Accountability means that IDRC, as an agency of the Government of Canada, must report on what we have achieved in fulfilling our mandate, and how we used the resources that were entrusted to us. Accounting for our results to Parliament and the Canadian public is fundamental to our democracy. It is also fundamental to an effective aid program, because it links resources and results for greater focus, efficiency, and impact. This enables us to continue improving and strengthening our programming.
The mechanisms that support accountability, such as special committees, dedicated organizational units, and everyday business practices, encompass risk management, audit, evaluation, access to information, reporting to Parliament, and communication with the public, including an annual meeting where Canadians can question board members and senior managers.
We concentrate our support for applied research in three broad areas: agriculture and the environment, social and economic policy, and technology and innovation.
IDRC's Board of Governors approves plans spelling out research priorities, objectives, and evaluation strategies, supported by a range of internal oversight mechanisms.
IDRC reports annually to Parliament through the Minister of International Development. This report includes an audit of its financial statements by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. We also publish quarterly financial reports.
- Annual public meetings
Every year IDRC hosts an annual public meeting (APM) to share information on the year's activities and provide interested citizens with the opportunity to question Board members and senior managers.
IDRC held its annual public meeting November 20 at our head office in Ottawa, Canada.
Watch the video of IDRC’s 2018 Annual Public Meeting:
Access audio, videos, and highlights from previous annual public meetings
- Annual reports
IDRC publishes an annual report presenting our financial statements and results. It also profiles IDRC-funded researchers, and highlights key projects and achievements. It is the main way we report to Parliament and inform Canadians.
Download our most recent annual report, or select from the following list, dating back six years.
Read our annual reports
Evaluation is integral to our work. It provides evidence of how and why research initiatives succeed or fall short of their objectives. This evidence can improve an ongoing project, strengthen the planning of new initiatives, and refine our programming. Evaluations examine results, and help us better understand how research contributes to solving development problems.
Our approach to evaluation
We conduct formal evaluations to track our results, to generate knowledge, and to remain accountable to the Canadian government and public, donor partners, researchers, and colleagues within the research and development communities. We also apply evaluation practices in our day-to-day work. Solid evidence helps us test assumptions and maintain our focus on results. We work closely with our international partners to evaluate projects and develop methodologies to meet the complex needs of developing countries.
Learn about Evaluation at IDRC (PDF, 606KB)
IDRC’s evaluation system
Within IDRC, evaluation is a shared responsibility that occurs at the project, program, and corporate levels. The decision to evaluate is strategic, and based on issues such as risk, materiality (investment significance), priority, and learning potential. Our evaluation approach depends on who will use the results, and how they will use them.
Individual research projects are evaluated on a strategic basis, usually commissioned by the responsible project officer or the funded research team.
We evaluate IDRC programs to help us learn and improve, and to meet our accountability requirements to the Board of Governors. When a program is co-funded, we design the evaluation approach to ensure donor organizations meet their accountability and learning needs too.
We conduct external program reviews toward the end of each program cycle. These are our primary accountability mechanism for the results, effectiveness, and relevance of program spending.
We assess organizational outcomes to examine cross-cutting issues related to results or programming strategies.
- We are currently conducting an evaluation project in the area of bringing research results to scale
- Research Quality
- Communicating research for influence (2012)
- Policy Influence on Research (2009)
- Devolving Programs (2009)
- IDRC’s Participation in Large Conferences (2009)
- Competitive Grant Projects (2008)
- Capacity Building (2008)
- Networks (2005)
Visit our evaluation inventory to read our evaluation reports
New evaluation methods
When traditional evaluation approaches do not adequately assess the results of development research, we work with experts to create and test new ones. These methods are rigorous, learning-oriented, and aligned with the complexities of development research.
- Research Quality "Plus" Assessment Instrument
- Accountability Principles for Research Organizations
- Gender Evaluation Methodology
- Organizational Assessment
Guidelines for evaluating development research
Learn more about how to improve the quality and consistency of evaluations:
- Better Evaluation guide on how to commission evaluations of development research programs
- IDRC evaluation guidelines by topic
Connect with your Global Evaluation Community
Living in the Global South? Access free evaluation journals.
- Risk management and audit
Innovation and risk go hand-in-hand, no matter where the research takes place. With many of our projects in some of the world's poorest countries, IDRC often encounters an additional level of risk, such as weak research infrastructure, fragile institutions, and unstable political and economic conditions. We recognize these risks and work to manage them effectively with the support of our knowledgeable staff on the ground.
We manage risk:
- strategically, with a sound governance and accountability structure;
- programmatically, with a well defined strategic and program framework and sound management processes; and
- operationally, with a set of systems and internal controls.
How IDRC manages risk
- A Risk Management Committee supports and monitors the Centre’s integrated risk management approach.
- Senior management, the Risk Management Committee, and the Finance and Audit Committee regularly review and discuss the Centre’s Corporate Risk Profile.
- Projects are assessed for risk before approval, and risks are monitored throughout the project life cycle.
- Grantee institutions are assessed for financial and administrative risk and appropriate monitoring and reporting controls are applied.
- Core operations are guided by internal controls, implementation plans, and work plans which identify and manage risk.
IDRC ensures that its systems and practices are effectively and efficiently designed and help to achieve its corporate objectives. Our internal audit staff enhance and protect organizational value by providing risk-based and objective assurance, advice, and insight to support Senior Management and IDRC’s Finance and Audit Committee. The Finance and Audit Committee oversees internal audit and risk management functions.
The Office of the Auditor General audits IDRC’s financial statements annually, and performs periodic special examinations of our operations.
Federal Crown corporations are required under the Financial Administration Act (FAA) to undergo a special examination at least once every 10 years. IDRC’s last special examination noted our sound funding systems and practices and highlighted the value placed on our highly qualified staff in our management of human resources.