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Evaluation of the Great Lakes Action Plan IV

Executive Summary

Executive Summary

Background

In the 2009-2010 fiscal year, Environment Canada's Audit and Evaluation Branch, Evaluation Division, commissioned an evaluation of the Great Lakes Action Plan IV (GLAP IV). This program was selected for evaluation prior to the end of the program's terms and conditions at the close of the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

The GLAP for Areas of Concern (AOCs) is the primary vehicle under the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem Initiative (GLBEI) for the federal government, with Environment Canada as the lead department, to act to restore AOCs around the Great Lakes area and fulfill Canadian commitments under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) with the United States. The current fourth phase[1] of the Action Plan, GLAP IV, was approved in 2005 with a budget of $40 million ($8 million per year over five years) to restore, protect and conserve AOCs around the Great Lakes.

The goals of GLAP IV are:

  • to make progress on federal[2] actions in eight AOCs: St. Mary's River, St. Clair River, Toronto and Region, Hamilton Harbour, Jackfish Bay, Detroit River, Niagara River and Port Hope; and
  • to complete federal actions in seven AOCs: Thunder Bay, Nipigon Bay, Peninsula Harbour, Bay of Quinte, Wheatley Harbour, St. Lawrence River and Spanish River.

To achieve these goals, GLAP IV is based on an ecosystem approach: remedial efforts targeted to AOCs under GLAP IV deal with interrelated environmental and sustainable development issues based on beneficial use impairments (BUIs) identified in these areas. As laid out in the GLWQA, remediation in each AOC is guided by Remedial Action Plans (RAPs).

Program funding is allocated to remedial actions (e.g., sediment remediation, habitat restoration), science (e.g., assessment and monitoring of ecosystem health and status of BUIs), and engagement/governance (e.g., engagement of community members, support for RAP committees). Over the life of the program, approximately 40 science and monitoring projects led by federal partners and over 200 grants and contributions (G&C) projects under the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund (GLSF) were approved for funding.

Evaluation Issues

The evaluation covers GLAP IV program activities from the 2005 2006 to 2009 2010 fiscal years. The evaluation issues include the following:

  • Relevance: Is there a continued need for a GLAP? Is GLAP IV aligned to federal government priorities? Is GLAP IV consistent with federal roles and responsibilities?
  • Design and Delivery: Is the GLAP IV design appropriate for achieving expected program results?
  • Achievement of program outcomes: To what extent have intended outcomes been achieved as a result of GLAP IV? Have there been any unintended (positive or negative) outcomes?
  • Efficiency: Is GLAP IV undertaking activities and delivering products in the most efficient manner?
  • Economy: Is GLAP IV achieving its intended outcomes in the most economical manner?

Methodology

Data were collected for the evaluation using multiple lines of evidence. These included a document review, a review of 39 GLSF G&C agreement files, a qualitative analysis of 21 federal partner project files, and a total of 46 key informant interviews with departmental program managers and federal partners (n=11); representatives of various committees (n=10); federal project proponents (n=4); GLSF project proponents (n=10); unsuccessful applicants (n=4); RAP committee members (n=4); and international or academic experts on aquatic ecosystem remediation (n=3). Key challenges for the study included a reliance on internal sources of evidence and limited availability of program activity information and financial data with respect to GLAP IV.

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Evaluation Findings

Relevance

GLAP IV remains a relevant program that enables the federal government to address the continued need for restoration and maintenance of the Great Lakes AOCs. While recent trends in Great Lakes' ecosystem conditions are variable, historical sources of stress, combined with new challenges, are leading to negative impacts in many areas of the lakes. Environmental need, together with the social and economic benefits of the Great Lakes, supports the continued relevance of the program. Public opinion is consistent with scientific information and key informant views on the environmental and societal importance of the Great Lakes and the continued need for the GLAP.

There is little redundancy risk associated with GLAP IV. The program uniquely addresses federal commitments in the GLWQA and the Canada Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem (COA) by providing a framework to address BUIs linked to AOC RAP priority areas. Unlike other public funding (federal, provincial and municipal) and non-public funding (industry, foundations, non governmental organizations [NGOs], etc.), GLAP IV is targeted exclusively to AOCs. Key informants express few concerns about the possibility of duplication or overlap between GLAP IV and other programming. Rather, GLAP IV is seen as being highly complementary and as a catalyst in orienting other funding sources to provide support in the AOCs.

GLAP IV is consistent with federal and departmental priorities. The program is part of the GLBEI and is one of six ecosystem initiatives at Environment Canada under the Priority Ecosystem Initiatives Sub-Activity. The GLBEI supports the Department's Strategic Outcome that "Canada's natural capital is restored, conserved and enhanced." GLAP IV outcomes and priority investments also support a number of other sub-activities within Environment Canada's program activity architecture, including Aquatic Ecosystems, Wildlife, Priority Ecosystems, Ecosystems Sustainability, and Assessment and Ecological Monitoring.

Environment Canada's GLAP IV is aligned to support federal government commitments and obligations under the GLWQA and COA, as well as federal government priorities outlined in the 2007 Speech from the Throne and two recent federal budgets. Legislative authorities for the GLAP IV include the Canada Water Act, the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act, and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Design and Delivery

Overall, GLAP IV was viewed as a sensible model to achieve intended outcomes. Engagement of partners represents a critical and beneficial aspect of the GLAP IV program delivery, with partnerships occuring at many levels and in many ways. Formal agreements between Canada and the United States (GLWQA) and Canada and Ontario (COA) represent the foundation for commitments of the jurisdictional parties with respect to the AOCs. Implementation involves horizontal partnerships within Environment Canada and across the federal government. RAP committees provide a forum for jurisdictions (federal, provincial, municipal and First Nations) and key stakeholder groups (conservation authorities, community groups and NGOs) to coordinate their efforts through to the delisting process. The funding structure of GLSF projects promotes partner engagement at the local and regional level with partner contributions including cash and in-kind funding, assistance with delivery, and participation in advisory or research capacity.

The implementation of GLAP IV diverged from the original design of the program in several areas. Although the five year work plans required by federal partner departments to access GLAP IV funds were considered to be a positive and worthwhile exercise, the work planning, annual reporting, review and updating processes did not occur as intended, which resulted in a loss of flexibility, responsiveness and accountability.

Due to the horizontal nature of the initiative and broad changes at Environment Canada, GLAP IV governance and management activities do not reflect those outlined in the management framework developed for the program. Areas identified as a potential source of confusion or concern by federal key informants include an inadequate instrument to ensure that partner contributions to program goals are fulfilled, and clarity of roles and responsibilities with respect to delisting AOCs.

For federal partners who received their recommended funding, the amount of GLAP IV funding was seen to be adequate, with the caveat that they would like future funding to be indexed for inflation. However, some federal partners report receiving significantly fewer resources than their original approved funding levels, which they feel impacted negatively on their ability to implement planned activities. For federal partners that received their GLAP IV funding allocation in full, a more pressing concern was the high ratio of operations and maintenance (O&M) to salary dollars and inability to convert these dollars (i.e., from O&M to salary), which left many groups with insufficient salary dollars to hire scientific and technical staff. GLSF project proponent and committee key informants tended to suggest that the GLAP IV focus and resources be expanded to include priority areas and activities that extend beyond the designated AOCs.

GLAP IV monitoring and reporting activities are undertaken to meet annual reporting obligations associated with both the GLWQA and the COA. At the level of funded projects, GLSF project reporting is quite complete and the majority of reviewed GLSF files provided clear evidence of intended output achievements, however, limited evidence was provided on the outcomes of remedial actions taken in the AOCs. While federal proponents were supportive of increasing reporting requirements for GLAP IV projects to enhance performance measurement and accountability, regular reporting of federal science and monitoring projects is not a formal requirement and reporting to the GLAP IV program is ad hoc.

Project proponent key informants indicate a high level of satisfaction with the GLSF program. Program priorities are considered to be clear and appropriate. The application process is regarded as clear and transparent by most funding recipients and selection criteria are viewed to be explicit and well communicated. Overall, the GLSF proposal review process is perceived to be logical and GLSF funding decisions are viewed as strategic and fair. Program staff are seen by project proponents to be accessible and supportive. Modifications to the GLSF program (including a shift from the use of memoranda of understanding to contribution agreements), implemented by Environment Canada in 2007, have challenged the timely delivery of the program, reduced flexibility and increased uncertainty among partners. Project proponents indicate a preference for streamlining the application and approval process, for multi-year agreements and for more straightforward funding agreements.

