Special Examination Report—National Museum of Science and Technology

At a GlanceSpecial Examination Report—National Museum of Science and Technology

What we examined (see Focus of the audit)

The National Museum of Science and Technology is a federal Crown corporation that aims to foster scientific and technological literacy throughout Canada. To do this, it establishes, maintains, and develops a collection of scientific and technological objects, with a special focus on Canada. The purpose of the collection is to show the economic, social, and cultural effects of science and technology on society. The Corporation reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Our objective for this audit was to determine whether the systems and practices we selected for examination at the National Museum of Science and Technology were providing it with reasonable assurance that its assets were safeguarded and controlled, its resources were managed economically and efficiently, and its operations were carried out effectively as required by section 138 of the Financial Administration Act.

Overall message

Overall, we found that the many weaknesses in how the Corporation managed, protected, and preserved its collection—its fundamental asset—amounted to a significant deficiency. The Corporation housed a large portion of its collection in leased storage facilities, along with a large number of objects that had yet to be assessed, catalogued, and added to the collection. The Corporation had not developed plans to resolve its backlog of uncatalogued objects, or to implement the collection rationalization project that it had started in 2007 to improve documentation of some of its artifacts. Conditions in the facilities were poor, presenting a high risk of deterioration, damage, or theft. This risk will remain high until the collection is moved over the next few years into the Collections Conservation Centre, currently under construction. Moreover, the Corporation had not followed all of its own conservation requirements, putting the integrity of the collection at further risk.

Apart from the significant deficiency, after focusing for the last few years on the reconstruction and recent reopening of the Canada Science and Technology Museum, the Corporation now needs to update its policies and formalize processes for developing exhibitions and public programs.

On the corporate management side, we found weaknesses in how the Corporation monitored compliance with laws, regulations, and policies, and in how it managed known corporate risks. The Corporation was also waiting for government appointments of a new Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of the Board, as the incumbents could not be reappointed.

What we found about …

Corporate management practices

Management of operations

Entity Responses to Recommendations

The Corporation agrees with our recommendations and has responded (see List of Recommendations).

Related information

Report of the Auditor General of Canada
Type of product Special Examination
Completion date 19 November 2018
Tabling date 22 January 2019

For more information

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