Archived – Evaluation of the Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management Program

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Project Number 6B103
Final Report
April 9, 2009

Table of Contents

List of Acronyms
1.0  Executive Summary
2.0  Introduction and Context
2.1  Program Description
2.2  Evaluation Objectives and Scope
2.3  Methodology
2.3.1  Document and File Review
2.3.2  Interviews
2.3.3  Methodology Limitations
3.0  Observations and Recommendations
3.1  Relevance
3.2  Performance
3.2.1  Efficiency
3.2.2  Effectiveness
3.2.3  Economy
4.0  Management action plan

List of Acronyms

  • AAROM – Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management
  • AB – Aggregate Body
  • ADM – Assistant Deputy Minister
  • AFO – Aboriginal Fisheries Officer
  • AFS – Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy
  • APG – Aboriginal Policy and Governance
  • ATP – Allocation Transfer Program
  • C&P – Conservation and Protection
  • CA – Contribution Agreement
  • DFO – Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • DG – Director General
  • FAM – Fisheries and Aquaculture Management
  • FN – First Nation
  • NHQ – National Headquarters
  • NL – Newfoundland and Labrador 
  • PMS – Performance Measurement Strategy
  • RBAF – Risk-Based Audit Framework
  • RDG – Regional Director General
  • RMAF – Results-based Management and Accountability Framework
  • TB – Treasury Board

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1.0   Executive Summary

The Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management Program (AAROM) was a 5-year contribution program from 2004-05 to 2008-09. Participation in this program was voluntary and the funding totalled $51.0M over five years.  To be eligible, Aboriginal groups were required to come together in aggregate bodies (ABs) around a watershed or ecosystem, and meet certain requirements related to management practices.  

The AAROM program was comprised of three main components: 1) Collaborative Management, including Aboriginal Fisheries Officers (AFOs); 2) Capacity Building; and 3) Economic Opportunities.

The objectives of this evaluation were to assess the relevance of AAROM activities in relation to DFO’s mandate and strategic outcomes, as well as Government of Canada priorities; and the performance of the AAROM program in delivering its activities, specifically efficiency, effectiveness and economy.

Relevance

AAROM is most relevant to the strategic objectives of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture and Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems. There is a continuing need of ensuring Aboriginal participation in fisheries and oceans matters. The continuation of AAROM will help do this by supporting ABs in gaining the capacity and expertise needed to participate effectively in the various advisory and decision-making processes used for aquatic resource and oceans management.
 
Performance

Efficiency
Since the beginning of the program in 2004-05, 53 Capacity Building and 33 Collaborative Management Agreements have been entered into. 

Overall accountability for AAROM rests with the Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Fisheries Renewal. When the program was implemented in 2004, NHQ staff were responsible to lead the delivery of the program while the regions maintained a liaison role with the ABs. In 2008-09, some of the administration of the program was delegated to the Pacific Region. Roles and responsibilities were not clearly defined in the early years of the program and there still remains uncertainty about them at the present time. 

A National AAROM Program Implementation Steering Committee was established. The evaluation found that it functioned more as an operational working committee rather than as a strategic oversight body. In 2007-08 APG launched two main coordinating bodies, a National Policy Committee and National Operations committee to oversee all Aboriginal programs.

The AAROM National Steering Committee assessed all proposals using a rating grid to guide the assessment and made final recommendations on recipient eligibility and agreement funding levels.  ABs found that the process for approving proposals was somewhat complicated and time consuming as there did not seem to be a coordinated approach to the review and approval of the proposals or any deadlines associated with it.  Process improvements have been introduced, however, formal service standards between the various levels of the organization are not in place for the delivery of all elements of AAROM.

For agreements over $250,000, ABs were required to submit monthly reports to the Department in order to receive their funding.  The reports went through a multiple level review process.  The time it takes to review and approve reports has the possibility of impacting the cash position of the ABs and their ability to recruit and retain employees. 

Effectiveness
A Performance Measurement Strategy, that identified expected results as well as the indicators and data collection methodology to assess them, had been prepared for AAROM.  The strategy, however, was not fully implemented.  Individuals involved in the program explained the successes of the program, however, much of this is based on anecdotal information and not on concrete reliable performance information. 

Although the Collaborative Management agreements varied from group to group, the majority of the agreements focused on enhancing core scientific, technical and administrative capacity of the ABs allowing them to obtain competencies that will enable them to strengthen their ability to participate in aquatic management and oceans resources decision-making.

