World Factbook, 2009165 ; [d] From CIA World Factbook, 2009 (GDP: gross domestic product; PPP: purchasing power parity)166 ; [e] The GDP (PPP) per capita of Queensland could not be found for 2009. Accordingly, the value for Australia from the CIA World Factbook, 2009 is presented.167
Question: What are the internal and external factors influencing the efficiency and economy of the Program?
Summary: ESSB’s primary strengths, as identified by internal and external interviewees, are its unique integration of science and policy, the expertise possessed by its personnel, and its close collaboration and exchange with Canadian and international stakeholders. Also, stakeholders believed that the fact that ESSB was a government agency lent it trust and credibility.
On the other hand, both internal and external interviewees alike believed that the continued effectiveness of ERD and CERL, in critical areas, depended on resolving resource pressures in a sustainable way. Internal interviewees also cited IT infrastructure and support as an area needing attention. In addition, the evaluation found ESSB to have inadequate financial tracking and performance measurement systems and a need to strengthen linkages/partnerships with federal government departments in priority areas.
ESSB’s primary strengths, as identified by internal and external interviewees, are its unique integration of science and policy, the expertise possessed by its personnel, and its close collaboration with Canadian and international stakeholders. On the other hand, both internal and external interviewees alike believed that the continued effectiveness of ERD and CERL, in critical areas, depended on resolving resource pressures in a sustainable way. Views of interviewees confirmed a number of factors identified in the literature review and the internal document and file review. Table 18 summarizes the positive and negative factors identified as influencing the efficiency and economy of ESSB.
Internal Strengths and Facilitators
Internal interviewees highlighted the reputation of ESSB staff as experts in commercial explosives research, helping to position Canada at the forefront of the field. In particular, they noted that a major facilitator for ESSB’s success had been the fact that it was a government agency, one that integrated science and policy.
This enhanced the credibility and reputation of Canadian standards and policies within the national and international stakeholder communities. Linked to that was ESSB’s strong relationship with stakeholders in the explosives industry, with interviewees believing that external relationships were strong and ESSB was open and willing to engage in interaction, consultation, collaboration, and information exchange.
Some interviewees projected that demand for ESSB’s services was likely to continue, partially due to growing importation of explosives and explosives components that required permits and needed to be tested. As a means of dealing with the increased demand for product assessment, internal interviewees stated that ERD had diverted some of its resources away from existing, licensed Canadian facilities and towards the sampling of new products.
Challenges to Address
Summary: The major action item identified by internal interviewees concerned financial and human resources.
Internal interviewees reported that due to increased responsibilities and requirements, workloads were making it challenging for ESSB staff to meet requirements. About half of the internal interviewees indicated that there was a lack of staffing capacity and expertise in their group, but many others also noted that there was a lack of qualified personnel to recruit.
Limited capacity at CERL was perceived as being caused by funding constraints, particularly the lack of increase in A-base funds and outdated fee schedules. Internal interviewees perceived that the current ratio of cost-recovery to A-base funding was too high and that there was a heavy dependency on cost-recovery.
These issues are being addressed through the Branch’s Strategic Alignment exercise. The Branch’s staffing plan presents some creative approaches (e.g., public-private sector secondments) to resolving or ameliorating the situation. Time will be required to determine the effectiveness of these approaches. 168
Most agreed that succession planning could offset any current or future gaps in staffing, but high costs made the process unfeasible. Some internal interviewees noted, however, that increased training opportunities were being provided for young or new staff to bolster expertise. This is reinforced by the document review, which found that providing diverse and challenging work experiences was a part of the HR plan for the Branch.169
A better IT infrastructure for ESSB was also found to be a need. The current databases and project and time management tools were cited as areas needing attention by internal interviewees, who also noted a lack of online or information sharing tools. For the most part, PMIS had only been used as an accounting tool to monitor hours, not to engage in project planning or to generate reports. This is also encompassed by ESSB Strategic Alignment undertaking, which includes supporting an integrated approach to business and HR planning in its objectives.170
A number of internal interviewees observed that ESSB lacked visibility and recognition at the senior levels of federal government. Many also cited a need for greater clarity around ESSB’s role and mandate with respect to security. Nearly all interviewees indicated that the biggest change in the field of explosives had been the shift of focus from safety to security, but that ERD’s focus and mandate had not followed suit. Senior management is currently addressing this situation. Ensuring a modernized and sustainable regulatory regime for ERD regulatory/inspection activities (NCR and regions) has been identified as a key area for action in the Strategic Alignment exercise and has been noted as a priority in key documents.171 ,172
External Strengths and Facilitators
For external interviewees, one of the most crucial factors to have an effective and successful program was identified as an integrated approach to regulation. They identified the primary difference between ESSB programs and other jurisdictions as resulting from this emphasis on S&T-derived policies. The strong scientific link between the science body and the regulating body was viewed as unique in the field, and external interviewees noted that ESSB’s evidence-based approach, as well as its high level capabilities and expertise on scientific issues in explosives (both on an advisory and on a contractual basis), had positioned ESSB as a world leader.
Canadian private and public sector representatives felt that no other department could match the wealth of knowledge and expertise represented by the staff at ESSB, and international stakeholders highlighted ESSB’s key role in the global discourse on standards and safety protocols and procedures. Staff members’ participation on international scientific committees was noted as further proof of their reputation.
As with internal stakeholders, external interviewees cited the critical role played by ESSB in unifying the explosives community, building links both within and among government departments that control explosives. External stakeholders made special note of some of the collaboration and networks that had been established by ESSB in order to foster a more integrated use of resources.
