Archived – Evaluation of DFO's Contribution Agreement to Salmon Sub-Committee (Also Known as the Yukon Salmon Committee)

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Project Number 6B125
Final Report
March 18, 2010

Table of Contents

List of Acronyms

ADM
Assistant Deputy Minister
DFO
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
FAM
Fisheries and Aquaculture Management
NHQ
National headquarters
RBAF
Risked-based Accountability Framework
RDG
Regional Director General
RMAF
Results-based Management Accountability Framework
SSC
Salmon Sub-Committee
TBS
Treasury Board Secretariat
UFA
Umbrella Final Agreement

 

1.0 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1.1 Description

The Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA) between the Government of Canada, the Government of the Yukon, and the Yukon First Nations was signed on May 29, 1993, by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, The Council for Yukon Indians, and the Government of the Yukon.

Chapter 16.7.17.12(f) of the UFA further provides that "after Consultation with affected Yukon First Nations, [the SCC] shall make recommendations to the Minister on allocation, in amount and by area, of Salmon to users, in accordance with [Chapter 16]."

Pursuant to Chapter 16.7.17.10 of the UFA, DFO is obligated to provide technical and administrative support to the SCC as required to determine appropriate plans for salmon management, and further requires that a senior official of DFO serve as Executive Secretary of the SCC.  Accordingly, in furtherance of this obligation DFO enters into the Contribution Agreement in question with the SCC.

The Contribution Agreement has been authorized by Treasury Board, subject to specific Terms and Conditions, each of which have been incorporated into the Contribution Agreement.  The lack of precision found in the Terms and Conditions allowed for varying interpretations of what it means for DFO to provide technical and administrative support to the SSC in support of Salmon Management Plans. For example, the terms ‘technical’ and ‘administrative’ are not defined in either the Terms and Conditions or the Contribution Agreements. However we understand that measures are being taken to improve and clarify the Terms and Conditions since the time of this evaluation.

1.2 Objectives and Scope

Departmental documents indicated that an evaluation was to be conducted prior to the renewal of the SSC Contribution Agreement to determine whether the Terms and Conditions of the Contribution Agreement (the Terms and Conditions) remained appropriate. This evaluation was included in the 2009-10 evaluation plan. The timeframe covered in this evaluation is from April 1, 2005 to March 31, 2009. The evaluation was conducted between August and October 2009.

1.3 Relevance

DFO is obligated by the UFA to “provide technical and administrative support to the Sub-Committee as required to determine appropriate plans for Salmon management, and a senior official of the department in the Yukon shall serve the Sub-Committee as Executive Secretary.”1
DFO’s responsibilities towards the SSC and DFO’s contribution to the SSC are aligned with the Department’s strategic outcomes of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture and Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems.

It was observed during the evaluation that the Terms and Conditions of DFO’s Contribution Agreement do not appear to be limited to providing technical and administrative support, and serving as Executive Secretary. 

Although DFO’s obligations towards the SSC are outlined under the UFA, a clear definition of “technical and administrative support” is not provided. The responsibility has fallen to DFO to define these terms in keeping with its mandate and objectives.

1.4 Efficiency

Lack of a clearly defined DFO role as to providing technical and administrative support makes it difficult to assess whether funding through a DFO Contribution is the most appropriate funding mechanism.

It has also not been clearly established which responsibilities should fall to DFO as Executive Secretary and which should be the sole responsibility of the SSC. Without clearly defined roles and responsibilities, the SSC remains dependent on DFO officials for its operations (and DFO officials support the SSC through a wide range of tasks), which places departmental employees who work to support the SSC in apparent or perceived conflict of interest situation.

1.5 Effectiveness

The SSC could be an efficient and effective way for DFO to obtain input and gage the pulse of a cross-section of stakeholders quickly as well as communicate the department’s visions, objectives and challenges. The discussion that can occur between DFO officials and SSC members could serve as an effective way to advance Salmon management in the Yukon.

