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The evaluation found that, overall; the program was a cost-effective means of achieving LAC's goal of developing an archival network in Canada. Most program recipients strongly agreed that the NADP model of providing direct financial assistance to individual institutions was the optimal means of developing a strong archival network. They noted that archives institutions operated as a tight-knit community and there was a strong infrastructure in place that allowed successes achieved by single institutions to readily benefit other institutions. There was considerable satisfaction with capacity building projects funded under the NADP. For example, institutions found archives advisor projects conducted by Provincial/Territorial councils very useful to the general community. Finally, key informants stated that the NADP model was useful in establishing a relationship between LAC and the archival community, and that any changes to the program's approach would have to consider the implications for this relationship.
Respondents representing LAC management suggested some alternatives for leveraging funding and increasing the impact of the NADP in future. Key informants noted that given the small amount of funds available, it might be useful to target the archival community as a whole, rather than individual institutions. An alternative model might involve using funds to develop tools to be used by the community as a whole. Given the reliance of individual institutions on funding, however, this approach should complement, instead of replace, the current model.
At the project level, the most widely cited challenges related to cost-effectiveness involved the program's application and reporting process. The 2008 formative evaluation showed that most project recipients found the application process highly onerous, given the amount of funding available (PRA, 2008). In response, LAC collaborated with CCA to develop simplified application forms for the 2009–10 fiscal year. In addition, CCA has made a number of tools available to potential recipients to guide them in the application process. These tools, which are available on the CCA website, include a detailed applicants' handbook, and time/reporting guidelines. It is difficult to ascertain whether these changes have materially improved the process from recipients' perspective due to a limited sample of applicants from 2009–10 projects. Interviews suggest that while applicants find the tools and support from CCA useful, they continue to find the application and reporting process highly time-consuming. Because reporting requirements are the same regardless of project size, recipients engaging in smaller projects may find paperwork lengthy and repetitive. In some cases, key informants representing small projects, noted that they were often discouraged from applying for funding due to the time commitment required and the burden on volunteers and staff. This was particularly the case for first-time applicants, who were less familiar with the process.
Given the federal government's increased focus on results-based performance management, and the modifications already made, it may be difficult for LAC and/or CCA to further simplify the processes. Furthermore, it is possible that applicants will find the process less demanding as they become accustomed to it. An alternative possibility suggested in the formative evaluation involved the use of grants instead of contributions for smaller projects, and LAC may want to explore this possibility at the time of program renewal.
The NADP's adjudication structure continues to be an area of considerable interest and debate. A suggestion to streamline the multi-stage adjudication process first emerged in the 2004 evaluation of the Grants and Contributions Program. Specifically, it was suggested that Provincial/Territorial councils be chiefly responsible for the adjudication process, with CCA Board only becoming involved in cases in special circumstances. In contrast, the 2008 NADP formative evaluation recommended maintaining the two-tiered process in order to ensure consistency and provide adequate support to applicants. The formative evaluation noted that the overwhelming majority of applications required further clarification, and that a significant number of flawed applications were passing initial review by the Provincial/Territorial councils. In addition, the review done at each level is quite labour intensive and relies heavily upon volunteers. This highlighted a risk in simplifying the process. This evaluation, however, found considerable support among key informants for simplifying the current adjudication process. This could most likely be achieved in one of two ways: