Archived – Evaluation of the Aboriginal Inland Habitat Program

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Project Number 6B104
Final Report
April 9, 2009

Table of Contents

List of Acronyms
1.0  Executive Summary
2.0  Introduction
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

  • AIHP – Aboriginal Inland Habitat Program
  • AAROM – Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management Program
  • ADM, Oceans – Assistant Deputy Minister, Oceans, Habitat and Species at Risk
  • AFN – Assembly of First Nations
  • AFS – Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy
  • AHRDCC – Aboriginal Human Resources Development Council of Canada
  • ARLU – Annual Reference Level Update
  • ATP – Allocation Transfer Program
  • C&A – Central and Arctic
  • CA – Contribution Agreement
  • CB – Capacity Building
  • CM – Collaborative Management
  • DFO – Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • FAM – Fisheries and Aquaculture Management
  • FTE – Full Time Equivalent
  • FY – Fiscal Year
  • G&C – Grants and Contributions
  • MRIMarshall Response Initiative
  • NHQ – National Headquarters
  • OHSAR – Oceans, Habitat and Species at Risk
  • O&M – Operations and Maintenance
  • PAYE – Payables at Year End
  • RBAF – Risk Based Audit Framework
  • RMAF – Results-based Management and Accountability Framework
  • TB – Treasury Board

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1.0   Executive Summary

Introduction
The Aboriginal Inland Habitat Program (AIHP) is a contribution program (allocation of $9M over 5 years: 2004-05 to 2008-09) whose objective is to enhance the ability of Aboriginal groups, working together, to participate in the decision making processes related to habitat management regulatory and non-regulatory activities.  AIHP is composed of two components: Collaborative Management and Capacity Building and applies to Aboriginal groups located in the inland provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and parts of Quebec).

The objectives of this evaluation were to assess the relevance of AIHP activities in relation to Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) mandate and strategic outcomes, as well as Government of Canada priorities; and the performance of the AIHP in delivering its activities in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and economy.

Relevance
This program contributes to DFO’s strategic objective of “Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems”. The objectives of AIHP remain valid as there is a continuing need to provide funding to Aboriginal groups in the inland provinces to assist them to participate in collaborative management activities with DFO and other partners in fish habitat management.   

Performance
Efficiency
Initially, AIHP’s program delivery and administration was the responsibility of the Habitat Management Directorate at NHQ.  In the second year of the program signing authority for the approval of payments for AIHP was sub-delegated to the Central & Arctic (C&A) Regional Director, Habitat and the AIHP budget was allocated directly to the C&A Region. When the administration of AIHP was decentralized to the C&A Region, the roles and responsibilities were not clearly defined. 

The lack of dedicated DFO staff to the program greatly impacted how AIHP was delivered. Although funding was provided, a full time AIHP manager in C&A region was not staffed until June 2008. To maximize expertise in order to effectively deliver AIHP, there also needs to be a closer relationship between the Oceans, Habitat and Species at Risk (OHSAR) Sector, the C&A Region and Fisheries and Aquaculture Management (FAM) Sector.

The intention of AIHP was to engage and partner with aggregates of Aboriginal groups to build capacity to participate in the management of fish habitat at the watershed or ecosystem level. Initially, six Aboriginal groups were approached to see if they would be interested in participating in AIHP. This raised a number of concerns including the fact that there was a general lack of awareness on the part of other Aboriginal groups of the existence of AIHP and a feeling of exclusion from the opportunity to participate in the program. Consequently, it was determined that broad consultations with Aboriginal groups were needed. In 2005, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) conducted a series of workshops intended to inform Aboriginal groups about AIHP and seek their advice on its implementation.

In 2004-05 and 2005-06, one agreement per year was signed and in 2006-07 there were two agreements signed. These agreements were mainly focused on defining the program and helping Aboriginal Groups prepare AIHP proposals.  In 2007-08, there were 13 additional agreements signed and there were 12 agreements in place for 2008-09, 9 of which were multi-year agreements from 2007-08. While there is a process in place for reviewing proposal, there is no systematic ways for assessing them.  As well, agreements did not distinguish between the two components  of the program (Collaborative Management and Capacity Building) which could result in some groups receiving collaborative management funding prior to them having the skills necessary to be successful in that component of the program. 

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 AIHP. This 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. 

