Put away the FLAs: DFAT's acronym-free day for charity

By David Donaldson

November 27, 2014

APS FTEs are known for their love of acronyms, but today DFAT has undertaken to temporarily abolish their use.

Diplomats wanting to use TLAs will have to do so AYOR.

Hot on the heels of a busy few weeks with the G20, APEC, EAS and ChAFTA, Acronym Free Day offers a chance for employees at the DFAT to reflect on the number of acronyms used in their daily work and the impact this has on knowledge sharing and communication.

On AFD, staff at the department, which has offices at the WTO, EU and UN, fine one another 50 cents every time an acronym is spoken. Reportedly the ban is N/A when acronyms are used in written form, including ICT communications. Thus, the media team are technically off the hook for their tweet — and rapid mea culpa — this morning:

Given that DFAT’s work is a blur of JSCFADTs, UNCTADs and ANZCERTAs, some will no doubt struggle. Any diplomats tempted to utter such an abbreviation are advised to ask themselves “WWJD” — what would Julie do?

It’s all for a good cause, with money collected by participating Australian staff being sent to NGO Kids Helpline. Money raised at DFAT’s O/S offices will be donated to local charities.

The idea was piloted by the department in 2013 as part of a month-long calendar of knowledge-related events called KNOWvember. The team behind KNOWvember and Acronym Free Day 2013 recently won an award for their work to promote knowledge management across the department.

Perhaps extending this across the ACT to other parts of the PS would help bureaucrats kick the habit — but it might have made life difficult at DSEWPaC or FaHCSIA under the old names.

TBH, nixing acronyms at Defence could cause problems, though, where SNAFU and FUBAR are used to avoid command prohibitions on swearing.

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[…] DFAT staff are attempting a day without acronyms. It's yet to be seen whether the rest of the APS will follow suit.  […]

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