This document provides an outline of the program evaluation activities planned by the Program Evaluation Division for the 2007/2008 to 2009/2010 fiscal years.
Program evaluation involves the application of systematic research methods drawn from a variety of disciplines to assess performance of programs, policies and initiatives with a particular emphasis on effectiveness.
The Deputy Minister, departmental managers, central agencies (e.g., Treasury Board), Parliament and the public are the five primary client groups for the activities of the Evaluation Division. The Division undertakes evaluation of departmental programs, policies and initiatives in accordance with the departmental and government evaluation policies (see Appendix A). These policies stress the key role of evaluation throughout the lifecycle of policies, programs and initiatives.
Evaluation studies are intended to provide objective assessments of the continued relevance of departmental policies and programs, to determine the impacts of these policies and programs, and to identify opportunities for using alternative and more cost-effective policy instruments or program delivery mechanism to achieve departmental and government objectives. Additionally, evaluation studies can be used to evaluate issues related to the implementation and early results of a policy, program or initiative, including those that are delivered through partnership arrangements.
Changing Context for Evaluation
The climate within which evaluation operates has changed significantly in the past five years. There is a much greater demand for accountability and reporting on results as witnessed in the modern comptrollership movement, the Federal Accountability Act and the issuing of the report on Results for Canadians. There is a call for evaluation to be much more involved in the government-wide expenditure review process and to provide timely and objective information on the performance, relevance and cost-effectiveness of programs that could result in the reallocation of resources. In addition, there is an increased need for strategic information analysis and advice on horizontal initiatives where policies and programs cut across several departments. It is also expected that evaluation be a significant contributor to the development of programs and policies. There will continue to be a significant role for evaluation in meeting the department-wide challenge of supporting planning, priority setting, performance measurement and expenditure review. However, one of the greatest challenges on the horizon is the ability to attract and retain evaluators with the right skill sets and flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of the Department.
To successfully contribute to the overall performance of the Department, evaluation activities must be an integral part of the management culture and practices of the Department and attuned to departmental and governmental priorities. Rigorous and objective evaluation is an important tool in helping managers to manage for results.
The release of the Gomery Commission reports, the Auditor General's May 2007 report, the increasing role of evaluation in the expenditure management process, recent changes to the government policy on Internal Audit and the enactment of the Federal Accountability Act are all recent factors that are likely to affect the environment for evaluation in 2007-08. It is within this context that TBS is currently embarking on a process to revise the government-wide evaluation policy and so the evaluation function is likely to be in a state of transition in 2007-08.
Evaluation activities outlined in this document are intended to provide timely and relevant information in order to support decision-making and account for performance in the pursuit of the Department's two strategic outcomes:
- A fair, relevant and accessible justice system that reflects Canadian values; and
- A federal government that is supported by effective and responsive legal services.
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