Ag Canada falls short on program evaluation

Federal auditor general Michael Ferguson says Agriculture Canada has fallen short of a government directive that all direct program spending be evaluated for need and effectiveness.

Because five of its 18 direct grant and contribution programs have not been evaluated as required, “the department may have funded programs that were not as effective or efficient as planned,” Ferguson said in a report tabled in Parliament April 30.

In its response included in the report, Agriculture Canada promised to do better during the next five-year period of reporting.

“Going forward, the department will ensure that all future evaluations sufficiently demonstrate that they address the key issues of relevance and effectiveness,” it said.

Ferguson’s office targeted three departments for a performance audit: agriculture, human resources and skills development, and fisheries and oceans.

Agriculture Canada fared the worst at 72 percent compliance and human resources scored 76 percent. Fisheries and Oceans Canada had properly evaluated all nine of its programs, according to the auditor general’s report.

The agriculture department’s response notes that it also submitted several evaluation reports that did not meet the auditor’s standard of demonstrating relevance and effectiveness.

The review follows a 2009 edict from Treasury Board Canada, the federal government’s central agency overseeing departmental spending and performance, that all departments must evaluate the relevance and performance of all direct program spending every five years.

The next five-year evaluation period started April 1.

Agriculture Canada said it will work with Treasury Board to figure out how to meet its requirements to evaluate the continuing need for and effectiveness of its grant and contributions programs, which send hundreds of millions of dollars into the industry every year.

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