Reducing the Administrative Burden on First Nations

It has long been acknowledged that First Nations and other organizations that receive funding from the Government of Canada are caught in a complex web of reporting requirements, some of which are of dubious usefulness to them or to the organizations seeking the reports.

The roots of this reporting burden are deep. The proliferation of contribution programs from multiple departments, each pursuing its own agenda of how best to report to Parliament and Canadians for results achieved with the funds they manage, has led in turn to a proliferation of reporting. Some reporting is redundant but has not been dropped when new requirements arise.

These problems were highlighted in two key reports: the 2006 Independent Panel on Grants and Contributions, which tackles the issues for the whole of government, and the June 2011 report by the Office of the Auditor General on services to First Nations. The Government has taken action to respond to both of these reports.

The path to improvement involves three related tracks:

  1. Improving how grant and contribution programs work, by pruning reporting, consolidating programs, creating a challenge function to curb the instinct to ask for more data, and harmonizing processes across federal departments so the same data can serve many purposes;
  2. Differentiating among funding recipients so that those with stronger track records of financial and program management are rewarded with longer funding agreements and less reporting; and
  3. Shifting the accountability bargain away from reporting to government for the use of funds, toward accounting to communities and program clientele for results.