Economy
[Cabinet confidence] Of the approved $7.875 million in contribution funding for AIHP, $3.1 million had been lapsed, reprofiled or loaned to other Departmental programs due to difficulties in the early years of the program. This is an indication that the Department was not in a position to effectively deliver the AIHP and spend funds judiciously. 

Conclusion
Based on deficiencies in implementing the program as well as the ineffective use of program funding, it is the evaluators’ conclusion that AIHP’s terms and conditions be continued on the basis that an evaluation be conducted in 2010-11 and a decision be made at that time on whether the program be continued or terminated.  

Recommendations:
The ADM, OHSAR and the Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Fisheries Renewal should:

  • 1. discuss the options for how best AIHP could be delivered keeping in mind the requirements for appropriate habitat and Aboriginal expertise.

The ADM, OHSAR, in consultation with the RDG, C&A Region, should:

  • 2. prepare statements of roles and responsibilities that would clarify the duties of all individuals involved in the delivery of AIHP, including those in the NHQ, Regional Area and Districts offices;
     
  • 3. establish criteria on which proposals for AIHP funding are assessed;
     
  • 4. clearly define when a group can receive funding for capacity building or collaborative management;
     
  • 5. put in place a mechanism to obtain feedback from AIHP groups on the success of the program.  This could take the form of a questionnaire that the clients are asked to complete on an annual or semi-annual basis;
     
  • 6. establish service standards for DFO staff for the processing of AIHP proposals and reports;
     
  • 7. the ADM, OHSAR, in consultation with the RDG, C&A Region, should provide a performance report to the Departmental Evaluation Committee for the 2009-10 fiscal year; and
     
  • 8. the Head of Evaluation should conduct a follow-up evaluation in 2010-11 and provide a recommendation of whether AIHP should be continued or terminated.    

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2.0    Introduction

2.1   Program Description

The Aboriginal Inland Habitat Program (AIHP) is a contribution program (allocation of $9M over 5 years – Fiscal Years (FYs) 2004/05 – 2008/09) whose objective is to enhance the ability of Aboriginal groups, working together, to participate in the decision making processes related to habitat management regulatory and non-regulatory activities.

AIHP applies to Aboriginal groups located in the inland provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and parts of Quebec) where the provinces manage the fisheries but DFO maintains responsibility for the management of fish habitat.

Through AIHP, DFO assists inland area Aboriginal groups to develop the capacity and to engage in collaborative management of fish habitat.  This approach allows for improved coordination with Aboriginal groups on habitat matters and more effective delivery of DFO’s habitat management program responsibilities.

Participation in AIHP is voluntary and groups are to develop proposal detailing all planned activities and costs, and submit an implementation plan in order to access program funding. Two fundamental principles for developing those proposals include:

  • the potential for success and long-term sustainability of groups; and
  • the proposals be based upon the characteristics of the (e.g., the most successful) Aboriginal resource management programs identified as a result of DFO’s review of Aboriginal programs.

AIHP has two main components:  

(1) Collaborative Management (CM) – Qualifying Aboriginal groups are provided funding to engage skilled personnel and related support necessary for the successful management of fish habitat. CM also enables effective Aboriginal participation in DFO habitat management advisory and decision making processes, including other relevant government processes. 

(2) Capacity Building - This component provides funds to groups that did not qualify for Collaborative Management in order to assist in creating new and/or enhancing existing Aboriginal management bodies.

2.2   Evaluation Objectives and Scope

The objectives of this evaluation were to assess:

  1. the relevance of AIHP activities in relation to DFO’s mandate and strategic outcomes, as well as Government of Canada priorities; and
  2. the performance of the AIHP in delivering its activities, specifically:
    1. Efficiency: the extent to which expected outputs were produced with the least amount of input (resources);
    2. Effectiveness: the extent to which AIHP achieved its expected outcomes; and
    3. Economy: the extent to which costs of resources used for the AIHP program were minimized while considering both quality and quantity. 

Scope

The evaluation included National Headquarters (NHQ) and C&A Region. For the Quebec Region, AIHP agreements are administered through the C&A Region.  The evaluation spanned fiscal years 2004-05 to 2008-09.

