This document contains excerpts from the December 2009 Quadrennial Program Report for the Agriculture Statistics Program, covering the 2005/06 – 2008/09 reference period. Statistics Canada has established an integrated program evaluation and reporting system. In that system, statistical programs undergo a full program evaluation every four years. A major component of the evaluation is the extent to which existing statistical products and services continue to meet the evolving needs of clients.
Using the services of Client Services Division, an electronic Client Satisfaction Measurement Survey (CSM) was sent out over May-June of 2009 to 621 users of the Agriculture Statistics Program. In four weeks, the survey generated a 25% response rate, which compares favourably to the normal 20% (or less) for this type of survey, and may indicate that clients feel some attachment and loyalty to the Division as a result of the good products and services it provides.
The main feedback was related to costs, timeliness, responsiveness and staff. Key recommendations concerning cost were that the program be expanded (at least not cut anymore), and that there be more detailed, lower cost and free data. In addition, clients said they wanted information that comes out faster and reacts to new topics and trends more quickly (increase timeliness and responsiveness). Finally, although clients said their experience in dealing with divisional staff had been good, they also said they would like to see more staff with agriculture background and training, as well as a more stable staff with less rotation and turnover.
Overall, this CSM survey has not only given the Division good feedback to work with on potential improvements to the outputs of the agricultural statistics program, but has provided validation of the great work being done throughout the Division every day, especially when it comes to serving clients.
Stakeholders indicated that the Division's data products and services have been key inputs to research, but the level of detail was indicated as a weak point. In other words, clients preferred more detailed data, related mostly to geographical and commodity level breakdowns. Overall, clients rated the importance of the data as more than just "satisfactory", although there were strong suggestions for the Division to consider more custom, and smaller, levels of geography, and to perform more analysis.
Although timeliness was indicated as being a bit above "satisfactory", it came out as one of the weakest points. Clients felt that they needed data to come out faster, and thought the Division should react faster to emerging issues.
Clients rated accessibility as more than satisfactory and indicated that they valued the resource materials provided by the Division. They also rate their experience in dealing with staff as more than satisfactory. However, there were remarks that the United States Department of Agriculture website was a lot easier to access. It was also noted that payment for special, non-standard data requests was a sore point. Clients disliked the fact that they have to pay, especially for the Census of Agriculture special tabulations. Clients who were also media made the point about free data. Currently, media do get all standard outputs at no cost, but they would like to have any custom request, regardless of the complexity or cost involved to produce it, provided to them free of charge.
Some efforts to increase access to data by users are already underway and will continue, along with new initiatives. The Division will continue to collaborate with researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and in academia to promote the use of Canadian agriculture and rural data. The Division continues to add series to CANSIM so that more data can be downloaded quickly and easily and at relatively low cost, rather than forcing potential users to rely on special tabulations and extractions. The Census of Agriculture plans to continue to make a wide array of data available free one year after Census Day, with the first release of 2011 data in May 2012.
Statistics Canada thanks participants for their participation in this consultation. Their insights guide the Agency's web development and ensure that the final products meet users' expectations.