ESSB’s consultation with industry partners in developing new policies and best practices were also cited. This process was said to increase both the credibility of ESSB and rates of compliance within the industry. Finally, external interviewees noted that one of the main benefits of CERL was its independence, so that work was conducted without bias, further enhancing ESSB’s credibility among its stakeholders.
External Action Items
Many external interviewees felt that ESSB’s mandate was unclear with respect to security, despite the Branch’s emerging role in security issues. Interviewees posited that this lack of clarity regarding ESSB’s role and the lack of associated resources made it difficult for ESSB to address important issues such as background checks on importers and exporters of explosives.
It should be noted, however, that the ERD had increased its portfolio to address the expansion of its mandate and had begun to actively participate in both intra- and inter-governmental activities in this area. Additionally, ESSB and collaborators had worked to add security components to the Act,which came into effect this year. The Branch also supported investigating partners within the RCMP and other agencies to provide rapid answers to regulatory and scientific questions. Finally, ESSB will develop and launch an outreach strategy under the Branch’s Strategic Alignment Initiative.
This section summarizes the evaluation’s findings and discusses some areas of concerns. Accordingly, the discussion is organized into the two main themes of performance and relevance issues. Based on evidence, the following recommendations have been developed.
Multiple lines of evidence established that ESSB has been successful in fulfilling its mandate and achieving its main objectives throughout the period encompassed by the evaluation. Based on this evidence, the overall effectiveness of both ERD’s regulatory oversight and CERL’s S&T outputs was high. For its part, ERD successfully administered the EA&R and developed and validated regulations and policies using the scientific knowledge, expert advice, and S&T research results offered by CERL. ERD’s commitment to science-based decision-making provided a credible and influential underpinning that helped it to meet its objectives in enhanced safety, security, and industry efficiency.
ERD successfully engaged in educating stakeholders in policy, safety and public security issues relating to explosives. CERL was also highly effective during the period covered by the evaluation, successfully transferring its S&T results (in the form of knowledge or technologies) directly to explosives industry stakeholders, as well as to OGDs and international bodies. These partners and clients used these results to enhance their practices and policies. In general, ESSB excelled at partnerships, collaboration, information exchange, and consultation of all kinds, further bolstering its national and international reputation as a leader. Its contributions are confirmed by the continued high demand for its certification services and its expert advice and technology innovation in the areas of safety and security.
Effectiveness, Efficiency and Economy
Generally speaking, ESSB’s organizational, governance and management structures were found to support program effectiveness (particularly in the area of safety), although the need for some improvements was noted. Internal interviewees also believed that the organizational, governance and management structures were suitable and adequate. While recognizing the need to improve the financial tracking of projects and activities and the tracking of strategic outcomes, these interviewees were also satisfied with the current mechanisms for project management, risk management, and planning, especially given the Branch-wide movement in recent years towards the development of a better performing organization through enhanced monitoring and delivery of programs, activities, and projects. Both internal and external stakeholders praised the expertise of ESSB staff, the quality of the work, and the participatory engagement processes in supporting effective program delivery.
Areas where action is needed with respect to program design and delivery were identified. Resources, both financial (due to the lack of increase in A-base funding and a dependence on cost-recovery activities) and human (due to increasing workload demands retirement of highly-experienced personnel and challenges in recruiting new experienced personnel), are limited to the point that further reductions would have a substantially negative impact on the efficiency of the Branch (assuming that its current legislated mandate and activities are retained). Furthermore, the revised ERD user fees have increased the Branch's dependence on cost-recovery, and point to the need to address program sustainability. As this is occurring in times of economic downturn, it is considered to be a key issue and was flagged as such in ESSB’s strategic planning session. 173
The evaluation also identified a need to review CERL’s charge-out rates which were set in 2002. Fortunately, Branch-wide focus has been placed on addressing these situations and their root causes, notably in the areas of ensuring long-term sustainability of financial resources, developing ways of ensuring that HR are appropriately trained and challenged, adjusting charge-out rates, and (continuing to) raise the profile of the Branch in general. 174
ESSB is cost-effective in view of its success in leveraging cost-recovery opportunities (mostly CERL) and maintaining and expanding its levels of service and activity despite current resourcing levels. However, current financial and human resources at ESSB risk becoming over-extended. In particular, CERL’s explosives security-related activities are essentially supported by cost-recovery revenues and, to a lesser extent, by B-based funding thus impacting its ability to sustain such expertise and respond to the growing demand of OGDs in this area.
Accordingly, ESSB needs to continue its efforts to develop mitigation strategies for the risks involved, and also should continue with its efforts to develop a long-term strategy to ensure the sustainability of its resources (human and financial). ESSB is well-positioned and increasingly asked to respond to the needs of OGDs in areas that are not traditional to NRCan. However, the support to external stakeholders is mainly project-based and funded using a revenue-generating regime. This model has potential negative implications as it is uncertain how resources in the area of security are allocated towards the support of external needs and priorities. As ESSB’s explosives security S&T expertise is fairly unique, ESSB should continue working on identifying opportunities for horizontal funding sources or other sources of internal government funding internal in order to adequately:
- fulfill its security mandate by developing and sustaining its capacity in this area; and
- address the priority issues and demands across government departments.
In terms of monitoring, the overall performance of ESSB and its two divisions, the evaluation found that financial tracking and performance measurement strategies and tools at ESSB would benefit from strengthened capabilities and better integration (such that, for example, relevant performance indicators and reports on achievements and contributions would be tracked/made possible). In particular, this evaluation identified the need for the improvement of financial tracking of projects and ongoing activities, performed individually or collaboratively between ERD and CERL. More accurate estimation of time and expenditures allocated to main activities will help ESSB to better allocate HR, and, importantly, to report with better precision on its relative level of effort to security activities and projects. Strategies and tools for the management of individual projects need strengthening, particularly in terms of ESSB’s existing IT infrastructure (e.g., outdated databases, inefficient online tools and inaccurate website information).
