The Translation Centre works with external language service providers for translation, editing, terminology, subtitling, transcription and other language services as required to cover its clients’ needs. To outsource these services, the Centre uses either framework or specific contracts depending on the type of service, the language combination and the field required by the client.
Framework contracts are signed with service providers who are successful in calls for tenders organised by the Centre. These contracts are valid for 1 year and may be renewed by tacit agreement for further periods of 1 year, without, however, exceeding a total duration of 4 years. Contractors are contacted via group assignments when clients order work. The order is sent to all contractors, and the job goes to the one placed highest on the list out of all those who reply positively within a certain timeframe. Specific contracts are signed between the Centre and an external language service provider for a particular language service and field not covered by a framework contract, or if no contractor on a framework list is able to do the job.
The modern, proactive outsourcing model in place at the Centre relies on three main elements: expert external language service providers, a a dynamic assessment (reranking) system (first introduced in the EU institutions by the Centre) that ensures the best language service providers are used, and supplying language resources to external service providers to help them in their work.
All jobs produced externally and delivered to the Centre by external language service providers should be of sufficiently high quality to be usable as they stand without any further revision by the Centre. However, as a key part of the Centre’s quality assurance assessment of these service providers, all jobs are systematically reviewed by in house linguists using an assessment sheet to make sure they are fit for purpose. The sheet contains not only an overall assessment of the job quality but also, where necessary, detailed information on the type of mistakes found. The Centre focuses on completeness and accuracy, correct quoting of reference documents and published material, compliance with instructions, and terminological and stylistic consistency. The Centre outsources language services mainly in the 24 official languages of the EU but also in other non-EU languages such as Icelandic, Norwegian, Arabic, Russian, Serbian, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Farsi, etc.
The Translation Centre generally works with framework contracts based on a dynamic ranking system.
The Centre carries out quality controls on all work supplied by its contractors.
Each assignment is assessed by the Centre’s internal revisers using a standard assessment sheet. When the quality of an outsourced job is assessed as being of an exceptionally high standard (marked as +1) or of an unacceptably poor standard (marked as -1), it is forwarded to the Centre’s Assessment Committee which is composed of independent members from different departments. If the initial assessment is confirmed by the Committee, a certain number of points (defined in the framework contract) are added to, or deducted from, the points initially awarded to the contractor, and they may move up or down the ranking accordingly. Where the quality of an outsourced job is judged to be of acceptable quality (marked as 0), i.e. the work provided is of a level that can reasonably be expected of a professional linguist, the contractor’s ranking remains unchanged.
This ensures that the ranking of contractors reflects the actual quality of the service offered throughout the duration of the contract.
Outsourced jobs completed under negotiated procedures are also quality controlled according to the same procedure, but are excluded from this dynamic ranking system which applies only to framework contracts the Centre has signed with its contractors.
The dynamic ranking system is one of the strengths of the Centre’s quality assurance model. It makes the Centre highly reactive and helps to ensure consistently good quality over time.