5. Conclusions

Relevance

There is a demonstrated environmental need in each of the program areas covered by the six UTCs, and funded projects are aligned with federal priorities to protect the environment and with departmental strategic outcomes. In addition, funded project activities are consistent with federal responsibilities specified in legislation (e.g., the Department of the Environment Act) and are linked to the objectives of ECCC programs in the PAA.

Performance – efficiency and economy

The UTCs are sensibly designed in that each UTC is aligned to a PAA program and associated ECCC strategic outcome, and specifies the expected results to which it is intended to contribute. Also, the contribution agreement for each funded project specifies the applicable UTC expected result(s) the funded activities are intended to support. In addition, in the view of most program managers interviewed, there is a need for the UTC mechanism, as it provides consistency in the funding approach across program areas in the department and flexibility for a timely response to new project opportunities, and it reduces the number of Ts&Cs which management is required to maintain, update and report on. The UTCs appropriately leverage existing department-wide governance mechanisms through a formal ADM-level Committee, and a structured Gs&Cs approvals process with clear roles and responsibilities for program and Finance representatives. Efficiencies are supported through the use of detailed guidelines and standardized materials that facilitate effective management of contributions funded under the UTCs. Funding recipients express high levels of satisfaction with key design features of the Gs&Cs application, funding and reporting processes.

A number of factors suggest the UTCs support efficient management, including the use of a single common set of Ts&Cs for a wide range of funding programs/initiatives aligned to each PAA program, thereby avoiding a greater number of individual Ts&Cs, changes made in response to previous studies (e.g., standardized templates for agreements and project reports, streamlined approvals process), and the delivery of projects in collaboration and with leveraged resources from a range of partners (i.e., 64% of project funding is from partners). In addition, the department has a systematic process for prioritizing Gs&Cs projects to be supported under the UTCs, which should help to ensure that project funds and activities are well targeted. Survey and file review findings indicate that funding recipients are highly satisfied with the delivery and efficiency of UTC funding; however, the timeliness of the notification and receipt of funding is a concern for some.

Performance information is collected and provided in the department’s standard final project reporting template for most, though not all, projects funded under the UTCs. Project reports focus primarily on the degree of completion of funded project activities and outputs as opposed to achievement of expected environmental outcomes and results. The department’s Corporate Services and Finance Branch maintains a Gs&Cs database which focuses on the financial aspects of funded projects, but the department has no consolidated information on project performance. Each UTC specifies expected results and associated performance indicators, and each contribution agreement includes at least one of these expected results. However, the evaluation found no evidence of performance reporting against these UTC expected results and indicators.

Performance – effectiveness

Projects funded under the UTCs appear to be facilitating the achievement of environmental outcomes. The evaluation findings suggest that projects funded under the UTCs are for the most part completing their planned activities and achieving their intended short-term outcomes, though evidence for the latter is limited to interview and survey findings. In addition, the available evidence suggests that projects are making a contribution to the applicable UTC expected results; however, due to a lack of objective performance data it is not possible to draw definitive conclusions on this point. There have been no unintended outcomes of the UTC mechanism.

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