Call on Government to set up its own translation/interpreting commisioning department
Thread poster: RG I&T Services

RG I&T Services
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:28
Arabic to English
+ ...
Mar 19, 2012

If you are an interpreter working in the UK, you will know how important this e-petition for us. Please make sure you sign this e-petition. The full description and its link are below.

Call on Government to set up its own translation/interpreting commisioning department

Responsible department: Cabinet Office

We, the undersigned, petition the government to review the awarding of contracts to supply interpreting and translation (T&I) services to private companies and to set up its own T&I commissioning department. Maintaining such a department means better control over which materials are translated, both under own auspices and by local governments, reducing duplication and consequent waste of taxpayers' money. Such departments can also secure the most cost-effective T&I resources from cheaper independent providers, something not possible when it is mandatory for all government work to be placed with a single agency. Creating private monopolies also means that independent professionals are being forced to work for fees which do not reflect their skills and experience, and in some cases are required to work at rates effectively below the minimum wage, leading to some leaving a profession potentially vital to us all (e.g. non-English speaking witness in court).

The link http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/18797


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Clive Phillips  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:28
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Central governance of HMG translation/interpreting outsourcing Mar 19, 2012

Although experience has taught me to remain sceptical about the prospect of positive action, I've signed the petition for this very worthy cause.

This is a crucial issue, not just for freelance interpreters, but also for freelance translators and more widely the UK taxpayer.

In essence, Her Majesty's Government (HMG) needs established civil servants with a unique mix of qualifications, skills and experience including:

- a profound understanding of the skills and standards required of interpreters and translators in the wide spectrum of events and texts generated and received by HMG (e.g. interpreting assignments can range from conference interpreting at international Head of Government summits to public service interpreting at a court hearing or witness statement);
- experience of translation and interpreting (T&I) outsourcing;
- strong competences in negotiation, fraud spotting and budget management;
- tight but informed control of expenditure to deliver value for money to the taxpayer,
- an understanding of how HMG and its departments and agencies work.

The idea of a Government language service for T&I has been debated for fifty years or more, to my knowledge. The main opposing argument has always been that no service could adequately cover the huge breadth and diversity of HMG departmental requirements in this field. The main arguments in favour are cost effectiveness, economy of scale and avoidance of duplication of effort, with all playing to the same rules.

In recent times HMG's main thrust has been to reduce or dispense with in-house translators and interpreters, and to rely solely on outsourcing to meet requirements. Outsourcing to freelances has been cost effective over many years. However, a very few exceptional cases have hit the headlines where there has been inadequate control and oversight in central or local Government (e.g. fraudulent court interpreter fee/expense claims).

Under pan-Government or departmental framework agreements, contracts have been awarded to translation or interpreting agencies or companies in recent years and months. There is considerable evidence that while initially seeming to offer savings on paper for the public purse, this approach leads in many cases to degradation in quality, security and reliability of service with wider unacceptable implications (e.g. translations not fit for purpose, security breaches, court adjournments at enormous cost, undermining of the T&I professions).

What we need is enlightened thinking in our Government which recognises that procuring translations and interpreting is not the same as procuring stationery and soap powder.


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Call on Government to set up its own translation/interpreting commisioning department

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