Summary of the Evaluation of the Canadian Conservation Institute - 2010-11 to 2015-16

The CCI is a Special Operating Agency (SOA) advances and promotes the conservation of Canada’s heritage collections to ensure heritage collections are preserved and accessible to Canadians now and in the future.

The CCI delivers it mandate through:

  1. Research and Development: independently or in collaboration with partners domestically or internationally to advance knowledge and conservation practices.
  2. Knowledge Sharing: dissemination of conservation knowledge to Canadian heritage institutions and professionals through training, online resources and publications
  3. Expert Services: include treatments, preventive conservation, and scientific analysis to Canadian heritage institutions and clients.

The CCI's activities in all three of its delivery mechanisms are linked and integrated to serve heritage institutions as well as conservation professionals. However, research and development activities are at the core of CCI's purpose and success as the results of research are integrated into CCI services, are also disseminated to CCI's peers through publication in professional journals, and are incorporated into CCI's publications, online information, and training workshops. This approach requires that conditions be present to ensure the full implementation of the program theory:

  • Ability for the Institute to innovate, collaborate and co-operate in an interdisciplinary way with Canadian and international institutions dedicated to the conservation of heritage;
  • That availability of human resources and financial context provided by the SOA status enables the full participation of CCI in research projects that support heritage community needs, therefore enhancing the implementation of the program theory.

Relevance

  • The CCI continues to be responsive to needs:  there is a continued need for CCI’s expertise to conserve and restore Canada’s heritage artifacts because of limited funding and competencies of heritage institutions.
  • The CCI is aligned with federal government priorities by contributing to Canada 150 and by prioritizing conservation treatments of artifacts that support the 2017 celebrations.
  • The CCI is aligned with federal roles and responsibilities:  CCI distinguishes itself by the role it imparts to conservation research and development, and the support it brings to heritage institutions in Canada by offering a complete suite of expert services that is not limited to conservation treatment.

Context 2010-11 to 2015-16 and structural impacts on the CCI.

During the evaluation period, a number of government decisions had a direct impact on the Institute’s capacity and required it to adapt to keep meeting its main objectives and achieve its expected results.

The deficit reduction measures, announced in the 2010 Budget, aimed at reducing the rate of growth of the federal government departments and agencies operating expenditures:

  • The CCI internal services centralized in PCH leaving CCI less able to directly address its unique needs.
  • CCI's direct budget was reduced by approximately 40%,
  • CCI underwent a reduction of one quarter (25%) of its positions to reduce overall costs:
    • 54.5% of administrative positions were lost or transferred to central services.
    • 20.4% of positions related to all types of professional services were lost.
    • Only positions related to knowledge sharing remained constant.
    • Reduced international collaboration: CCI travels reduced by 70% during the evaluation period.

Performance

CCI adapted to its context by reducing overall conservation activities while maintaining clients’ appreciation of services.

Research and development

Overall, CCI’s capacity to create new heritage preservation and conservation knowledge has diminished in recent years.

  • Limited amount of research and development projects completed during the evaluation period, and important reduction in the number of new projects initiated during the last 3 years.
  • Fewer articles published in scientific peer-reviewed and professional journals going from a high 19 in 2011-12 to 6 by 2015-16 (Source: CCI indicator reports).
  • Dwindling international presence of CCI noticed by its usual national and international collaborators.
  • Fewer opportunities to create knowledge to support other business lines.
  • Impact on achievement of results considering the importance of research and development in program theory.

Knowledge dissemination

Overall, CCI maintained the intensity level of most of its much appreciated training activities.

  • A diversity of professionals and institutions from all parts of Canada took advantage of CCI's learning opportunities and have improved their professional knowledge.
  • CCI increased its knowledge sharing activities: resources available on its web and Facebook pages, and the number of conservation notes.
  • Conversion of CCI website to the generic Government of Canada website had a negative impact on accessibility.

Expert services

Overall, the CCI has reduced considerably the number of expert services provided to the Canadian heritage community, resulting in a diminishing number of heritage institutions being served annually.

  • CCI completed 998 expert services projects between 2010-11 and 2015-16, for a yearly average of 166 services completed. A reduction in the number of expert services completed is although observed between 2010-11 and 2015-16 for all types of expert services (conservation and treatment, scientific analysis and preventive conservation).
  • A variety of heritage institutions across Canada are using CCI’s expert services.
  • However, the total number of unique heritage institutions served has been decreasing over the last 6 years, from 111 institutions for which request were accepted and completed in 2010-11, to 75 by 2015-16.
  • CCI restored and analyzed a large number of heritage objects and collections.
  • Users of expert services have reported high levels of satisfaction with the services provided.
  • Expert services helped heritage institutions better understand their objects and collections.
  • Users have expressed some concerns about the length of time it takes to treat heritage objects.

Efficiency

CCI was impacted considerably by the changes brought to its operational context and its ability to continue to provide timely expert services, including its capacity to plan the delivery of its services.

Recommendations

  1. CCI needs to explore the flexibilities needed for the attainment of the efficacy and efficiency required by its SOA status, and to implement efficient and simplified administrative internal services to ensure that it achieves its strategic and performance objectives and produces better results for Canadians.
  2. CCI needs to enhance the accuracy and consistency of the performance data that it collects in order to report adequately on its results.

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