ESSB has undertaken strategic planning and renewal efforts aimed at developing and implementing common Branch priorities and integrated processes supporting the development of a Branch RMAF and a performance measurement framework. These processes are being developed by engaging relevant NRCan and OGDs engaged in explosives safety and security to ensure the equivalence of performance measures and avoid duplication of efforts.
The evaluation strongly supports the continued need for this process and, importantly, for the tracking and reporting of achievements according to targeted outcomes. Such outcome measures would support ESSB’s efforts in communicating its realizations and challenges.
Again, ESSB has made substantial efforts to improve planning, risk management, and monitoring of revenue-generating S&T projects. However, the usability and integration of information management tools across the organization remains a significant weakness. Evidence indicated that the current IT tools and resources were not fully supportive of effective and efficient performance monitoring and reporting. Accordingly, in its business case, ESSB should consider measures for overhauling its IT tools and support to:
- expand the collection and the use of performance data on key activities and programs including financial data; and
- collect and share key metrics on strategic outcomes (e.g., comprehensive, factual, and detailed information on relevant explosives accidents, threats, loss or theft, etc.).
Furthermore, the development of web-based applications/tools for the management and delivery of services (internal and external) has been identified in this evaluation as key for the improvement of the effectiveness and efficiency of ESSB. As ESSB is a relatively small organization with limited resources, ESSB and NRCan’s Information Management Branch could closely collaborate to develop databases and web-based tools that respond to the most pressing needs of ESSB divisions, programs and management. Accordingly, in its analysis of IT needs, ESSB should consider tools to:
- introduce functional capabilities in areas that have led to an over-reliance on informal processes (e.g., follow-up of non-compliant clients, development of yearly inspection plans);
- better integrate databases within and between ERD, regional offices, and CERL (e.g., to effectively address the needs of client for accurate and timely follow-up status through the whole life-cycle of the product authorization/testing process); and
- take advantage of electronic forms and web-based applications to facilitate the collection and entry of information, as well as payments.
The quality and need for CERL’s work is widely recognized across government, as is demonstrated by the demand for its services by OGDs. The situation described by some interviewees in which challenges and opportunities occurred need to be addressed. Senior management is aware of, and is currently addressing this situation through MMS and ESSB strategic alignment exercises. 175
The evaluation clearly demonstrates that ESSB plays a vital role in the safe and secure production, import, sale and use of commercial explosives in Canada. Evidence collected indicates that the mandate of the Branch — to administer the EA&Rand to further explosives safety and security S&T — is well-aligned with both NRCan’s departmental priorities and MMS objectives, especially with respect to safety outcomes.
The objectives and S&T activities of ESSB also continue to be highly relevant to the needs of its partners, clients, and stakeholders. In the face of the sweeping changes that are having an impact on the industry — the national economic importance of explosives, continued advancement in explosives S&T, globalization of the industry, and a deepening national focus on security — ESSB revised its objectives and activities in order to adapt and remain relevant.
The evidence has demonstrated both the suitability and the tremendous value of ESSB’s approach, which is based on the integration of science and policy, making the Branch highly unique within both a Canadian and an international context. The combination of regulatory and scientific expertise offered by ESSB has ensured, and will continue to ensure that regulators and policy-makers have access to, and are informed of the latest research results on explosives and that decisions regarding the certification of imported and new products, and the development or review of regulations and policies are evidence-based. ESSB’s activities in authorization, licensing and compliance monitoring are playing a part in keeping workers and the Canadian public safe from accidents and incidents associated with commercial and homemade explosives. The non-regulatory S&T performed by CERL has also led to enhanced knowledge of the safety and security risks associated with explosives and ways to minimize those risks.
Although the continuing need for, and legitimacy of ESSB to support the priorities of the federal government in safeguarding the Canadian public from the threats of deliberate explosives use was demonstrated (e.g., PSAct, EA&R roles as well as PSAT funding) in this evaluation, the mandate, role and responsibilities of ESSB in public security-related activities, particularly in supporting OGDs in areas such as critical infrastructure protection, are not well-articulated. ESSB needs to undertake targeted outreach and pursue strategic partnerships to ensure that the Branch priorities are communicated efficiently, effectively and well-supported by key partners/stakeholders.
|A. ERD Activities||B. CERL Activities|
Product authorization and classification: ERD classifies and authorizes all explosives in Canada. Only explosives that appear on the List of Authorized Explosives maintained by ERD, or explosives covered by special authority issued by ERD, may be imported into or manufactured, transported, possessed or used in Canada. Following a review of submitted specifications for a product, ERD may require the explosives to be inspected and tested by the CERL prior to its authorization and classification.
Explosives certification: CERL tests blasting explosives and accessories, ammunition, propellants, fireworks, pyrotechnic and explosive devices for authorization under the EA&R. Testing is used to determine the safety of the product and conformity with the manufacturer's specifications. These tests establish criteria for storage, transportation and general use of the product. Ultimately, the results serve as a basis for ERD to approve explosives that are safe to transport, store, handle, and use.
Licensing and inspections: ERD regulates the manufacture, importation, storage, sale and possession of explosives through a system of licenses and permits supported by a compliance inspection program. This system includes the review of applications for licenses to manufacture explosives (factory licensing), for storage licenses to users and vendors (magazine licensing), and for the importation into Canada of any explosive (importation permits). Since June 2008, those who manufacture, import, export, purchase, provide or distribute nine explosives precursor chemicals (e.g., ammonium nitrate) are now required to register with ERD.
