About the Centre of Excellence for Evaluation

The Centre of Excellence for Evaluation (CEE) fulfills the Secretariat's responsibilities under the 2009 Policy on Evaluation to provide functional leadership for evaluation across the federal government through advice and guidance in the conduct, use and advancement of evaluation practices.

CEE carries out its responsibilities primarily by engaging directly with departmental evaluation units and evaluators and by providing support on the use of evaluation findings in central agencies and across government. In its role as functional leader for evaluation, CEE engages with a variety of internal and external partners and stakeholders.

CEE undertakes a number of activities to fulfill its role. Key activities include:

  • developing guidance materials and tools to support policy implementation in departments and agencies and to advance evaluation practices;
  • monitoring evaluation capacity and policy implementation in departments; and
  • fostering community and capacity development to support improvements in the capacity and competence of evaluation units across the Government of Canada.

Evolution of Evaluation in the Federal Government

Evaluation was officially introduced into the federal government in the late 1970s to help improve management practices and controls. The 1977 Evaluation Policy mandated that evaluation be a component of the management of each department and organization. It recognized program evaluation as an integral part of the managerial responsibilities of deputy heads of departments and agencies. Evaluation findings and recommendations were to be used by deputy heads to make more informed decisions on management and resourcing, to be accountable for the programs for which they were responsible, as well as, to provide quality advice to ministers.

In 1981, the Office of the Comptroller General (OCG) published the Guide on the Program Evaluation Function to provide departments and agencies with assistance in establishing and maintaining a program evaluation function. A companion document entitled Principles for the Evaluation of Programs by the Federal Departments and Agencies was also published to provide direction and suggestions on how to carry out evaluations. These were later followed, in 1989, by the publication of Working Standards for the Evaluation of Programs in Federal Departments and Agencies.

As a result of the continuous efforts to provide managers with the right tools to manage for results, the OCG, in 1994 created an umbrella Review Policy that brought internal audit and evaluation together under the same policy It brought together various Treasury Board performance measurement and review requirements. It was intended to support the principles of managing for results by emphasizing the responsibility of line managers to demonstrate performance and to act on performance information as well as to create a productive alliance between managers and review professionals.

A study of the evaluation function was carried out in 2000 to re-examine the Review Policy in a modern management environment. The study identified the need for a clear distinction between internal audit and evaluation to better serve the needs of managers.

In February 2001 the Treasury Board approved the Evaluation Policy and Standards for the Government of Canada. The policy separated the evaluation and internal audit functions as well as extended the scope of evaluation to include programs, policies and initiatives. The policy focused on results-based management and aimed to embed the discipline of evaluation into management practice.

The new Policy on Evaluation (April 1, 2009), along with the Directive on the Evaluation Function and the Standard on Evaluation for the Government of Canada, support a more prominent role for the evaluation function in supporting the Expenditure Management System (EMS). New policy requirements for expanded evaluation coverage address the growing need for neutral, credible evaluation evidence on the value for money of all government direct program spending to inform expenditure management decisions, in addition to policy and program improvement decisions, Cabinet decision making and public reporting. In addition to requirements for expanded evaluation coverage of programs, the policy, directive and standard introduce measures to ensure the quality, neutrality and use of evaluation in the Government of Canada.

For additional information on the history of the evaluation function in the Government of Canada, please see:

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