Achievement of Program Outcomes

In general, key informants had favourable impressions on the performance of the program with respect to the achievement of immediate and intermediate outcomes, a finding that is supported by the program documentation and review of GLSF and federal project files. As indicated, engagement of partners at the local level and across jurisdictions and scientific communities is perceived to be a strength of the program. This is supported by GLAP IV funds allocated to federal partners to facilitate coordination and management of GLAP IV (e.g., with the provinces and First Nations). Engagement of partners and participation at the local level is facilitated through committees, informal networks and the RAP structure (which also receive GLSF funding support). With respect to remedial actions, addressing pollution (through sediment remediation, support to municipal infrastructure improvements and reducing non-point sources of pollution) is a significant priority for the program and is allocated almost one half of the GLAP IV dollars. While the success of federal partners' efforts is difficult to discern due to gaps in the federal project files, GLSF projects that supported this objective were found to be well documented in terms of outputs and experienced few challenges in implementation. BUI assessment and monitoring work is occurring on many fronts to assess the status of BUIs, effectiveness of restoration activities and defining BUI goals/targets. Fewer federal projects were funded for habitat restoration (though this is a particular focus of GLSF). Habitat projects are more easily documented in terms of outputs (e.g., plantings, wetland acreage), but these projects are also more subject to implementation challenges. Overall, program investments advance activity in each AOC to some degree (though some coordination projects target all AOCs generically). Note that while group 1 AOCs (those closest to delisting) were intended to be assigned a higher priority for GLAP IV investments, the number of projects funded in these group 1 AOCs is lower than in the group 2 AOCs.

Achievement of the program's longer-term outcomes is much less evident, and the majority of BUIs that were originally identified in AOCs still exist. Of the over 100 BUIs identified, only 20 per cent have been restored. In consideration of the status of the BUIs, the program has identified outstanding priority actions for each AOC and projected timelines for delisting. Only two AOCs have been delisted and one AOC designated an area in recovery and these occurred prior to GLAP IV. The original program goal of completing federal actions in seven group 1 AOCs has not been achieved. Three AOCs are expected to be delisted or designated as Areas in Recovery within the next one to two years, and a fourth, Wheatley Harbour, has just been delisted (announced on April 16, 2010). With respect to the remaining AOCs, the picture is much more complex and the time frames for delisting are longer-term, with most of these AOCs estimating delisting as occurring between 2015 and 2020. For committee and expert key informants, the overall importance of the contribution made by GLAP IV to the restoration and maintenance of AOCs is viewed as being very significant, if not critical.

For key informants, positive external factors that support program success include: leveraged funding, particularly infrastructure funding; United States investments; and community/political engagement (e.g., the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative). External factors that interviewees identified as having the potential to negatively affect the success of GLAP IV include: new and changing ecosystem issues; and the economic downturn. Unintended outcomes of GLAP IV cited by key informants tend to be positive and focus on unexpected interest and engagement of non-targeted groups (e.g., landowners) and the general public, as well as on unanticipated opportunities for collaboration and knowledge transfer.

Efficiency

The cost-efficiency of GLAP IV is difficult to determine with existing information due to the unbundling[3] of GLBEI funds and activities and the introduction of a shared, results based accountability approach to environmental initiatives. The impact on financial data availability resulting from the changes implemented to Environment Canada's resource allocation and accountability structure is that GLAP IV funds are not specifically coded at the program level and the A-base support allocated to GLAP IV is not known.

Financial analysis of the GLSF program component indicates that for every contribution dollar, $0.24 is spent on program administration (salary and O&M). This amount compares favourably to Environment Canada's EcoAction Community Funding Program, which has a cost-efficiency ratio of $0.39, but unfavourably with the Habitat Stewardship Program ($0.08) and the Invasive Alien Species Partnership Program ($0.13). Like EcoAction, the delivery of the GLSF involves additional staff responsibilities such as participation in RAP committees.

For key informants, there is an impression of efficient program delivery both overall and at the project level, with a number of factors identified that support cost efficiency at the program and project levels. Some suggestions to improve efficiency were nonetheless received.

