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Summary of the Evaluation of the Departmental Class Grants and Contributions Program (DCGCP)

Evaluation Findings

Relevance
A need exists for a grants and contributions authority to fill gaps in existing program terms and conditions. The DCGCP was consistent with Ministerial authority provided under relevant legislation and supported projects aligned to the Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) mandate and federal priorities.

Performance
The DCGCP was particularly effective in helping NRCan respond to changing priorities and unforeseen circumstances, continue activities during periods of transition, and enable program managers to allocate program funds in a strategic manner. The DCGCP overwhelmingly supported projects that aligned directly to NRCan strategic objectives.

The program could achieve higher efficiencies, particularly by reducing the number of approvals and the overlap between sectoral and corporate processes.

Recommendations

  1. NRCan should update project activity categories, DCGCP objectives and eligible activities to better reflect how the authority is used.
  2. NRCan should develop a central repository and associated information management strategy for project performance and administrative data to improve accountability and ease of access for users.
  3. NRCan should develop a single and universally applied process for the management and approval of the Class authority to reduce confusion, enhance organization and access to guidance materials and program forms, and promote sharing of best practices and lessons learned among sectors.

Program Description

The DCGCP was a transfer payment program that enabled NRCan to fund activities that supported the departmental mandate but for which there was no other authority.

Scope and Methodology, Constraints and Limitations

The evaluation employed multiple lines of evidence to assess program relevance and performance. Data sources included a document review, 13 key informant interviews, an interdepartmental program comparison (based on a review of documents from NRCan, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Department of Fisheries and Oceans programs), and a database analysis (n=429 projects).

A key challenge for the evaluation concerned the diffuse responsibility for collecting and storing project performance information. Efforts to address this issue by collecting results information directly from programs yielded inconsistent information (except for the Program of Energy Research and Development), although a review of previous evaluations of programs that used the class authority yielded some performance information. Furthermore, program input costs for managing the class authority were not tracked separately, thus the analysis of program efficiency relied not on an analysis of financial data, but on an assessment of aspects of the program design usually associated with efficiently run programs (e.g., governance, information management, and program processes).

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