Summary of the Evaluation of the Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program (NLLP)

Evaluation Results

There was a clear need for the NLLP, as contaminated lands and infrastructure represent risks, and are a liability included in the national accounts. The NLLP was in line with Canada’s Radioactive Waste Policy Framework, and was also consistent with NRCan and AECL roles and responsibilities.

Performance - Efficiency and Economy
Efficiencies were found at the level of the NLLP governance, the planning and budget-setting, the risk analyses and the project cost estimates. However, resource sharing between AECL branches caused competition for resources, some informants were of the opinion that cost-benefit analyses should have been conducted for more projects, and the absence of long-term radioactive waste management or disposal facilities remained a challenge throughout the Program.

Performance – Effectiveness
The NLLP made progress towards the achievement of all expected immediate and intermediate outcomes, and over 90 percent of program milestones were achieved over the final four full years of program implementation (fiscal years 2011-12 to 2014-15). However, the absence of targets made it difficult to quantify risk reduction, despite that no such requirement was imposed by the Treasury Board. Also, a conscious decision was made in 2010 to not pursue the outcome related to building public confidence in and support for the long-term strategy.

Lessons learned

Based on the evaluation findings, four lessons were learned:

  • Multiple accountabilities create challenges for program oversight.
  • Potential efficiencies of matrix resource allocations can be offset by delays resulting from a competition for resources.
  • To meet the objectives of large, technically complex programs, there is a constant need to assess and reassess capabilities and capacities.
  • The achievement of broader Government of Canada objectives may require a re-alignment of program objectives and suspension of activities.

Program Description

Established in June 2006 to safely and cost-effectively control and reduce risks and liabilities at AECL sites, the NLLP was delivered by the AECL under the NRCan’s Energy Sector policy direction and oversight.

Scope and Methodology, Constraints and Limitations

The evaluation triangulated among various sources of evidence (literature, document review, key informant interviews and case studies) to enhance the reliability of the findings.