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ACRS Challenges and Opportunity for Improvement

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Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) allocates funding for the construction and maintenance of community infrastructure to First Nations through two streams, the Capital Facilities Maintenance Program (CFMP) and the First Nation Infrastructure Fund (FNIF).1 Contributions to eligible recipients under the CFMP provide financial assistance to plan, construct and/or acquire and operate and maintain community capital facilities and services (infrastructure, including schools) and housing (residential) consistent with approved policies and standards.2 Indigenous Service Canada (ISC) allocates funding for the construction and maintenance of community infrastructure to First Nations through two streams, the Capital Facilities Maintenance Program (CFMP) and the First Nation Infrastructure Fund (FNIF).1 Contributions to eligible recipients under the CFMP provide financial assistance to plan, construct and/or acquire and operate and maintain community capital facilities and services (infrastructure, including schools) and housing (residential) consistent with approved policies and standards.2

Adequate operation and maintenance (O&M) help ensure assets reach their full life cycle, which is crucial to protecting long term health and safety. ISC has three asset reporting systems used for O&M: the Asset Condition Reporting System (ACRS), the Integrated Capital Management System (ICMS), and the Conditional Asset Inventory System (CAIS).3 Adequate operation and maintenance (O&M) help ensure assets reach their full life cycle, which is crucial to protecting long term health and safety. ISC has three asset reporting systems used for O&M: the Asset Condition Reporting System (ACRS), the Integrated Capital Management System (ICMS), and the Conditional Asset Inventory System (CAIS).3

ACRS is the primary inspection tool used by ISC to monitor First Nations O&M performance objectives and provides a process that identifies asset deficiencies levels. Every three years, a First Nation hires an engineer or architect to inspect only on-reserve community assets that receive operations and maintenance (O&M) funding from ISC using an ACRS inspection template, which is then submitted to ISC and to the First Nation. ACRS is the primary inspection tool used by ISC to monitor First Nations O&M performance objectives and provides a process that identifies asset deficiencies levels. Every three years, a First Nation hires an engineer or architect to inspect only on-reserve community assets that receive operations and maintenance (O&M) funding from ISC using an ACRS inspection template, which is then submitted to ISC and to the First Nation.

While ACRS inspections is useful to ISC with planning, budgeting, and decision-making4 it does not encourage First Nation to be self-sufficient because of the reliance on outside contractors, a requirement that contradicts ISC’s commitment to making First Nations self-determining entities. The following paper will provide a background of the ACRS program, discuss the emerging movement in federal policy towards improved asset management, highlight the challenges and opportunities with ACRS, and provide recommendations to improve the overall reporting framework.

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