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Audits and Evaluations

Formative Evaluation of the Strategic Choices Framework

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1.0 Introduction

In 2004 LAC articulated a comprehensive, strategic vision for the new institution in "Directions for Change." Work carried out during the transformation process of the two predecessor institutions into what is now Library and Archives Canada laid the foundations for the implementation of this strategic policy. In 2006 a new Strategic Framework: "Strategic Choices for Realizing LAC Vision" was developed. The aim of the latter was to facilitate the implementation of change across LAC and further the strategic positioning of the institution. The Strategic Choice Framework set out the rebalancing of LAC's activities in light of changes to the information and policy environments in which the institution operated. The Framework defined the choices LAC would make in order to implement "Directions for Change" and identified new ways for doing business. Five Strategic Choices were identified for 2006-2011: 1. Going digital in all aspects; 2. Being national; 3. Focus on government record keeping; 4. Collaboration and partnerships; and 5. Research and evaluation for decision making (LAC, Nov. 2006). Two critical success factors for the initiative were identified: 1. Changing LAC management and operational practices to be reflective of LAC commitment to collaborative arrangements both internal and external; and 2. Systematic review and re-engineering of LAC business practices and reallocation of resources to support implementation of the Strategic Framework (LAC, Nov. 2006).

1.1 Context of the evaluation

The Strategic Choices Initiative was originally planned for the period 2006-2010; however due to changes in LAC's strategic direction, leadership and organizational structure it was not fully implemented. The initiative is considered as incomplete since it was overtaken by the "Horizontal Initiatives" in 2008 and the current "Modernization" Initiative (2009). Therefore summative evaluation for the Strategic Choices Initiative is not planned.

In 2009 LAC's Evaluation Committee considered assessing the Strategic Choices initiative since the latter was regarded as a key in furthering the development of LAC as a new kind of knowledge institution. The Committee decided to proceed with a formative evaluation of the initiative with a focus on lessons learned in order to inform the new process of strategic re-positioning of the institution.

1.2 Scope, objectives and limitations of the evaluation

This evaluation has the following main objectives.

  • to assess implementation progress of the Strategic Choices in achieving the stated corporate objectives, by examining:
    - the governance structure,
    - the implementation process
    - success to date
    - lessons learned

This evaluation has the following limitations:

  • Documentation- overall the documentation on the initiative is incomplete; existing documentation on the design process does not allow for proper referencing as its format is mostly informal and titles and or dates are missing; the data available is insufficient for the purposes of a summative evaluation;
  • Staff turnover at Strategic Office (SO) and Management Board (MB)- key staff who were responsible for the development of the Strategic Choices Initiative have since left LAC which made the verification of the design and implementation processes difficult; Only four of the original members of MB in 2006 are still present, which had implications for gaining a good perspective on the initiative and the lessons learned;
  • Key informant's knowledge on each of the Strategic Choices was not broad and affected the collection of sufficient information on the progress of implementation of the expected results;
  • Lack of logic model and performance measures- there was no logic model or associated performance measures developed which posed certain challenges to the analysis.

Due to the above mentioned limitations this evaluation aims at capturing a snap shot of the strategic priorities set for LAC, the dynamics that influenced its design and implementation with a focus on what worked well and what did not, as well as the results achieved to date.

1.3 Structure of the report

This report contains five sections including this introduction. Section 2.0 describes the Strategic Choices Initiative. Section 3.0 states research methodology used in the analysis. Section 4.0 summarizes the key findings, and section 5.0 presents the conclusions.

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