Standard on Evaluation for the Government of Canada

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1. Effective Date

The Standard on Evaluation for the Government of Canada takes effect on April 1, 2009. This standard replaces the standard under the 2001 Evaluation Policy.

2. Application

This standard 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.

3. Context

The Standard on Evaluation for the Government of Canada was developed to ensure that evaluations meet minimum requirements for quality, neutrality, and utility. In doing so, decision-makers are provided with credible information which supports decision-making on policy and expenditure management and program improvements and demonstrates accountability for results.

This standard applies to evaluations of government programs. Heads of evaluation will implement the standard, and are also accountable for ensuring that federal government evaluators and evaluation managers, and external evaluators apply the standard.

For evaluators, the standard provides direction on what is required to produce acceptable evaluations. For users of evaluation information, the standard provides a basis on which to judge the merit and reliability of evaluations.

The standard supports the objectives of, and is to be read in conjunction with, the Policy on Evaluation and the Directive on the Evaluation Function.

The Treasury Board has delegated to the President of the Treasury Board the authority to issue, amend and rescind the Standard on Evaluation for the Government of Canada and to approve any exception to the standard.

This standard covers activities associated with the full cycle of an evaluation project including protocols, planning and design, project management, and reporting.

4. Definitions

Definitions used in the interpretation of this standard can be found in Annex A of the Policy on Evaluation.

5. Standard Statement

5.1 Objective

The objective of this standard is to set minimum requirements for the conduct of evaluations so as to ensure their quality, neutrality and utility.

5.2 Expected results

The expected results of this standard are departmental evaluation products of adequate quality that are used in program, policy and expenditure decision making, and public reporting.

6. Standard Requirements

There are four areas covered by this standard, pertaining to evaluation processes and activities (i.e. evaluation protocol); evaluation planning and design; evaluation project management; and evaluation reporting and use. Heads of evaluation are responsible for ensuring that the requirements of this standard are met.

6.1 Evaluation Protocol Requirements

Protocol requirements refer to expected processes and activities to ensure evaluations produce credible, neutral and timely results that inform decision making, support program improvements, and demonstrate accountability.

6.1.1 Governance

  1. Heads of evaluation are responsible for directing evaluation projects.
  2. Roles and responsibilities of project team members involved in specific evaluations are articulated in writing and agreed upon at the outset of the evaluation.

6.1.2 Stakeholder Involvement

  1. Evaluations incorporate sufficient and appropriate consultation, including with major stakeholders, and, where appropriate, apply the advice and guidance of specialists and other knowledgeable persons.
  2. Peer review, advisory, or steering committee groups are used where appropriate to input to evaluation planning and processes and to the review of evaluation products to improve their quality. The head of evaluation or the evaluation manager directs these committees.

6.1.3 Follow-Up

  1. Impacts of evaluations, including savings or improvements produced, are reported to the deputy head.
  2. Ongoing, systematic inquiry is employed to identify future improvements to evaluation products and services.

6.2 Evaluation Planning and Design Requirements

Evaluation planning and design requirements ensure that the basic elements of a good evaluation are in place at the outset of an evaluation.

6.2.1 Cost-Effective and Risk-Based Evaluations

  1. Purpose and objectives are clearly stated at the outset of the evaluation project.
  2. Risks associated with the program being evaluated are clearly articulated at the outset of the evaluation.
  3. The complexity of the evaluation (design, methods and associated costs) is linked with the risks associated with the program being evaluated, the information needs of the deputy head, and the availability of reliable data and information.

6.2.2 Standard on Measurement and Analysis

  1. The evaluation approach, and associated design and related methods, are identified during the planning stage of the evaluation.
  2. The evaluation methods and associated limitations are clearly described and documented so that the data collected can be reliably and adequately assessed.
  3. Multiple lines of evidence, including evidence produced from both quantitative and qualitative analysis, are used to ensure reliable and sufficient evidence.

6.3 Evaluation Project Management Requirements

Requirements related to managing an evaluation ensure that evaluations are conducted in a professional and ethical manner.

6.3.1 Ethically-based

  1. Evaluators behave in a manner that is consistent with the “Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service.” Any contract by which an external evaluator (i.e. consultant) is engaged to provide evaluation services is to include a requirement that the “Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service” be complied with.
  2. Individuals performing evaluation work act in a neutral manner and with integrity in their relationships with stakeholders.
  3. Any conflict of interest is dealt with openly, honestly, and promptly so that it does not compromise evaluation processes or results.

6.3.2 Team Competencies

  1. The person or persons carrying out the evaluation or evaluation-related work possesses or collectively possess the knowledge and competence to carry out the evaluation.

6.3.3 Project Management

  1. Sound fiscal decision-making is employed in the management of evaluation projects so that expenditures are accounted for, and the Government of Canada receives good value for its money.
  2. When engaging external resources, evaluation projects comply with Treasury Board contracting policies.
  3. When engaging external resources, contracts by which an external evaluator is engaged to provide evaluation services include a requirement to comply with this standard.

6.3.4 Information Management, Privacy and Confidentiality

  1. In planning and conducting the evaluation, those involved in the evaluation comply with government policies related to information collection, use, preservation and dissemination.
  2. Stakeholders and participants in an evaluation are informed of the level of confidentiality and privacy that is afforded them under the Privacy Act.

6.4 Evaluation Reporting and Use Requirements

Evaluation reporting requirements ensure that reports present the findings, conclusions and recommendations in a clear and neutral manner.

6.4.1 Evaluation reports

  1. Evaluation reports are written so that senior managers and external readers can readily focus on and understand the important issues being reported. Evaluation reports:
    1. are concise and clearly written;
    2. include only information that is needed for a proper understanding of the findings, conclusions and recommendations;
    3. include an accurate assessment of the results achieved by the program being evaluated as well as clear conclusions on their relevance and performance;
    4. present the conclusions and recommendations so that they flow logically from evaluation findings;
    5. clearly expose the constraints of the evaluation with respect to the design, methods and consultations;
    6. satisfy, where applicable, Cabinet, Treasury Board Submission or external reporting requirements;
    7. provide the reader with appropriate context by describing the objectives and timing of the work, the program evaluated, how it fits into the overall operations of the organization, and its rationale;
    8. contain clear and actionable recommendations and timing for the action plan; and,
    9. provide relevant analysis and explanation of the exposure to risks for any significant problems identified.

6.4.2 Utilization

Evaluation information on the ongoing relevance and performance of direct program spending is:

  1. available to Ministers, departments and central agencies and used to support evidence-based decision-making on policy, expenditure management and program improvements; and,
  2. available to Parliament and Canadians to support government accountability for results achieved by policies and programs.

7. Monitoring and Reporting

The monitoring and reporting requirements outlined in section 7 of the Policy on Evaluation apply to this standard.

8. Consequences

The consequences of non-compliance with this standard are identified in section 8 of the Policy on Evaluation.

9. References


10. Enquiries

Please direct enquiries about this standard to:

Senior Director, Centre of Excellence for Evaluation
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
222 Nepean Street, 4th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R5
Telephone: 613-952-7447
Fax: 613-946-6262