1.6 Economy

DFO’s contribution to the SSC for the period evaluated may not have been used in the most economical manner.  There was insufficient information from which to draw conclusions as a result of the roles and responsibilities not being clearly defined.

1.7 Recommendations

It is recommended that:

Recommendation 1:
The RDG, Pacific Region, in collaboration with ADM FAM should ensure that Terms and Conditions for the Contribution to SSC are aligned with the obligations and responsibilities outlined in the UFA.

Recommendation 2:
The RDG, Pacific Region in conjunction with ADM FAM should ensure the development of clear roles and responsibilities relative to DFO providing technical and administrative support and Executive Secretary duties to the SSC and that these be documented and communicated in writing to the SSC through the most appropriate level of Senior Management. 

Recommendation 3:
That the RDG, Pacific Region, in consultation with the ADM, FAM and the Executive Director of the Centre for Values, Integrity and Conflict Resolution review the role of DFO as Executive Secretary and in providing technical and administrative support. This review will consist of identifying possible situations of real, apparent or perceived conflicts of interest, as well as recommending measures to mitigate the risk to the department in a manner that is consistent with the UFA, the Terms and Conditions, the Contribution Agreements and the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service.

Recommendation 4:
The RDG, Pacific Region, in collaboration with ADM FAM should ensure that a Performance Measurement Strategy is developed and implemented with clearly defined indicators and measures to demonstrate how, and to what extent, the activities undertaken by the recipient (SSC) of DFO funds contribute to the achievement of the Department’s strategic outcomes.

2.0 Introduction

2.1 Description

The Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA) between the Government of Canada, the Government of the Yukon, and the Yukon First Nations was signed on May 29, 1993, by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, The Council for Yukon Indians, and the Government of the Yukon.

Section 2.1.1 of the UFA provides that the UFA "signifies [the] mutual intention [of Canada, the Yukon, and the Yukon First Nations] to negotiate [Yukon First Nation] final agreements.  As such, it provides the basis upon which final agreements have been negotiated with 10 of the 14 Yukon First Nations.  The terms of the UFA are incorporated into those agreements, and are the guiding principles for Canada's dealings with the remaining Yukon First Nations and the interpretation of the existing final agreements.

The Salmon Sub-Committee (SSC) is constituted pursuant to Chapter 16.7 of the UFA as a sub-committee of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, which is also a creation of Chapter 16.7.  In 2007, in the Yukon First Nation final and self-government agreement implementation review, the Implementation Review Group (IRG) recommended that the SSC should be known as the Salmon Sub-Committee, reflecting the fact that it is established as a Sub-Committee of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board (FWMB). Pursuant to Chapter 16.7.17 of the UFA, the SSC is "the main instrument of Salmon management in the Yukon".  The members of the SCC come from across the Yukon, and represent both First Nation and non-First Nation populations.  SSC members are nominated by the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, the Government of Canada, and the First nations of Alsek, Porcupine and Yukon River drainage basins.

Chapter 16.7.17.11 of the UFA provides that the SCC, "acting in the public interest and consistent with [Chapter 16 of the UFA] and taking into account all relevant factors including recommendations of the Councils, may make recommendations to the Minister and to Yukon First Nations on all matters related to Salmon, their habitats and management, including Legislation, research, policies and programs."  Chapter 16.7.17.12(f) of the UFA further provides that "after Consultation with affected Yukon First Nations, [the SCC] shall make recommendations to the Minister on allocation, in amount and by area, of Salmon to users, in accordance with [Chapter 16]."

Pursuant to Chapter 16.7.17.10 of the UFA, DFO is obligated to provide technical and administrative support to the SCC as required to determine appropriate plans for salmon management, and further requires that a senior official of DFO serve as Executive Secretary of the SCC.  Accordingly, in furtherance of this obligation DFO enters into the Contribution Agreement in question with the SCC.

The Contribution Agreement has been authorized by Treasury Board, subject to specific Terms and Conditions, each of which have been incorporated into the Contribution Agreement.  The lack of precision found in the Terms and Conditions allowed for varying interpretations of what it means for DFO to provide technical and administrative support to the SSC in support of Salmon Management Plans. For example, the terms ‘technical’ and ‘administrative’ are not defined in either the Terms and Conditions or the Contribution Agreements. However we understand that measures are being taken to improve and clarify the Terms and Conditions since the time of this evaluation.