Economy

There is consensus among key informants that GLAP IV is a good investment of public funds and that results are achieved in an economical way. Design aspects that are seen as contributing to the program's cost-effectiveness include: a focused effort on AOCs; cost-sharing among jurisdictions and key stakeholders; local involvement and delivery; and continuity of intervention and knowledge acquisition over successive GLAP programs. A few key informants also noted the economic benefits of remediation, as well as the cost of not intervening.

No viable alternative approaches to achieve the same or better outcomes at a lower cost were identified. The prevailing sentiment among key informants is to "stay the course" in that GLAP IV provides a solid foundation for work in the AOCs. Fundamental changes to the program were discouraged by key informants as they may jeopardize the impact of work completed to date.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for the current or future iterations of GLAP are based on the findings and conclusions of the evaluation. Overall, GLAP IV continued to be a relevant program to address ongoing needs for ecological restoration in the AOCs and is well-aligned with departmental and federal priorities. At the end of its five-year term, GLAP IV has not fully achieved its intended longer-term outcomes in the areas of addressing BUIs and delisting AOCs, due in large part to the complexity and long-term nature of the task. The following recommendations focus on improvements to the management of the program in three areas: delivery and oversight; financial management and accountability; and performance measurement and reporting.

Delivery and Oversight

Oversight of GLAP IV was challenged by several changes that occurred within Environment Canada during the program's five year term. The changes affected both the overall management and the coordination of the program, and the GLSF. One recommendation pertains to improving coordination and accountability of the program, and one pertains to ensuring the timeliness and responsiveness of the GLSF.

1) The Regional Director General (RDG) Ontario should develop a suitable instrument to enhance coordination of federal partners involved in GLAP and the accountability of their efforts toward achieving GLAP goals. GLAP IV is a complex initiative that requires the contribution of many federal partners to achieve program goals. With the demise of the work plan review teams and process, GLAP IV lacked the instruments to ensure that these efforts were coordinated and that federal partners were implementing work plans to achieve program goals. The work planning process, convened annually as it was envisioned, could be re-instituted to enhance coordination and accountability.

2) The RDG Ontario should explore means of streamlining both the GLSF funding approvals process and the GLSF application process. While mostly satisfied with the GLSF program, proponents identified two issues with respect to administration: timeliness of approvals and an overly complex application process. Consideration should be given to scrutinizing the timing of the funding cycle to ensure that funding approvals coincide with seasonal activities, and that the application process is streamlined to promote efficiency (perhaps by exploring adoption/applicability of common application forms/guidelines being developed as part of the wider federal G&C reform exercise). Although most contribution agreements are single-year only, the majority of projects are of an ongoing nature. The use of multi-year agreements may be appropriate in some of these instances.

Financial Management and Accountability

There is limited information on GLAP IV program expenditures. Financial tracking of GLAP IV funds was weak during this iteration of the program due to limited use of codes for expenditures at the program level. One recommendation pertains to financial monitoring of GLAP funds at Environment Canada.

3) The RDG Ontario should explore ways to enhance the financial accountability of the program. The direct transfer of funds to internal partners and absence of program-specific coding of expenditures within the Department has weakened financial accountability of the program. Diligent coding of expenditures at the program level is a key element to ensure transferred funds are received and utilized within Environment Canada by departmental partners to meet program goals and priorities. The merit and potential disadvantages of direct transfers of program funds within Environment Canada to departmental partners for financial accountability should be examined.

Performance Measurement and Reporting

GLAP IV monitoring and reporting was not guided by a performance measurement framework. As a result, a broad spectrum of performance measures for federal partners and the GLSF were not identified early in the program and reporting requirements, particularly for federal partners, were not clearly articulated. Five recommendations pertain to improving performance measurement and reporting.

4) The RDG Ontario should develop a more regular and robust reporting approach for GLAP projects conducted by federal partners. Performance reporting for projects conducted by federal partners was unspecified and sporadic. A more robust reporting approach should be based on clear terms and conditions for reporting on funds allocated to federal partners. Reporting should link activities/deliverables to approved work plans, recognizing that, in some cases, federal projects are undertaken as part of an integrated science program.

