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Local government staff face fines over IT jargon

Tony Collins

The Local Government Association has begun to fine its staff for using words or phrases on its banned list.

Richard Stokoe, who is head of news at the Local Government Association, e-mailed Computer Weekly after we asked people to let us know if their organisations are following the example of Original Software, which is fining staff for using clichés and jargon, either verbally or in writing.

Original Software is collecting the fines for charity, as is the Local Government Association.

Stokoe said, "If anyone on the team uses any of the 200 words then they are fined between 20 pence and a pound - depending on the infringement. All money goes to Medicin Sans Frontier."

The Association and Original Software are urging other companies to fine their staff for offences against plain English.

But some in the IT industry have e-mailed Computer Weekly to oppose the association's list because they say that many of the terms are necessary and allow a lot of meaning to be conveyed in one or two words.

The association's list includes "best practice", "cascading", "challenge", "dialogue", "customer", "holistic", "engagement", "leverage", "partnerships", "procure", "step change", and "vision".

Original Software's banned list includes " high altitude view", "blue-sky thinking", "brain dump", "touch base", "drop the ball" and "going forward". Staff most regularly pay fines for the use of "did we ?" when they meant "did you ?".

Computer Weekly is keeping a list of business and IT industry jargon and clichés that should be avoided or at least used in a thoughtful way. Anyone with more words and phrases they believe should be "taxed" for charity should email: rebecca.froley@rbi.co.uk.

A list of banned words and phrases is on the IT Projects Blog >>


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