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Plain language in Norway’s Civil Service 

«Plain Language in Norway’s Civil Service» is a joint project involving the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs (FAD), the Agency for Public Management and e-Government (Difi) and the Language Council of Norway. The project was formally launched in March 2009 and aims to stimulate public agencies to adopt good, user-friendly language.

Background
In 2008, Difi was awarded the task of «working, in cooperation with the Language Council of Norway, to promote clearer language and more accessible content in public documents and publications intended for citizens».

Organisation
A project group was established with representatives from Difi and the Language Council of Norway. FAD owns the project, Difi is responsible for the project's management and communication, and the Language Council of Norway is responsible for matters which require language expertise. The project group has also an associated resource group which provides advice and feedback throughout the project.

Activities
2008 was used to plan and develop project activities. In 2009-2010, the following activities were initiated: www.klarsprak.no:

  • A web-based toolbox for civil servants: The toolbox includes advice, tools and tips on how written language can be made more user-friendly, clear and understandable. In addition, users of the web site can find information on how to carry out language projects in public agencies.
  • Courses: Civil servants are given the opportunity to attend courses on how to write clearly. The project group has also created a specific course for people wanting to start language improvement projects within their workplaces.
  • Project grants and support: Public agencies can apply for funding towards language improvement projects. Public agencies can also receive practical support in the form of advice from Difi and the Language Council of Norway.
  • Plain Language Prize: FAD awards an annual prize to the public agency which has worked best to improve its written information. The prize aims to encourage agencies to continue their efforts in using good, clear language.
  • Surveys and documentation: The project gathers findings from relevant surveys, research and other documentation about language used by the Norwegian Civil Service. The findings are published on www.klarsprak.no.
  • Experience from language improvement projects: The project «Plain Language in Norway’s Civil Service» reviews a number of other government language projects and publishes findings from these on www.klarsprak.no.
  • Lectures and presentations: The project group arranges lectures and presentations for public agencies and related organisations who wish to carry out plain language related work.

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