Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Questions (159)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

159. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will report on the different plain language policies in use across Departments; and his plans to introduce and implement a standardised policy. [51501/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

One of the twelve Guiding Principles of Quality Customer Service in the Civil Service is that Departments and Offices "take a proactive approach in providing information that is clear, timely and accurate" and "continue the drive for simplification of rules, regulations, forms, information leaflets and procedures."

The use of plain language facilitates more effective communication with our customers, makes services more accessible to users and reduces the need for repeated contact with public bodies.

Our Public Service 2020 Development and Innovation Framework (OPS2020), which I published in December 2017, includes a commitment to make services more accessible to all (Action 3) and outlines the commitment to "(U)se plain language, as set out in Plain English Style Guide for the Public Service, prepared by the RDO in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, to improve customer experience and reduce the need for repeated contact." Implementation of OPS2020, including Action 3, is the responsibility of each public service organisation.

My Department has published a number of user guides that promote the use of plain English. In cooperation with NALA, my Department developed and circulated a guide for public servants on the use of plain language- Using Plain English to Improve Effectiveness in the Public Service.

A Customer Communications Toolkit for the Public Service was published July 2017. The toolkit is specifically designed for public servants as a guide to developing content (written, verbal and digital), keeping Plain English and access guidelines to the fore in order to communicate effectively with citizens.

I consider these supports delivered by my Department to be very important and they have proven to be very helpful in supporting a wide range of customer service officers to deliver better services.