Explosives analysis: CERL is equipped with an analytical chemistry laboratory that is dedicated to the analysis of a wide range of energetic materials associated with commercial blasting explosives, initiators, fireworks and pyrotechnic devices. It provides a full range of physical and chemical testing to the ERD for the authorization of explosives, and services to clients in the areas of explosives analysis, identification and detection.
Policy and standards development: ERD develops regulations and the necessary means to implement the EA&R including any amendments stemming from the Public Safety Act. Also, it issues standards and guidelines, and participates in committee work for the harmonization and development of national and international standards. This activity is often supported by CERL which regularly provides scientific input to standards and policies developed by ERD, Also, CERL is actively involved in the development of testing protocols for explosives.
Explosives research: CERL conducts research and development to improve the safe use of energetic materials and the understanding of their explosive and hazardous properties. CERL can provide complete and detailed thermal characterization of the materials used in the explosives industry and elsewhere. CERL can also assess the thermal hazards inherent to chemical processes and offer solutions that improve safety without compromising efficiency.
Pyrotechnical and fireworks’ safety: ERD promotes the safe use of pyrotechnics special effects and display fireworks by providing training courses, certification, and information (e.g., manuals, flyers).
Explosives applications: CERL performs research into the interaction of blast waves with structures to establish the blast resistance of materials and infrastructure (vulnerability assessments), to predict damage, and to devise ways to mitigate the destructive effects.
Hazardous locations testing176 : CERL certifies the safety and effectiveness of equipment for use in underground coal mines and other hazardous locations, i.e., explosive gas atmospheres. They also provide altitude simulation testing.
|Program Area/ Project||Title||ESSB Division||Client/Partner|
|1. Authorizing, inspecting and enforcing compliance|
|1. Testing: Authorizing detonators||Review of a process required under the EA&R for the authorization of a new line of detonators, initiated by a request.||
|2. Testing: Authorizing consumer fireworks||Review of a process required under the EA&R for the authorization of multiple types of fireworks, initiated by a request.||ERD/ CERL||Industry|
|3. Approving: Inspecting a factory license||Review of a process required under the EA&R involving the licensing of an explosive manufacturer’s facility.||ERD||Industry|
|4. Approving: Inspecting a magazine||Review of a process required under the EA&R involving the licensing of storage magazines for a user of blasting explosives.||ERD||Industry|
|2. Developing and implementing new or revised regulations and policies|
|5. New Restricted Components Regulations||Review of an undertaking that led to the development of the Restricted Components Regulations controlling chemicals used in bomb-making. These regulations were developed to conform to amendments introduced in the Explosives Act by the Public Safety Act to reduce security threats.||ERD||Industry|
|6. Standard for initiating products||Review of an undertaking that led to the development of a standard for explosive initiation devices and initiation device systems. This standard is used by ESSB for the authorization of products and by industry to ensure acceptability of new products.||ERD||Industry|
|3. External S&T support to stakeholders: Safety|
|7. Specialized hazardous locations testing||An S&T project aimed at testing the conformity of large electrical equipment, custom-made for the oil and gas industry, to be used in flammable atmospheres.||CERL||Industry|
|8. Safety of ammonium nitrate solutions||An S&T project that examined the effect of a manufacturer’s proprietary additives on the thermal stability of ammonium nitrate-based explosives.||CERL||Industry|
|9. Hazards of propellant pressing||An S&T project aimed at providing knowledge and data that would support a better understanding of, and hazard assessment predictions for, processes related to the fabrication of propellants.||CERL||Industry|
|4. External S&T support to stakeholders: Security|
|10. Effect of explosives on pipelines||An S&T project aimed at evaluating the vulnerability of buried pipelines to explosives blasts, one that was also part of a larger program that evaluated the vulnerability of Canada’s pipeline infrastructure to terrorist attack.||CERL||NRCan|
|11. Marking of flexible explosives to improve detection in airports||A S&T project aimed at studying the technical feasibility of increasing the amount of chemical marking agent in plastic explosives in order to improve their detection in airports.||CERL||OGD|
|12. Ballistic testing: EFP armour development||An S&T project aimed at testing the resistance of different vehicle armour solutions against improvised explosive devices.||CERL||Industry|
|5. S&T support to ESSB (science and regulation/policy integration)|
|13. Hazards of perforating charges||An S&T project aimed at determining the range of fragments resulting from the accidental detonation of perforating gun charges, one that was also part of a larger internal program intended to aid ERD in understanding and mitigating the hazards of gun assembly facilities.||CERL||ERD|
|14. Mass explosion hazard of fireworks||An S&T project that explored the mass explosion hazards of newly-introduced and more powerful display fireworks.||CERL||ERD|
1 Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment. January 2010, slide 9. This material falls outside of the time frame encompassed by the evaluation but is included here to provide further information.
2 Ibid and ESSB Assets 2009-12-18.
3 ESSB Assets 2009-12-18, Knowledge Management in MMS (undated).
4 ESSB. Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment
January, 2010. Slides 9 and 11. This material falls outside of the time frame encompassed by the evaluation but is included here to provide further information.
5 ESSB. Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment
January, 2010. Slide 11. This material falls outside of the time frame encompassed by the evaluation but is included here to provide further information.
6 ESSB. Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment January, 2010. Slide 8. This material falls outside of the time frame encompassed by the evaluation but is included here to provide further information.
7 From NRCan’s 2008-09 Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture (PAA), Natural Resources Canada.
8 Changes to the wording of Strategic Outcome #3 have been made in PAA 2009-2010 (Outcome 3: Safety, Security and Stewardship).