2.2 Context

In 2005, the Program approval was granted. As a result, a Contribution Agreement (April 1st, 2005 to March 31, 2010) was developed, naming the SSC of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board as the “Recipient”. Pursuant to this agreement, DFO funds the SSC through annual contribution of approximately $200,000. 

In 2005, the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Policy on Transfer Payments (2001) required that submissions for renewal of grant and contribution programs include a Results-based Accountability Framework (RMAF) and a Risk-based Accountability Framework (RBAF). This requirement was also a recommendation of the Evaluation completed in 2005. Consequently, an Integrated RMAF and RBAF was developed, and it was stipulated that a summative evaluation was to occur as part of the process leading up to renewal of the Contribution Agreement.

2.3 Objective and Scope

Departmental documents indicated that an evaluation was to be conducted prior to the renewal of the SSC Contribution Agreement to determine whether the Terms and Conditions of the Contribution Agreement (the Terms and Conditions) remained appropriate. This evaluation was included in the 2009-10 evaluation plan.

The evaluation questions contained in the 2005 RMAF are reflected in this evaluation, as well as questions under the new Treasury Board Policy on Evaluation (2009). This evaluation assesses relevance and performance (efficiency, effectiveness and economy) as defined by the 2009 Evaluation Policy and the extent to which the SSC has achieved outcomes stemming from its activities, as per the Terms and Conditions. The timeframe covered in this evaluation is from April 1, 2005 to March 31, 2009. The evaluation was conducted between August and October 2009.

2. 4 Methodology

The evaluation was conducted using multiple lines of evidence including:

Document and file review:
This included the review and analysis of policy and planning documents such as Treasury Board submissions, recipient reports, committee meeting minutes, the 2005 RMAF and related documents, etc.

Interviews:
To obtain more in-depth information, interviews were held with DFO staff and various levels of management in Pacific Region and at National Headquarters.

Expert consultations
Interviews with DFO’s Centre of Values, Integrity and Conflict Resolution and Legal Services.

Other techniques:
Other methods/techniques of analysis, including but not limited to: trend analysis over the four year period, comparative analysis, and review of activities.   

2.5 Limitations

The conduct of this evaluation was somewhat limited as a result of inconsistencies between the Terms and Conditions and the Contribution Agreements. For the purpose of the evaluation, the Terms and Conditions, the information contained in the RMAF and Contribution Agreements were aligned as best as possible because key activities were not consistent across documents.

3.0 Observations and Recommendations

3.1 Relevance

Key Findings: 

  • DFO’s support of the Salmon Sub-Committee is mandated by the Umbrella Final Agreement.

DFO Obligations under the UFA

DFO’s obligation towards the Salmon Sub-Committee (SSC) is derived from the Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA) signed in 1993, which provides a framework for Yukon First Nations and Governments in their negotiations to conclude Yukon First Nation Final Agreements.

DFO is obligated by the UFA to “provide technical and administrative support to the Sub-Committee as required to determine appropriate plans for Salmon management, and a senior official of the department in the Yukon shall serve the Sub-Committee as Executive Secretary.”

The evaluation assessed the relevance of the SSC Contribution Agreement in relation to DFO’s strategic outcomes.  DFO’s responsibility towards the SSC and DFO’s contribution to the SSC are aligned with the Department’s strategic outcomes of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture and Healthy and Productive aquatic Ecosystems.

The Terms and Conditions of DFO’s Contribution Agreement with the SSC identifies four objectives:

  • preserving salmon stocks in the Yukon Territory in order to maintain this vital part of the Yukon ecosystem, economy and lifestyle;
  • holding regular meetings throughout the year, plus in-season and basin meetings pertinent to the Yukon, Porcupine and Alsek Rivers;
  • participating in International meetings held throughout the year; and
  • participating in workshops, reviews, working groups, and public meetings related to Yukon salmon and their habitat.

