Treasury Evaluation Program Framework

This document describes the objectives and process of the Treasury Evaluation Program (TEP) of the Department of Finance.

The TEP provides assessments of frameworks and programs in the domain of federal treasury management. Given the nature of these activities, the results of policy decisions and changes in practices are only realized over an extended period of time. An ex-post evaluation process that looks back over a multi-year period is thus useful and appropriate.

The findings of evaluations serve two principal objectives. First, they provide an assessment of past policy and operational decisions, relative to their objectives and the evolving standards and practices of other comparable entities. The results inform future policy direction and the enhancement of program effectiveness and efficiency. Secondly, evaluations support good governance by providing decision-making information for management and public transparency and accountability on outcomes. Evaluations are contracted out to expert third parties to ensure objectivity and give added credibility to the advice received. The results of evaluations, together with a Management Response and Action Plan (MRAP), are posted on the website and shared with interested parties, thereby providing a means to assess the past and future actions of government.

The scope of the TEP springs from its origins in the early 1990’s as an accountability mechanism for debt management in an era of growing federal debt. Over the succeeding years, the program’s ambit was expanded to cover a range of issues that fall under the Minister’s statutory responsibility for the government’s treasury activities, including the management of wholesale and retail market debt, the investment of domestic cash balances and the international reserves portfolio, and the borrowing framework used by government-backed entities.

The TEP targets one evaluation per year, unless more are needed, as part of a medium-term evaluation plan that covers key areas of treasury management. The evaluation timing and frequency is determined in view of the materiality of the values or risks associated with the subjects, and whether or not there has been a significant change in policy or practice in recent years. See Annex for a list of TEP evaluations from 1992 to 2013.

Evaluations fall into two broad categories:

  1. Frameworks: assessments of policy frameworks within which activities are managed, e.g. debt strategy, reserves management and governance.
  2. Programs: examinations of program activities or specific initiatives undertaken in support of the broader policy framework, e.g. domestic and foreign borrowing programs, investment and risk management practices and retail debt.

From a governance perspective, the scope of the program calls for the maintenance of oversight committees that are well versed in its technical subject matter, as subsidiary elements within the overall departmental audit and evaluation framework.

TEP Steering Committee

The TEP process is overseen by a Steering Committee, chaired by the Associate Deputy Minister and G7 Deputy for Canada. Other members of the Committee include: Assistant Deputy Minister, Financial Sector Policy Branch, Department of Finance Canada, Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services Branch, Department of Finance Canada, Chief Audit and Evaluation Executive, Department of Finance Canada, Chief, Funds Management and Banking Department, Bank of Canada and Assistant Comptroller General, Office of the Comptroller General. The Steering Committee functions as a coordinating body and an advisory group to the Audit and Evaluation Committee of the Department of Finance. As such, it is responsible for determining the medium-term evaluation plan for assessments and approving the terms of reference for evaluations, receiving the final reports and approving the associated departmental responses and action plans. The Steering Committee typically meets on a semi-annual basis.

Working Group

The General Director, Financial Sector Policy Branch, chairs the Working Group, which manages the evaluation process on an ongoing basis. This group includes representation from the Financial Markets Division of the Department and the Bank of Canada, the Office of the Comptroller General and the Department’s Internal Audit and Evaluation Division.

The Working Group recommends areas for evaluation and develops terms of reference for Steering Committee approval. The Working Group is responsible for reviewing reports prepared by the external evaluator for factual accuracy and submitting the report to the Steering Committee. The Working Group meets on an as needed basis.

Evaluators

Evaluations are undertaken by independent third parties, selected through a competitive process. The Department’s Internal Audit and Evaluation Division serves as the Project Authority and manages the process from the selection of external evaluators, finalization of work plan and research design for the evaluation, to the submission of draft and final reports by the evaluators.

Treasury Evaluation Process

The evaluation process begins with the review and updating of the medium-term evaluation plan by the Working Group. The evaluation plan is sent to the Steering Committee for approval and later to the departmental Audit and Evaluation Committee. The Working Group also prepares Terms of Reference for the upcoming evaluation, which is then submitted to the Steering Committee for approval. The Terms of Reference is used as the basis for the selection of qualified evaluators through a competitive process.

Evaluations are finalized by going through a process of review and commentary by Working Group officials. At that juncture, a formal MRAP is drafted by the Working Group. The final report along with the MRAP is submitted to the Steering Committee for approval. Once approved by the Steering Committee, the report and the MRAP are submitted to the departmental Audit and Evaluation Committee for final review and approval. The report along with the MRAP is then posted on the Department’s website and sent for information purposes to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Auditor General.

The release of the evaluation report and the MRAP give priority to providing timely information to the public on the activities of the government. However, a comprehensive response to issues raised in the evaluation may require further analysis or consultations by the Department and decisions by the Minister of Finance. The response issued with the release of the evaluation would indicate this, if it were the case.

Annex: Treasury Evaluations Completed Since the Inception of the Treasury Evaluation Program
Area Year Completed
Debt Management Objectives 1992
Debt Structure- Fixed/Floating Mix 1992
Internal Review Process 1992
External Review Process 1992
Benchmarks and Performance Measures 1994
Foreign Currency Borrowing - Canada Bills Program 1994
Developing Well-Functioning Canada Bond and Bill Markets 1994 and 2002
Liability Portfolio Performance Measurement 1994
Retail Debt Program 1994 and 2004
Guidelines for Dealing with Auction Difficulties 1995
Foreign Currency Borrowing - Standby Line of Credit and FRN 1995
Treasury Bill Program Design 1995
Real Return Bond Program 1998
Foreign Currency Borrowing Program 1998
Initiatives to Support a Well-Functioning Wholesale Market 2001
Government’s Decision to Target a Higher Fixed Rate Debt Structure 2002
Reserves Management Framework 2002
Bond Buyback Program 2003
Governance: Debt and Reserves Management 2004
Borrowing Framework of Major Federal Government-Backed Entities 2005
Receiver General Cash Management Program 2006
Exchange Fund Account 2006 and 2012
Risk Management (debt and liquid reserves, including foreign exchange reserves) 2007
Debt Auction Process 2010
Crown Borrowing Program 2013
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