Policy on Evaluation – Frequently Asked Questions

The 2009 Policy on Evaluation

Questions

  1. What is the 2009 Policy on Evaluation?
  2. What is the difference between the 2009 and the 2001 policy?
  3. Who does this policy apply to?
  4. What impact does the 2009 policy have on departments and agencies?
  5. When did this policy take effect?
  6. Which sections of the policy are being implemented gradually?
  7. Are there supporting documents for the 2009 policy?
  8. Have there been any amendments to the Policy on Evaluation since 2009?

Answers

1. What is the 2009 Policy on Evaluation?

The Treasury Board of Canada sets management policies for implementation in departments and agencies of the Government of Canada. The 2009 Policy on Evaluation and its supporting directive and standard strengthen and ensure the neutrality of the evaluation function in departments and agencies. The policy also ensures that a comprehensive and reliable base of evaluation evidence is created and used to support policy and expenditure management decisions, as well as program improvement.

2. What is the difference between the 2009 and the 2001 policy?

The 2009 policy directly supports the renewed Expenditure Management System (EMS) of the Government of Canada by ensuring comprehensive and systematic information on program relevance and performance is available to support decision making. It also supports a key requirement of the Financial Administration Act (as amended by the Federal Accountability Act) to evaluate all ongoing grants and contribution programs every five years.

The 2009 policy introduced a number of changes for the evaluation function across government. The changes included:

  • Focusing evaluations on the value-for-money of program spending and establishing clear standards to strengthen quality;
  • Expanding evaluation coverage to include all direct program spending every five years;
  • Establishing competency requirements for heads of evaluation, to improve evaluation quality and neutrality; and
  • Strengthening the capacity of the Treasury Board Secretariat to lead, monitor and use evaluation information.

3. Who does this policy apply to?

The policy applies to departments as defined in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act, with the exception of the Office of the Governor General’s Secretary, and the staffs of the Senate, House of Commons, Library of Parliament, Office of the Senate Ethics Officer and Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

Application of the policy to small departments and agencies is deferred until otherwise directed by the President of the Treasury Board, with the exception of section 6.2 of the policy, which applied to all small departments and agencies as of April 1, 2009. Notably, small departments and agencies must meet legislated requirements to evaluate all ongoing programs of grants and contributions every five years.

4. What impact does the 2009 policy have on departments and agencies?

These policy elements are largely a confirmation of current best practices in departments with advanced evaluation functions. For departments with less-advanced functions, the policy elements help to focus departments on putting in place a neutral and credible evaluation function that assists them in making decisions about policies and programs and in meeting the needs of the Expenditure Management System.

5. When did this policy take effect?

The policy took effect on April 1, 2009. However, some sections of the policy are being implemented gradually over a four year period to allow departments to build their evaluation capacity.

6. Which sections of the policy are being implemented gradually?

Two requirements are being phased in between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2013, specifically:

  • The policy requirement for full evaluation coverage of direct program spending every five years (section 6.1.8. a); and,
  • The competency requirements for heads of evaluation, which flow from the directive (section 6.1.1. a).

During the phase-in period for these requirements, the Treasury Board Secretariat is focusing on supporting the development of evaluation capacity in departments and agencies across the Government of Canada.

7. Are there supporting documents for the 2009 policy?

The 2009 policy is supported by a Directive on the Evaluation Function, a Standard on Evaluation for the Government of Canada, and several guides that have been or are being developed to provide explanation, non-mandatory guidance, good practices and advice on the policy and directive and standard.

8. Have there been any amendments to the Policy on Evaluation since 2009?

Yes, the policy was amended, effective April 1, 2012, to remove the requirement to develop an annual Government of Canada evaluation plan for Treasury Board approval and require instead that the Secretary of the Treasury Board of Canada report annually to the Treasury Board on government-wide evaluation priorities.

This and the resulting amendments to the Directive on the Evaluation Function leverages existing authorities under the Policy on Evaluation to streamline the development and reporting of government-wide evaluation priorities into the Annual Report on the Health of the Evaluation Function.

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