It was observed during the evaluation that the Terms and Conditions of DFO’s contribution do not appear to be limited to providing technical and administrative support, and serving as Executive Secretary. 

DFO officials have attempted, since 2007, to realign the annual contribution agreements with the objectives outlined in the UFA; however, this created a situation whereby the Contribution Agreements, although more closely aligned with the UFA, were less aligned with the Terms and Conditions. In order for DFO to efficiently and economically meet its obligations, clear Terms and Conditions are required. These obligations, once defined in the Terms and Conditions, can then be reflected in the Contribution Agreement between DFO and the SSC.

Recommendation 1:
It is recommended that the RDG, Pacific Region, in collaboration with ADM FAM should ensure that Terms and Conditions for the Contribution to the SSC are aligned with the obligations and responsibilities outlined in the UFA

Clear Roles and Responsibilities
Although DFO’s obligations towards the SSC are outlined under the UFA, a clear definition of “technical and administrative support” is not provided. The responsibility has fallen to DFO to define these terms in keeping with its mandate and objectives. The 2005 audit and evaluation of the Yukon Salmon Committee Contribution Agreement recommended that DFO officials clearly define these concepts in order to ensure that the obligations were clearly understood and to ensure that they are met. Since 2005, efforts to clarify DFO’s roles and responsibilities were attempted. Despite these efforts there continues to be a lack of understanding and documentation around DFO’s roles and responsibilities.
 
Recommendation 2:
It is recommended that the RDG, Pacific Region in conjunction with ADM FAM should ensure the development of clear roles and responsibilities relative to DFO providing technical and administrative support and Executive Secretary duties to the SSC and that these be documented and communicated in writing to the SSC through the most appropriate level of Senior Management. 

3.2 Performance

The Treasury Board Policy on Evaluation (2009) stipulates that evaluations examine the relevance and performance of programs. Performance is defined as ‘the extent to which effectiveness, efficiency and economy are achieved by a program’3.


Key Findings:
  • With the lack of clear outcomes it was not possible to draw definite conclusions as to whether DFO’s resource utilization was optimally aligned and organized in such a way as to contribute to the objectives of the Terms and Conditions. 

3.2.1 Efficiency

Key Findings:

  • Lack of a clearly defined DFO role as to providing technical and administrative support makes it difficult to assess whether funding through a DFO Contribution is the most appropriate funding mechanism.
  • Some of the duties being tasked to DFO employees for the SSC may present the appearance of a conflict of interest.

It was observed during the course of the evaluation that there were no terms of reference for the Salmon Sub-committee or clearly defined roles and responsibilities for DFO’s role in providing administrative support services and the Executive Secretary position. Although the SSC’s responsibilities are outlined in the UFA, specific responsibilities and the accountability for reporting on activities and outcomes, which should be part of the contribution agreement, were not clearly established. Without clear accountabilities or a governance structure, it is not possible to draw conclusions on the appropriateness to which funds were utilized to achieve results.

DFO’s contribution to the SSC is made with the goal of meeting its obligations under the UFA. SSC is to use DFO funds so that it may fulfill its mandate to provide advice on issues related to Yukon Salmon which is in keeping with DFO’s objectives and responsibilities. It was observed that lack of a clearly defined DFO role on providing technical and administrative support makes it difficult to assess whether funding through a DFO Contribution Agreement is the most appropriate funding mechanism.

Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service

Chapter 1 of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service (the Code) defines four families of values which serve to guide and support public servants in their work and in their professional conduct. These four types of values are Democratic, Professional, Ethical and People. Compliance with the Code is a condition of employment.

The Public service is guided by democratic values and among those is the responsibility to provide neutral and impartial advice as well as to serve with objectivity and impartiality. Chapter 2 of the Code states that avoiding and preventing situations that could give rise to a conflict of interest, or the appearance of a conflict of interest, is one of the primary means by which a public servant maintains public confidence in the impartiality and objectivity of the Public Service. Apparent conflicts of interest are as important as real or potential conflicts of interest.

