Criterion 4: Partnerships and Resources

Public sector organisations need resources of different kinds to achieve their strategic and operational goals in line with their mission and vision, in addition to the people that are working in the organisation. They can be of a material and immaterial nature, but they all have to be managed carefully.

Partners stimulate the external focus of the organisation and bring in necessary expertise. In this way, key partnerships, e.g. private providers of services or other public organisations, but also citizen/customers, are important resources for the good functioning of the organisation and need to be built up carefully. They support the implementation of strategy and planning and the effective operation of its processes. Public organisations are increasingly seen as part of a chain of organisations that all together are working towards a specific outcome on citizens (e.g. in the area of security or health). The quality of each of these partnerships has a direct impact on the outcome of the chain.


Sub-criterion 4.1

Develop and manage partnerships with relevant organisations

In our constantly changing society of growing complexity, public organisations are required to manage relations with other organisations in order to realise their strategic objectives. These can be private, non-governmental and public partners. Organisations should thus define who their relevant partners are. These partnerships can be of a different nature: suppliers of services and products, outsourced services, close partnerships on common goals, etc. For the success of public policies in a specific domain or sector, the collaboration between public administrations of the same institutional level (e.g. federal level) but also between organisations of different institutional levels (federal, regional and local) could be crucial. Organisations should define the sector networks or policy chain they belong to and the role they play to assure the success of the whole network.


  1. Identifying private, civil society and public key partners, and the nature of the relationship (e.g. purchaser - provider, supplier, co-production, complementary/substitution product provider, owner, founder, etc.)
  2. Developing and managing appropriate partnership agreements taking into account the different aspects of social responsibility, such as the socio-economic and environmental impact of the delivered products and services.
  3. Stimulating and organising task-specific partnerships and developing and implementing joint projects with other public sector organisations belonging to the same policy sector/chain and to different institutional levels.
  4. Regularly monitoring and evaluating the implementation and results of partnerships.
  5. Identifying the need for long-term publicprivate partnerships (PPP) and develop them where appropriate.
  6. Defining each partner’s responsibilities in managing partnerships including controls as well as evaluation and review.
  7. Increasing organisational capacity by exploiting the possibilities of work placement.
  8. Exchanging ‘good practices’ with partners and using bench learning and benchmarking.
  9. Selecting providers with a socially responsible profile in the context of the public procurement.


Sub-criterion 4.2

Develop and implement partnerships with the citizens/customers

Citizens/customers play an increasingly active role as key partners in the public sector. The term citizens/customers refers to the citizens’ varying role between stakeholder and service user. The involvement of citizens/customers is increasingly seen as a necessary lever for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public organisations. Their feedback by the way of complaints, ideas and suggestions is regarded as important input towards improving services and products. The role of the citizens/customers in general can be approached from four angles: as co-designers, co-decision makers, co-producers and co-evaluators. As co-designers they have an impact on what and how the public organisations want to deliver as a service in response to a specific need. As co-decision makers the citizens will acquire greater involvement in and ownership of the decisions that affect them. As co-producers, citizens themselves will be involved in the production and/or delivery cycle of services and their quality. And last but not least, as co-evaluators citizens will express themselves on the quality of public policies and the services they received. In this criterion, CAF focuses on the involvement of citizens in public matters and in the development of public policies, as well as the openness to their needs and expectations. Public organisations should support citizens/customers in these roles if they want them to be played in an effective way.


  1. Ensuring a proactive information policy (e.g. about how the organisation works, about the competences of the different public authorities, about the structure and processes of the organisation, etc.).
  2. Actively encouraging citizens/customers to organise themselves, express their needs and requirements and supporting partnerships with citizens, representative citizen groups and civil society organisations.
  3. Encouraging the involvement of citizens/ customers and their representatives in the consultation and active participation in the decision-making processes of the organisation (co-design and co-decision) e.g. via consultation groups, surveys, opinion polls and quality circles.
  4. Defining the framework to actively seek ideas, suggestions and complaints of citizens/customers, collecting them by appropriate means (e.g. surveys, consultation groups, questionnaires, complaints boxes, opinion polls, etc.). Analysing and exploiting this information, and disseminating the results.
  5. Ensuring transparency concerning the organisation’s functioning as well as its decision-making processes (e.g. by publishing annual reports, holding press conferences and posting information on the internet).
  6. Defining and agreeing on ways to develop the role of citizen/customers as co-producers of services (e.g. in the context of waste management) and co-evaluators (e.g. through systematic satisfaction measurements).
  7. Developing effective expectation management by explaining to customers what services they can expect, including a number of quality indicators e.g. through Citizens Charters.
  8. Assuring updated information on how citizens’/customers’ individual and social behaviour evolves, to avoid installing outdated processes of consultation or producing outdated services.


Sub-criterion 4.3

Manage finances

The ability of public organisations to generate additional financial resources may be limited as may be its freedom to allocate, or reallocate its funds to the services it wishes to deliver. Although public organisations often have little say in resource allocation, carefully preparing the budgets, preferably together with the financial authorities, is the first step in costeffective, sustainable and accountable financial management. Detailed accountancy systems and internal control are necessary to continuously monitor the expenses. It is the basis for sound cost accounting, demonstrating the organisation’s ability to deliver ‘more and improved services for less cost’ if needed, and creating the opportunity for more innovative services or products to be introduced more quickly.


