Ministers: stop tiffing about!

Once in a proverbial blue moon, I receive an email containing a communication from a government minister.  They’re not sent to me directly.  Instead they’re forwarded a number of times until eventually they end up in my inbox. Today’s example was from an MP to another MP.

The letter is always attached to the email as a tif file.  And the tif is a multi-page file (scanned at a jaunty angle) containing a scanned letter.  It’s often on letterhead with the MP’s details and is always typed with a hand-written signature and, depending on the MP, sometimes a handwritten salutation up top.

I’m always amused by the process that I assume must go on in advance of the file arriving in my inbox.

  1. Minister dictates letter into Dictaphone
  2. Secretary types up the letter
  3. Secretary prints the letter and gives to minister for amendments
  4. Minister makes handwritten amendments to letter and hands back to secretary
  5. Secretary makes amendments on the electronic copy
  6. Secretary prints the letter and gives to minister for amendments
  7. Repeat steps 4, 5 and 6 as necessary
  8. Minister tops and tails the letter and hands back to secretary
  9. Secretary scans letter at a jaunty angle and saves the file as a tif
  10. Secretary emails tif to the intended recipients.

Genius.  Utter genius.


3 Responses to “Ministers: stop tiffing about!”

  1. Paul Clarke on December 1st, 2009 22:52

    Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom has asked me to point out the following additional steps, which you have carelessly omitted:

    11. Secretary opens ‘Sent Items’ and takes a screenshot of the listing.

    12. Secretary prints hard copies of the sent emails and files them in the box file, with the printed screenshot appended as a true and accurate record of the communication.

    13. The master box file is photocopied by hand for the nightly despatch to the archive, in order to preserve historic government communications for the nation.

    14. An additional physical duplicate of the box file is prepared for the Minister’s country residence (and sent by Government Despatch Service van) in line with CO/4554/87b: Efficient Working from the Home, and The Taking of Government Administrative Business to the Regions.

  2. Simon on December 1st, 2009 23:02

    Don’t forget the inestimable value of the multipage TIFF… not even Photoshop can open them.

  3. David P on December 1st, 2009 23:09

    No, you’ve lost the plot at (1)… Official drafts letter – submits to boss – boss – boss – private office – printed – etc etc. Then resume at (3). Don’t denigrate the humble civil servant’s role in this saga…

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