Common Assessment Framework (CAF)

European Union | 2000

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is a total quality management tool inspired by the Excellence Model of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) and the model of the German University of Administrative Sciences in Speyer.

It 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 and resources and processes. It looks at the organisation from different angles at the same time; the holistic approach of organisation performance analysis.

The CAF is a result of cooperation among the EU Ministers responsible for Public Administration. It is jointly developed under the aegis of the Innovative Public Services Group (IPSG), a working group of national experts set up by the Directors-General (DG) in order to promote exchanges and cooperation concerning innovative ways of modernising government and public service delivery in EU Member States.

A pilot version was presented in May 2000 and a first revised version was launched in 2002. A CAF Resource Centre CAF (RC) was created at the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA) in Maastricht following the decision of the DGs in charge of public service. In a strategic statement, EIPA pointed out how it wants to play its role as a European CAF Resource Centre and what its objectives are in this respect.

The Ministers responsible for Public Administration in the European Union expressed at the end of the Luxemburg Presidency on 8 June 2005, their appreciation for the fruitful exchange of ideas, experiences and good/best practices between the Public Administrations of the EU Member States within the European Public Administration Network (EUPAN) and for the development and use of tools such as the Common Assessment Framework. They asked to integrate even more the quality approach with the Lisbon agenda. The CAF 2006 revision has taken this demand into account.

The CAF is offered as an easy-to-use tool to assist public sector organisations across Europe to use quality management techniques in order to improve performance. The CAF provides a self-assessment framework that is conceptually similar to the major TQM models, EFQM in particular, but is specially conceived for public sector organisations, taking into account their differences.

The CAF has four main purposes:

  1. To introduce public administration to the principles of TQM and progressively guide them, through the use and understanding of self-assessment, from the current “Plan-Do” sequence of activities, to a fully-fledged “Plan-Do-Check-Act” cycle.
  2. To facilitate the self-assessment of a public organisation in order to obtain a diagnosis and improve- ment actions.
  3. To act as a bridge across the various models used in quality management.
  4. To facilitate bench learning between public sector organisations.

A number of components have been worked out in support of these purposes and are explained in this brochure: the structure composed of 9 criteria, 28 subcriteria with examples; assessment panels for the enablers and the results, guidelines for self-assessment, improvement actions and bench learning projects and a glossary.

This publication is part of the web-book Public Risk Canon