What is quality in translation? While it is easy to identify an incorrect or inaccurate translation as a translation of poor quality, excellence is almost invisible. Quality is often taken for granted and the fact that it comes at a cost – or rather requires an investment– is often overlooked. Similarly, the full dimension of the costs and consequences of poor quality translations is not always visible for managers and political decision-makers.
Quality in translation has always been the subject of intense discussions within and outside public translation services.
International organisations are increasingly affected by public deficits and indebtedness, leading to calls for more accountability, efficiency and transparency. Most of them are confronted with zero-growth or a reduction of resources.
The translation services of these organisations face the same challenges, but they have an additional ‘handicap’ since their role is not always clear or recognised within international organisations, which often makes them a primary target for budget cuts. It is therefore essential to make the best use of the resources available and to identify if and how existing practices can be improved.
This study will take the operations of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Translation (hereafter referred to as "DGT") as a basis to propose a methodology for a cost-based evaluation that may be of use for other public translation services. DGT's own experience, challenges and solutions might well prompt other organisations to use them and adapt them to their work environment.