Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2016 to 2019 management framework: chapter 5

Audit and evaluation

Performance measurement and evaluation are complementary and important components of the “Plan, Do, Check and Improve” system of the strategy.

Evaluation is a snapshot in time conducted by an external organization to provide a more in-depth and independent assessment of the outcomes achieved. It can be helpful in identifying opportunities to improve the way in which future sustainable development activities are designed and delivered. In addition to design and delivery, evaluation can also be used to improve efficiency and economy, and provide other oversight.

The strategy and outcomes identified in the logic model will be evaluated and reviewed at various stages throughout the strategy’s three-year cycle. 

5.1 Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development

Under the act and the Auditor General Act, the commissioner has several obligations:

  • During the mandated public consultation, review whether the targets and implementation strategies in the draft strategy can be assessed [Federal Sustainable Development Act 9(4)
  • Following release of the required progress report, review the fairness of the government’s progress report on implementation of the strategy [Auditor General Act 23(4)
  • Annually, monitor and report on individual departments’ progress in implementing their own sustainable development strategies [Auditor General Act 23(1)

In June 2016, the commissioner reviewed the draft 2016 to 2019 strategy that was released for public consultation and provided comments to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

Informed in part by the commissioner’s findings, during this cycle the Sustainable Development Office will:

  • continue to work with the interdepartmental community regarding the environment-related 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals
  • continue to develop, refine and update the strategy’s interactive online strategy
  • work with TBS to monitor and report on progress on the low-carbon government goal
  • continue to review best practices in environmental sustainability planning and reporting
  • implement the recommendations of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, where appropriate
  • work to expand the voluntary participation of departments and agencies in the strategy
  • continue to incorporate the social and economic dimensions of environmental sustainability into the strategy

5.2 Internal departmental audits and evaluations

Internal audit activities related to the strategy will be considered in the context of ECCC’s annual risk-based audit plan as required by the Treasury Board Policy on Internal Audit and Support to the Comptroller General, as well as any requirements of the Office of the Comptroller General pursuant to horizontal or sectoral audits. They will be funded through existing Internal Audit Directorate budgets.

Evaluations of any programs, policies or initiatives related to the strategy will be considered through ECCC’s annual risk-based evaluation plan process that results in a five-year rolling departmental evaluation plan as required by the Treasury Board Policy on Results.

Some of the department’s activities in support of the strategy were assessed as part of the evaluation of ECCC’s Sustainability Reporting and Indicators Program, completed in 2016 to 17. No further similar evaluations are scheduled to date to take place during the 2016 to 2019 strategy cycle.

During the 2016 to 2019 cycle, ECCC and other departments or agencies that participate in the 2016 to 2019 strategy may undertake audits or evaluations of programs included in the strategy as part of their departmental risk-based audit and evaluation plans. These audits or evaluations are the sole responsibility of individual departments.

5.3 Review and comment 

As previously mentioned in the Governance section, informal examination, in the form of review and comment, can be valuable for improving program performance and delivery. Informal reviews may be conducted on an as-needed basis. They may take the form of interdepartmental working groups, workshops or reviews depending upon the nature of the topic.

In addition, the Sustainable Development Office undertakes internal reviews such as Gender-Based Analysis Plus, citation scans, assessment of strategy targets against SMART criteria (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) and comparative analysis with international good practices for sustainable development strategies in order to inform the development of future strategies.

Any review conducted would be done with support of the interdepartmental community and be aimed at improving the systems and procedures put in place to implement the strategy. Possible topics may include:

  • identifying opportunities for improvement to future iterations of the strategy
  • determining needed improvements based on progress reports
  • identifying best practices and lessons learned
  • refining guidance to departments
  • refining approaches used to develop, implement and evaluate the strategy
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