A clear benefit of AAROM has been the ability to increase collaboration amongst Aboriginal groups and to strengthen the relationship between groups and DFO. ABs have the ability to share knowledge and information with their member communities and are able to more actively participate in meetings with DFO and other organizations. As well, the relationship with DFO has improved although it was negatively affected by administrative aspects of the program (e.g., monthly reports). 

AAROM has also provided $9,537,710 for ABs access to the fisheries including licences, quotas, vessels and gear in the Pacific ($4,094,950), Quebec ($4,442,760) and Newfoundland and Labrador ($1,000,000) regions.  In the Pacific Region, all licences retired under AAROM have not been permanently issued to Aboriginal groups and remain in inventory. However, the salmon licences have been issued on an annual basis to Aboriginal groups conducting demonstration fisheries. The licences issued have demonstrated the potential for improving the economic situations of Aboriginal groups.  

For aquaculture, some ABs have engaged individuals to work on aquaculture activities such as marketing and business planning.

Economy
The design of the program helped ensure that funds were used in an effective and economical way.  AAROM groups had to meet eligibility criteria for participation in the program.  The program’s two staged approach required Aboriginal groups to demonstrate that they had the capacity to move from one level of funding to the next. And, there was detailed cost tracking by APG staff at NHQ.  This enabled program management to react to any deviations in usage of funds and permitted them to identify what could be reprofiled from one year to the next.

Recommendations
The Associate Assistant Deputy Minister should:

  1. Maintain the existing AAROM Steering Committee and revise the Governance Framework for AAROM to take into account the mandates of the APG National Policy Committee and the APG National Operations Committee in order to ensure the strategic and operational direction of AAROM;
  2. Ensure that all individuals involved in AAROM are aware of and understand their respective roles and responsibilities;
  3. Establish Service Standards for DFO staff involved in the processing of AAROM proposals and reports and set up a tracking system to monitor progress over time;
  4. In conjunction with the Policy on Transfer Payments, review the current reporting requirements for ABs, with a view to making the reporting process less cumbersome and time consuming, as well as focussing on the reporting of results;
  5. Establish targets, in conjunction with the performance measurement strategy that is being developed for the program;  
  6. Establish a mechanism for obtaining feedback from aggregate bodies on the success of the program and the delivery of services by DFO staff; and 

The RDG, Pacific Region should:

7. Develop a plan for the future use of licences retired through AAROM funding by the Region.  This plan should indicate the benefits that are expected to accrue to Aboriginal groups.

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2.0   Introduction and Context

2.1   Program Description

The Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management Program (AAROM) is a contribution program that came about as a result of a 2003 review of DFO APG programs, including the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS).  During the consultation process for that review, two primary challenges were highlighted by Aboriginal groups: a lack of capacity (e.g., skills, infrastructure, financial resources) and a lack of sufficient access to aquatic resource harvesting opportunities. 

AAROM employed a community-driven approach which recognized that different groups are at different stages of capacity development and do not have the same priorities and goals. Participation in this program was voluntary and the funding totalled $74.8M over five years.  To be eligible, Aboriginal groups were required to come together in aggregate structures (herein referred to as Aggregate Bodies (ABs)) around a watershed or ecosystem, and meet certain requirements related to management practices. The program supported both the creation of new ABs among Aboriginal groups and the enhancement of existing ABs, where appropriate.

AAROM is intended to assist ABs in acquiring the capacity to successfully manage their activities around the resource and to participate more effectively in the multi-stakeholder and other decision-making processes used by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) for aquatic resources and oceans management. At the same time, AAROM was expected to contribute to the broader government objective of improving the socio-economic situation of Aboriginal groups.

Specifically, AAROM was designed to:

  • Assist Aboriginal groups in acquiring the administrative capacity and scientific/technical expertise to facilitate their participation in aquatic resources and oceans management;
  • Encourage the establishment of collaborative management structures that contribute to integrated ecosystem/watershed management and planning processes;
  • Enhance existing collaborative management structures, where appropriate;
  • Facilitate sound decision-making in advisory and other processes related to a number of areas of DFO responsibility;
  • Strengthen relationships through improved information-sharing between Aboriginal groups, DFO and other stakeholders and among Aboriginal groups; and,
  • Contribute to the federal government’s broader objective of improving the quality of life of Aboriginal groups.

AAROM is comprised of three main components:

  1. Collaborative Management, including Aboriginal Fisheries Officers (AFOs);
  2. Capacity Building; and
  3. Economic Opportunities.