5) The RDG Ontario should develop a performance measurement framework for the program, and include a spectrum of more sensitive performance measures (shorter- and longer-term). The program does not have a performance measurement framework and is not currently well positioned to demonstrate progress and interim results because measures such as delisting AOCs are long-term. A more nuanced approach must balance the benefit of performance measurement with the cost of monitoring and assessing BUIs in the AOCs. Recent efforts by the program to document accomplishments and assign roles, responsibilities and timelines for outstanding actions and priorities are acknowledged as a strong foundation for this ongoing work.

6) The RDG Ontario should support the development of information management tools to enhance implementation and monitoring of GLSF and federal projects. No systematic process exists for monitoring and reporting the activities, outputs and performance for GLAP-funded projects or the program overall. A Department-wide Management Information System for Environment Canada's community funding programs, including the GLSF, is in development, although this system is not expected to be implemented until 2012. Opportunities for interim tracking of activities and project and partner contributions should be identified.

7) The RDG Ontario should support the development of information-sharing tools to facilitate broader access to the research generated by GLAP IV by the scientific community and the public. There is no ongoing mechanism available for technical transfer of research and results across the AOCs. This is an outstanding commitment in Annex 4 of the COA.

8) The RDG Ontario should continue efforts to define delisting criteria for AOCs and clarify responsibilities with respect to delisting decision making. Roles and responsibilities for aspects of delisting AOCs are a grey area and may be variable across the AOCs. As more AOCs approach restoration, clarifying the steps to delisting will increase in importance.

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Management Response

The RDG Ontario accepts the evaluation and all of its recommendations, and the Great Lakes Division has provided a plan to implement the following management actions in response to the evaluation recommendations, within the context of the program's renewal.

1. The RDG Ontario should develop a suitable instrument to enhance coordination of federal partners involved in the GLAP and the accountability of their efforts toward achieving GLAP goals. GLAP IV is a complex initiative that requires the contribution of many federal partners to achieve program goals. With the demise of the work plan review teams and process, GLAP IV lacked the instruments to ensure that these efforts were coordinated and that federal partners were implementing work plans to achieve program goals. The work planning process, convened annually as it was envisioned, could be re-instituted to enhance coordination and accountability.

The RDG Ontario agrees with this recommendation.

A GLAP five-year work plan will be developed by Environment Canada, Great Lakes Division, with input from all federal departments and Responsibility Centres within Environment Canada contributing to the restoration of Great Lakes AOCs and accessing GLAP funds. The GLAP Work Plan Review Team will be re-established and will annually conduct a review of progress achieved, identify actions required to complete the restoration of AOCs, determine priorities for the coming year, and propose adjustment of the work plan and funding allocations as required. The GLAP Work Plan Review Team will be led by the Great Lakes Division of Environment Canada and will comprise representatives of Environment Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Public Works and Government Services Canada and other federal government departments as necessary. Recommendations of the GLAP Work Plan Review Team will be presented to the Director, Great Lakes Division, for approval. A GLAP work planning template will be established specifying the project rationale, (i.e., how the proposed project contributes to AOC delisting), scope of work, deliverables, schedule and resource requirements.

Timeline

Deliverable(s)

Responsible Party

August 2010

GLAP Work Plan Review Team established

Director, Great Lakes Division

October 2010

Establish GLAP work planning and reporting template

Director, Great Lakes Division

November 2010

Five-year work plans for all federal departments and groups within Environment Canada accessing GLAP funds contributing to the remediation of AOCs

Director, Great Lakes Division

March-April 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015

Review and revision of GLAP Work Plan, Annual Reports on Results, funding allocation decision

Director, Great Lakes Division; and GLAP funded groups

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2. The RDG Ontario should explore means of streamlining both the GLSF funding approvals process and the GLSF application process. While mostly satisfied with the GLSF program, proponents identified two issues with respect to administration: timeliness of approvals and an overly complex application process. Consideration should be given to scrutinizing the timing of the funding cycle to ensure that funding approvals coincide with seasonal activities, and that the application process is streamlined to promote efficiency (perhaps by exploring adoption/applicability of common application forms/guidelines being developed as part of the wider federal G&C reform exercise). Although most contribution agreements are single-year only, the majority of projects are of an ongoing nature. The use of multi-year agreements may be appropriate in some of these instances.

