Staffer works to make communications...er...clearer

The language police have landed! In a confidential email addressed to senior bureaucrats and leaked to Public Eye, Children and Family Development Minister Christy Clark assistant Kim Haakstad identifies several words that are "no longer to be used in letters, press releases, issues notes or any other communication outside the Ministry." They include service redesign, service transformation, core service, strategic shift, budget target, voluntary initiatives, budget reference group, framework and governance (as a stand alone word).

Ms. Haakstad also instructs bureaucrats to avoid "any references to us not already having met the budget." And just to make sure there isn't anything missing, she tells them to "feel free to add to the list" of banned words.

So why is Ms. Haakstad and her minister so anxious to strike down many of the catchphrases which have become closely associated with the provincial Liberal's attempt to hive-off community living and regionalize children and family services?

Well, it might have something to do with the fact that all those initiatives have went disastrously wrong in one way or another. But just to make sure, we talked to a senior staffer and asked why the government was ripping out this particular page from the provincial bureaucratic lexicon. The response: "To make sure our communication is something people can understand publicly. It's that simple. Those words are not words regular people use in everyday life. So why put them in a press release? No one knows what we mean." After all, British Columbians just don't get it when the minister says she hasn't met her budget targets.

-----Original Message-----
From: Haakstad, Kim MCF:EX
Sent: Tuesday May 4, 2004 1:20 PM
To: Kislock, Lindsay MCF:EX; MacPhail, Alison J MCF:EX
Cc: Bowman, Deborah PAB:EX; Thompson, Kate J PAB:EX; Erickson, Jennifer C MCF:EX
Subject: list of banned words

Some feedback from my night of going through correspondence and comm materials.

The following words or phrases are no longer to be used in letters, press releases, issues notes, or any other communication outside the Ministry.

Service Redesign
Service Transformation (transform)
Core service
Strategic Shift
budget target
voluntary initiatives
Budget reference group
Framework
Governance as a stand alone word

any references to us not already having met the budget

Please feel free to add to the list, I know I am missing some.

Kim Haakstad
Ministerial Assistant
Office of the Honourable Christy Clark
Minister of Children and Family Development and Deputy Premier

-----Original Message-----
From: Kislock, Lindsay MCF:EX
Sent: Wednesday May 12, 2004 2:34 PM
To: Gorman, James MCF:EX; Markwart, Alan MCF:EX; Henderson, Kim N MCF:EX; Syme, Robin MCF:EX; Berland, Jeremy MCF:EX
Subject: FW: list of banned words

FYI - below is a list of banned words. The Client Relations Branch is working on alternatives. We will circulate the alternate words once they are approved.

-----Original Message-----
From: Syme, Robin MCF:EX
Sent: Thursday May 13, 2004 3:01 PM
To: MacMillan, Karen MCF:EX
Subject: FW: list of banned words

please let directors know

-----Original Message-----
From: MacMillan, Karen MCF:EX
Sent: Thursday May 13, 2004 3:19 PM
To: Cameron Keller; Loreen O'Byrne; Paula Grant; Randi Mjolsness; Susan Perkin
Subject: FW: list of banned words from Minister's office

Please see the list of banned words from the Minister's office not to be used in any correspondence, BN etc. Please let appropriate staff know.

Thank you.
Karen

2 Comments

Excellent pointer, Sean, and thank you so much for making Public Eye available online! I hope you get tons of readers and that people feel empowered to respond and debate via the comments board.

What do you think the Ministry meant by banning the use of these words in communication "outside the Ministry"? I had to blink hard when I read that!

Your closing observation (click through to read) is spot-on!

See the BC Liberals Suck Blog for many of the reasons the BC Liberals must be voted out on May 17th, 2005.

http://bcliberalssuck.blogspot.com/

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