ARCHIVED Annual Report 2004-2005

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As stated in the Government of Canada Communications Policy, public opinion research (POR) offers the Government of Canada a means "to better understand Canadian society and to identify citizen needs and expectations. It is used to assess the public's response to proposals or to possible changes or initiatives; to assess the effectiveness of policies, programs and services; to measure progress in service improvement; to evaluate the effectiveness of communication activities such as advertising; and to plan and evaluate marketing initiatives, among other applications."

Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) works closely with partners in departments, agencies and other levels of government, striving to find innovative ways to deliver services smarter, faster and at a reduced cost and improve how the Government of Canada does business. The Department is the technical, coordinating and contracting authority for public opinion research in the Government of Canada. Departments and agencies that undertake POR must consult PWGSC's Public Opinion Research Directorate (PORD) at the initial stage of research. The Directorate facilitates POR studies by assisting departments and agencies throughout the process, helping to ensure their objectives are met in a cost-effective manner. Directorate staff works with colleagues at the Communication Procurement Directorate (CPD), which provides a mandatory common service as the Government of Canada's contracting authority for POR.

This is the fourth Annual Report on Public Opinion Research in the Government of Canada. The report provides an overview of research projects coordinated by PWGSC to help departments and agencies fulfill their research needs. It also highlights trends in public opinion research across the Government of Canada. In 2004-2005, 621 POR projects were initiated by the government and coordinated through PWGSC for a contract value of $29 million, using the services of 74 research firms. This report provides an overview of departmental activities in POR, highlighting the most active departments and agencies, and illustrates the activities of the research firms used by the Government of Canada for both custom and syndicated research.*

*This report outlines public opinion research projects and contracts coordinated through PWGSC. Figures presented in the report are based on contract values, not expenditures.

Public Opinion Research in the Government of Canada

Public opinion research in the Government of Canada is the planned gathering of information by or for a government institution, on opinions, attitudes, perceptions, judgments, feelings, reactions or views - including those of employees of government institutions. The information may be related to a broad range of activities, such as research for policy, marketing, communications and advertising, program evaluation, quality of service/ customer satisfaction studies, and product development.

Public opinion research provides information to:

  • assist the development of programs, services and communications products;
  • assess policy initiatives and plans;
  • design delivery methods for government programs and services;
  • measure the demands and expectations of the Canadian population and stakeholders, such as businesses; and
  • evaluate programs and services to ensure value for public money spent.

The Government of Canada Communications Policy provides a framework within which public opinion research must be conducted. It mandates that federal institutions identified in Schedules 1, 1.1 and 2 of the Financial Administration Act (FAA) - including all Government of Canada departments and agencies - comply with its requirements. Other institutions, such as Crown corporations and those that have the authority to undertake their own contracting under Section 41 (1) and Section 41 (2) of the FAA, are exempt. Therefore, this report focuses on the POR activity of the institutions included in the Policy, as PWGSC coordinated their projects and issued their contracts in public opinion research.

When appropriate, the Government of Canada Communications Policy encourages departments and agencies to use POR in support of operations, from designing programs and services to ensuring that goals and expectations are met. Departments and agencies conducting research assign a POR coordinator, who is responsible for overseeing the organization's research projects and acting as a liaison with PWGSC. POR coordinators generally initiate contact with PWGSC at the earliest stage of research to seek the advice of its POR advisors.

To ensure coherent, cost-effective management of public opinion research throughout the government, institutions must:

  • coordinate the planning and implementation of public opinion research initiatives with the PORD of PWGSC;
  • contract public opinion research services through the CPD of PWGSC;
  • ensure that the principles of fair information practices are respected;
  • ensure the quality and value of research they commission or produce;
  • provide copies of final reports to the PORD, which, in turn, deposits them with the Library of Parliament and Library and Archives Canada in written or electronic form;
  • share results with other federal institutions; and
  • release final results to the public on request.

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