Summary of the Evaluation of the new variety registration support program
This report presents the findings of the evaluation of the new variety registration support program.
The Canadian Grain Commission was established by the Canada Grain Act in 1912 as the federal government agency mandated to, “in the interests of producers, establish and maintain standards of quality for Canadian grains and regulate grain handling in Canada to ensure a dependable commodity for domestic and export markets”.
About this evaluation
This report presents the results of a program evaluation of the Canadian Grain Commission Grain Research Laboratory’s new variety registration support program. This program provides quality testing services and subject matter expertise to support recommendations of new varieties of wheat, rye and triticale to be approved for commercial sale in western Canada.
The evaluation was conducted in accordance with the Treasury Board Policy on Results (2016), which requires departments to measure and evaluate performance and use the resulting information to manage and improve programs, policies and services. The evaluation was undertaken by the Audit and Evaluation Services team of the Canadian Grain Commission between October 2020 and March 2021, as required by the Canadian Grain Commission’s Risk-Based Audit and Evaluation Plan for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The evaluation covered the fiscal years between 2018 and 2020.
About the program
The Canadian Grain Commission has provided quality support for the new variety registration process for wheat, rye and triticale since the 1950s.
The Grain Research Laboratory’s role
The Grain Research Laboratory provides quality testing services for all wheat, rye and triticale cooperative registration trials for western Canadian wheat variety registration, including:
- conducting analytical testing
- evaluating the milling performance
- assessing dough rheological properties
- assessing end-product quality
Staff review and analyze the data and report the quality characteristics of the candidate cultivars relative to the check varieties at the annual Prairie Grain Development Committee meetings.
As subject matter experts and voting members on the Quality Evaluation Team of the Prairie Recommending Committee for Wheat, Rye and Triticale, employees provide expert opinions and subject matter expertise during discussions, deliberations and formulation of recommendations for candidate lines as well as for revising quality objectives or modifying quality evaluation protocols.
The new variety registration program is seasonal and runs each year from October to February. The program occurs immediately after the seasonal Harvest Sample Program. As a result, any equipment maintenance, ordering of supplies and hiring seasonal staff are typically performed while the Harvest Sample Program is operating and are not required during the new variety registration support program.
This program is conducted under the Grain Research Laboratory umbrella as part of the Grain Research Program. It’s managed by the Research Scientist, Bread and Durum Wheat Research. The program has no dedicated budget and utilizes resources from other programs and teams. As a result, actual program costs are not routinely tracked. The new variety registration program manager has provided a high-level costing estimate from the 2019 season of $283,000 annually (including salary costs, employee benefits payments and supplies).
Findings, recommendations and management action plans
The table below summarizes findings and recommendations identified during the program evaluation that require management action plans.
|Relevance||Observation and findings||Potential impact||Recommendations||Management action plans|
|Continued need for the program||There is a continued need for the Grain Research Laboratory to provide support to the new variety registration process.||None||None||Not required|
|Does program duplicate or overlap with any other programs||There was no evidence of duplication by another comparable program that can provide the same level of consistency, quality and objectivity.||None||None||Not required|
|Alignment with Government of Canada priorities||The new variety registration support program is aligned with Government of Canada priorities to grow exports, expand markets and promote research and innovation in the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector. The program also supports the Canadian Grain Commission’s planned departmental result that domestic and international markets regard Canada’s grain as dependable and safe.||None||None||Not required|
|Alignment with federal roles and responsibilities||The new variety registration support program is aligned with federal roles and responsibilities.||None||None||Not required|
|Performance||Observation and findings||Potential impact||Recommendations||Management action plans|
|Achievement of intended outcomes||Evidence collected indicates that the program is successful in achieving its immediate, intermediate and long-term outcomes. There was no evidence of unintended negative outcomes of the program.||None||None||Not required|
|Efficiency||Observation and findings||Potential impact||Recommendations||Management action plans|
|Are Grain Research Laboratory new variety registration program activities performed in the most efficient and economical way?||Most key informants and employee survey respondents found the program to be efficient and adequately resourced with sufficient space, equipment, tools, supplies and time to do their jobs. Note: costing information was not available. See recommendation below regarding performance measurement and tracking of program costs.||None||None||Not required|
|Is performance measurement being conducted?||Program performance measurement and tracking of program costs is not consistently conducted.||Missed opportunity to benefit from program measurement efficiency||It’s recommended that the Director General of the Grain Research Laboratory develop and implement performance measurement and program cost tracking for the new variety registration support program. It’s suggested that input is sought from Finance regarding program cost tracking.||
The Director General commits to the development of performance measurements including the frequency of the measurement and program cost tracking (with input from Finance).
