Thursday, March 1, 2007

From Red Tape to Clear Results

The Report of the Independent Blue Ribbon Panel on Grant and Contribution Programs

This report should be of great interest to anyone in the arts and culture, on either side of the funding table. While the report covers all types of programs delivered by the Federal Government, certain sections certainly rang true for me. I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to the General Recommendations section which states (on page viii of the complete report):

“The essence of our recommendations can be distilled into four simple proposals to government:

1) Respect the recipients—they are partners in a shared public purpose. Grant and contribution programs should be citizen-focussed. The programs should be made accessible, understandable and useable.
2) Dramatically simplify the reporting and accountability regime—it should reflect the circumstances and capacities of recipients and the real needs of the government and Parliament.
3) Encourage innovation—the goal of grant and contribution programs is not to eliminate errors but to achieve results, and that requires a sensible regime of risk management and performance reporting.
4) Organize information so that it serves recipients and program managers alike.”

There are a number of issues raised and solutions offered in this lengthy document (142 pages in the PDF file) but, for those of us in the funding business, all are worthy of consideration. When I consider that the need for multi-year funding was a consistent issue from Island arts organizations, I was struck by the relevance of this paragraph:

“The panel suspects that this practice of annual renewals is intended to add a level of control over multi-year projects. In the panel’s view, however, this approach is misguided. Where the project or activity to be funded is multi-year in nature, the funding profile should match it to the extent possible (at a minimum for a three-year duration).
This is subject of course to possible mid-course correction, but these considerations do not detract from the need to provide multi-year funding in these cases, as indeed several
departments do already.” – page 26

Further, regarding Core funding, the panel had this to say:


15) The Treasury Board should encourage funding departments and agencies to revisit the issue of whether and under what circumstances core funding is warranted to supplement project-specific funding.” – page 28

Given that a heightened advocacy role is a likely priority in the upcoming strategic plan, this document provides and excellent base of knowledge, from an impeccable panel, that is in support of some important goals.

If you’d like to read the full report, you can enter the Blue Ribbon Panel’s website here:

Follow the left sidebar link to “Report” and you’ll find the links to the PDF reports at the bottom of the page.

While these recommendations were intended for the Federal government, I think all funders, in all sectors, can find useable, implementable recommendations to put in to practice.