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Kitsap acronym policy spreads across the nation

Kitsap County government has established what could become a trend to clear communications and improve efficiency by discouraging the use of acronyms.

And the concept appears to be spreading.

Contra Costa County, which has about 1 million residents and covers 733 square miles east of San Francisco, has adopted a formal policy which forbids the use of unexplained acronyms in public documents.

A second facet of the policy resembles what is now in effect at Kitsap, the informal practice of kicking in $1 every time someone uses an acronym.

Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia said the policy has not yet slowed government down, “except for the time we’ve spent laughing about it.”

The policy was passed at the June 21 supervisors meeting. Since then, the topic was the subject of a San Francisco Chronicle editorial and Gioia was interviewed on National Public Radio.

And an editorial in the Contra Costa Times said the acronym battle was a noble act, but compared it to tilting at windmills.

Gioia said he goes out of his way to credit Kitsap County with the idea.

“It has made it easier for people to follow our meetings,” he said. “It’s a positive policy that is also fun. And it has made government more transparent.”

In Kitsap, the policy is most in evidence during the Board of Commissioners’ Wednesday work-study sessions, which raise about $10 in fines each week.

This week County Administrator Cris Gears used the phrase “absence of my presence” and was immediately fined by North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen. “That isn’t an acronym but he owes $1 — just ’cause,” she said.

The county raised $40 during the month of June, with the money earmarked for the Red Cross.

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