Archived [2014-09-23] - Planning and Contracting Public Opinion Research, Procedures for

Public opinion research helps the government understand the views of Canadians and identify their needs and expectations. Its results are used to develop policies, programs, services and initiatives; to measure progress in improving service quality; and to plan and evaluate communication, marketing, advertising and other activities.
Date modified: 2009-06-17

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1. Effective date

1.1 These procedures take effect on June 9, 2009.

1.2 They replace the Procedures for Planning and Contracting Public Opinion Research dated May 13, 2008.

2. Application

2.1 These procedures apply to all departments identified in Schedules I, I. 1, and II of the Financial Administration Act (FAA), unless excluded by specific acts, regulations, or Orders in Council. 

2.2 These procedures do not apply to the following departments:

  • Office of the Auditor General of Canada;
  • Office of the Chief Electoral Officer;
  • Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada;
  • Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages;
  • Offices of the Information and Privacy Commissioners of Canada; and
  • Public Sector Integrity Canada.

3. Context

3.1 Public opinion research helps the government understand the views of Canadians and identify their needs and expectations.  Its results are used to develop policies, programs, services and initiatives; to measure progress in improving service quality; and to plan and evaluate communication, marketing, advertising and other activities.

3.2 These procedures support and facilitate the implementation of the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, which seeks to ensure that public opinion research activities are well coordinated, transparent and provide value for money. 

3.3 These procedures describe key requirements for heads of communications and the roles of the Communications and Consultations Secretariat at the Privy Council Office (PCO), the Public Opinion Research Directorate and the Communications Procurement Directorate at Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), and the Documentary Heritage Collection Sector at Library and Archives Canada.

3.4 These procedures are issued pursuant to paragraph 7(1)(a) of the FAA. 

3.5 The Treasury Board has delegated authority to the Secretary of the Treasury Board to amend the Procedures for Planning and Contracting Public Opinion Research.

3.6 These procedures are to be read in conjunction with:

4. Definitions

Definitions to be used in the interpretation of these procedures are found in the appendix.

5. Procedures statement

5.1 Objective

These procedures are established to ensure that Government of Canada public opinion research activities are well coordinated, transparent and managed in a way that provides value for money. 

5.2 Expected results

The following are the expected results of the application of these procedures:

5.2.1 Funds expended on public opinion research are for projects aligned with government priorities, policies, programs, services and initiatives;

5.2.2 The bidding process for contracted public opinion research activities is open, fair, and transparent, and public opinion research contracts provide value for money; and

5.2.3 The public's views and needs are well understood and taken into account when the Government of Canada develops policies, programs, services and initiatives.

6. Requirements

Heads of communications are responsible for:

6.1 Planning public opinion research

6.1.1 identifying a public opinion research coordinator to oversee the conduct and coordination of the department's public opinion research activities;

6.1.2 preparing an annual public opinion research plan for contracted and significant non-contracted research, that is updated quarterly and includes the following:

  • a description of each proposed public opinion research project;
  • a clear statement of the need for undertaking the projects against criteria developed by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat;
  • the intended usage of the results; and
  • the cost of contracted research including applicable taxes;

6.1.3 ensuring that any of the following types of research are included as significant non-contracted public opinion research in the annual plan:

  • public opinion research conducted to support government priorities;
  • public opinion research conducted in the development of policies, programs, services and initiatives;
  • advertising pre-testing and post-campaign evaluation;
  • national external public opinion research conducted in two or more provinces or territories;
  • opinion surveys of more than 500 respondents;
  • government-wide internal public opinion research;
  • public opinion research with high public interest or sensitivity; and
  • any other public opinion research deemed of high importance or high risk;

6.1.4 consulting the Communications and Consultations Secretariat at the Privy Council Office (PCO) in the development of their annual plan, any updates to the plan, and any unanticipated projects, prior to approval submission;

6.1.5 obtaining the approval of the minister or the person designated in Schedule VI (Part III, Column II) of the Financial Administration Act for all research plans and submitting copies of approved plans to the Communications and Consultations Secretariat at the PCO and the Public Opinion Research Directorate at Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC);