Collaborative Management

The Collaborative Management component supported the creation and development of AAROM structures known as Aggregate Bodies.  Funding was provided to qualifying Aboriginal groups to:

  • put in place the capacity and skilled personnel (biologists, technicians, fisheries managers, etc.) required to successfully manage their activities around the use and management of aquatic resource and oceans spaces, and
  • participate effectively in DFO advisory and decision-making processes (and in those of other government departments as appropriate).
  • In addition, these administrative bodies may be eligible for funding for the development and hiring of AFOs.

Capacity Building

This component provided funds to those groups that did not yet qualify for collaborative management and related opportunities but were committed to working towards doing so. Activities funded could include:

  • facilitating dialogue among multiple groups interested in forming aggregations along watershed/ecosystem lines
  • implementation of sound business practices and reporting procedures, and
  • administrative, financial and legal preparations for the establishment of an aggregate body.

Economic Opportunities

The Economic Opportunities component was comprised of two main elements:

  • voluntary retirement of commercial licences and transfer of commercial opportunities (including issuing licences and acquiring vessels and gear) to eligible ABs; and
  • provision of funding to enable groups to pursue aquaculture-related activities including: the provision of technical and financial assistance to develop new opportunities; training – job skills, internship and mentoring initiatives; and, development assistance, including feasibility and environmental studies.

To be eligible for this component, ABs had to be in the Collaborative Management phase.

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2.2   Evaluation Objectives and Scope

The objectives of this evaluation were to assess:

  1. the relevance of AAROM activities in relation to DFO’s mandate and strategic outcomes, as well as Government of Canada priorities; and
  2. the performance of AAROM in delivering its activities, specifically:
    1. Efficiency: the extent to which a greater level of output is produced with the with the same or lower level of input (resources)
    2. Effectiveness: the extent to which AAROM is achieving its expected outcomes.
    3. Economy: the extent to which costs in the use of resources are minimized while considering both quality and quantity. 

The evaluation was national in scope and spanned fiscal years 2004-05 to 2008-09.

2.3   Methodology

In accordance with best practices, the evaluation used the multiple lines of evidence approach, including:

2.3.1   Document and File Review

The evaluation included a review of departmental files, DFO website, literature on the program, media clippings and correspondence.

2.3.2   Interviews

Interviews were conducted with DFO officials who were involved in AAROM’s design and implementation. Interviews were also conducted with representatives of First Nations. The evaluation team also attended two DFO workshops (one regarding DFO Aboriginal programs and one specific to AAROM in the Pacific region). In total, 21 individuals were interviewed.

2.3.3   Methodology Limitations  

At the time that AAROM was implemented in 2004, a Results-based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF) was prepared for the program.  The RMAF included a performance measurement strategy (PMS) for the program.  This strategy was never implemented.

While the RMAF set out criteria for assessing the program, the information needed was unavailable as this had either not been collected or where collected, it had not been consolidated in a manner to allow for program assessment. 

The Aboriginal Policy and Governance Directorate (APG) had planned to implement a database that would capture key information that would measure the performance of the program.  This database has not been put in place and remained under development at the time of the evaluation. 

The non-implementation of the the PMS and the absence of the database to accumulate performance information limited the evaluation team’s ability to fully asssess the program.

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3.0   Observations and Recommendations

3.1.   Relevance

Link to DFO’s strategic objectives

DFO has three strategic outcomes that it strives to achieve: Safe and Accessible Waterways, Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems and Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture. AAROM is most relevant to the strategic objectives of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture and Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems by supporting aggregate bodies in gaining the capacity and expertise needed to participate in aquatic resources and oceans management forums and decision-making.

Consistence with federal government priorities

From the 2008 Speech from the Throne, the federal government reemphasized its priority to ensure that Aboriginal Canadians fully share in economic opportunities. AAROM is aligned with this priority by providing funding to aggregate bodies to acquire the administrative capacity and scientific and technical expertise needed to participate in and generate opportunities in fisheries, aquaculture and oceans-based industries. The more knowledge Aboriginal groups gain about the fishery, aquaculture and ocean sectors, the higher the possibility of economic opportunities arising in those industries.

