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Formative Evaluation of the National Archival Development Program
Final Report

4.2 Application and review

The process of applying for NADP funding was considered onerous by project recipients, especially considering the relatively small amount of money that many projects are requesting, and the fact that volunteers often complete these application forms. Interviews revealed that the financial section of the application was particularly complex to complete. The file review confirmed this; many clarifications were requested from the applicant by the CCA Board, including a large number of clarifications related to the budget section. The length and complexity of application forms reflects the increased pressure in the federal government for results-based management, where detailed financial reporting, clear explanations of project activities, expected outputs and outcomes are required. Repeat applicants find that the process becomes easier with increased experience and involvement in the program, which in turn puts first-time applicants at a disadvantage. Some P/T Councils were conducting workshops on completing NADP applications for their institutional members, which project recipients found to be helpful.

Organizations are dependant on the NADP for funding. Since NADP funding is often vital for the organizations applying, the effort to apply, while significant, is considered worthwhile. In many cases, the NADP is the only source of outside funding available for these organizations. The file review showed that even when other funding opportunities exist, the amount is often minimal. In some cases, Provincial/Territorial Councils pre-designate NADP funding for activities conducted by the council (e.g., Archives Advisor/Preservation positions). This can result in a small amount of funds available to their member institutions for projects, another deterrent for applying. However, activities of NADP-funded projects conducted at the Council level support the councils' institutional members as a whole. For example, funding could be directed towards the employment of an Archives Advisor, who provides support and advice for institutions within the province or territory.

In some cases, a task that can increase the amount of time needed to complete an application is translation. Application forms are available in both French and English, but not in any Aboriginal languages. Time and costs are associated with translating forms for Aboriginal applicants, and also with their completion of the forms. Since national Objective 3 aims to pursue Aboriginal issues, this topic warrants consideration.

Because of the lack of funding in the archival community in general, obtaining the "matching funds" for cost-sharing of projects can discourage institutions from applying. Many applicants use "volunteer investment" to satisfy the matching funds requirement. This appears to be appropriate given the extent of volunteer work in this field and the difficulty in securing matches.

A large proportion of applications needed clarifications in some way at the national review level. When the CCA Board identifies issues relating to a specific application, it contacts the Secretariat, who contacts project applicants to request clarification or further information. Of the project applications examined in the file review, 95% needed further clarifications. Interviews also identified the process of clarifying issues with applications as time-consuming, and adding to the pressure on the CCA Secretariat. This indicates that flawed applications are passing through the Provincial/Territorial Council review stage.

Recipients interviewed as part of this evaluation pointed to strategies that could reduce the burden on project applicants/managers in this regard:

  • Most of the projects request relatively small amounts of money. Average NADP funding for projects in fiscal year 2006-2007 was $11,892, and $9,731 for fiscal year 2007-2008.1 A project requesting $1,000 of NADP funding has the same application requirements as a project requesting $50,000 of NADP funding, for example. The program could consider balancing the information required with the size of projects, or use grants instead of contributions for smaller projects. Although these options are not within the current authority of the program, granting could be considered at program renewal.
  • Interviews showed that there is satisfaction with the system of provincial/territorial allotments, but these allotments have not increased with rates of inflation, and actually having decreased since the early 1990s. Increasing funding would either require an increase in program funding, or less funding for CCA operation.
  • The CCA-LAC planning meeting dates have been changed to take place in February instead of July. This will help in issuing the call for applications earlier, giving applicants more time to apply and Provincial/Territorial Councils more time for adjudication. This increased time could help in ensuring that applications are complete and that no information is missing, which would reduce the workload of the CCA. However, increased time does not equal increased resources. Individuals applying and adjudicating on a volunteer basis may still submit forms with errors.
  • For the fiscal year 2008-2009, a comprehensive "Applicant Guidebook" was developed to help those completing NADP applications. The guidebook, being used for the first time this year, is expected to help reduce the number of errors and incomplete applications.
  • The form should continue to be reviewed and simplified to the extent possible, especially the budget section. The form should focus on essential information only, and should be revised in collaboration with LAC.

Although some duplication can occur with the two-tier review process, the process appears to be working well overall. It helps to ensure consistency within the program, and is consistently applying objectives across the program. However, since the archival community is small, there can be overlap between project applicants and adjudication committee members at the provincial/ territorial level. This is sometimes dealt with by having applicants refrain from adjudication decisions relating to their own projects and leaving the room while their applications are reviewed. Some council limit this overlap by having individuals outside the archival community participate in adjudication.

1a Averages calculated by PRA with information provided by the CCA.

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