In practice

Global Affairs Canada’s internal capacity-building approach for results-based management

Key messages

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) is implementing a Managing for Results (MfR) capacity-building strategy for staff in international assistance to enable more effective results-based management. The strategy aims to increase coherence and effectiveness across GAC. It includes guidelines and technical advisory support for staff. It also focuses on professional development and retention of MfR specialists.


Global Affairs Canada's (GAC) results-based management (RBM) system, known as Managing for Results (MfR), operates in line with domestic and international good practice and is designed to improve the achievement of expected results (outcomes). However, the MfR approach has encountered several challenges:

  • Staff did not always see the added value of the MfR approach beyond reporting and accountability.

  • Staff considered use of MfR tools such as logic models and performance measurement frameworks as rigid and burdensome.

  • Training programmes, even when responsive and demand-driven, were not enough to build and maintain MfR capacity in GAC.

  • There was a lack of a dedicated cadre of results-based management experts to provide support and tailored advice to staff.


To address these challenges, GAC implemented a MfR capacity-building strategy for staff in international assistance based on three main pillars:

  1. 1.

    Clear communication on the value added of the MfR approach. The following key messages are included in guidelines and training material:

    • MfR is a management practice that helps increase the achievement of expected outcomes.

    • MfR is an adaptive and iterative management approach to be applied throughout the whole project and programme/portfolio lifecycle and becomes critical during implementation.

    • MfR enables better learning of what works and what does not, supports evidence-based decision making, and provides timely corrective action during implementation, and as such contributes to achieving expected outcomes.

    • MfR strengthens better evidence-based reporting, communication and accountability.

  2. 2.

    Appropriate training and guidelines. While the underlying MfR concepts and principles are the same, the approach needs to be tailored to the context. GAC has developed basic, intermediate and advanced MfR training and guidelines adapted for various needs.

  3. 3.

    Ongoing support for using the MfR approach. While all GAC staff need a basic understanding of the MfR approach and access to appropriate training and guidelines, they also need ongoing, appropriate support for its application to ensure continuous improvement. GAC has created a two-level technical support structure for international assistance composed of:

    • A cadre of MfR advisors, called Performance Management Advisors (PMAs), positioned in each programming branch at headquarters to provide advice to staff.

    • A results-based management Centre of Excellence for international assistance at the corporate level with a team of three MfR experts and additional support staff. The Centre of Excellence team:

      • provides more in-depth technical advice to the PMAs and sector/thematic specialists

      • works with sector/thematic specialists and the evaluation team, combining their respective expertise to provide tailored technical advice and support to the branch PMAs

      • integrates the sectoral/thematic perspective and the PMAs’ operational insights into overall MfR approaches, guidelines and training, and tailors these further for MfR at project, programme/portfolio and corporate levels.

Figure 1. Two-level RBM support structure for GAC international assistance staff

Source: Global Affairs Canada


The two-level support structure contributes to a close, symbiotic relationship between the Performance Management Advisors in each branch or bureau, sector/thematic specialists, the evaluation team and the Centre of Excellence team. It allows the Centre of Excellence to develop MfR methodology and guidance that is tailored to the various needs of GAC partners and staff.

  • All international assistance sector/thematic specialists and evaluation teams have a strong understanding of MfR and play a key role in developing and strengthening the MfR approach and providing advice in concert with the MfR advisors.

  • After taking the basic RBM course, staff report having a better understanding of the value and purpose of MfR and how to use the approach and engage with the tools more concretely.

Lessons learnt

Success factors:

  • Ongoing promotion and implementation of the capacity building strategy within GAC, such as the two-level support structure and increased recognition of the MfR advisors as specialists. This enabled the strengthening and tailoring of MfR guidelines, training and technical advisory support.

  • Ensuring adequate staffing of the Centre of Excellence, combining specialist expertise with training and facilitation skills. The senior MfR expert also built capacity of staff to become MfR specialists.

Remaining challenges:

  • Integrating MfR into onboarding of new staff, including through easy access to training, coaching and on-the-job technical support.

  • Maintaining MfR expertise: Staff rotation and unclear professional development and career path affect retention. On average, it takes up to a year to build the capacity of MfR advisors.

  • Limited resources: Many MfR advisors have other responsibilities, and very few Canadian diplomatic offices have a dedicated MfR advisor.

Planned responses by GAC include standard job descriptions and a professional development plan for MfR advisors, an institutionalised MfR learning curriculum offering basic, intermediate and advanced MfR courses for staff, and the creation of MfR teams of different staffing levels in each operational branch.

Further information

Government of Canada, Results-based management,

Government of Canada, Results-based management for international assistance programming: A how-to guide,

Government of Canada, International Assistance Results – Reporting Guide for Partners,

Global Affairs Canada, Presentation on Managing for Results Capacity Building to OECD-DAC Results Community - TWG5 on 3 July, 2020,

For more information, please contact [email protected].

OECD resources

OECD (2021), Global Affairs Canada’s architecture for results of international assistance,

OECD (2021), “Managing for sustainable development results”, Development Co-operation Fundamentals,

OECD (2017), “Canada”, Case studies of results-based management by providers,

To learn more about Canada’s development co-operation see:

OECD, "Canada", in Development Co-operation Profiles,

OECD (2021), Canada Mid-term Review 2021,

OECD (2018), OECD Development Co-operation Peer Reviews: Canada 2018,