Golden Bull Award for NI Civil Service

As the BBC reports

The [Plain English Campaign] organisation, which campaigns against complex jargon, recognised the civil service for its instructions on how staff should take a half day holiday.

The instructions said: “If the annual leave request that you are entering is less than a full day on the First Day or the Last Day, then please select Hours from the drop down list of values in the Part Days Unit of Measure field.

“Then select the amount of hours absent on the first day in the Fraction of Start Date field or the last day in the Fraction of End Date field.

“If the absence is only for one day, use the Fraction of Start Date field to record the hours absent.”

The winners of the awards were apparently revealed back on 10th December 2010…

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  • Local Government Officer

    This drives me mad. I’d like to say sorry to every member of the community who has had to read such tripe.

    Reluctantly, I’d also like to apologise to any press people who have had to wade through the unimaginative, turgid prose of a government (local or central) press release. I say “reluctantly” because local press just goes ahead and prints it anyway.

    I don’t know what happens to human beings once they enter public service. They may have noble ambitions. But anything they were taught about expressing themselves seems to be removed once they sign the dotted line.

    The biggest letdown? When I hear Fatboy on the radio saying “…and this is what the statement we received from (insert health/education trust, utility service or council) has to say…”

    Cue meaningless, 72-words-per-sentence, drivelly excuse, read with breathless glee by Chubby-chops.

    I’m sorry. To all of you.

  • joeCanuck

    Nice apology, LGO. Little bit disappointing that you didn’t couch it in bull language 😉

  • Rory Carr

    Maybe not such a good idea to institute a Golden Bull Award for contributions to Slugger.

    (Another ?) Civil war might result.

  • joeCanuck

    Rory,

    The word is that there would only be one serious contender 😉

  • The Word

    LOL, Joe! But what about the Neo-Aristotelian Sisyphusian who thinks he’s pushing a stone up a hill when he’s clearly just reading his civil service nomination papers..

  • Rory Carr

    I see we have the first contender in for the Slugger Golden Bull Award.

  • Rory Carr

    Sorry, Joe, I missed your last remark, but I think we are in the same bullpen, so-to-speak.

  • 2 VACANCY INITITATION – AGREEMENT OF METHOD TO FILL

    A curious section title from NICS RECRUITMENT POLICY AND PROCEDURES MANUAL.

  • renderitnow

    This type of thing has real world consequences however. I recently had an interview with NICS for a job I’m very much qualified for. During the interview I was asked 15 questions in a 45 minute period. The time was strictly adhered to, so much so that by the end of the interview I was being forced to give one or two sentence answers. The interviewers should have explained that the interview period would not be allowed overrun a clock was provided but for the use of the interviewers and not me.

    Both my experience and the instructions above are examples of unimaginative people relying on corporate group think. Although this type of thing is not limited to NICS; I once worked for a US multinational who referred to it’s employees as corporate citizens!

    PS: I haven’t got confirmation about the job yet, so this isn’t sour grapes. YET!!!!

  • alan56

    Seems it is relatively easy to get an administrator resignation. Much harder to get anyone to accept ministerial responsability. Is this the nature of our new ‘democracy’.?

  • Mr Angry

    In fairness I believe the quoted instructions“If the annual leave request that you are entering is less than a full day on the First Day or the Last Day, then please select Hours from the drop down list of values in the Part Days Unit of Measure field.

    Then select the amount of hours absent on the first day in the Fraction of Start Date field or the last day in the Fraction of End Date field.

    If the absence is only for one day, use the Fraction of Start Date field to record the hours absent.” is HR Connect (private sector) jargon imposed upon civil Servants.

    Still, if such misrepresentations serve to keep old fat chops and his anti public sector cronies happy…….

  • Rory Carr

    There are also times it seems when confusion reigns even when a communication is composed in simple, clearly understandable language as this winner of Private Eye’s “Stupid Letter of the Week” award illustrates:

    HM Revenue & Customs wrote to a customer (client? victim?) hassling him for overdue tax (don’t get excited – ot wasn’t Vodaphone !), noting that the payment “has been outstanding for some time…you may be required to pay the associated costs and it may also effect your credit rating… You are already incurring interest.”

    And below, the amount overdue: £0.00

  • DC

    @Mr Angry

    The instructions appear to be for the automated / computerised system, but as I don’t work in the NICS myself I’m hazarding a guess at why it’s so jargon-heavy.

    The HRConnect self-service system is a software-driven leave-booking system, plus all leave now has to be granted and monitored by HR Connect than just by the manager alone, where leave granting can be dependent upon good inter-personal relationships: great relationship good leave periods, poor not so good – like working over Christmas and the New Year.

    The classic one is special leave, now that’s when getting on with your manager counts, as payment of it is dependent upon your manager – but now also HRConnect.

    Of course before this, the NICS had no such computerised systems or capturing of quantitative data in order to do comparative performance benchmarking across various government departments etc.

  • Cynic2

    “to do comparative performance benchmarking across various government departments etc.”

    …..oooo errrr …. and now that they do just what have the actually done with it?

  • Cynic2

    Rory

    Its not fair to single out HMRC as that Department is now run by Robots with Humans only making a brief appearance.

    For example, if as a small business you need help with cashflow you can call a human on the Small Business Support line who may grant you time to pay tax or VAT. Great. They are genuinely very good and helpful and seem to be in Aberdeen. But.

    The following week you then get a final demand notice from HMRC because the computer doesn’t know that this system exists and cannot therefore allow for it. It just keeps writing to you demanding money.

    Even worse, on VAT it keeps ratcheting up the level of tax penalty every quarter and can soon be demanding thousands of pounds in penalty payments and interest and sending out more and more threatening letters on different coloured sheet of paper.

    The only option is to wait until it builds up for maybe a year then lodge a formal complaint and appeal. Appeals are heard by humans who reset the records and you can then start again. They are based in Southampton.

    Simples

  • Rory Carr

    It is true, Cynic, the Revenue are not totally hardhearted as those poor, needy directors and shareholders of Vodaphone discovered when that nice Mr Hartnett of HMRC, with the full approval of the even nicer Nick Clegg, let them off from paying billions of pounds in tax due on profits earned.

    Renews one’s faith in human nature somehow.

  • Cynic2

    Absolutely …. and its so just that so many of the HMRC staff then go on to lucrative jobs in tax consultancy. Indeed its only fair I suppose.

  • joeCanuck

    Cynic2,

    That has always been a “problem” with Revenue staff. Once Inspectors learn all of the workings of the system, they become very valuable people for the tax consultancy business. I once contemplated leaving engineering and going into that field early in my career. They were always advertising entry level positions because of high turnover.