  1. Aligning financial management with strategic objectives in an efficient, effective and economic way.
  2. Analysing risks and opportunities of financial decisions.
  3. Ensuring budgetary and financial transparency.
  4. Ensuring the cost-efficient, effective and economic management of financial resources by using effective financial cost accounting and controlling systems.
  5. Introducing systems of budgetary and cost planning and monitoring (e.g. multi-annual budgets, programme of project budgets, energy budgets, gender/diversity budgets).
  6. Delegating and decentralising financial responsibilities and balancing them with central controlling.
  7. Basing investment decisions and financial control on cost/benefit-analysis, sustainability and ethics.
  8. Including performance data in budget documents, such as information on output and outcome goals.


Sub-criterion 4.4

Manage information and knowledge

It is important to identify the organisation’s information and knowledge requirements for reaching the strategic goals and preparing for the future. This necessary knowledge and information should enter the organisation in a systematic way, be shared with all the staff who need it and remain in the organisation when people leave. Employees should have prompt access to the appropriate information and knowledge they need to do their job effectively. The organisation should also ensure that it shares critical information and knowledge with key partners and other stakeholders according to their needs.


  1. Developing systems for managing, storing and assessing information and knowledge in the organisation in accordance with strategic and operational objectives.
  2. Ensuring that externally available relevant information is acquired, processed, used effectively and stored.
  3. Constantly monitoring the organisation’s information and knowledge, ensuring its relevance, correctness, reliability and security. Also aligning it with strategic planning and the current and future needs of stakeholders.
  4. Developing internal channels to cascade information throughout the organisation to ensure that all employees have access to the information and knowledge relevant to their tasks and objectives (intranet, newsletter, house magazine, etc.).
  5. Ensuring a permanent transfer of knowledge between staff in the organisation (e.g. mentorship, coaching, written manuals).
  6. Ensuring access to and exchange of relevant information and data with all stakeholders in a systematic and user-friendly way, taking into account the specific needs of all members of society such as elderly people, disabled people, etc.
  7. Ensuring that key information and knowledge of employees is retained within the organisation in the event of their leaving the organisation.


Sub-criterion 4.5

Manage technology

ICT and other technological policies of the organisation need to be managed so that they support the strategic and operational goals of the organisation in a sustainable way. When managed strategically they can be important levers for the improvement of the performance of public sector organisations and develop e-Government. Key processes can be remarkably improved by introducing the appropriate technologies in an appropriate manner. In service provision, e-Services can render services more accessible for the customers and considerably lessen their administrative burden. Within the administration smart ICT solutions may allow for more efficient use of resources.


  1. Designing technology management in accordance with the strategic and operational objectives.
  2. Implementing, monitoring and evaluating the cost-effectiveness of the used technology. Time for return on investment should be short enough and there should be reliable metrics for it.
  3. Ensuring a safe, effective and efficient use of the technology, with special attention to the skills of people.
  4. Efficiently applying appropriate technology to e.g.: manage projects and tasks;
    - manage knowledge;
    - support learning and improvement activities;
    - support interaction with stakeholders and partners;
    - support the development and maintenance of internal and external services.
  5. Defining how ICT can be used to improve service delivery, e.g. using the enterprise architecture method for information management in public administration.
  6. Adopting the ICT framework and resources needed to deliver intelligent and effective services online, so as to improve service delivery to the customers.
  7. Being permanently attentive to technological innovations and review the policy if needed.
  8. Taking into account the social-economic and environmental impact of ICT, e.g. waste management of cartridges, reduced accessibility of non electronic users.


Sub-criterion 4.6

Manage facilities

Public organisations have to evaluate at regular intervals the state of the infrastructure they have at their disposal. The infrastructure available needs to be managed in an efficient, costeffective and sustainable way so that it serves the needs of the customers and supports the working conditions of the staff. The sustainability of the materials used in the organisation and the impact on the environment are also critical success factors for this sub-criterion, as well as for its social responsibility.


  1. Balancing the cost-effectiveness of the infrastructure with the needs and expectations of staff and customers (e.g. centralisation vs. decentralisation of offices/ service points, allocation of rooms, accessibility by public transport).
  2. Ensuring a safe, effective and efficient use of office facilities (e.g. open plan offices vs. individual offices, mobile offices) based on strategic and operational objectives, taking into account the needs of employees, local culture and physical constraints.
  3. Ensuring an efficient, cost effective and sustainable maintenance of buildings, offices, equipment and materials used.
  4. Ensuring an efficient, cost effective and sustainable use of transport and energy resources and their  optimisation.
  5. Ensuring appropriate physical accessibility of buildings in line with the needs and expectations of employees and citizens/ customers (e.g. disabled access, parking or public transport, etc.).
  6. Developing an integrated policy for managing physical assets, including their safe recycling/disposal, e.g. by direct management or subcontracting.
  7. Putting facilities at the disposal of the local community.