The UFA stipulates that “The Sub-Committee, acting in the public interest (and consistent with Chapter 16 of the UFA) and taking into account all relevant factors including recommendations of the Councils, may make recommendations to the Minister and to Yukon First Nations on all matters related to Salmon, their habitats and management, including Legislation, research, policies and programs”4.  The UFA also mandates DFO to “provide technical and administrative support to the Sub-Committee as required to determine appropriate plans for Salmon management, and a senior official of the department in the Yukon shall serve the Sub-Committee as Executive Secretary.”

Public servants who, as part of their official duties, support an advisory board or committee that makes recommendations to the Minister (which may be in conflict with Departmental priorities or mandate or may criticize the department or government) may be at risk of a real, apparent or perceived conflict of interest between their duties as a public servant and their duties to the board or committee. Additionally, public servants also owe a duty of loyalty to their employer, the Government of Canada. Therefore, doing work for a group that could in essence criticize or present opposing views to those of the government could also be perceived as a breach of loyalty as well as a breach of the Code.  

It has not been clearly established which responsibilities should fall to DFO as Executive Secretary and which should be the sole responsibility of the SSC. Without clearly defined roles and responsibilities, the SSC remains dependent on DFO officials for its operations (and DFO officials support the SSC through a wide range of tasks). This places departmental employees who work to support the SSC in a possible or perceived conflict of interest situation and in possible breach of their responsibilities to the Code.

Recommendation 3:
It is recommended that the RDG, Pacific Region, in consultation with the ADM, FAM and the Executive Director of the Centre for Values, Integrity and Conflict Resolution review the role of DFO as Executive Secretary and in providing technical and administrative support. This review will consist of identifying possible situations of real, apparent or perceived conflicts of interest, as well as recommending measures to mitigate the risk to the department in a manner that is consistent with the UFA, the Terms and Conditions, the Contribution Agreements and the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service.

3.2.2 Effectiveness

Key Findings:

  • DFO’s contribution to the SSC for the period evaluated may not have been used in the most effective manner. 
  • A well defined performance framework would reflect more accurately the role of the SSC to Salmon management.

The SSC has contributed input and advice into DFO’s Salmon management process. The role of the SSC is one of co-management providing input to DFO. The UFA defines the SSC as “the main instrument of Salmon management in the Yukon”5.

A well defined performance framework would reflect more specifically the role of the SSC in Salmon management. The RMAF developed as a result of the 2005 evaluation is a commendable first step towards having a clearer understanding of the impacts of the SSC on Salmon management and its contribution to DFO objectives. However, DFO has not required SSC to report on indicators. Further refinement of the indicators and measures as well as consistent reporting on indicators would be required to assess the effectiveness of the SSC.

The SSC could be an efficient and effective way for DFO to obtain input and gage the pulse of a cross-section of stakeholders quickly as well as communicate the department’s visions, objectives and challenges. The discussion that can occur between DFO officials and SSC members could serve as an effective way to advance Salmon management in the Yukon.

For such a discussion to be productive for all parties, all parties need to have a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities and accountabilities. This will allow DFO and the SSC to move beyond administrative issues to areas more strategic in nature.

3.2.3 Economy

Key Findings:

  • DFO’s contribution to the SSC for the period evaluated may not have been used in the most economical manner. 
  • The total cost to DFO is greater than the amount set out in the Contribution Agreement.
  • In order to conclude whether or not the SSC outcomes are being achieved, stronger performance indicators should be developed for the measures identified in the 2005 RMAF.

The SSC relies to a great degree on DFO staff for administrative and secretarial duties. The total cost to DFO is greater than the amount of the SSC Contribution Agreement as DFO also allocates administrative and technical staff and operating resources to support the activities of the SSC. These resources are drawn from other program areas of the Department (including FAM – Aboriginal Affairs) and not fully accounted for under the Contribution Agreement.

Currently the terms technical and administrative support and Executive Secretary, used in the UFA, do not have specific duties attached to them. The level of effort required by DFO staff to support the SSC can therefore not be accurately quantified and current effort may not be optimal.