2.3   Methodology

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

2.3.1    Document and File Review

Key documents were reviewed in Headquarters and C&A Region. Document sources included the DFO website, literature on the program and departmental files.  In addition, documents provided by AIHP groups were reviewed. 

2.3.2   Interviews

Interviews were conducted with DFO officials who were involved in AIHP’s design and implementation and with representatives of AIHP bodies during the evaluation. In addition, the evaluation team attended two workshops, one organized by DFO regarding Aboriginal programs including AIHP and another, AIHP specific workshop, hosted by the AFN where AIHP bodies shared their experiences with the program.

In total, 11 individuals were interviewed or consulted.

2.3.3    Methodology Limitations

At the time that AIHP was implemented in 2004, a Results-based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF) was prepared.  The RMAF included a performance measurement strategy for the program.  This strategy was not fully 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. 

It was not until four years into the program (2007-08) that any significant progress was made with AIHP agreements, therefore there is limited evidence of success of the program.

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3.0   Observations and Recommendations

3.1.   Relevance

Contributing to the achievement of DFO’s strategic objectives consistent with federal government priorities

Although significant progress had not been made until 2007-08, the program has begun demonstrating that it can contribute to DFO’s strategic objective of “Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems”.  The majority of the agreements that were entered into in 2007-08 provided funding for capacity building.  The capacity building funding assisted AIHP bodies to hire scientific, professional and technical expertise that allows them to participate in decision making process with DFO in inland provinces.   In addition, the funding enhances the capacity of the AIHP bodies and its member communities to allow them to participate in the conservation and the management of fish habitat on their traditional territories as well as to be capable of participating actively during environmental assessments. 

The Federal Government is responsible for Habitat Management in the inland provinces.  Consequently, AIHP is consistent with the Federal roles and responsibilities. 

Continuing need for the program

When AIHP was conceived, its objective was to enhance the ability of Aboriginal groups, working together as AIHP bodies, to participate in decision making related to habitat management regulatory and non-regulatory activities.  Through the establishment of AIHP bodies, DFO would assist Aboriginals groups in inland areas to develop the necessary capacity to carry out fish habitat management activities through a collaborative and integrated approach.  Greater coordination with Aboriginal groups in inland areas on habitat matters will allow for more effective delivery of DFO’s habitat management responsibilities.  It will also help Aboriginal groups and DFO work more effectively to understand the implications and identify the impacts on Aboriginals groups of projects or proposals that affect fish habitat.

Despite the slow implementation of the program, the objective of AIHP remain the same and there is a continuing need to provide funding to Aboriginal groups in the inland provinces to assist them to participate in collaborative management activities with DFO and other partners in fish habitat management.

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3.2   Performance

3.2.1 Efficiency

Governance

The ADM, OHSAR is accountable for the overall delivery of AIHP.  The Director General, Habitat Management signs the AIHP agreements on behalf of Canada and is responsible for developing policy and overall co-ordination of the program.

At the beginning of the program, negotiation of the terms and conditions of the AIHP agreements with Aboriginal groups, as well as overall program delivery and administration, was the responsibility of the Habitat Management Directorate at NHQ.  In the second year of the program (February 2006), program delivery and administration was delegated to the C&A Region in so far as signing authority for the approval of payments for the AIHP was sub-delegated to the Regional Director, Habitat. As well, the AIHP budget allocation went directly to the C&A region. 

At the time that AIHP was being implemented, a similar program, the Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management Program (AAROM) was being put in place for coastal communities by the DFO FAM Sector.  FAM has much experience in implementing Aboriginal programs across the country.  Since 1993-94, FAM has delivered the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) and in 2000 began the implementation of the Marshall Response Initiative (MRI). 

The OHSAR Sector could have benefited (and still can) from the experience and lessons learned by FAM during the implementation of these programs had there been a closer collaboration between the two sectors.  There needs to be a closer relationship between the OHSAR Sector, the C&A Region and FAM.   Each organization has expertise that could contribute to the effective delivery of AIHP.  The OHSAR Sector has the expertise in habitat issues, FAM has expertise in aboriginal matters and the Region brings a regional perspective that helps in establishing close day to day relationships with Aboriginal groups.

There are a number of ways that the role of FAM could be enhanced for AIHP:

  • Transfer responsibility for the program to FAM.  The transfer of the program would include moving associated salaries and O&M funds to FAM.
     
