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Evaluation of the Great Lakes Action Plan IV

6.0 Management Response

6.0 Management Response

This section outlines the management response to the evaluation recommendations. 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 GLAPgoals.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 GLAPfive-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 GLSFapplication 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

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&Cprograms. 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

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, AOCProgress 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

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

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

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