6.1.6 for unanticipated public opinion research projects, providing the Communications and Consultations Secretariat at the PCO and the Public Opinion Research Directorate at PWGSC with written instructions to proceed from the minister or the person designated in Schedule VI (Part III, Column II) of the Financial Administration Act as well as the required information outlined in 6. 1. 2;

6.2 Contracting public opinion research services

6.2.1 before contacting research suppliers, consulting with the Public Opinion Research Directorate at PWGSC to determine if the project falls within the domain of public opinion research and to review project objectives and methodological and contracting options;

6.2.2 ensuring that all contracts for public opinion research are issued by the Communications Procurement Directorate at PWGSC;

6.2.3 administering the contract for public opinion research, once it has been issued by the Communications Procurement Directorate at PWGSC, and informing the Public Opinion Research Directorate and the Communications Procurement Directorate at PWGSC of any changes to the original scope of work since these changes may require an amendment to the contract;

6.2.4 ensuring that their department does not issue contracts or expend public funds for public opinion research on electoral voting intentions, political party preferences, standings with the electorate or ratings of the performance of a political party or its leaders;

6.3 Following up and reporting on findings

6.3.1 forwarding to the Public Opinion Research Directorate at PWGSC for review at the earliest moment, and no less than five working days before conducting fieldwork, draft research instruments for contracted custom research;

6.3.2 forwarding, on request, research instruments, an analysis plan, survey data, data tables (upon completion of field work) and reports to the PCO for review and providing status updates for the project;

6.3.3 ensuring that, for contracted public opinion research, the supplier's senior officer certifies upon delivery that the final deliverables comply with the political neutrality requirement in 6. 2. 4;

6.3.4 providing, within six months after the completion of any data collection done for the purposes of public opinion research carried out under a contract at the request of the department and for the exclusive use of Her Majesty in right of Canada, copies of final reports and separate electronic copies of the English and French executive summaries of the reports to Library and Archives Canada in compliance with the Library and Archives of Canada Act, as well as to the Library of Parliament; and

6.3.5 ensuring that the summaries mentioned in 6. 3. 4 outline how the results were used, if possible, and if not, how the information is expected to be used, as well as the total expenditures of the public opinion research.

6.4 Monitoringand reporting

Within departments

Heads of communications are responsible for:

6.4.1 monitoring compliance with these procedures within their department; and

6.4.2 documenting contracted public opinion research activities, including estimates, contracts, justification of the choice of supplier, amendments to contracts, information on expenditures, information on the use made of the research, and dates of data collection, using the Research Information Management System (RIMS) which forms the basis of an annual report on public opinion research prepared by PWGSC and ensuring completeness and accuracy of all information entered.

Government-wide

The Public Opinion Research Directorate and the Communications Procurement Directorate at Public Works and Government Services Canada, and Library and Archives Canada are responsible for:

6.4.3 monitoring the implementation of these procedures in each of their areas of responsibility, and informing the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat of any significant or systemic non-compliance issues.

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is responsible for:

6.4.4 addressing any significant or systemic non-compliance issues in consultation with the Communications and Consultations Secretariat at the PCO, the Public Opinion Research Directorate and the Communications Procurement Directorate at PWGSC, and Library and Archives Canada; and

6.4.5 reviewing these procedures with their associated policy and their effectiveness at the five-year mark of implementation.  Where supported by a risk-based analysis, the Secretariat will ensure an evaluation is conducted.

7. Consequences

7.1 Consequences of non-compliance with these procedures can include any measure allowed by the Financial Administration Act that the Treasury Board would determine as appropriate and acceptable in the circumstances.

8. Roles and responsibilities of government organizations

8.1 Public Works and Government Services Canada

PWGSC is responsible for:

8.1.1 reviewing and providing advice on proposed research projects, including research objectives and methodologies, research instruments, and compliance with legislative and policy requirements as well as generally accepted research standards and benchmarks;

8.1.2 confirming whether projects fall within the definition of public opinion research and obtaining written confirmation that they have been approved by the minister in order to initiate the contracting process through the assignment of public opinion research registration numbers;

8.1.3 publishing an annual report on Government of Canada contracted public opinion research projects undertaken by departments subject to these procedures;

8.1.4 promoting information and best practices related to the conduct of Government of Canada public opinion research with all departments;

8.1.5 developing the terms of reference and evaluation criteria for standing offers and procurement tools, for use by multiple departments;

8.1.6 maintaining a database on contracted public opinion research activities within the Government of Canada;

8.1.7 contributing to government-wide capacity building by delivering information sessions; developing best practices and tools and promoting training opportunities to departments related to the conduct of government public opinion research;

8.1.8 managing the acquisition process for contracted public opinion research in accordance with PWGSC and Treasury Board policies, and where applicable chairing and conducting open, fair, and transparent bid evaluation processes; and

8.1.9 monitoring contract values and expenditures in RIMS on public opinion research and reporting its findings to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, on request.