Continuing need for the program

AAROM was designed to be implemented in a graduated approach.  Capacity building facilitated the coming together of Aboriginal groups to form ABs with proper governance and structure prior to entering into the collaborative management phase. Collaborative management allowed ABs to acquire skills required to progress towards fully participating in fisheries and oceans decision-making processes.  AAROM is still a relatively new program and as such, some groups are still in the capacity building stage while others are in the early stages of collaborative management. There is a continuing need of ensuring the participation of Aboriginal groups in fisheries, aquaculture and oceans matters and the continuation of AAROM will help support this.

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3.2.   Performance

The performance of the program was assessed based on the efficiency, effectiveness and economy of the program.  A framework was developed setting out criteria to assist in making the assessment.

3.2.1   Efficiency

To examine whether AAROM expected outputs (contribution agreements (CAs)) were achieved in the most efficient manner, the evaluation examined the governance structure, the program design and delivery processes in place for the program.

Since the program began in 2004-05, 53 Capacity Building and 33 Collaborative Management Agreements have been entered into.  These agreements encompass approximately 319 Aboriginal groups nationally as well as 3 Native Councils in Atlantic Canada.  There are also many groups represented nationally and regionally by umbrella organizations such as the Assembly of First Nations, the Atlantic Policy Congress and the Aboriginal Aquaculture Association.

Governance Structure

Accountability
Overall accountability for AAROM rests with the Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Fisheries Renewal (a newly created position).  Previously, the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM), Fisheries and Aquaculture Management (FAM) was accountable for the program.  The Director General, APG, and Regional Directors General, or their respective delegates, were given the authority to sign the AAROM agreements on behalf of the Government of Canada.  

Negotiation of the terms and conditions of AAROM agreements with ABs is the dual responsibility of NHQ and respective regional DFO offices.  

National Steering Committee

A National AAROM Program Implementation Steering Committee (comprised of two members from NHQ-APG, one from each region, one from each lead Sector/Unit (Oceans, Science, Aquaculture, Conservation and Protection (C&P)) and a representative from Legal Services as required) was established and expected to provide advice and recommendations to the Director General, APG on the overall management and administration of AAROM. The Committee was also expected to be the lead coordination body on AAROM implementation issues.

The mandate of the Steering Committee as stated in its terms of reference is as follows:

The National AAROM Program Implementation Steering Committee is responsible for providing advice and recommendations to the Director General, APG, on the overall management and administration of AAROM as well as acting as the lead coordination body for program implementation issues.

In 2006, the role of the Steering Committee was further defined and included responsibilities such as providing leadership, oversight and direction to all aspects of AAROM.  These additional duties were not always carried out by the Committee. 

While having a group to review proposals for the contribution arrangement was beneficial to provide national consistency and guidance, the Steering Committee functioned more as a operational working committee rather than a as a strategic oversight body. As AAROM matures and more groups develop capacity to move into collaborative management, direction will be required on the next steps for the program. Some ABs are already asking “Now what?”  They feel they are ready to take part in the management (and decision-making) of some elements of the fisheries and that strategic direction is needed in that regard.  

In 2007-08 APG launched two main coordinating bodies: a National Policy Committee, to provide strategic direction for the suite of Aboriginal programs including AAROM, and a National Operations Committee to address day-to-day issues related to program and agreement administration. However, the Terms of Reference for the AAROM Steering Committee and AAROM Roles and Responsibilities documentation were not updated to reflect this change.

It may be appropriate to reflect the mandates of the National Committees in the framework of AAROM to ensure that operational and strategic direction is provided for the program.  When examining strategic direction, consideration could be given to including participation from the ABs.  

Program Design and Delivery

AAROM is made up of three components – Collaborative Management, which included a sub-component for Aboriginal Fisheries Officers; Capacity Building and Economic Opportunities (to qualify for Economic Opportunities, ABs had to be in the Collaborative Management phase).   
                              
When AAROM was implemented in 2004, NHQ staff was responsible for the administration of the program.  While the regions maintained a liaison role with the ABs in doing such activities as assisting in the development of proposals, taking part in the Steering Committee process and reviewing reports, the responsibility for the overall program, including making payments rested with NHQ.  

In 2008-09, some of the administration of the program was delegated to the Pacific Region which is responsible for 50% of the ABs.  The authority to enter agreements still lies with National Headquarters and new proposals will continue to be reviewed by the Steering Committee.  NHQ will also continue providing overall programming guidelines.  The region has assumed the following implementation and delivery roles:

  • Drafting of agreements
  • Signing of agreements/amendments – by RDG Pacific Region
  • Final authority in reviewing and approving reports
  • Authority to requisition payments.

