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Digital jargon

The Government Digital Service (GDS) and Crown Commercial Service (CCS) have teamed up to make sure digital service contracts are written in plain English.

The GDS announced their collaboration with CCS in a blog post. The two have joined forces to help get rid of complex terms and inconsistent, unclear content in the contracts.

They also plan to change the format of the contracts, and trim word counts to make them less intimidating to read.

The GDS set out their aims in a statement on their blog.

The Digital Marketplace is about helping those transforming public services by making it simpler, clearer and faster for them to buy what they need. The majority of buyers and suppliers aren’t legal professionals and aren’t overly familiar with legal terminology. Let’s aim to make our contracts reflect this.

The Digital Services Contract, which is for the Digital Marketplace, runs to 88,000 words. Language issues aside, nobody is going to bother to read such a thing. It would take around six hours, based on average reading speeds.

While we applaud both the GDS and CCS for their intentions, we’re not sure how they can make the changes necessary to make the contract useful. Would a summary be useful? How many of the 88,000 words will be removed? What will be left? We look forward to seeing the results.

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