CAF and PEF in the Automobile Club of Italy (ACI)

CAF Best Practice
Date of publication: February 2023

The Automobile Club of Italy (ACI) draws its origins from the establishment in 1898 of the Automobile Club of Turin which, in 1904, took the name of the Italian Automobile Union in order to promote the development of motoring in Italy, to associate motorists and above all to organise events sports.
The foundation of other Automobile Clubs (Florence, Milan, Genoa) made it necessary to establish a single interlocutor between the state and the road user who, without being influenced by sectoral interests, would be representative of Italy also in the associations that had already been formed at the abroad.

The mission of the Automobile Club of Italy is to oversee the multiple aspects of mobility and to spread a new automobile culture, representing and protecting the general interests of Italian motoring, whose development it promotes and fosters.

The ACI Federation is a member-based non-profit public body. It represents and protects the interests of Italian motoring, promoting its development through the diffusion of a new culture of mobility, traffic education, support to tourism and motor sports.
ACI runs public services on behalf of the Italian state and many local public authorities. The main services are in particular the Public Register of Motor vehicles, the car tax collection, the control, and assistance to taxpayers. In addition, services for the associates such as roadside assistance, medical care, legal protection, etc.
ACI is a Federation of 105 local Offices and 98 local Automobile clubs.
ACI is the Italian member of Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile – FIA and, in this role, it promotes, encourages, and organises motorsport activities.

The ACI Federation started the use of the CAF model many years ago:
– to introduce the TQM in the ACI’s Federation.
– to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Group management system, the processes addressed to the stakeholders and results.
– to disseminate at each level of organisational culture and stakeholders’ care through proven models (in particular (CAF), stimulating collaboration;
– to foster benchlearning and benchmarking among different ACI offices.

ACI and CAF Model: ten years of organisational improvements and customer-care enhancement.
In 2012, the ACI adopted The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) model to improve the internal effectiveness and efficiency, to strengthen the process management and to address the stakeholders and to consolidate the result framework. The use of the CAF in the various territorial ACI Offices led to understanding and using self-assessment procedures as a way of change and overall improvement of the institutional capacity of each.
Given the excellent use of the CAF model, in 2017 ACI staff were invited by the Italian Managing Authority (Funzione Pubblica) to join the initiative F@cile CAF aimed at establishing a digital platform to facilitate the implementation of CAF. To date, around 45 Offices have used the CAF. In addition, ten years ago the Federation supported a diffused application of CAF External Feedback (PEF), as a way to guarantee the effectiveness of the CAF application and the benchlearning/benchmarking between the ACI offices. At the moment, 36 are recognised as Effective CAF User – demonstrating the maturity in total quality management approaches

Another important goal for the diffused application of the CAF Model was to foster the collaboration between the different units, through benchlearning and benchmarking activities, to support good practice sharing and collaborative processes. The effort of the Federation started from medium and large-sized units, but recently a further diffusion of the model and PEF involved small local units too, at regional level. Many relevant projects have been implemented following the application of the Model, in particular to enhance the cooperation with partners in the territory, to improve the services to the customers, to assist the vulnerable users etc. – please open the link below to have an insight into the table no 1:

Table 1, examples of projects realised.

The CAF/PEF application of Abruzzo Region
In this specific case, the Territorial Director of the city of L’Aquila coordinates the Local Offices of Chieti, Teramo Pescara for the application of the CAF and participation in CAF External Feedback Procedure. The four units applied the CAF with the support of the CAF Resource Centre and ACI Direction.
The self-assessment began in 2018 using the digital platform F@cile CAF made available by the Italian Department of Public Administration.
All offices finished the self-assessment in September. The improvement plan had be implemented from October 2018 to May 2019.

In particular, the present case study describes the PEF application to four small ACI units belonging to the same Italian region (Abruzzo): the ACI Directorate of L’Aquila and the ACI units of three other cities of the region: Pescara, Teramo and Chieti.
There are some common specific characteristics of the four units which are worth mentioning:
– small size (from 10 to 30 employees)
– legal independence
– same mission (coming from ACI Federation)
– common ecosystem and similar relationships with stakeholders
– limited knowledge of the CAF and no previous experience in its application.

For the four units, a new approach was defined: a synergic application in each phase of PEF process to guarantee efficiency and effectiveness. A combination of individual and common activities shall guarantee an effective and concrete engagement of each single unit in the PEF process. The digital tool “F@cile CAF platform”, developed by the Italian CAF Resource Centre was used to facilitate and support the entire process.
After a consultation with the Italian CAF Resource Centre, the decision was to explore and implement a new, common approach for the PEF application of the four units: a combination of common (joint) and individual activities.
For a clearer overview, here is a short list of activities as defined for the implementation process, with indication if they are joint (common) or individual activities:

Table 2, joint and individiual activities.

The Application phases of the project

The start: decision and preparation phase
The established Guidance Committee can be seen as a key success factor for the overall effective coordination and implementation of the activities. This committee was appointed to define and manage the whole process, with the direct participation of managers and representatives of the four local offices, and with the support of a representative of ACI Direction Presidency and General Secretary Central and an expert of the Italian CAF Resource Centre.
In particular, the work of the Guidance Committee reflected a common management of the PEF process by the four organisations, as follows:
● Definition and implementation of the entire plan
● Training activities (using the digital platform made available by the Italian CAF Resource Centre and with the support of experts of ACI Central and Italian CAF Resource Centre
● Definition of common guidelines for the entire process
● Definition of internal and external communication (to people, partners, institutions, customers) using the same tools and contents
● Support to the continuous exchange of knowledge and experiences between different units

The self-assessment phase
The self-assessment is a typical individual activity for each single organisation, but in the case of similar organisations it could be helpful to define a common approach and common support tools. In this case, the activities have been:
● Common definition of guidelines, use of digital platform made available by Italian CAF Resource Centre
● Individual self-assessment by each unit
● Individual analysis of weakness areas and possible ideas for improvement
● Individual improvement priority assessment (using a relevance/value matrix)
● Meetings among delegates from each Unit during the activities, aiming at discussing, harmonising, aligning the process, and reviewing the results.