While the delegation of some aspects of program delivery may provide for more efficient service to the ABs, it should be noted that the delegation did not result in any incremental resources for the Pacific Region to account for the new responsibilities. 

Roles and Responsibilities

While broad responsibilities and accountability for HQ and the regions were identified, roles and responsibilities for all parties involved in the implementation of AAROM were not clearly defined in the early years of the program and there still remains uncertainty about them at the present time.  A roles and responsibilities document was created in August 2006 which defined the roles of headquarters, the regions and the area offices. However, it is unclear as to how effective this was communicated to AAROM staff in the regions. As well, some representatives of ABs stated that there was confusion as to what the roles were supposed to be between headquarters, regions and area offices throughout the duration of the program.  This is an area that needs to be clarified. 

Proposals

Participation in AAROM was voluntary.  Aboriginal groups had to meet basic criteria for entry into the program. They had to develop a proposal detailing all planned activities and costs and submit an implementation plan in order to access program funding.  Groups were required to submit proposals/statement of interest in order to be considered for AAROM funding. The Steering Committee assessed all proposals using a rating grid to guide the assessment and made final recommendations to the DG, APG, on recipient eligibility and funding levels.  Based on the availability of funds, groups that met the minimum rating requirement would be eligible to receive funding. 

ABs found that the proposal process was somewhat complicated and time consuming. The proposal could be returned to the ABs multiple times for different reasons.  There did not seem to be a coordinated approach to the review and approval of the proposals or any deadlines associated with it. As well, formal service standards are not in place for the delivery of all elements of AAROM.

Program Reporting Requirements

Once a proposal has been approved and a CA entered into, ABs were required to submit monthly reports to the Department in order to receive their funding.  The reports contained financial and some performance information. The reports went through a multiple level review process.  In most cases, a report would go from the AB to a DFO area office, then on to the regional office and then finally on to NHQ staff for review.  At any step in the process, a report could be returned to the AB for clarification, additional information, or corrections (such as calculation errors). If a report went back to an AB for any reasons, the process would be restarted.

The time it takes to review and approve reports has the potential to impact the cash position of the ABs.  Some ABs indicated that this had significant implications for them, such as having to borrow money from financial institutions or other groups and incurring bank charges.  It also impacts their ability to recruit and retain employees because of the potential of not having funds available to make payments on time. 

DFO must be accountable for delivering its programs in a timely manner.  Presently, service standards do not exist for the delivery of any element of AAROM, particularly for proposals and reports.  Services standards would put the onus on DFO staff to process proposals and reports on a timely basis. 

Treasury Board’s Policy on Transfer Payments (October 2008) gives departments more flexibility in how they administer contribution programs.  DFO may wish to explore its options in how it can implement reporting requirements based on a risk assessment of individuals ABs. 

Since AAROM was implemented, DFO staff has introduced the concept of results-based management to the ABs. A RBM pilot project was undertaken with 10 ABs from the Joint-DFO-Aboriginal Working Group on AAROM Reporting and Evaluation.  Training sessions were held with personnel from ABs and the rationale for using performance measurement was explained to them.  Some groups expressed the view that this was the way on which they should be basing their reporting to DFO.  There did however, seem to be a discrepancy as to what the groups had learned from their results-based management training and the type of reports that were being asked for by the regions.   The ABs were frustrated by the resistance encountered with DFO reporting processes in making the shift from activity-based reporting to a more results-oriented approach. They also felt that HQ and regional personnel were providing inconsistent messaging and direction to recipients. 

Risk Management

Risk was considered when implementing the program in 2003-04.  A Risk-Based Audit Framework (RBAF) was prepared that identified a number of key risks to the program.  Risk mitigation strategies were also identified at that time. 

Risk management was also considered in the design and implementation of AAROM.  The graduated approach to having access to AAROM funding reduced the risk to the program. This approach ensured that aggregate bodies had the governance structure and capacity in place to increase the probability of success in the collaborative management component of the program.

When the program first started, Aboriginal groups and DFO identified that different groups were at different levels of capacity which could impact their success in the program. Having the capacity building phase of the program provided aggregate bodies with an opportunity to create a foundation for success without risking a loss of funds or success in the Collaborative Management phase of the program.