  • FAM provides advice on an as required basis.  FAM staff could become more involved in approval of AIHP proposals for funding and in the consultation process with Aboriginal groups. OHSAR would continue to be accountable for the program. This relationship would have to be clearly set out in an agreement between the two sectors and region.
       
  • AIHP be jointly managed by OHSAR and FAM sectors and the C&A Region.  The RDG, C&A Region would be accountable for the program and the ADM, OHSAR and the Assistant Associate Deputy Minister would provide functional direction to the RDG.  This arrangement would have to be clearly laid out in a Service Level Agreement amongst all parties involved. 

During 2008-09, AIHP formalized a Steering Committee that is responsible for providing leadership, management oversight, and strategic advice on the implementation and development of the program in a manner consistent with departmental policies and priorities outlined in the RMAF and Risk Based Audit Framework (RBAF). Also in 2008-09, an Operations Sub-Committee was established and is responsible for implementing the activities of the AIHP and overseeing the work of any working groups established by the Steering Committee.

Roles and Responsibilities

The RMAF contained key elements on roles and responsibilities. The ADM, OHSAR was responsible for the overall delivery of AIHP including, policy direction, performance measurement, the approval of agreements and being accountable for program results.

However, when the administration of the AIHP was decentralized to the C&A Region, the roles and responsibilities were not clearly defined.  There is now more DFO staff that are involved in the program.  They include staff at NHQ, the Regional Office and in the Area offices.  The roles and responsibilities for all parties involved have not been clarified and some staff may even be unaware of what their involvement is and should be in AIHP. This issue was raised by some AIHP groups who did not feel they were getting adequate support or information from some DFO offices and it was attributed to lack of awareness of the program on the part of staff.  Clearly defined roles and responsibilities could alleviate any issues around who should be performing specific duties for the program.     

 The lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities creates uncertainty, undermines leadership and the sense of accountability/ownership, weakens relationship building with AIHP bodies, and delays decision making. Ultimately, this negatively affects the program results in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.

Design and Delivery

The intention of AIHP was to engage and partner with aggregates of Aboriginal groups to build capacity and to participate in the management of fish habitat at the watershed or ecosystem level. The aggregate model established was an innovative approach with the goal of providing a sound basis to ensure maximum benefits from AIHP resources by 1) using the watershed or ecosystem as the principle unit for fisheries and habitat management, 2) providing a practical basis for all Aboriginal groups to participate in the management of fisheries and fish habitat if they so choose, and 3) allowing for the program’s financial resources to be kept sufficiently concentrated to meaningfully build fisheries and habitat management capacity.

Prior to the start of the program in 2004, it was decided that it would be necessary to determine if there were existing ‘aggregates’ of Aboriginal communities that could provide a foundation for AIHP capacity building.  After some research, the Habitat Management program approached six Aboriginal groups in the five inland provinces to see if they would be interested in participating in AIHP.  Five Aboriginal groups responded by submitting statements of interest to participate in the program. 

Soon after the six original groups had been approached, a number of concerns were raised by other Aboriginal groups resulting in a re-thinking of the approach taken.  There was a general lack of awareness on the part of other Aboriginal groups of the existence of AIHP and they felt excluded from the opportunity to participate in a program that could help them develop capacity to participate in the habitat management decision making processes.  It was determined that broad consultations with Aboriginal groups were needed. 

In January 2005, the AFN approached DFO to conduct a series of workshops intended to inform Aboriginal groups about AIHP and seek their advice on its implementation. In March 2005, DFO entered into a Contribution Agreement (CA) with the AFN in the amount of $294K.  The purpose of the CA with the AFN was to facilitate the engagement of Aboriginal groups in dialogue around the management of fish habitat through capacity building and by encouraging inter-community dialogue and collaboration along watershed and broad ecosystem areas.  The funding supported a series of workshops in the inland provinces. 

The AFN hosted 6 workshops in the winter and spring of 2005.  A key recommendation arising from those consultations was a call for the coordinated delivery of the program within each of the five provinces.  Coordinated delivery meant that Aboriginal groups in each province would have the opportunity to jointly develop AIHP statements of interest to deliver the program in that province.