The RDG Ontario agrees with this recommendation.

Environment Canada's Action Plan to Reform the Administration of Grants and Contributions will improve the efficiency of the GLSF application and approval process.

In addition, improvements have been made to the GLSF application and proposal evaluation processes to simplify and improve the efficiency and consistency of the GLSF application and approval process. Multi-year agreements will be used where appropriate.

Timeline

Deliverable(s)

Responsible Party

June 2010

Adopt application and reporting processes from the Departmental Action Plan to Reform the Administration of Grants and Contributions

Director, Great Lakes Division

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3. The RDG Ontario should explore ways to enhance the financial accountability of the program. The direct transfer of funds to internal partners and absence of program-specific coding of expenditures within the Department has weakened financial accountability of the program. Diligent coding of expenditures at the program level is a key element to ensure transferred funds are received and utilized within Environment Canada by departmental partners to meet program goals and priorities. The merit and potential disadvantages of direct transfers of program funds within Environment Canada to departmental partners for financial accountability should be examined.

The RDG Ontario agrees with this recommendation.

The Great Lakes Division will take steps to ensure that departmental resources expended in the delivery of the GLAP are adequately documented. To this end, the Great Lakes Division will take the necessary steps to adopt program‑specific authority codes for all Environment Canada internal salary, O&M and G&C expenditures of GLAP funds. Furthermore, all GLAP funds will be managed by the Great Lakes Division and distributed to other federal departments and Responsibility Centres within Environment Canada in accordance with the GLAP five‑year work plan annual updates.

Timeline

Deliverable(s)

Responsible Party

May 2010 (done)

Request for the establishment of a GLAP‑specific authority code in the Financial Information System

Director, Great Lakes Division

May 2010 (done)

Establish program‑specific authority codes for GLAP salary, O&M and G&C funds

Environment Canada Finance Directorate

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4. The RDG Ontario should develop a more regular and robust reporting approach for GLAP projects conducted by federal partners. Performance reporting for projects conducted by federal partners was unspecified and sporadic. A more robust reporting approach should be based on clear terms and conditions for reporting on funds allocated to federal partners. Reporting should link activities/deliverables to approved work plans, recognizing that, in some cases, federal projects are undertaken as part of an integrated science program.

The RDG Ontario agrees with this recommendation.

Environment Canada, Great Lakes Division, will require annual reports on all work plan activities from Environment Canada and other federal partners participating in the restoration of Great Lakes AOCs. Reporting information will be considered in the annual review and revision of work plans. Clear guidelines will be established for monitoring and reporting of GLAP funds by Environment Canada and federal partners. This will include the establishment of a short reporting template, including financial reporting, and pertinent performance information.

Timeline

Deliverable(s)

Responsible Party

October 2010

Establish guidelines for monitoring and reporting of GLAP funds; GLAP work reporting template established

Director, Great Lakes Division

March April 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015

An annual report on the status of GLAP work plan commitments will be prepared and reviewed through the annual GLAP work planning process

Director, Great Lakes Division

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5. The RDG Ontario should develop a performance measurement framework for the program, and include a spectrum of more sensitive performance measures (shorter- and longer-term). The program does not have a performance measurement framework and is not currently well‑positioned to demonstrate progress and interim results because measures such as delisting AOCs are long-term. A more nuanced approach must balance the benefit of performance measurement with the cost of monitoring and assessing BUIs in the AOCs. Recent efforts by the program to document accomplishments and assign roles, responsibilities and timelines for outstanding actions and priorities are acknowledged as a strong foundation for this ongoing work.

The RDG Ontario agrees with this recommendation.

A performance measurement framework will be developed that will consider feasible measures to provide a more detailed and incremental assessment of progress toward restoration of BUIs and delisting of AOCs. An Assessment of the Status of Remaining Actions to Delist AOCs has been completed and will serve as an activity based, short term performance measurement framework. A Beneficial Use Impairment Status and Progress Report has also been completed and provides a longer‑term, result‑based, performance measurement framework. The Assessment and Report will be reviewed, revised and reported on biennially in alternating years.

