Results at a Glance: Evaluation of Health Canada's Solutions Fund
Health Canada (HC) developed the Solutions Fund (SF) in 2017 in response to the Treasury Board Secretariat Experimentation direction for Deputy Heads. The intention of the SF is to provide opportunities for HC employees to identify, develop and implement projects that will improve the health and safety of Canadians, enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the department and deliver greater value to taxpayers.
The SF distributes seed funding for employee-led innovation and experimentation projects. Projects are funded through 'Stream 1' Exploration of solutions to problems and 'Stream 2' Experimentation for testing potential solutions. By testing innovative projects on a small scale to find out what works and what doesn't, HC aims to promote stronger, evidence-based decision making before making larger investment decisions.
OAE collected information from various sources, including interviews with key internal and external informants, a review of internal and public documents and files, and a review of project-based performance information and data.
What the Evaluation Found
- The SF is regarded as a well-planned and well-run initiative led by a dedicated team who, in partnership with corporate support services, provide comprehensive supports to SF applicants and participants.
- The SF has successfully employed a variety of outreach activities to encourage HC employees to submit applications. The SF is a key contributor to promoting an innovation and experimentation mindset throughout HC. However, there is potential for improvements in the sharing of project results and lessons learned to further build this culture and apply the learnings from SF projects across HC.
- The SF has developed a standardised process of proposal review and project selection. The SF team has improved project assessment processes, including the adoption of assessment grids and leveraging expert reviewers across HC and the Government of Canada. In addition, no promising proposals have been rejected due to a lack of funding. The oversight mechanisms for SF projects are well-defined with clear roles for the project team and the SF Governance Committee.
- The SF incorporates a vision of preparing successful innovation ideas for 'scale up' to improve program and service delivery, but projects considered to be successful still face the reality of needing branch or departmental-level support to be implemented, and must still pass required, demanding, due diligence processes. Some SF projects have shown promising results through experimentation. Given the relatively recent completion of most Stream 2 SF projects and the associated processes and requirements to put them into practice, some projects have been piloted within their branch but no project has yet been fully implemented. In addition, there is a question of if (and how) SF projects that have shown promising results could be supported for potential scale-up after they have completed Stream 2.
- Improve the sharing of project results and lessons learned from SF projects across HC.
- Determine the future role of the SF in supporting the scale-up of successful Stream 2 projects and growing the capacity for innovation and experimentation across HC.
- Date modified: