Summary report - Evaluation of the NRC’s Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre

Status: Active
Effective date: March 7, 2022
Prepared by: Office of Audit and Evaluation, National Research Council Canada
Approval: NRC's President
Cat. No.: NR16-381/2-2022E-PDF
ISBN: 978-0-660-43096-6
Related document: Evaluation of the NRC’s Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre
Alternate format: Summary report - Evaluation of the NRC’s Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre (PDF, 192 KB)

About the research centre

The Ocean, Coastal, and River Engineering Research Centre (OCRE) works with industry, academia and other government departments to develop next generation marine transportation, improve the resilience of Canadian coastal infrastructure and waterways, and develop sustainable technologies for use in harsh marine environments. It is co-located in Ottawa, Ontario, and St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Budget (2015-16 to 2020-21)
  • Total Revenues: $45.2M
  • Total Expenses: $126.5M
Resources (as of March 31, 2021)
  • Staff (including students): 119

Overall findings of the evaluation

  • Improved marine safety and performance by collaborating with both industry and government
  • Mentored the next generation of the Canadian marine sector, doubled annual student hiring
  • Increased community resiliency as its research has focused more on climate change adaptation
  • Involved in 26 international bodies and attended 150 marine sector conferences and others events

Scientific Excellence

An international leader in engineering solutions for harsh marine environments, and a strong performer in coastal and waterways engineering.


Facilities are national assets that help Canada maintain and develop strategic capabilities, and respond to government and industry demands.


Developing or exploring deeper partnerships with key players in academia, government, and industry in order to realize its full potential.


Sufficient capabilities to meet client needs, but strained by competing priorities; must invest in resources and facilities to ensure sustainability.

Opportunities to strengthen OCRE’s position


Develop and implement a strategy to plan how OCRE will invest in, develop, and sustain its facilities, with consideration of co-investment opportunities, and grow its digital capacity.


Formalize its approach to engagement and communications with a strategy that considers partners, stakeholders, and Indigenous rights-holders, as well as international engagement and planned publishing activities.

Performance measurement

Address gaps in performance measurement and align reporting systems with the OCRE strategic plan, with particular attention paid to publishing, international participation, and business innovation.

About the evaluation

The evaluation assessed the program’s relevance, engagement, capabilities, scientific excellence, and expected results over the period of 2015-16 to 2020-21. It was conducted by the NRC’s evaluation team, utilizing data and document reviews, external and internal interviews, and a peer review with national and international experts. The evaluation was also informed by the NRC Facilities Review (which included an external peer review), as well as 4 concurrent or recent external studies:

  • Ocean Program Expert Panel
  • Positioning OCRE for Growth: Branding Exercise
  • Business Model Options Project
  • Market and Impact Study: Climate Change Adaptation Services

The full evaluation report, including the management response and action plan, is available on the NRC’s website.