9 From Report to Stakeholders (2003). Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada.
10 The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Directorate of Transport Canada, which administers the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations, is also responsible for the transportation of explosives in Canada. From a publication of ESSB entitled “Explosives in Canada”, 2006.
11 From http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/mms-smm/expl-expl/pub-pub-eng.htm (last visited in January 2010), and an internal document: 2007-2010 Business Plan (2007) Explosives Regulatory Division.
12 From the Explosives Act (retrieved at http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/E-17/index.html, January 2010).
13 From “A Centennial to Celebrate: Improving the Quality of Life of Canadians through Natural Resources”, 2007 (retrieved at http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/com/excellence/excellence-eng.php in December 2008; has been removed from the current website).
15 From 2008 Minerals Year Book: Explosives (2010) U.S. Geological Survey (retrieved at http://minerals.er.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/explosives/, January 2010); a similar breakdown of uses for explosives could not be found for Canada.
16 From a publication of ESSB entitled “Explosives in Canada”, 2006.
17 Statistics Canada, Principal Statistics for Manufacturing Industries, by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), annual (dollars), Table 301-00061.
18 From internal documents provided by ERD: Active Licences – Licence & Compliance Group (2004-08) and Active Licences – Regions (2004-08).
19 Statutes of Canada 2004 Chapter 15, An Act to amend certain Acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety. Bill C-7 assented to 6th May 2004.
20 From http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/mms-smm/expl-expl/com-com-eng.htm (last visited in January 2010).
21 Energetic materials are a class of material with high amount of stored chemical energy that can be released. In the current context, the usual classes of energetic materials include explosives, fireworks, pyrotechnic compositions, and propellants (e.g., smokeless gun powders).
22 Also known as net voted revenue (NVR), vote-netted revenue is a special revenue spending authority from Parliament which allows departments to use revenue from the sale of products or services to finance directly-related expenditures (from Audit of Net Voted Revenue (2007) Audit Branch, Natural Resources Canada; available at /audit/reports/2007/1082 , last visited in January 2010).
23 The new user fees have been approved by Parliament and Treasury Board and they were published in Canada Gazette Part II, Vol. 143, No. 10 (May 13, 2009), p.682. Retrieved at http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2009/2009-05-13/pdf/g2-14310.pdf (last visited in January 2010).
24 From an internal report: “Review of Cost-Recovery Approach within MMS Laboratories” (2008) Minerals and Metals Sector, Natural Resources Canada.
25 Each of the five case studies includes the examination of two to four representative projects, services or products (i.e., embedded units of analysis, referred to as “projects”) delivered within the scope of the main activity (area) under study. From Science-Metrix, Evaluation of the Explosives Security and Safety Branch of Natural Resources Canada’s Minerals and Metals Sector, Final Evaluation Design, page 21 (July 28, 2009).
26 More explosives are currently being recovered by police forces than the amounts reported lost or stolen.
27 From internal ESSB documents: collections of ratings and comments given to CERL’s client feedback survey in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.
28 SAFEX INTERNATIONAL is a non-profit making organization of manufacturers of explosives and pyrotechnics, founded in 1954. Its aim is to protect people and property against dangers and damage by the sharing of experience in the explosives industry. Source: http://www.safex-international.org/PUBLIC_SITE/FRAME.htm (last visited January 2010).
29 From an internal document: Environmental Scan - Strategic Planning Retreat, ESSB, April 21-22, 2009.
30 From Defence Research and Development Canada (2009): Backgrounder—Government of Canada invests over $35 million for science and technology projects to enhance Canada's safety and security. Available at http://www.css.drdc-rddc.gc.ca/publications/backgrounders-documentation/2009_03_04-eng.asp (last visited in January 2010).
31 From Canadian Border Services Agency: Memorandum D19-6-1. Administration of the Explosives Act and Regulations. Retrieved at http://cbsa.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d19/d19-6-1-eng.html (January 2010).
32 From Natural Resources Canada (2008): Departmental Performance Report 2007-08, p.49. Retrieved at http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/dpr-rmr/2007-2008/inst/rsn/rsn02-eng.asp (January 2010).
33 From an internal document: Minerals and Metals Sector Business Plan 2006-2008, Minerals and Metals Sector, Natural Resources Canada.
34 From an internal document: Minerals and Metals Sector Business Plan 2006-2008, Minerals and Metals Sector, Natural Resources Canada.
35 From NRCan 2008-2009 Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture (PAA), Natural Resources Canada.
36 From Natural Resources Canada (2009), Departmental Performance Report 2008-09. Retrieved in January 2010 at http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/dpr-rmr/2008-2009/inst/rsn/rsn00-eng.asp.
37 From an internal document: Evolution - Renewal 2008-2011, Minerals and Metals Sector, Natural Resources Canada.
38 Mission statement of NRCan— To be a champion of sustainable development, a world class centre of knowledge on natural resources, and a leader in policy and science. Source: Natural Resources Canada (2009), Departmental Performance Report 2008-09. Retrieved in January 2010 at http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/dpr-rmr/2008-2009/inst/rsn/rsn00-eng.asp.
39 From an internal document: Outcomes Report - Strategic Planning Workshop, ESSB, April 21-22, 2009.
40 Part 7 of the Public Safety Act amended the Explosives Act to implement the Organization of American States Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials as it relates to explosives and ammunition. It prohibits the illicit manufacturing of explosives, and illicit trafficking in explosives. It allows for increased control over the importation, exportation, transportation through Canada, acquisition, possession and sale of explosives and certain components of explosives, and provides increased penalties for certain offences. Source: Statutes of Canada 2004 - Chapter 15, Third Session, Thirty-seventh Parliament, 52-53 Elizabeth II, 2004. Retrieved in January 2010 at https://www.privacyinternational.org/issues/terrorism/library/canpublicsafetyactc_7.pdf.
