What is CAF?

The CAF model

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is the result of the cooperation among the EU ministers responsible for public administration. It provides a general, simple and easy-to-use framework, which is suitable for a self-assessment of public sector organisations and their development towards excellence: stronger citizen`s orientation, process, resource and performance management and empowerment of employees, whilst fostering transparent and open organisational culture. The purpose of the CAF model is to guide public organisations to reach the best possible outcomes.

CAF as a quality management model for achieving quality in the public sector has been revised five times, most recently with CAF2020 – mainly dealing with digitalisation, agility, sustainability and diversity.

There are around 2.000 users registered in the CAF database, and 3.000 active users in Europe and beyond, who are increasingly registering at our CAF database.

CAF2020: What is new?

Compared to the CAF2013, the basic structure with nine criteria and 28 sub-criteria has been preserved. The language has been simplified, shortened and is now more concise. CAF2020 reinforces the focus on digitalisation, agility, sustainability, innovation, collaboration (participation) and diversity. As a result, there have been significant changes in each individual sub-criterion and example. However, users of previous CAF versions will not find it too difficult to become familiar with the new version; compatibility with the predecessor, CAF2013, is ensured.

Download CAF 2020 module

The model is based on the premise that excellent results in organisational performance for citizens/ customers, people and society are achieved through leadership that drives strategy and planning, people, partnerships, resources, and processes. It looks at the organisation from different perspectives at the same time; a comprehensive approach to analysing organisational performance.

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The Guidelines for Implementing CAF serve as a response to the emerging challenges and as a guideline to make the model stronger and more sustainable.

Read the full Guidelines here:  Guidelines for implementing the CAF

Guiding principles of the CAF2020

  • Better services for citizens: CAF initiates and manages the advancement and change of public administrations in order to better serve the citizens.
  • Tailored for the public sector: CAF was developed by the public sector for the public sector.
  • European principles and values: CAF is based on common European principles and values of public management and governance. This is ensured through cooperation within the European CAF network
  • Common language: CAF enables leaders and staff to constructively discuss organisational improvements and fosters dialogue and bench learning in the organisation.
  • Involvement of employees: the self-assessment process is the basis for the systematic involvement of the staff and continuous improvement of the organisation.
  • Evidence-based administrative reform: CAF encourages public sector organisations to undertake reforms based on objective information and data.
  • No external costs: CAF is free and is provided by the European CAF Resource Centre and the network of national CAF correspondents.
  • CAF Procedure for External Feedback (PEF): external evaluators evaluate the organisation, give feedback for improving the organisation further and if satisfied, award the label ‘Effective CAF User’.

How can CAF support your journey to excellence?

If you’re looking to take your organisation to the next level of excellence, the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) may just be what you need. CAF provides a structured and comprehensive framework for self-assessment and continuous improvement, allowing you to identify your organisation’s strengths and areas of improvements and develop action plans to improve your overall performance.


One of the great things about CAF is its recognition of your organisation’s uniqueness. Your organisation is not just a generic one – you have your own specific challenges and characteristics. That’s why CAF offers a flexible framework that can be customised to meet the needs and circumstances of your organisation.

Excellence & Communication

With CAF, you’ll be able to achieve excellence by setting realistic goals and identifying the areas that need improvement. And because CAF encourages open and transparent communication between all stakeholders in the assessment and improvement process, you’ll be able to foster a culture of continuous improvement throughout your organisation. In our experience, this is one of the main benefits of CAF, and the experience that is the most appreciated by employees and external stakeholders.


If you’re looking for a way to benchmark your organisation against best practices and standards, CAF has you covered. CAF provides a standardised framework for benchmarking, allowing you to identify areas where you can improve your performance and take concrete steps towards excellence. Our CAF database provides a valuable resource for benchmarking and bench-learning, allowing you to compare your performance to that of other organisations and learn from their experiences.You can also use the database to gain insights into emerging trends and best practices in your sector, keeping your organisation at the forefront of innovation and improvement.

Overall, CAF is an excellent tool for any organisation looking to achieve excellence and continuous improvement. With its flexible framework, emphasis on communication, and standardised benchmarking, CAF can help your organisation reach its full potential.

The CAF External Feedback Procedure

To enable public sector organisations applying CAF to see the results of their efforts and to obtain feedback, the CAF External Feedback Procedure provides external feedback on the introduction of total quality management with CAF.

The CAF External Feedback is known also as the  CAF Procedure on External Feedback and therefore, in expert circles we commonly refer to it as to the PEF as well. It provides external feedback on the implementation of comprehensive quality management with CAF. This feedback relates not only to the self-assessment process but also to the path that organisations have chosen to achieve long-term excellence and is based on the principles of excellence.

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CAF Education

The second most critical area of public administration after local administration is the education and research sector. Therefore, in 2008, the European CAF Resource Centre together with a group of experts in education, developed a tailor-made European CAF version for education and training institutions in Europe. This resulted in 2013 to the launch of the CAF Education Model. The document can be accessed here.

Public education services are of high value to society. This has become even more critical with the COVID crisis. Through short- and long-term studies, citizens acquire knowledge and skills that are important for the labour market, thus contributing to society. As this is fundamental to the functioning of a society, the activities offered by schools and other educational institutions have a major impact on the general perception of a country’s public services and must, therefore, always meet the highest standards.

For this reason, the CAF Working Group is now revising the CAF Education Concept to bring it in line with the CAF2020 model and to enable educational institutions to review and improve their practices accordingly.

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