The estimated completion date is October 31, 2021.
|Are there concerns about program resources and sustainability?||Program employees indicated a potential need for a laboratory information management system and project management support to improve efficiencies.||Missed opportunity to benefit from program improvements.||It’s recommended that the Director General of the Grain Research Laboratory review the requirements and ensure that they have been included in the current laboratory information management system proposal.||
The Director General commits to reviewing the requirements to ensure the items identified have been communicated to the Project Management Office for inclusion in the laboratory information management system proposal. Note the Canadian Grain Commission’s Project Management Office is responsible for the design and implementation of the laboratory information management system across the Canadian Grain Commission’s laboratory environment.
Estimated completion date July 15, 2021.
|Are there concerns about program resources and sustainability?||
Employee feedback on adequacy of resources was tied to limitations inherent in the current laboratory space at 303 Main Street in Winnipeg (Man).
6 respondents (24% of all respondents) indicated a need for additional storage space and temperature and humidity control for samples to avoid test duplication or additional control testing for monitoring. It was noted by the program manager that this is a limitation inherent in the current laboratory space at 303 Main Street.
|Risk of program quality being impacted by lack of resources (quality, timeliness).||It’s recommended that the Director General of the Grain Research Laboratory ensure this feedback is communicated to 303 Main Street project team and included in deficiency reporting.||
The Director General commits to communicate to the 303 Main Street project team the deficiencies, limitations and other issues related to laboratory space at 303 Main Street. This will be aligned with the finding of the latest laboratory deficiencies report.
Estimated completion date is May 15, 2021.
Note the implementation and completion of the laboratory deficiencies initiative and 303 Main Street project are managed in collaboration with Finance.
|Are there concerns about program resources and sustainability?||Key informant interviewees noted a recent trend of a reduction in the number of key scientists across the wheat sciences sector as a whole. Several key informants and 1 program employee reported concern about the sufficiency of current Grain Research Laboratory resources (related to the new variety registration program) and the complexity and difficulty of succession planning due to the highly specialized nature of the work and difficulty in finding and replacing qualified scientists.||Risk of inability to sustain program in future due to lack of resources.||It’s recommended that the Director General of the Grain Research Laboratory continue to assess the sufficiency of existing Grain Research Laboratory resources (related to the new variety registration program) and place a heightened priority on succession planning for key scientists within the new variety registration program.||
The Director General commits to prepare a 5-year people plan for the wheat and durum program in addition to the regular staffing plan that will support staffing and succession planning.
Estimated completion date is December 31, 2021.
|Are there concerns about program resources and sustainability?||Key informants noted the value of the program being provided as a no-fee service to the Prairie Recommending Committee for Wheat, Rye and Triticale and there was some concern expressed regarding the future potential impact should the Grain Research Laboratory begin to charge a fee for these services.||Risk of inability to sustain program in future due to lack of clarity regarding funding.||It’s recommended that the Director General of the Grain Research Laboratory bring forward the perspective noted by key respondents, in combination with program performance measurement and costs (as recommended above) to the Commission for their consideration during the next fee review cycle.||
The Director General commits to bringing the perspective on fees noted in conjunction with performance measures and costs forward as part of the next fee review cycle.
Estimated completion date is July 31, 2022.
|Are there potential program improvements that could be realized?||Approximately half of key informants indicated they would benefit from more collaboration with the Grain Research Laboratory throughout the year potentially with scientific meetings and networking events in the area of wheat quality testing and global end-user perspective. Bringing structure would be beneficial.||Missed opportunity to further engage with the industry.||It’s recommended that the Director General of the Grain Research Laboratory explore the feasibility and implementation of future and ongoing scientific meetings throughout the year.||
The Director General commits to explore the opportunities to formalize communication and knowledge. Consultation with main participants will be done at the 2022 Prairie Grain Development Committee meetings to determine the proper format.
Estimated completion date is March 31, 2022.
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