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1993 Report of the Auditor General of Canada

1993 Report—Chapter 12

Insert 12.2—Constraints to Good Management Identified by CIDA

Our discussions with a variety of observers, CIDA management, and other officials pointed to several factors over which CIDA has limited control but that affect the implementation and results of its programs and activities.

  • Pre-conditions for effective delivery are often missing. Frequently in recipient countries there are government policies, limited institutional capacity, political instability and administrative constraints that are not conducive to achieving value for money from development projects. In addition, there are difficulties in enforcing bilateral agreements.
  • Fiscal uncertainty in Canada is making it harder for CIDA to plan for the long term. The early 1980s were a period of continued growth in Official Development Assistance; there was pressure to spend and to find ways to spend faster. The trend in the late 1980s and in the 1990s has been just the opposite.
  • The political will to concentrate CIDA's efforts on a limited number of objectives is not consistently apparent. Pursuing multiple objectives, not always complementary and sometimes unwritten, in response to multiple constituencies makes the program complex, increases its cost, and adds to confusion of purpose.
  • Over time, political and commercial objectives have encouraged CIDA to spread its limited human and financial resources widely. CIDA's broad geographic spread and range of interventions add to complexity in management.
  • There was a perception within CIDA that it was subject to too many Treasury Board rules that limited its flexibility . These included a five-year planning cycle, the number of people CIDA could deploy overseas and the contracting-out policy that limited its staff strength unduly.
  • There is often tension between CIDA and the Department of External Affairs over how much money is to be committed, in which country, for what purpose, and when. Foreign policy, including development assistance, is based primarily on long-term interests and objectives. The need to be flexible in responding to global changes that affect Canada's interests and objectives is sometimes at odds with the longer-term perspective CIDA adopts in development goals, strategies and funding commitments.