As a result of a recommendation in the 2005 evaluation, an RMAF/RBAF was created with the purpose of aligning the SSC outcomes with DFO objectives. The present evaluation was to assess the extent to which the SSC achieved its outcomes as per the Terms and Conditions. It was observed that DFO had not collected information from the SSC relative to the RMAF indicators. It is not evident during the period examined, what level of outputs, i.e. advice and recommendations, number of meetings, consultations and communications, etc. have been achieved by the SSC relative to the mandate provided under the UFA. It was therefore not possible for the evaluation team to draw clear conclusions as to whether the outcomes where being achieved.

In order to conclude whether or not the SSC outcomes are being achieved, stronger performance indicators should be developed for the measures identified in the 2005 RMAF. Data should be collected against these indicators to clearly demonstrate what outputs and outcomes are being achieved through the contribution to the SSC. There was insufficient information from which to draw conclusions as a result of the roles and responsibilities not being clearly defined.

Recommendation 4:
It is recommended that the RDG, Pacific Region, in collaboration with ADM FAM should ensure that a Performance Measurement Strategy is developed and implemented with clearly defined indicators and measures to demonstrate how, and to what extent, the activities undertaken by the recipient (SSC) of DFO funds contribute to the achievement of the Department’s strategic outcomes.


4.0 Management Action Plan

Recommendations

Management Action Plan

Status Report Update

Actions Completed

Actions Outstanding

Target Date

  • 1.  The RDG, Pacific Region, in collaboration with ADM FAM should ensure that Terms and Conditions for the Contribution to SSC are aligned with the obligations and responsibilities outlined in the UFA.

Area Director to and Area staff to work with Regional and NHQ Finance to ensure that Terms and Conditions are an accurate reflection of the UFA obligations.

 

 

Initial: May 30, 2010
Revised:

 

  • 2.  The RDG, Pacific Region in conjunction with ADM FAM should ensure the development of clear roles and responsibilities relative to DFO providing technical and administrative support and Executive Secretary duties to the SSC and that these be documented and communicated in writing to the SSC through the most appropriate level of Senior Management. 

Area Director to with the Implementation Working Group to obtain clarification of DFO’s role in providing technical advice, administrative support and Executive Secretary duties for the SSC.
Once clarification of roles has been established, DFO will communicate in writing this information to the SSC.

 

 

Initial: May 30, 2010
Revised:

  • 3.  That the RDG, Pacific Region, in consultation with the ADM, FAM and the Executive Director of the Centre for Values, Integrity and Conflict Resolution review the role of DFO as Executive Secretary and in providing technical and administrative support. This review will consist of identifying possible situations of real, apparent or perceived conflicts of interest, as well as recommending measures to mitigate the risk to the department in a manner that is consistent with the UFA, the Terms and Conditions, the Contribution Agreements and the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service.

The Area Director in consultation with the Director General, Values and Ethics, will review the role of DFO as Executive Secretariat to the SSC for possible conflict of interest and implement measures to mitigate the risk to the department in a manner that is consistent with the Terms and Conditions and the Contribution Agreement.

 

 

Initial: May 30, 2010
Revised:

  • 4.  The RDG, Pacific Region, in collaboration with ADM FAM should ensure that a Performance Measurement Strategy is developed and implemented with clearly defined indicators and measures to demonstrate how, and to what extent, the activities undertaken by the recipient (SSC) of DFO funds contribute to the achievement of the Department’s strategic outcomes.

Area Director to work with Area staff, Regional and NHQ Finance personnel to develop a Performance Measurement Strategy to measure the performance of the SSC as it relates to the Department’s strategic outcomes.

 

 

Initial: May 30, 2010
Revised:


1 UFA Section 16.7.17.10

2 UFA Section 16.7.17.10

3 2009 Treasury Board Secretariat Policy on Evaluation from Treasury Board Secretariat website: http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=15024§ion=text#appA

5 UFA Section 16.7.17