41 Received Royal Assent on December 18, 2001.
42 Received Royal Assent on May 6, 2004.
43 The CRI is managed by the Centre for Security Science, a joint endeavor between Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) and Public Safety Canada. DRDC is an agency of the Department of National Defence.
44 Available at http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/maf-crg/assessments-evaluations/2007/rsn/rsn-eng.asp (last visited in January 2010).
45 ESSB. Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment January, 2010, slides 8 and 11 (notes page).
46 ESSB. Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment January, 2010, slide 11, notes that an anticipated main benefit of Strategic Alignment is “Strengthened relations with key internal and external clients/partners/stakeholders.” The notes page on slide 8 also addresses this issue.
47 The transfer of the activities of the hazardous locations group to other providers was completed in December 2009.
48 Although this is the feedback provided by the interviewee, it should be noted that ESSB does not in fact regulate the export of explosives.
49 Canadian Federal Government Program (CGP), legislated by the Defence Production Act (DPA).
50 Minerals and Metals Sector: Explosives Safety & Security Branch Briefing for the Assistant Deputy Minister, January, 2010 slides 8, 10, and 17. While this material and work is outside of the scope of this evaluation, the material is included for information.
51 Detailed data on authorization was obtained from ERD for 2007 and 2008 only.
52 From an internal document provided by ERD: Active licences – Licence & Compliance Group (2004-08).
53 Jet-Perforating guns are devices used to perforate the casing of oil and gas wells and increase their flow. The gun is a tubular assembly that contains explosive charges. It can be lowered hundreds of meters into wells and detonated to create the perforations.
54 In contrast with 2004, when only 12% of perforating gun factories were inspected, more than 80% of these factories were visited in both 2007 and 2008.
55 Unlicensed shops and flea markets where ammunition and fireworks are sold.
56 It is not known where these inspections were conducted and if they were additional inspections or joint inspections with regional office inspectors.
57 AN is widely recognized as an important fertilizer but also as a favoured material for homemade bomb-making.
58 The new user fees have been approved by Parliament and Treasury Board and they were published in Canada Gazette Part II, Vol. 143, No. 10 (May 13, 2009), p.682. Retrieved in January 2010 from http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2009/2009-05-13/pdf/g2-14310.pdf.
59 Internal: From a briefing PowerPoint presentation provided by ESSB to the evaluation team.
60 From Restricted Components Regulations, Section 36. Retrieved in January 2010 from http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2008-47/index.html.
61 From an internal document provided by ERD: Active licences – Licence & Compliance Group (2004-08).
62 ESSB Assets 2009-12-18, Knowledge Management in MMS (undated), ESSB. Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment January, 2010. Slides 8 and 11; E240 Staffing Plan 2007; ESSB Assets 2009-12-18.
63 A project can include the testing of more than one product sample.
64 From internal documents: End of Year Reports of CERL for fiscal years 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2007-08.
65 Detonation of the first charge ignited adjacent shells, but not simultaneously.
66 Some countries regard it as an explosive without additional applications, while other countries, such as the U.K., consider it as an oxidizer.
67 Internal: from a briefing PowerPoint presentation provided by ESSB to the evaluation team.
68 MMS, Draft Final Report Review of Cost-Recovery Approach within MMS Laboratories (Dec. 12, 2009), page 44.
69 MMS, Draft Final Report Review of Cost-Recovery Approach within MMS Laboratories (Dec. 12, 2009), page 44.
70 This decrease remains important even if one considers that some 2008-09 projects may not have been accounted for because they were completed in the first few months of 2009-10.
71 MMS, Draft Final Report Review of Cost-Recovery Approach within MMS Laboratories (Dec. 12, 2009), page 45.
72 MMS, Draft Final Report Review of Cost Recovery Approach within MMS Laboratories (Dec. 12, 2009), page 45.
73 ESSB internal documentation: from briefing notes provided by CERL to the evaluation team.
74 Internal: from collections of ratings and comments given to CERL’s client feedback survey in 2006 and 2007.
75 From internal documents: End of Year Reports of CERL for fiscal years 2005-06 and 2006-07.
76 Details of the work cannot be disclosed.
77 From internal documents: End of Year Reports of CERL for fiscal years 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08.
78 Internal: from collections of ratings and comments given to CERL’s client feedback survey in 2006.
79 The “Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection”.
81 From an internal communication: New CERL-CRTI project - database on IED formulations (July 2007).
82 Internal: from collections of ratings and comments given to CERL’s client feedback survey in 2006.
83 ESSB. Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment January 2010, slide 8 notes page. While this material is outside of the scope of this evaluation, it is included for information.
84 For example, a bulletin for explosives vendors noting “It's your job to know your buyers”, and a directive letter presenting amendments to the quantity distance principles manual.
85 From an internal document provided by ERD: Pyrotechnic and Display Courses (2004-2008).
86 From listings of workshops provided by ERD and CERL to the evaluation team.
87 The bulletin (Consumer Fireworks – Summary of Regulatory Requirements, Bulletin #51, 2008) and the information package (Consumer Fireworks Retail Package, 2009) are available at http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/mms-smm/expl-expl/selcons-vencons-eng.htm (last visited in January 2010).
88 From listings of peer-reviewed papers provided by CERL to the evaluation team.
89 From Minerals and Metals Sector (MMS) Science and Technology (S&T) Evaluation (2009), Strategic Evaluation Branch, Natural Resources Canada. Available at http://nrcan.gc.ca/evaluation/reprap/2009/e20090612-eng.php (last visited in January 2010).
