The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is a result of the cooperation among the EU Ministers responsible for Public Administration. A pilot version was presented in May 2000 and revised versions were launched in 2002, 2006 and 2013. A CAF Resource Centre (CAF RC) was created at the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA) in Maastricht following the decision of the Directors General in charge of public service. It works in close cooperation with the network of CAF national correspondents.
- to be a centre of expertise in CAF implementation promoting the CAF and good practice in its use in public administrations in Europe;
- to act as a complement to, and in coordination with, the existing national centres of expertise, and with a focus on countries without a national centre of expertise;
- to be a training and consultancy centre;
- to carry out research on the use of the model and further develop it;
- to support and stimulate the European network of national CAF contacts and the community of CAF users;
- to maintain the CAF database for registered users and good practices.
The CAF RC operates in a spirit of open coordination between the members of the European Public Administration Network (EUPAN) and practises common European public-sector values: openness, accountability, participation, diversity, equality, solidarity, collaboration and partnership. We aim to be customer-oriented, efficient, effective and result-oriented.
The CAF is an easy-to-use, free tool to assist public-sector organisations across Europe in using quality management techniques to improve their performance. The CAF is a Total Quality Management (TQM) tool which is inspired by the major Total Quality models in general, and by the Excellence Model of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) in particular. It is especially designed for public-sector organisations, taking into account their characteristics.
The model is based on the premise that excellent results in organisational performance, citizens/customers, people and society are achieved through leadership driving strategy and planning, people, partnerships, resources and processes. It looks at the organisation from different angles at the same time; a holistic approach to organisation performance analysis.
The CAF aims to be a catalyst for a full improvement process within the organisations and has five main purposes to:
- introduce public administrations into the culture of excellence and the principles of TQM
- guide them progressively to a full fledged ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act (PCDA)’ cycle;
- facilitate the self-assessment of a public organisation in order to arrive at a diagnosis and improvement actions;
- act as a bridge across the various models used in quality management;
- facilitate bench learning between public-sector organisations.
Highly appreciated in the CAF implementation is the involvement of staff. CAF is a joint project for management and staff and very often CAF is the first occasion in which management and staff meet to discuss the state of affairs of the organisation and the options for the future in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
The use of CAF in Europe
Since the year 2000, nearly 2000 public sector organisations all over Europe have used the model and the number of CAF Users is still growing.
In 2009, the CAF External Feedback has been created to further support organisations in using the CAF most effectively in their future quality management journey. This procedure carried out by peers and experts in TQM aims at providing external feedback on the introduction of total quality management with the help of CAF, not only relating to the self-assessment process, but also regarding the path organisations have chosen to attain excellence in the long run.