The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is a unique common management tool for self-assessment and performance for public sector organisations. Created from the cooperation of the EUPAN network, it is considered to be the European quality tool for good governance and excellence in the public sector focusing on digitalisation, agility, sustainability, diversity and innovation. First presented in 2000 as a model for achieving quality in the public sector, it has been revised five times, with the latest being the CAF2020.
As of November 2020, there are 4 160 organisations using the CAF and the model has been included in public administration reform strategies of many EU countries. It has also been implemented and used as a good practice for various countries outside the EU. United Nations Development Programme and World Bank representatives have visited the EIPA’s European CAF Resource Centre in order to learn about the CAF and more importantly understand its impact in terms of performance and overall efficiency in the public sector.
How can CAF help you?
The aim of the CAF is to initiate a continuous improvement process and to create the conditions for efficient and high-quality public services. The core of CAF2020 is a questionnaire with 200 examples of self-assessment of public organisations. Managers, together with employees, improve their organisation on the basis of common European principles and values of public management and governance.
The new CAF2020 provides a comprehensive and updated reflection framework by which each public administration can autonomously find the appropriate tools for administrative development. Think: ‘Change it – CAF it’.
Start the self-assessment E-tool and access the CAF Resource Centre Database
EIPA, together with the CAF network is exploring new links between the CAF and the new Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) published by the European Commission. One of the major objectives of the CAF Network will be to support public administrations interested in the RRF.
EIPA is launching a new series of publications of relevant CAF cases that can be linked with two flagship areas of the RRF ‘Modernise – the digitalisation of public administration and services including judicial and healthcare systems’ and ‘Reskill and upskill – The adaptation of education systems to support digital skills and educational and vocational training for all ages’.
CAF model 2020 – What is new?
Compared to the CAF 2013, the basic structure with 9 criteria and 28 subcriteria has been preserved. The language has been simplified, shortened and is now more concise. CAF2020 reinforces the focus on digitisation, agility, sustainability, innovation, collaboration (participation) and diversity. As a result, there have been significant changes in each individual subcriterion and examples. However, users of previous CAF versions will not find it too difficult to become familiar with the new version; the compatibility with the predecessor, CAF2013, is ensured.
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 PEF (procedure for external feedback): external evaluators evaluate the organisation, give feedback for improving the organisation further and if satisfied, award the label ‘Effective CAF User’.
The 3 steps of CAF implementation
The CAF Resource Centre at EIPA
The CAF Resource Centre (CAF RC) was created at the European Institute of Public Administration in Maastricht following the decision of the Directors General in charge of public service. EIPA’s CAF Resource Centre 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.