90 From a listing of non-refereed papers provided by CERL to the evaluation team.
91 From listings of conference presentations (closed or with open-source proceedings) provided by CERL to the evaluation team.
92 Available at http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/mms-smm/expl-expl/usecons-uticons-eng.htm (last visited in January 2010).
93 From a listing of outreach activities provided by CERL to the evaluation team.
94 This evaluation was not designed to gather evidence regarding the impact of education and outreach activities on changes in safe use practices and awareness of explosives policies within the regulated and non-regulated communities. More remote is the possibility to establish the contribution to the improved safety and security of workers, facilities and the Canadian public through higher rates of compliance.
95 “A Growing Concern: Regulating the Sale and Use of Ammonium Nitrate”. Available at http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/mms-smm/expl-expl/comp-comp/use-use-eng.htm (last visited in January 2010).
96 “Chemicals of Concern: Regulating the Sale of Eight (8) Restricted Components”. Available at http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/mms-smm/expl-expl/comp-comp/ures-ures-eng.htm (last visited in January 2010).
97 From an internal ESSB document: Collaborative Services Agreement between CERL and a private company whose name cannot be disclosed, 2008.
98 From an internal ESSB document: from notes and a listing of ERD representations on national and international bodies relevant to explosives domain provided by ESSB to the evaluation team.
99 From an internal ESSB communication: ESSB Science-based Guidelines for Safe Explosives Manufacturing Operations Adopted in the UK (April 2009).
100 ST/SG/AC.10/36/Add.2 - Amendments to the fourth revised edition of the Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, Manual of Tests and Criteria (Published March 2009). Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, United Nations. Available at http://www.unece.org/trans/main/dgdb/dgcomm/ac10rep.html#36a2 (last visited in January 2010).
101 ESSB. Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment January 2010, slide 8 notes page. While this material is outside of the scope of this evaluation, it is included for information.
102 ESSB. Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment January 2010, slides 8-9. This material falls outside of the time frame encompassed by the evaluation but is included here to provide further information.
103 ESSB. Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment January 2010, slide 9. This material falls outside of the time frame encompassed by the evaluation but is included here to provide further information.
104 ESSB. Explosives Safety and Security Branch. Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment January 2010. Slide 11. This material falls outside of the time frame encompassed by the evaluation but is included here to provide further information.
105 Ibid slide 9.
106 ESSB. Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment January 2010. Slides 8-11. This material falls outside of the time frame encompassed by the evaluation but is included here to provide further information. ESSB Assets 20091218; E240 Staffing Plan 2007; Knowledge Management in MMS (undated).
107 ESSB. Explosives Safety and Security Branch. Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment January 2010. Slide 9. This material falls outside of the time frame encompassed by the evaluation but is included here to provide further information.
108 This plan was undated; however, its contents are included in this report. An additional source was “Knowledge Management in MMS” (also undated).
109 From an internal document: Outcomes Report - Strategic Planning Workshop, ESSB, April 21-22, 2009; and from an internal spreadsheet provided by ERD to the evaluation team that compiles explosives incidents and accidents in Canada from 1917 to June 2008.
110 ESSB. Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment January, 2010. Slides 8-11. This material falls outside of the time frame encompassed by the evaluation but is included here to provide further information. ESSB Assets 20091218; E240 Staffing Plan 2007; Knowledge Management in MMS (undated).
111 Internal: from briefing notes and presentations provided by ESSB to the evaluation team.
112 Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada, Proposed Revision to User Fees. February 15, 2008, page 6.
113 Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada, Proposed Revision to User Fees. February 15, 2008, page 7.
115 Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada, Proposed Revision to User Fees. February 15, 2008, page 7.
119 Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada, Proposed Revision to User Fees. February 15, 2008, page 7.
121 From an internal ESSB document: End of Year Report of CERL for fiscal year 2007-08.
122 From an internal ESSB document: from briefing notes, presentations and confidential internal documents provided by ESSB to the evaluation team.
123 From internal ESSB material: from briefing notes, presentations and confidential internal documents provided by ESSB to the evaluation team.
124 Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada, Proposed Revision to User Fees. February 15, 2008, page 2; Knowledge Management in MMS; and ESSB HR Plan (undated).
125 Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada, Draft Final Report Review of Cost-Recovery.
126 Approach within MMS Laboratories Proposed Revision to User Fees. February 15, 2008, page 51.
127 From internal ESSB presentations provided by CERL to the evaluation team.
128 Communication from senior officials, ESSB and MMS; as well as Minerals and Metals Sector Explosives Safety & Security Branch. Briefing for the Assistant Deputy Minister, January, 2010, slide 17. Although this information falls outside of the time frame encompassed by this evaluation, it is included to provide information.
129 From a balance sheet provided by ESSB management and finance.
130 From an internal ESSB document: PowerPoint briefing presentation provided by ESSB to the evaluation team.
131 From an internal document: Environmental Scan - Strategic Planning Retreat, ESSB, April 21-22, 2009.
132 Knowledge Management Tools (undated); Minerals and Metals Sector Explosives Safety & Security Branch. Briefing for the Assistant Deputy Minister, January, 2010, slides 17-20. Although this information falls outside of the time frame encompassed by this evaluation, but is included to provide information.
133 Ibid; SG Development Program (SGDP) Program Guide, June 8, 2009, pages 2-4.
134 From internal documents: MMS Quarterly reporting of ESSB from Q3 2007-08 to Q3 2008-09.
135 From an internal document: ESSB Management Committee (BMC) - Terms of Reference.
136 From an internal document: ERD Policies and Committees - Section 10 (2009) Policy Pronouncements, Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada.