The Department endorsed the recommendations and in addition decided to make changes to the administration of the program by transferring day-to-day management of the program to C&A Region (given that C&A accounts for four of the five AIHP provinces) and established a National Management Committee comprised of NCR and regional staff.  DFO also signed a Contribution Agreement with the Aboriginal Human Resources Development Council of Canada (AHRDCC) in November 2005 to pursue the AFN recommendations with Aboriginal leaders in each of the inland provinces. The first AIHP agreements (excluding the AFN and AHRDCC agreements) were put into place in 2007-08.

DFO’s capacity to implement AIHP

The lack of dedicated DFO staff to the program greatly impacted how AIHP was delivered. Despite receiving funding (salaries and wages of $125K out of $225K) for one full time equivalent (FTE), when the program was implemented, there was no full time staff assigned to it at NHQ.  When the program was delegated to the C&A Region, the role of the AIHP Manager was an added job responsibility to a Habitat Manager in that region. Prior to June 2008, there was a 14 month gap without a full time AIHP Manager in place. In June 2008, a full time AIHP Manager in C&A region was staffed on an acting basis and there is currently a competitive process underway to fill the position on a permanent basis. 

Proposals

A set of criteria does not exist to assess proposals received from Aboriginal groups.  While there is a review process in place for reviewing proposal, there is no systematic ways for assessing them.  The absence of criteria could result in accepting proposals that may not be in the best interest of the program.

Agreements

Because of problems with the initial implementation of the program, there were very few contribution agreements (CA) entered into in the first three years of the program.  In 2004-05 and 2005-06, there was one CA in each of these years entered into. In 2006-07, there were two CAs entered into with AIHP bodies. In 2007-08, there were thirteen agreements signed.  Many of the 2007-08 agreements were signed very late in the fiscal year (December-March), which did not leave the AIHP bodies much time to complete the activities they had expected to.  Many of these agreements ended up being set up as Payables at Year End (PAYE) for payment in a subsequent year, however as the work was not completed the program ended up lapsing the funds ($402,878).  There were 12 agreements in place for 2008-09, 9 of which were carried over from 2007-08. 

AIHP was designed as having two separate components: capacity building and collaborative management.  In most of the agreement, the purpose of the funding was identified as being for capacity building.  An examination of the activities associated with the funding indicated that the agreements included a combination of both components rather than having solely one or the other.  Not distinguishing between the two components could result in some groups receiving collaborative management funding prior to them having the skills necessary to be successful in that component of the program. 

Recommendations

The ADM, OHSAR and the Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Fisheries Renewal should:

  • 1. discuss the options for how best AIHP could be delivered keeping in mind the requirements for appropriate habitat and Aboriginal expertise;

The ADM, OHSAR, in consultation with the RDG, C&A Region, should:

  • 2. prepare statements of roles and responsibilities that would clarify the duties of all individuals involved in the delivery of AIHP, including those in the NHQ, Regional Area and Districts offices;

  • 3. establish criteria on which proposals for AIHP funding are assessed; and

  • 4. clearly define when an Aboriginal group can receive funding for capacity building or collaborative management.

3.2.2   Effectiveness

Effectiveness is defined as the extent to which progress has been made in the achievement of expected outcomes.  

Expected Outcomes

A performance measurement strategy, that identified expected outcomes as well as the indicators and data collection methodology to assess them, had been prepared for AIHP.  The strategy, however, was not fully implemented. 

Individuals involved in the program explained that the program is making progress in achieving its expected results.  However, program implementation has been limited and much of evidence of success is based on anecdotal information and not on concrete reliable performance information.  The program must be able to demonstrate successes through appropriate performance measurement information. 

Some groups have been reporting their activities to DFO, however, there was no systematic collection of data with which to assess the achievement of expected outcomes.  Some groups have reported that they are making progress under the program’s components – capacity building and collaborative management.  Some examples of what have been reported are as follows: 

Capacity Building

  • Training for Aboriginal groups and staff.
  • Improved equipment for habitat research.
  • Participation in habitat reviews and assessments.
  • Participation in habitat planning.

Collaborative Management

  • New partnerships created between AIHP, academia and other agencies.
  • New habitat management models and processes established by Aboriginal groups.
  • Mentoring opportunities for Aboriginal groups and youth.

While these activities indicate that some progress has been made, there needs to be an accumulation of data over an extended period of time to demonstrate that the program is making sufficient progress in achieving the expected outcome of AIHP.  With the slow implementation of AIHP, more advanced progress has not yet been made. 

Performance Measurement

The RMAF that had been prepared for AIHP stated that responsibility for performance measurement of the program would be centralized in the Habitat Management Directorate at NHQ.  However the performance measurement strategy included in the RMAF was not implemented. While some 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. 

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

AIHP bodies are in the best position to provide input to DFO on whether the expected outcomes of the program are being achieved.   In addition to the reports provided to DFO, another way of obtaining input from the AIHP bodies could be by having DFO solicit feedback from the Aboriginal groups on a yearly basis and DFO could use this as part of its performance measurement information. 

In addition, it is important that DFO staff be accountable to the groups that to which they deliver the program. One such way of doing this would be by establishing service standards for the delivery of the program.  The service standards could identify parameters (timeframes) for responding to client proposals for funding or the approval of reports submitted by the Aboriginal group. 

Recommendations

The ADM, OHSAR, in consultation with the RDG, C&A Region, should:

  • 5. put in place a mechanism to obtain feedback from AIHP groups on the success of the program.  This could take the form of a questionnaire that the clients are asked to complete on an annual or semi-annual basis; and
  •  
  • 6. establish service standards for DFO staff for the processing of AIHP proposals and reports.

3.2.3   Economy

[Cabinet confidence]  Program funding from 2004-05 to 2008-09 totalled $9.0M as follows:

(Millions of dollars)
  2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 Total

Contributions

0.975 1.275 1.875 1.875 1.875 7.875
Internal DFO Capacity 0.225 0.225 0.225 0.225 0.225 1.125
Total 1.2 1.5 2.1 2.1 2.1 9.0
Internal DFO Capacity was to cover salaries; O&M; Accommodations and EBP

Because of problems with the initial implementation of AIHP, there were very few CAs entered into in the early years of the program.  The funds that had been allocated to the program were not fully utilized for AIHP activities; this resulted in funds lapsing or being reprofiled to support other DFO programs.  For example:

  • [Cabinet confidence]  As a result, this amount lapsed. 
  • In FY 2005-06, the Department was operating under Governor General Warrants and unable to convert O&M funds to G&C to cover commitments that had already been approved under the Departmental Class G&C Program.  It was determined that AIHP had not spent its funding, so the program provided $1,080,000 to cover the Class G&C requirements. 
  • In FY 2006-07, the AAROM program requested a loan of $1.1M from AIHP.  This was to be paid back over two years at $550K per year.  Also in 2006-07, AIHP provided $35K to fund two departmental Class G&C items for which commitments had been made. 
  • In FY 2007-08, agreements were signed late in the fiscal year and the AIHP groups were unable to carry out the work that had been identified in the agreements.  Consequently, the program lapsed funds in the amount of $402,878.

The lapsing of funds as well as the transfer (reprofile and loans) of funds to other Departmental program is an indication that the Department was not in a position to effectively deliver the AIHP and spend funds in a judicious manner. Consequently, AIHP was not cost-effective and did not use funds as it was intended.

Conclusion

AIHP has the potential to be a valuable program to DFO and its beneficiaries.  The objectives of the program continue to be relevant to DFO and habitat remains a federal responsibility.  Overall, there were deficiencies at the outset of the AIHP program with its delivery approach.  The Department had considered only a select number of Aboriginal groups to which funds were to be provided.  This was not acceptable to Aboriginal groups in the regions and DFO had to re-think its approach.  Initially, minimal consultation was done with Aboriginals groups to inform them of AIHP existence which resulted in delays in implementation as well as creating some friction with Aboriginal groups.

The delivery of AIHP did not take into consideration the best practices or lessons learned by the FAM Sector in other Aboriginal programs.  More collaboration between FAM and OHSAR Sectors may have assisted in AIHP implementation.

Because of the delays in implementing AIHP, progress towards achieving expected results was limited and the performance measurement strategy that had been prepared for AIHP was not implemented.  A contributing factor to the deficiency in implementing the program is the apparent lack priority or urgency that was given to AIHP. The lack of available staff to deliver the program on a full time basis hampered its implementation.  Even though a position had been funded through the program, there was no one assigned full time to the program until June 2008.  

