November 16th, 2006


Identity Crisis

It was only ever a matter of time….

I have learned that I am supposed to refer to my employer as ‘Communities and Local Government, or CLG and we will be effectively dropping the prefix ‘The Department for’.

We are a Government Department, we should refer to ourselves as such.
Defra, DfES, DoH, DCMS DCA all identify themselves as Departments why don’t we ?

At the launch of the new Department on 19 June 2006, Tom Bloxham MBE and Michael Pyner high-flying/achieving stakeholders, gave excellent presentations and said how they were looking forward to working with the new Department but jokingly suggested that we should not rename our selves any time soon. Yet here we are five months later and we have effectively changed our name.

By removing ‘The Department for’ from out title, when writing about the work that we do, the meaning is rendered amiguous. By simply refering to actions carried out by ‘Communities and Local Government’ the meaning could be interpreted as being carried out by actual communities and local authorities. How is this consistent with the principles of ‘Plain English’?

Our old title of ‘Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’ was often cited within Government and in the media as being unrepresentative of the work which we did. By dropping ‘The Department for’ from our title we are simply perpetuating this trend.

On November 16th a colleague and I attended the launch of a research report on ‘Community Participation’ which was hosted by the Joseph Rowntree. One of the first things that Lord Richard Best noted was the confusing omission of ‘The Department for’ from the front of the building and letterheads. This is before CLG staff have been formally notified of the change.

If it doesn’t make sense to staff and it doesn’t make sense to our stakeholders does it make sense to go through with this ?

Advice on our intranet clearly states;
‘Avoid jargon and classical terms and with only limited exceptions (eg UN, EC) do not use acronyms. Limit the use of technical terms and above all use plain English.’

It does not reflect well on our DEPARTMENT if we can’t even identify our Corparate body in plain terms.

Hands up everyone who thinks the stiffs in the suits all sat round in a meeting recently and admired the emperors new cloths ???????