Monday, 3 September 2007

27 forbidden phrases, including "there's no money"

When you receive poor service you can always complain, vote with your feet and withdraw your custom. What do you do when faced with an unacceptable level of assistance from a government department? Shrug your shoulders and wait for the next election to effect change?

It's not surprising that Government departments get a lot of bad press as the rules of customer service and accountability have not historically applied in this environment.

Until now. as per
this BBC article Alexander Kuzmin, mayor of Megion in western Siberia has issued a list of 27 excuses which city officials must no longer use, including "I don't know" and "it's lunch time".

Mr Kuzmin's three main points were:

  • "City officials should help improve people's lives and solve their problems, not make excuses."
  • " I am tired of civil servants telling me that problems were impossible to solve, rather than offering practical solutions."
and my personal favourite...
  • "the use of these expressions by city administration officials while speaking to the head of the city will speed their departure."
Banned phrases include:
  • What am I supposed to do?
  • I'm not dealing with this
  • We're having lunch
  • The working day is over
  • Somebody else has the documents
  • I think I was off sick at the time
  • I don't know
  • It's lunch time

We recently supplied references to the UK cabinet office which was keen to demonstrate how public-sector IT projects CAN be successful and run to time and budget.

Apart from references being hugely important in providing assurance (and justification) for those holding the public purse strings I think that Alexander Kuzmin has got it right; accountability and service are not merely restricted to the private sector and/or election time.
He gets my vote.

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