Recommendations

The Associate Assistant Deputy Minister should:

  1. Maintain the existing AAROM Steering Committee and revise the Governance Framework for AAROM to take into account the mandates of the APG National Policy Committee and the APG National Operations Committee in order to ensure the strategic and operational direction of AAROM;
  2. Ensure that all individuals involved in AAROM are aware of and understand their respective roles and responsibilities;
  3. Establish Service Standards for DFO staff involved in the processing of AAROM proposals and reports and set up a tracking system to monitor progress over time; and
  4. In conjunction with the Policy on Transfer Payments, review the current reporting requirements for ABs, with a view to making the reporting process less cumbersome and time consuming, as well as focussing on the reporting of results.   

 

3.2.2   Effectiveness

Effectiveness is defined as the extent to which progress has been made in the achievement of expected outcomes.   A performance measurement strategy, that identified expected results as well as the indicators and data collection methodology to assess them, had been prepared for AAROM.  The strategy, however, was not fully implemented.  Consequently, there was no systematic collection of data with which to assess the achievement of the program’s expected outcomes. 

Despite the absence of detailed performance information, the evaluators attempted to determine progress made in achieving the expected outcomes of AAROM.  This assessment is based on a combination of document reviews as well as interviews and discussions with DFO staff and representatives of ABs. 

Increased preparedness of Aboriginal groups to participate in AAROM

The capacity building component of AAROM is intended to allow aggregate bodies the time necessary to enhance their professional and administrative capacity and set defined governance structures, visions and missions in order to enter the collaborative management component of the program.  As for the governance of the AAROM ABs, twenty five aggregate bodies have been incorporated while five others operate under tribal council or provincial authorities.

Although Collaborative Management agreements varied from group to group, the majority of the agreements focused on enhancing core scientific, technical and administrative capacity of the ABs. Some ABs indicated that this aspect allowed them to have an increase and more effective participation in DFO multi-stakeholder processes.

AAROM funding has permitted some ABs to obtain competencies that will enable them to strengthen their ability to participate in aquatic management and oceans resources decision-making. The following illustrates the type and nature of the skills sets that the ABs have engaged:

Position Type Number of Positions Created
Management 33
Administrative Support 45
Resource Management 49
Science Support 38
Aquaculture 3
Compliance and Enforcement 12
Policy and Advisory Support 29
Partnership and Outreach 9
Communication Support 17
Socio-economic and Marketing 9
Data/Information Systems 12
Training/Education 7
Total 263

 While the impact of engaging this diverse expertise is not yet known, it is an indication of the potential capacity of ABs to take part in decision-making processes. 

Increased collaboration among multiple communities on a watershed/ecosystem basis including strengthening relationships among DFO, Aboriginal groups and non-Aboriginal stakeholders

Traditionally, Aboriginal groups preferred dealing with DFO on a bi-lateral basis, that is, the Department would work primarily with individual First Nations (FNs).  The implementation of AAROM was based on working with Aboriginal groups on a watershed/ecosystem basis.  A clear benefit of AAROM has been the ability to increase collaboration amongst Aboriginal groups to strengthen the relationship between groups and DFO. ABs have the ability to share knowledge and information with their member communities and are able to more actively participate in advisory committee meetings and other meetings with DFO and other organizations.

Relationship building was an important aspect of AAROM and there has been some improvement in the relationship between DFO and Aboriginal groups.  The improved relationship however was negatively affected by administrative aspects of the program such as timeliness of approvals of proposals and reports submitted by ABs. 

Improve the economic situation of Aboriginal groups/communities

There are a number of ways in which AAROM can contribute to improving the economic situation of ABs. One way is to retire existing licences and issue them to the ABs thereby increasing their fisheries access (licences and vessels) as well as their earning potential.    DFO has retired licences in the Pacific, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) regions. 

In the Pacific Region, 18 licences and 3,345 pounds of halibut quota (representing 0.04289% of Pacific’s total halibut quota) were retired by DFO using AAROM funding between 2004 and 2007.  Of the 18 licences, 15 of them are salmon and they have been used since 2006 to support Demonstration Fisheries projects on a short-term basis.   

Demonstration Fisheries offer opportunities to look at new ways to access salmon resources in a manner that provides improved economic performance in the fishery, increased Aboriginal groups economic access to fisheries resources, and improved cooperation between harvesters while assuring conservation of salmon stocks. Demonstration fisheries include trying new gear types, new allocation sharing arrangements within fleets, selective fishing methods, new stock assessment and sampling fisheries, as well as collaborative arrangements between some commercial and First Nation fishers. While some benefits of Demonstration Fisheries may accrue to ABs over time, they are not presently gaining direct benefits from the licences that were retired with AAROM funding. 

