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How Evaluations are Done at NRCan

Evaluations - ppt  (708 kb)


To provide information on how evaluations are planned, costed and conducted once they are on the five-year departmental Evaluation Plan.

The Cycle for Evaluation Reports

The Cycle for Evaluation Reports

[text version - The Cycle for Evaluation Reports]

Evaluation Assessment

  • Evaluation Assessment Evaluation Assessments are prepared based on:
    • program profiles (e.g., objectives; logic models; organization and governance; expenditures; an assessment performance information);
    • the calibration of the evaluation based on risk criteria, as part of overall 5-year Plan
      • (i.e., program renewal; materiality; context and need; visibility; management practices and structure; policy and delivery complexity; performance measurement; and past evaluation and audit findings);
    • the evaluation questions (TBS Policy identifies the generic questions and these may be supplemented by others identified by Program);
    • an initial plan on how to conduct the evaluation (i.e., methods to be used and levels of effort; contracting strategy; timelines; and estimated costs).
  • Evaluation Assessments are developed based on experience and professional judgement.

Scope/Costing Considerations

  • Based on evaluation assessment, the scope and costing are developed, taking into account:
    • TBS policy’s minimum standards and required "multiple lines of evidence" (e.g., documents; interviews; administrative data; survey results; case studies; focus groups).
    • SED’s internal risk assessment based on additional methods support quality, rigour & richness of the evaluation.
      • Sufficient level of evidence to be collected to allow conclusions to be drawn on each program (especially G&C programs).
      • There are many risk-factors (previous page) and considerations, e.g.:
        • number of programs, availability of data, past evaluations;
        • enough interviewees to ensure the full story;
        • in-person interviews are always better than over the phone surveys provide less in-depth information from many people;
        • case studies provide in-depth knowledge of one project and how projects contribute to the achievement of program objectives.
  • Need for contracting


  • Contractors may be used as part of the evaluation team, based on:
    • The need for subject matter expertise;
    • Internal capacity and timing considerations;
    • and The need for third party (non-NRCan) involvement
  • Value for money (optimal mix of internal and external resources) is determined through:
    • The availability of internal staff to meet coverage requirements;
    • and The competitive procurement process designed to achieve the best value for the Crown
  • Evaluation has a Supply Arrangement with nine evaluation firms* based on a competitive process to qualify the firm and contractors.
    • Based on the TOR, an RFP is sent to a minimum of 4 firms.
    • Contracting takes at least 3 months from SOW to signed contract.
  • Responses to the RFPs, provide suggestions for altering the SOW and what the company is prepared to do for the available budget.
  • If a subject matter expert is required, Evaluation will contract directly with the expert to be part of the team (e.g., nuclear expertise).

* KPMG; Science Metrix; PMN; PRA; Goss Gilroy;TDV Global; Boulton; Baastel; and CPM.

Terms of Reference

  • The TOR are derived from the Evaluation Assessment and scoping/costing analysis.
  • TOR must be approved by the Evaluation Committee.
  • TOR include:
    • overview of the entity being evaluated;
    • evaluation issues and questions,
    • methods (e.g., interviews; surveys) to be used;
    • contracting approach (i.e., in house; contracted out; or hybrid);
    • timelines;
    • resources required (e.g., estimated contract cost); and
    • governance (e.g., a working group of program and evaluation officials).

Field Work

  • Evaluators work on several projects simultaneously.
  • Field work presents many challenges:
    • field work requires the input of programs;
    • contact information for surveys & interviewees not always readily available;
    • unplanned delays are very difficult for contractors to manage;
    • work around seasonal cycles: e.g. interviewees not available during the summer; contractors and programs are extremely busy prior to March 31.
  • Technical reports are usually produced for each method (e.g., interviews). All information is analyzed by evaluation question.
  • Preliminary findings are presented to programs to confirm findings and seek any additional information.

Report and Recommendations

  • Preliminary findings serve to highlight and validate key issues from collected evidence, and provide basis for the outline for the report.
  • Based on the findings, the report is written and the recommendations are developed.
  • The draft report is vetted with the Program and discussions take place on the recommendations (do they flow from findings; do they make sense; can they be implemented).
  • Report length is influenced by complexity of subject (e.g., one program or many) and need to present evidence.
  • Management responses and action plan are drafted by the program and ADM approval is sought.

Approval & Posting of Reports

  • The DEC advises the Deputy Minister (DM) on the report and management responses action plans. The DM must approve.
  • DM-approved reports are provided to TBS and may be examined for quality during the annual MAF assessment of evaluation.
  • The Evaluation Policy requires, complete, approved evaluation reports along with management responses and action plans to be posted in both official languages in a timely manner (i.e., 90 days).
  • Reports are reviewed by ATIP and Communications.
  • If required, Communications and the program prepare media lines.

Management Responses & Follow Up

  • ADMs are responsible for implementing the action plans for each recommendation.
  • The Evaluation Division follows up with Sectors on the implementation of action plans and updates DEC.
  • DEC decides if the management responses have been satisfactorily implemented and when the file can be closed.
  • The activity/program is re-considered as part of Evaluation Plan in the following evaluation cycle.

What Does Evaluation Add?

  • Accountability (posted reports and input into DPRs)
  • Strategic input into program decision-making and development (e.g., assistance in developing logic models and performance measurement strategies) including information for MCs and TB Submissions
  • Neutral perspectives and additional data collection methods
  • Evidence for internal reviews (Strategic Reviews/SOR etc.)
  • Corrective change, starting before the evaluation is over
  • Follow up on recommendations


  • We hope this presentation has provided a better understanding of how evaluations are planned, costed and conducted.
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