Performance Based Competency Standards

To provide a neutral spine for comparison of project based standards, GAPPS draws upon existing standards (PMI, IPMA, AIPM, AACEI, ACostE, ECITB, ANCSPM / IBSA, SAQA, P2M, etc) to identify the most  common elements.  These are then developed into Performance Based Competency Standards (PBCS) which complement knowledge based standards by describing what needs to be done in a particular role.  Such standards, also called occupational standards (UK), are particularly useful as a basis for practical work-based assessment, and are widely used throughout the world,  forming the basis of government endorsed standards and qualifications frameworks in Australia (Department of Education, Science and Training), New Zealand (New Zealand Qualifications Authority), South Africa (South African Qualifications Authority), and the United Kingdom (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority).

Although some of the terms and definitions of the GAPPS framework described below differ in some respects from other PBCS, the overall approach is consistent and compatible with generally accepted practice within the field of competency development and assessment.

Components of Competence1

Components of Competence

Using Performance Based Competency Standards (PBCS)

Performance Based Competency Standards (PBCS) can be used to support learning and development when applied by qualified educators and trainers. In order to provide such support, the GAPPS Framework would need to be expanded to address questions such as:

  • What skills and knowledge are needed to demonstrate this standard of performance?
  • What are the parameters for collecting evidence and assessing performance?


  • Units of Competency

A Unit of Competency defines a broad area of professional or occupational performance that is meaningful to practitioners and which is demonstrated by individuals in the workplace.

  • Elements of Competency

Elements of Competency describe the key components of work performance within a Unit. They describe what is done by individuals in the workplace but do not prescribe how the work is done. For example, program managers must “define risks and risk responses for the program,” but they can do it themselves or delegate the work to others. In addition, there are many different tools and techniques that they could use.

  • Performance Criteria

Performance Criteria set out the type and/or level of performance required to demonstrate competency in each element. They describe observable results and/or actions in the workplace from which competent performance can be inferred. In the GAPPS framework, Performance Criteria can be satisfied in many different ways; there are no mandatory approaches, tools, or methodologies.

Performance Criteria focus on threshold performance — demonstration of the ability to do something at a standard considered acceptable in the workplace. They do not measure superior performance.  Superior performers should, however, be able to satisfy the threshold criteria without difficulty.

The GAPPS standards include the minimum number of Performance Criteria needed to infer competency. As a result, a candidate must satisfy all of the Performance Criteria in the applicable Units in order to be viewed as competent. In addition, the Performance Criteria represent different levels of detail. The number of Performance Criteria in a Unit or Element is not proportional to the amount of time or effort that must be spent in that area to be viewed as competent.

  • Explanatory Statements

Explanatory Statements help to ensure consistent interpretation of the Elements and the Performance Criteria by expanding on critical or significant aspects to enable consistent application in different contexts. Where the Explanatory Statements contain lists, the lists are generally illustrative and not exhaustive.