The non-salmon licences (1 crab, 1 groundfish trawl, 1 red sea urchin) have been in inventory since the time of their retirement.  The halibut quota is being used by Aboriginal groups that had been provided other halibut licences under the Allocation Transfer Program (ATP).  The table below outlines the total amount of funding for retiring the licences and quota for the Pacific Region.

Funding Used for Access Funding for  Licences and Quota Retired by DFO # of Quota Transactions # of License Transactions
2004-2005 $1,628,750 1 5
2005-2006 $1,443,000 0 6
2006-2007 $1,023,200 0 7
TOTAL $4,094,950 1 18

As indicated above, the majority of licences/quota retired in the Pacific Region have not been issued to ABs.  One of the objectives of the AAROM program is to improve the economic situation of Aboriginal groups.  Retiring and issuing licences and then not using them to the extent possible does little to do this.  A plan is needed to maximize the relinquished licences to the extent possible so that Aboriginal groups can benefit from them. 

In the Quebec Region, $4.1 million of AAROM funding was used to retire 3 snow crab licences and $342,760 was contributed towards the acquisition of vessels and gear for 1 AB.  This allowed the AB to enter into joint ventures and revenue sharing arrangements with other Aboriginal groups.       

In NL, in 2006-07, $985,000 of AAROM funding was provided to an AB and used to retire a number of licences (including: shellfish (crab, lobster, scallop), groundfish (cod, halibut, lump and bi-catch groundfish) and pelagics (herring and mackerel)) and $15,000 was contributed towards the purchase of a vessel.

The ATP had enabled Aboriginal groups in NL to establish commercial fishing operations and gain management experience over the years and AAROM is now building upon this.  The AB has engaged existing commercial fishing companies in each of its communities to manage and operate its licences. The benefit is that the AB did not need to build management capacity in this area nor distract itself from the oceans and aquatic activity that was the centre of its mandate. 

For aquaculture, some ABs have engaged individuals to work on aquaculture activities such as marketing and business planning.

Performance Measurement

The RMAF that had been prepared for AAROM stated that responsibility for performance measurement of the program was to be shared between DFO Headquarters and the regional offices delivering the program. At the regional level, data gathering, analysis and reporting were to be the responsibility of the Regional Directors General. In turn, the Director General, APG, was responsible for the coordination of overall reporting, and for the integration of regional data into a single performance report. Regional interviews indicated that since the program was administered from headquarters, and since reports were approved and officially collected in headquarters, regions did not collect information for performance measurement purposes.

While numerous reports were collected, performance measurement data was not compiled in a systematic manner for use by the evaluation team or by the program managers for decision-making. 

Although targets were considered in terms of how many capacity building or collaborative arrangements would be entered into or how much funding would be allocated for each component, these targets were not integrated into the PMS because of initial awareness of program interest by Aboriginal groups.  In addition, there were no targets for the number/type of licences that were to be retired or how many AFOs would be engaged.  Moving forward, setting targets would establish a goal to thrive to achieve and also would provide an indication of the progress of the program.

Individuals involved in the program explained the successes of the program, however this is based on anecdotal information and not on concrete reliable performance information.  While the program may have enjoyed success in some areas, it must be able to demonstrate success through appropriate performance measurement information. 

With the expected renewal of the terms and conditions of AAROM and other DFO Aboriginal programs (e.g., AFS), APG is developing an integrated performance measurement strategy for these programs.  In recent evaluations of Aboriginal programs, a common weakness has been the lack of attention to the implementation of performance measurement strategies.  The integrated strategy can be used as the impetus for changing the culture of APG staff in its dealing with performance measurement as an on-going management tool. 

During discussion with some ABs, they raised the issue of accountability for both their groups and DFO.  They felt that DFO always put the onus on the ABs to be accountable for what funding they receive but on the other hand, there was no way of making DFO accountable for what they do. The ABs feel that they should have input into assessing how DFO is achieving its objectives.  One such way of doing this could be having the ABs provide feedback on a yearly basis and DFO could use this as part of its performance measurement information. 

Recommendations

The Associate Assistant Deputy Minister should:

5. Establish targets, in conjunction with the performance measurement strategy that is being developed for the program;

6. Establish a mechanism for obtaining feedback from aggregate bodies on the success of the program and the delivery of services by DFO staff; and

The RDG, Pacific Region should:

7. Develop a plan for the future use of licences retired through AAROM funding by the Region.  This plan should indicate the benefits that are expected to accrue to Aboriginal groups.