Timeline

Deliverable(s)

Responsible Party

March 2011

Performance measurement framework developed for the program

Director, Great Lakes Division

February 2012, February 2014

Updated Beneficial Use Impairment Status and Progress Report

Director, Great Lakes Division

February 2011, February 2013, February 2015

Updated Assessment of the Status of Remaining Actions to Delist AOCs

Director, Great Lakes Division

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6. The RDG Ontario should support the development of information management tools to enhance implementation and monitoring of GLSF and federal projects. No systematic process exists for monitoring and reporting the activities, outputs and performance for GLAP-funded projects or the program overall. A Department-wide Management Information System for Environment Canada's community funding programs, including the GLSF, is in development, although this system is not expected to be implemented until 2012. Opportunities for interim tracking of activities and project and partner contributions should be identified.

The RDG Ontario agrees with this recommendation.

Environment Canada's Action Plan to Reform the Administration of Grants and Contributions (the Department's G&C reform initiative) is developing an online application and information management system for G&C programs. This system will improve program efficiency, enhance alignment with departmental priorities and improve the ability to report collectively on the results of departmental funding programs. The system is scheduled to be in operation by 2011‑2012. In the interim, the Great Lakes Division has established an Excel‑based system to track GLSF project proposals, proposal reviews and selection, project recipients and contribution agreements, and project financials, products and outcomes.

Timeline

Deliverable(s)

Responsible Party

2010

Adopt information management system from the Departmental Action Plan to Reform the Administration of Grants and Contributions.

Director, Great Lakes Division

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7. The RDG Ontario should support the development of information-sharing tools to facilitate broader access to the research generated by GLAP IV by the scientific community and the public. There is no ongoing mechanism available for technical transfer of research and results across the AOCs. This is an outstanding commitment in Annex 4 of the COA.

The RDG Ontario agrees with this recommendation.

Information on AOCs is provided through the Environment Canada website and other communications products. Research findings are regularly published in scientific journals and presented at scientific forums, including the Great Lakes State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference and the International Association for Great Lakes Research Conference.

Additionally, AOC Progress Reports have been developed jointly with the Province of Ontario for release in 2010. This tool will be built upon and modified to publicly report on progress regarding remediation of Great Lakes AOCs, and to enhance sharing of research results and other information. Reporting on AOCs will be implemented on a three year cycle, consistent with other Great Lakes reporting.

Timeline

Deliverable(s)

Responsible Party

2013

Area of Concern Progress Reports will be issued every three years and will communicate research results to the scientific community and general public

Director, Great Lakes Division

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8. The RDG Ontario should continue efforts to define delisting criteria for AOCs and clarify responsibilities with respect to delisting decision making. Roles and responsibilities for aspects of delisting AOCs are a grey area and may be variable across the AOCs. As more AOCs approach restoration, clarifying the steps to delisting will increase in importance.

The RDG Ontario agrees with this recommendation.

The GLWQA clearly states that the parties (Canada and the United States) are responsible for leading all aspects of the AOC process "in cooperation with State and Provincial Governments."

Environment Canada's January 2010 Great Lakes RAP Workshop, which included federal and provincial representatives involved in Great Lakes AOCs as well as the local RAP coordinators, addressed the delisting process issue as an agenda item. The principle outcome was a commitment to develop a Canada Ontario Guide to the Designation of Beneficial Use Impairments, Preparing Stage 3 Reports and Delisting Areas of Concern. The guide, which is being developed collaboratively with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, will clarify the responsibilities with respect to delisting decision making.

Timeline

Deliverable(s)

Responsible Party

December 2010

Canada–Ontario Guide to the Designation of Beneficial Use Impairments, Preparing Stage 3 Reports and Delisting Areas of Concern

Director, Great Lakes Division


[1] The federal government has provided GLAP funding since 1989 ($125 million over 5 years in 1989; $150 million over 6 years in 1994; $40 million over 5 years in 2000; and $40 million over 5 years in 2005). Identification, evaluation and remediation of AOCs have been a major element of GLAP funding since 1989 and the single focus of GLAP funding since 2000.

[2] Federal actions reference the Government of Canada's actions in response to its commitments under the COA (as opposed to Ontario's). These vary by AOC.

[3] Unbundling refers to the process of realigning temporary funding allocations (originally intended to deliver programs for various specific purposes) toward other departmental priorities.

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