Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm joined today by Glenn Wheeler and Nadine Cormier, who worked on this audit. With that I'll begin my opening statement.
Mr. Chair, thank you for this opportunity to discuss chapter 6, Transfer Payments to the Aerospace Sector—Industry Canada. Joining me at the table are Glenn Wheeler, Principal, and Nadine Cormier, Director, who were responsible for the audit.
The Government of Canada sees the aerospace sector as crucial to Canada's economic development, sovereignty, national security, and public safety. Since 2007, Industry Canada has managed two programs that provide repayable assistance to support industrial research and development in Canada's aerospace sector.
The strategic aerospace and defence initiative, SADI, is the federal government's second largest program of direct spending on research and development. Under this program the department has authorized assistance of just under $825 million since 2007. The program was created to support private sector industrial research and pre-competitive development in Canada's aerospace, defence, security, and space industries through repayable project contributions. At the time of our audit, the department managed repayable contribution agreements for 25 individual projects with recipients.
The Bombardier CSeries program is intended to encourage research and development that will result in the development of new commercial aircraft technologies. The department authorized assistance of $350 million to the Bombardier CSeries program in 2008. Industry Canada manages two repayable contribution agreements under this program.
Mr. Chairman, we examined whether Industry Canada had sufficient information to determine if the transfer payments were meeting the programs' objectives. We also looked at whether the department managed these programs according to the key requirements of the Treasury Board's policy on transfer payments as well as the terms and conditions of the programs. In addition, we examined whether Industry Canada collected repayments from recipients for contributions that are repayable under two previous transfer payment programs.
The work on this audit was completed in July 2012 and we have not audited actions taken by the department since then.
When funding for the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative was approved in 2007, Industry Canada agreed to report publicly each year on contribution recipients as well as on program results and accomplishments. This reporting is in response to its commitment to set new standards for transparency following the end of its predecessor program in 2006—Technology Partnerships Canada.
We found that Industry Canada has yet to report publicly on the results of the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative, as required by the funding approval it received in 2007. This means that both Parliament and Canadians do not know whether a program is meeting its objectives.
Before 2010, Industry Canada had inadequate performance information to determine progress being made to achieve the program's objectives. This information was needed to meet its requirement to report publicly each year on overall program results and accomplishments. Since 2010, the department has made improvements and now collects and consolidates sufficient information to allow it to determine progress against the program's objectives.
However, Industry Canada has delayed and cancelled some of its evaluation commitments, potentially missing out on early improvement opportunities. The department will need to follow through on commitments to collect additional performance information so that it can complete its planned evaluation of the program in 2016-17.
Similarly, the department needs to complete the final evaluation of technology partnerships Canada's longer term technological, economic, and societal outcomes. It may then be in a position to integrate lessons learned from this evaluation to potentially improve performance measurement for the strategic aerospace and defence initiative.
For the Bombardier CSeries program, Industry Canada has not collected all documents required by the two contribution agreements to determine progress toward the program's objectives. Therefore, it has a more limited picture of the program's performance. Again, this means that both Parliament and Canadians do not know whether the program is meeting its objectives.
Industry Canada has managed most aspects of these transfer payment programs appropriately, by using a reasonable control framework. For example, it reviews recipients' claims and progress reports before issuing payments. Also, the department funded only recipients that met program eligibility requirements. It also undertook a detailed review of proposed projects before signing contribution agreements with recipients.
In cases where contributions under two previous transfer payment programs—the defence industry productivity program and technology partnerships Canada—were repayable, the majority of repayments we examined were obtained by Industry Canada on time.
Industry Canada agreed with our recommendations and made commitments in its responses, several of which were to be implemented by the end of 2012. Mr. Chairman, the committee may wish to explore the progress made by the department to date in addressing our recommendations.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my opening remarks. We would be pleased to answer the committee's questions.