3.2.3   Economy

There were a number of steps taken to help ensure that AAROM funding was utilized in an economical manner.

The design of the program helped ensure that funds were used in an effective and economical way.  AAROM groups had to meet eligibility criteria for participation in the program.  The program’s two staged approach required Aboriginal groups to demonstrate that they had the capacity to move from one level of funding to the next. For example ABs would not receive collaborative management funding without successfully demonstrating that they had the capacity to effectively utilize it. 

Aboriginal groups had to submit proposals to be considered for AAROM funding.  The AAROM Steering Committee reviews all proposals for AAROM funding following established guidelines to assess them.  This helps ensure consistency in application of AAROM criteria and funding provided was within established guidelines.    

Once ABs received approval of their proposals, there was a stringent reporting process that they had to adhere before they would receive their funding. 

There was detailed cost tracking by APG staff at NHQ.  This enabled program management to react to any deviations in usage of funds and permitted them to identify that could be reprofiled from one year to the next.

Finally, the AAROM program complemented already existing APG programs.  There was a close relationship between AFS and AAROM which helped to ensure that there would not be a duplication of activities undertaken under the two programs.  In addition, licences and quota retired under the AAROM program were used to complement those retired under ATP to allow for greater usage and increasing the earning potential for Aboriginal groups. 

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4.0 Management action plan

Recommendations Management Action Plan Status Report Update
Actions Com-
pleted
Actions Out-
standing
Target Date
The Associate Assistant Deputy Minister should:

1 - Maintain the existing AAROM Steering Committee and revise the Governance Framework for AAROM to take into account the mandates of the APG National Policy Committee and the APG National Operations Committee in order to ensure the strategic and operational direction of AAROM.
To ensure that operational and strategic direction is provided for AAROM:
  1. Revise National Policy Committee Terms of Reference and post on APG intranet site.
  2. Revise National Operations Committee Terms of Reference and post on APG intranet site.
  3. Revise AAROM Steering Committee Terms of Reference to reflect the mandates of the National Policy and Operations committees and post on APG intranet site.
    Initial:
June 2009
Revised:
Establish joint DFO-Aboriginal Policy Committee to provide strategic direction and vision for the long-term DFO-Aboriginal relationship. Initial:
March 31, 2010
Revised:
 
2 - Ensure that all individuals involved in AAROM are aware of and understand their respective roles and responsibilities. 

Update AAROM Governance Charter and Roles and Responsibilities documentation, and post on APG intranet site.

    Initial:
June 2009
Revised:
 
Provide clarity of AAROM roles and responsibilities throughout the life cycle of the AAROM program through program procedures and guidelines and by providing training on an ongoing basis for all aspects of program delivery. Initial:  March 31, 2010
Revised:
 
3 - Establish Service Standards for DFO staff involved in the processing of AAROM proposals and reports.

Establish common service standards associated with the various steps within the AAROM program lifecycle

    Initial:  January 2009
Revised:
Establish tracking system to monitor service standards over time. Initial:
Mar 31, 2010
Revised:
4 - In conjunction with the Policy on Transfer Payments, review the current reporting requirements for ABs, with a view to making the reporting process less cumbersome and time consuming, as well as focusing on the reporting of results.   Develop criteria to tailor administration requirements to risks for recipients, thereby reducing the administrative burden (reporting, monitoring, auditing) on recipients and incorporate this criteria in future Contribution Agreements.     Initial:  April 1st, 2010
Revised:
5 - Establish targets, in conjunction with the performance measurement strategy that is being developed for the program.   Establish performance targets specific to AAROM and incorporate in Performance Measurement Strategy.     Initial:  March 31, 2009
Revised:
6 - Establish a mechanism for obtaining feedback from aggregate bodies on the success of the program and the delivery of services by DFO staff.  Establish and implement annual mechanism for obtaining feedback from recipients on DFO program and service delivery.     Initial:  March 31, 2010 and annually thereafter
Revised:

The RDG, Pacific Region should:

7 - Develop a plan for the future use of licences retired through AAROM funding by the Region.  This plan should indicate the benefits that are expected to accrue to Aboriginal groups.

 AAROM licences will be distributed through the process established under the Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative where FNs must develop business plans for commercial fisheries enterprises to enhance the flow of benefits back to communities.  The Region will report to the Associate ADM, Fisheries Renewal, on status of the implementation plan on a quarterly basis.     Initial:  June 2009; with quarterly reporting from Sept 2009 onwards
Revised: