Public Safety and Anti-terrorism (PSAT) Initiative,
Summative Evaluation

5. Evaluation findings (cont'd)

5. Evaluation findings (cont'd)

5.3. Management issues

5.3.1. Resources

Several sections in the Department reported being under-resourced for the level of activities funded under the Initiative. In particular, the sections that reported inadequate funding said they were understaffed, which has meant that they respond to the work in a more reactive than proactive manner, both in terms of policy development and the provision of training. Physical space is also an issue, particularly as premises that are Top Secret approved are at a premium within the Department. The NSG also foresees difficulties, as the secure registry used for housing documents is already full and therefore, handling future section 38 requests will likely overwhelm the current space. Some sections reported that PSAT-related activities are not funded by the Initiative and that funds are borrowed from elsewhere to cover the shortfall.

The evaluation did not have enough information to compare actual and planned resource use by fiscal year beyond that for the overall departmental PSAT Initiative. More detailed breakdowns by section may be misleading as, in some cases, it is simply assumed that the total budget was spent, and, for some sectors, expenditures are estimates. However, as shown in section 3.3, based on the available financial reporting, the Department ran a $1.0 million deficit.

Some key Justice contacts said that their sections initially over estimated their needs and returned funds under the government reallocation exercise. This was most likely a temporary situation, as demands on the Department are expected to continue increasing. Other key Justice contacts cited some areas where resource constraints limited their ability to participate in certain activities. In particular, they considered the lack of funds to have affected the Department's ability to undertake the following activities:

While not all sections have funding issues, key Justice contacts were concerned about resources because they see the Department's role expanding each time Canada institutes a new national security policy and enters into new international agreements or initiatives. For example, the National Security Policy, the new Smart Border Declaration agreements, and the Security and Prosperity Partnership all require the Department's support.

5.3.2. Department coordination

The PSAT Steering Committee consists of senior Justice officials who oversee the Department's activities under the Initiative. The committee is chaired by an Associate Deputy Minister and includes ADM-level representatives from a variety of sections.[34] Initially, the Steering Committee restricted its role to that of allocating PSAT resources. Upon completing its initial allocation of resources, the Committee remained inactive for about 18 months, due, at least in part, to the departure of the Associate Deputy Minister who had been chairing the Committee. The Steering Committee reconvened in Spring 2004. The formative evaluation found that “the Department lacked an effective overall coordination mechanism during the first two years of the Initiative,” and recommended that the Steering Committee move beyond allocating resources to become more involved in coordinating activities under the Initiative and providing general oversight. Following the formative evaluation, the PSAT Steering Committee reviewed its role, and, in October 2005, approved a revised role that includes three key functions: to make decisions on resource allocations; to coordinate and oversee the activities related to the PSAT Initiative; and to ensure that each section understands the entire context of the PSAT Initiative.

However, the evaluation found that the Steering Committee has not yet fully expanded its role beyond resource allocation to including a coordinating function. In allocating resources, each section submits a business case to the Committee requesting PSAT funds. The Committee reviews these requests, allocates and monitors PSAT funds among the sections, reviews the annual reports of the sections, and approves the annual roll-up report provided to the Treasury Board Secretariat. Some of those interviewed indicated that they would like more information on how the resources are allocated and the rationale for the Committee's decisions.

5.3.3. Performance measurement

The formative evaluation identified a need for an effective initiative-wide financial and performance information reporting system(s). This need remains. Limited performance measurement information is currently available on the Department's activities under the Initiative. There are two key difficulties for developing an effective performance measurement strategy. The first is determining what activities are PSAT-related. A second is measuring the success or outcomes of the Department's PSAT activities, which primarily serve to support other government departments.

Currently, the Department is reviewing its methods for collecting and assessing ongoing performance measurement data. This process seeks to have departmental sections identify key performance indicators that would be useful for internal planning purposes, meeting TB requirements, and measuring the initiative's success in an ongoing manner that will not be onerous. Because this process began at about the same time as the summative evaluation, the results of improved performance measurement were not available in time for the summative evaluation.

[34] See Table 3 in Section 3.2, supra, for a listing of the membership.