CAF-Driven Innovations Propel Public Sector Participation in EPSA 2023


In the latest European Public Sector Award (EPSA) edition, an impressive total of 151 eligible projects from 27 countries and three EU institutions were submitted before the November 15th deadline. Notably, within these submissions, several projects explicitly referenced ‘quality management‘ and the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) in their application forms.

The mention of ‘quality management’ and CAF in these submissions is remarkable. Some projects drew upon existing quality management systems to guide their design and implementation, while others were specifically crafted to advance quality management or tackle critical issues tied to effective CAF implementation. It’s worth noting that all projects citing ‘quality management’ were submitted under the ‘Innovation in Public Administration’ category.

Nevertheless, a significant number of projects across all Award Categories refer to ‘continuous improvement’. In most cases, this is relevant for stakeholder consultation and the measurement of project impacts (e.g. through project-specific metrics, scorecards, dashboards etc.). Yet, several projects link ‘continuous improvement’, in some cases through quality management, to the sustainability of a project, and thus indicate that innovation is not always characterised by isolated leaps forward but in many cases, the result of improvement is incremental and on-going.

The overall breakdown of project characteristics per policy area:

Policy AreasPercentages
Governance and Public Administration35%
Sustainable Growth and Business Environment31%
Labour Market, Education, Health and Social Services19%
Revenue Administration and Public Financial Management10%
Financial Sector & Access to Finance5%


Other Key figures

The countries with the highest numbers of applications submitted are Austria (34 projects), Spain (28), Ireland (13) and Italy (10). The position of the two front-running countries is in line with previous editions in which both countries, among others, provided for the highest number of submitted projects. Most countries have application numbers in line with previous editions whereas some noteworthy examples show significant increases such as Ireland, but also Serbia (7) and Germany (5).

With regards to the level of government, the biggest share of applications was made by national-level entities (50%) followed by local (24%) and regional level of government (20%). This is noteworthy from a longer-term perspective, given that the highest share of projects is on average submitted by local entities; the share at the regional level remains stable and in line with previous editions.

In terms of Award Categories, the 151 eligible projects are distributed among the three Award Categories as follows: 79 projects under ‘Innovation in Public Administration’, 18 projects under ‘Green Transition and Sustainability’ and 54 projects under ‘Digital Transformation’.

However, it’s not just limited to specific categories. A substantial number of projects across all Award Categories also emphasised ‘continuous improvement.’ For many, this involved stakeholder consultation and measuring project impact through tailored metrics, scorecards, or dashboards. Interestingly, some projects linked ‘continuous improvement,’ often via quality management, to ensure the sustainability of their initiatives. This underscores that innovation isn’t solely about massive strides; it often involves incremental, ongoing enhancements.

The widespread participation in the Award reflects a deep commitment within the public sector to embrace reform, innovation, and continuous improvement. This dedication becomes increasingly vital in addressing the challenges presented by the dual fronts of green and digital transformations.


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EPSA 2023-24

Tags CAF