8.2 Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada is responsible for:

8.2.1 providing a website to which it posts a listing of contracted public opinion research reports with executive summaries in both official languages, as provided by departments.

8.3 The Privy Council Office

The PCO is responsible for:

8.3.1 performing a central role in the leadership, challenge, strategic direction, and coordination of departmental and horizontal public opinion research activities.

References

10. Enquiries

For enquiries from the general public:

Email: info@tbs-sct. gc. ca or use our Comments and Questions form
Phone: 613-957-2400
Toll-free: 1-877-636-0656
TTY: 613-957-9090
Fax: 613-998-9071

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Corporate Communications
L'Esplanade Laurier, 10th Floor, West Tower
300 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa ON K1A 0R5

Please direct any questions about these procedures to the departmental head of communications, who in turn may contact the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat regarding its application and interpretation.  Heads of communications may contact:

Communications Policy and Federal Identity Program Directorate
Strategic Communications and Ministerial Affairs
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
300 Laurier Avenue West, 3rd Floor
Ottawa ON K1A 0R5
Phone: 613-957-2533
Fax: 613-946-5187
Email: infocomm@tbs-sct.gc.ca

For more information about planning public opinion research, please contact:

Communications and Consultations Secretariat
Privy Council Office
Blackburn Building
63 Sparks Street, 5th Floor
Ottawa ON K1A 0A3
Phone: 613-957-5139
Fax: 613-943-5480
Email: comcon@pco-bcp.gc.ca

Public Opinion Research Directorate
Public Works and Government Services Canada
155 Queen Street, 5th Floor
Ottawa ON K1A 0S5
Phone: 613-995-2216
Fax: 613-947-6696
Email: DGCISPOpinionPublique.CISSBPublicOpinion@pwgsc-tpsgc.gc.ca

For more information about contracting public opinion research, please contact:

Communications Procurement Directorate
Public Works and Government Services Canada
Constitution Square I, 12th Floor
360 Albert Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0S5
Phone: 613-998-7619
Fax: 613-991-5870
Email: NCR.ACQBSSAMSCPD@pwgsc.gc.ca

For more information about depositing public opinion research, please contact:

Legal Deposit—Public Opinion
Research Reports Acquisitions
Published Heritage
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0N4
Phone: 819-997-9565
Fax: 819-953-8508
Email: porr-rrop@lac-bac.gc.ca
Website: www. porr-rrop.gc.ca

Library of Parliament
Clarica Centre
50 O'Connor Street, 12th Floor, Room 1249A
Ottawa ON K1A 0A9
Phone: 613-996-3161
Fax: 613-947-5045
Email: LOPCataloguing@parl.gc.ca


Appendix: Definitions

Public opinion research (recherche sur l'opinion publique)

the planned gathering, by or for a government institution of opinions, attitudes, perceptions, judgements, feelings, ideas, reactions, or views that are intended to be used for any government purpose, whether that information is collected from persons (including employees of government institutions), businesses, institutions or other entities, through quantitative or qualitative methods, irrespective of size or cost.

The information gathering may be associated with a broad range of activities, for example:

  • policy research;
  • market research;
  • communications research, communication strategies and advertising research;
  • program evaluation;
  • quality of service/customer satisfaction studies;
  • omnibus surveys, with the placement of one or more questions;
  • syndicated studies; or
  • product development.

The following research and/or methods for obtaining opinions and/or advice are not considered to be opinion research: literature reviews or reviews of secondary sources, including reviews of already conducted public opinion research; secondary analysis of previously collected public opinion research data; and verification of performance of services or delivery of goods in contract situations.

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