Terminological inexactitudes: handy translations of Whitehall jargon (Vol. I)

Written by Civil Service World on 13 March 2015 in Feature
Feature

Civil Service World presents our new, regular guide to the very best in Whitehallese

Terminological Inexactitudes

The minister appreciated your submission, which s/he read without comment

It definitely went into the red box, and then came out again. Was it looked at? Your guess is as good as mine. Often signifies that the submission was a) very dull b) on a subject way below the ministerial radar c) both.


Root and branch reform

Tinkering around the edges of an organisation, and renaming parts of it, to no discernible effect. Similar to breaking down silos.


Across 

In the same family as “up to speed”. Telling someone you’re “not fully across this issue” means that you haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about, but want to appear as if you’re in the loop


Consultation document 

The department already knows what it wants to do. The document will contain one policy made to look like several options, in order to suggest the department is open to ideas. It will also contain some outlandish proposals, so officials can claim to be thinking outside the box.

 

To submit your own examples of Whitehallese, email editorial@civilserviceworld.com


More in the series

Terminological inexactitudes: handy translations of Whitehall jargon (Vol. 2)
Terminological inexactitudes: handy translations of Whitehall jargon (Vol. 3)
Terminological inexactitudes: handy translations of Whitehall jargon (Vol. 4)
Terminological inexactitudes: handy translations of Whitehall jargon (Vol. 5)
Terminological inexactitudes: handy translations of Whitehall jargon (Vol. 6)

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