Improvement plan definition phase
Starting from individual prioritisation assessment (relevance/value matrices), an innovative approach has been used to find a possible common improvement project (to be managed together by the units). In addition, further projects have been defined, to be individually managed by single units.
This is how it can be described in a more detailed manner:
● A common Improvement Committee defined the guidelines for the selection of improvement projects and definition of improvement plan, in line with the ACI Federation mission
● Using a structured approach (see Scheme – Selection of common projects for the units), a common project has been defined on shared priority areas. The implementation of the project has been managed with the participation of delegates from each unit
● In addition, individual projects for each unit have been defined and implemented on specific individual priorities

Improvement projects implementation
A project team with representatives of each office managed the common project up to the conclusion and the review of final results.
In addition, four individual projects have been managed by project teams inside each office.
The Improvement Committee had the task to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the whole CAF improvement plan.

CAF External Feedback (PEF) assessment
Two experienced CAF External Feedback Actors were appointed to assess the four units according to the PEF Guidelines. The PEF was conducted in a combination of on-site visits (in L’Aquila) and online meetings.
According to the different phases of the activities, the assessment has been realised partly with single organisations and partly in common meetings.
In particular:
● Common meetings with the four units to assess the planning and coordination of the whole process (PEF pillar 1), the definition of the improvement plan and the management of the common project (PEF Pillar 2)
● Individual meetings with single units to assess the self-assessment phases (PEF pillar 1), the individual projects (PEF pillar 2), and TQM principles (PEF pillar 3)

Common and individual phases in the assessment
At the end, the External Feedback Actors produced four individual feedback reports for each unit, stating high performance and recommending the ECU label. Consequently the National Organiser issued four Effective CAF User certificates.

Please have a look at table 3 for a clearer overview between joint and individual phases in the PEF application:

Table 3, joint and individiual phases PEF application.

A large diffusion of the CAF Model and the application for the PEF is an important way to improve the management system of public organisations. It can support the concrete implementation of the mission, improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the management system, motivate people in the organisations, support better relationships with customers and other stakeholders. To mention some of the benefits, without being exclusive.
This can be obtained not only by promoting the CAF among large and middle size public organisation but also by supporting the participation of small units.
The case study indicates a way to foster effective participation of small organisations with a similar mission and ecosystem, in particular, if they operate in the same territory,
In detail, the benefits of this CAF experience:

For organisations applying CAF
● in general, this approach leads to an optimisation of resources (personnel, time, technology instruments, financial resources, partnerships);
● the management by a common committee guarantees the direct engagement of all the Units;
● common training activity allows cost reduction and know-how sharing;
● the definition of a common approach for the entire process allows a continuous sharing of experiences during the entire process;
● coordinated management activities guarantee synergic progress during the whole plan;
● the shared resources for the common project assure the best results and cost/effectiveness optimisation.

For the ACI Federation
● Improvement of public value of ACI services according to the priorities and strategies of the Local Management and the needs of internal and external stakeholders;
● facilitation of participation of small and middle Units, guaranteeing at the same time the implementation of the common mission, benchlearning and the exchange of practices;
● sharing of opportunities, approaches, suggestions, and training on CAF;
● synergetic development plan and management of the CAF model and PEF process.

For the CAF Resource Center
● Joint training and technical support ensure cost optimisation for the activity;
● the assessment approach of EFA team reduces global costs and improves synergy and calibration in the assessment.

For External Feedback Actors
The assessment approach of the EFA team shortens the total assessment time and supports easy collaboration, synergy and calibration, both in the assessment and in the preparation of feedback for the Units.

The explained approach has been repeated in other similar cases inside the ACI Federation.
All the results have been very positive. The feedback from the organisations has been always very positive too, underlining, in particular, the following success factors:
– implementation of the ACI mission in a cohesive and integrated manner;
– wide people involvement and empowerment;
– promotion of benchmarking, benchlearning and good practices sharing;
– improvement of relationships between local organisations and stakeholders;
– dissemination of the culture of service and public value.

This experience shows that this process could be usefully repeated in other similar cases, inside and outside the Federation, for different types of public organisations too, as for example education structures, small municipalities etc.. We would like emphasise the need to verify the following conditions for the organisations before the kick-off:
● similar context and ecosystem;
● similar stakeholders;
● similar mission;
● small/medium size;
● willingness of collaboration and sharing of experiences.

The main recommendations are to develop both common activities and individual activities to define a common approach to the project of CAF and PEF application:

Common activities
– a common plan for self-assessment with aligned steps and times;
-communication to the external stakeholder with the same tools (web, brochure, posters) and the same contents;
-monitor the processes of self-assessment and improvement plan;
-train people on CAF model, with the support of the CAF Resource Centre
– possible shared project(s) on common priorities

Individual activities
– individual self-assessment and specific improvement projects to guarantee a real involvement and participation of each unit.


Interested in more?

Get in touch with the authors of this best practice and the organisation itself:

Contact person in the organization: Direzione  Presidenza e Segreteria Generale- Direttore Centrale dr.ssa Sabina Soldi

Contact details: Italian CAF Resource Centre, Automobile Club d’Italia

Authors name: Antonina Pennacchio, Italo Benedini

Author`s email address:


Read the
complete study

About the author(s)

Antonina Pennacchio, Italo Benedini
ACI and CAF Resource Centre (expert)

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