[Cabinet confidence]  Of this amount, $3.1 million had been lapsed, reprofiled or loaned to other departmental programs.  This is an indication that the OHSAR Sector was not in a position to effectively deliver the program. 

With the termination of the terms and conditions as of March 31, 2008, the history of AIHP and how it has evolved since 2004 must be taken into consideration when determining whether the program’s terms and conditions and funding should be renewed for the next five years.  The program has only been fully operational for the past year and a half.  Based on deficiencies in implementing the program as well as the ineffective use of program funding, it is the evaluators’ conclusion that AIHP’s terms and conditions be continued on the basis that an evaluation be conducted in 2010-11 and a decision be made at that time on whether the program be continued or terminated. 

Recommendations

  • 7. the ADM, OHSAR, in consultation with the RDG, C&A Region, should provide a performance report to the Departmental Evaluation Committee for the 2009-10 fiscal year; and
     
  • 8. the Head of Evaluation should conduct a follow-up evaluation in 2010-11 and provide a recommendation of whether AIHP should be renewed or terminated.

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4.0 Management action plan

Recommendations Management Action Plan Status Report Update
Actions Completed Actions Outstanding Target Date

The ADM, OHSAR and the Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Fisheries Renewal should:

1. Discuss the options for how best AIHP could be delivered keeping in mind the requirements for appropriate habitat and Aboriginal expertise.

a) DG, Habitat Management Directorate to prepare a Briefing Note proposing delivery options for AIHP, including the transfer of AIHP administration to Aboriginal Policy and Governance   Draft Briefing Note Initial: Jan 27/09
Revised:
  b) ADM, OHSAR to set up a meeting with ADM Fisheries Renewal to discuss and reach agreement on how best AIHP could be delivered   Set up meeting Initial: 2008-09, fourth quarter
Revised:
  c) DG, Habitat Management Directorate to implement agreement between ADM, OHSAR and ADM Fisheries Renewal  

Draft agreement

Finalize agreement

Initial: 2009-10, first quarter
Revised:

The ADM, OHSAR, in consultation with the RDG, C&A Region, should:

2. Prepare statements of roles and responsibilities that would clarify the duties of all individuals involved in the delivery of AIHP, including those in the NHQ, Regional Area and Districts offices.

DG, Habitat Management Directorate to prepare a roles and responsibilities document clarifying the duties of all individuals involved in the delivery of AIHP. 1st Draft complete Final Draft including duties of DFO District offices Initial: Jan 27/09
Revised:
3. Establish criteria on which proposals for AIHP funding are assessed. DG, Habitat Management Directorate to develop AIHP criteria on which proposals for funding will be evaluated with Aboriginal Policy and Governance  

Draft criteria

Finalize criteria

Initial: 2009-10, first quarter
Revised:
4. Clearly define when an Aboriginal group can receive funding for capacity building or collaborative management. DG, Habitat Management Directorate to define funding arrangements for capacity building and collaborative management with Aboriginal Policy and Governance  

Draft funding arrangements

Finalize funding arrangements

Initial: 2009-10, first quarter
Revised:
5. Put in place a mechanism to obtain feedback from AIHP groups on the success of the program.  This could take the form of a questionnaire that the clients are asked to complete on an annual or semi-annual basis.  DG, Habitat Management Directorate to develop a semi-annual questionnaire to elicit feedback from AIHP bodies with Aboriginal Policy and Governance  

Draft questionnaire

Finalize questionnaire

Initial: 2009-10, first quarter
Revised:
6. Establish service standards for DFO staff for the processing of AIHP proposals and reports. DG, Habitat Management Directorate to prepare develop service standards for processing of AIHP proposals and reports with Aboriginal Policy and Governance Interim service standards developed and implemented through audit process Finalize Initial: 2009-10, first quarter
Revised:
7. The ADM, OHSAR, in consultation with the RDG, C&A Region, should provide a performance report to the Departmental Evaluation Committee for the 2009-10 fiscal year. A performance report will be prepared for fiscal year 2009-10 and will be presented to the Departmental Evaluation Committee.     Initial: June 2010
Revised:
8. The Head of Evaluation should conduct a follow-up evaluation in 2010-11 and provide a recommendation of whether AIHP should be renewed or terminated.  A follow-up evaluation of AIHP has been added to the Departmental Evaluation Plan for 2009-10.     March 31, 2010