137 Internal: from briefing notes provided by ESSB to the evaluation team.
139 From internal HR planning documents provided by ESSB to the evaluation team.
140 From internal: Training Manual for Inspectors (2008) Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada.
141 From internal: Safety Orientation of Visitors, Contractors, New Employees, Students and Temporary Workers (2008). Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory, Natural Resources Canada.
142 From an internal document: ERD Policies and Committees - Section 10 (2009) Policy Pronouncements. Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada.
143 From an internal document: End of Year Report of CERL for fiscal year 2007-08.
144 From an internal document: From a listing provided by ERD to the evaluation team.
145 From internal documents: Environmental Scan - Strategic Planning Retreat, ESSB, April 21-22, 2009; and Outcomes Report - Strategic Planning Workshop, ESSB, April 21-22, 2009.
146 From an internal ESSB document: Results-based Management and Accountability Framework–Administration of the Explosives Act and the Public Security Anti-Terrorism Project (2005). Explosives Regulatory Division and Audit and Evaluation Branch, Natural Resources Canada.
147 From an internal document: CERL Performance Indicators (2007-08).
148 From an internal ESSB document: Results-based Management and Accountability Framework–Administration of the Explosives Act and the Public Security Anti-Terrorism Project (2005). ERD and Audit and Evaluation Branch, Natural Resources Canada.
149 Proposed Revision to User Fees (2008). Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada.
150 Consultation Report - Explosives User Fees Renewal Initiative (2008). Explosives Safety and Security Branch, Natural Resources Canada.
151 Guidelines for Jet-Perforating Gun Assembly Facilities (2007). Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada.
152 From an internal ESSB document: a briefing PowerPoint presentation provided by ESSB to the evaluation team.
153 Report to Stakeholders (2003). Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada.
154 From internal documents: End of Year Reports of CERL for fiscal years 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2007-08.
155 From an internal ESSB document: Outcomes Report - Strategic Planning Workshop, ESSB, April 21-22, 2009.
156 From an internal ESSB document: from collections of ratings and comments given to CERL’s client feedback reports in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.
157 From an internal ESSB document: Outcomes Report - Strategic Planning Workshop, ESSB, April 21-22, 2009.
158 Proposed Revision to User Fees (2008). Explosives Regulatory Division, Natural Resources Canada.
159 Compiled from data provided by CERL on revenue-generating projects conducted from 2004-05 to 2008-09.
160 From an internal ESSB report: “Review of Cost-Recovery Approach within MMS Laboratories” (2008). Minerals and Metals Sector, Natural Resources Canada.
161 From Statistics Canada: employment data available at http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/govt54a-eng.htm; expenditures data available at http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/govt02b-eng.htm (last visited in January 2010).
162 From an internal report: “Review of Cost-Recovery Approach within MMS Laboratories” (2008) Minerals and Metals Sector, Natural Resources Canada.
163 From Australian Forum of Explosives Regulators (2008). Consultation regulatory impact statement. Retrieved October 21, 2009 at http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/992449D1-FB7E-4E58-B5AE-F1F577416AEF/0/AFER_draft_RIS.pdf cannot be found???
164 Access Economics (2008) Regulatory impact statement: Australian code for the transport of explosives by road and rail—3rd edition. Retrieved October 14, 2009, at http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/4D51506C-317C-442B-B020-662E6BEE07E4/0/AFER_Code_RIS.pdf cannot be found???
165 Retrieved October 26, 2009, from http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/1318.3Feature%20Article14Mar%202009.
166 The CIA World Factbook gives the GDP of nations at PPP exchange rates. The GDP represents the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year. A nation's GDP at PPP exchange rates is the sum value of all goods and services produced in the country valued at prices prevailing in the U.S.
167 The GDP of Queensland (in Australian dollars and not adjusted for PPP) is similar to that of Australia (AUD $51,543 for Queensland vs. AUD $55,195 for Australia). Source: http://www.dtf.wa.gov.au/cms/uploadedFiles/_Treasury/Economic_Data/gsp_2008-2009.pdf.
168 ESSB, E237_ERD HR Planning 2 Doc, Human Resources Planning, A Roadmap for NRCan Managers, (undated), page 26.
169 ESSB Human Resources Planning, A Roadmap for NRCan Managers, (undated), page 25.
170 ESSB, Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment
January, 2010, slide 19. This material is outside of the time frame encompassed by this evaluation; however, it is included to provide information.
171 ESSB, Explosives Safety and Security Branch: Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment
January, 2010, slide 10. This material is outside of the time frame encompassed by this evaluation; however, it is included to provide information.
172 Minerals and Metals Sector, Explosives Safety & Security Branch. Briefing for the Assistant Deputy Minister, January, 2010, slides 6-10. This material is outside of the time frame encompassed by this evaluation; however, it is included to provide information.
173 From an internal document: Environmental Scan - Strategic Planning Retreat, ESSB, April 21-22, 2009.
174 Minerals and Metals Sector, Explosives Safety & Security Branch. Briefing for the Assistant Deputy Minister
January, 2010; Explosives Safety and Security Branch, Update on ESSB Strategic Planning: ESSB Strategic Alignment January, 2010; ESSB Human Resources Planning, A Roadmap for NRCan Managers. Although the date of production of some of these documents falls outside of the time frame encompassed by this evaluation, they are included because of their ongoing nature.
175 ESSB Strategic Alignment material developed after the time frame covered by this evaluation indicates that this situation is being addressed.
176 The Hazardous Locations group was eliminated subsequent to the end of the evaluation period.
- Date Modified: