Authorization of interpretors and
translators in Sweden
Procurement of interpretation and
translation services
Klas Ericsson
• Oldest public authority in Sweden
• Founded by Gustav Vasa in 1539
• Central authority under the government, department of finance
• Legal, financial and administrative services, 30 different tasks
• Our main customers are other public authorities.
Community interpreting in Sweden
650 000
… in 120
1,2 – 1,5 million … in 170
State authorization in Sweden since 1976
996 interpreters
1 053 authorizations
In 36 languages
202 interpreters
215 court competence
in 21 languages
132 interpreters
135 medical competence
in 18 languages
403 translators
473 authorizations
245 translators
into 28 languages
174 translators
from 31 languages
Authorization – general information
• 40 languages
• Application fee: 2 300 SEK (240 EUR)
• Valid for 5 years
Proficiency standards
• Good spoken command of both Swedish and the
target language
• Good terminological and factual knowledge within
social matters, medical care, labour market,
general social insurance and everyday law
• Good interpreting technique
• High degree of information accuracy
• Reasonable length of speech unit
80 %
Proficiency examination - written test
• General background
knowledge test: 40-50
• Terminology test: 100
• General background
knowledge test: 25 questions
in the field of law or medicine
• Terminology test: 100
specialist terms to be
translated into Swedish
specialist terms to be
translated into Swedish
• 60 specialist terms and 40
• 100 specialist terms to be
expressions in context to be
translated from Swedish
translated from Swedish
Proficiency examination – oral test
• Active interpreting test, at
most four role plays
• Oral examination in
interpreting technique and
professional ethics
• Interpreting in a civil suit as
well as in a criminal case in
court (role play)
• Interpreting in a medical care
situation relating to a
physical illness/disease and in
the treatment of a psychiatric
or social-medicine care
case (role play)
• Oral examination in specialist
background knowledge.
National registers
• Authorized interpreters and translators
• Trained interpreters
The National Procurement Services
• Our task is to supply coordinated framework agreements at
National level for goods and services,
• Also at Regional and Local level whithin the area of ICT & telecom,
• The main objective is to generate savings for the tax-payers,
• Central government authorities should use the framework
agreements unless they find other forms of agreements better
all in all,
• Activities are financed by fees. The suppliers pay fees in proportion
to turn-over. The economic goal is full coverage of costs,
• The total turn-over has been approximately 1,2 billion EUR (10,5 11 billion SEK) annually.
Framework agreements for Interpretation services
• Contract period 2+1+1 years, (new procurement initiated),
• Includes the provision and distribution of:
Authorized interpreters,
Court interpreters,
Medical interpreters
Other interpreters,
• Contracts by county, three suppliers (agencies) per county,
• Call off routine: fixed ranking by county,
• Annual turn-over: approx. 130 MSEK
• Largest users are the Police, Courts, Social insurance office,
Public employment service and the Prison and probation service.
Framework agreements for Translation services
• Contract period 2+1+1 years, (new procurement is announced),
• Includes translation services:
• Subarea 1 – English
• Subarea 2 – frequent languages
• Subarea 3 – other languages
• Three nationwide suppliers (agencies) per subarea,
• Call off routine: fixed ranking per subarea,
• Annual turn-over: approx. 25 MSEK
• Most requested languages: English, Arabic,
Why framework agreements?
• Important contract areas,
• Great need for services,
• Convenient and time saving for the authorities to call off services
through an agency from the framework agreements,
• Quality assured suppliers and services,
• Contracted prices,
Observed general problems
• Lack of certified and qualified interpreters and translators,
• Court interpretors do not feel requested,
• Existing training programs do not respond to needs,
• Authorization is lagging behind in terms of topicality,
• Poor knowledge of the business among users/ contracting
• Approved interpreter tariff only for assignments in some kind of
authorities, e.g. courts, uncertainty about benefits,
• Insecure situation for interpreters and translators,
• declining remuneration, stressful work, poor advance planning,
interpreters are not involved in the procurement process.
Observed deficiencies in existing agreements
• Quality deficiencies –
• texts are not translated correctly, deficient interpretation,
• many complaints, inadequate service from agencies,
• competence is not utilized, cheaper options are offered customers,
• No follow-up of performance and quality during the contract –
• requirements are ineffective, credibility of the NPS reduces,
• Strict ranking –
• authorities feel obliged always to call off supplier No. 1 even if they
have bad experiences of its performance,
• Too much emphasis on the price in the procurement - leading to;
• suppliers of low capacity and limited experience,
• low remuneration to interpreters and translators,
The consequences of poor agreements
• The framework agreement is perceived as inadequate –
bad reputation among contracting authorities,
distrust of agencies,
authorities carry out their own procurements,
framework agreements undermined,
• Skilled interpreters seeking other jobs, leads to lack of competence
among agencies,
• Quality deficiencies can result in threats to legal security, additional
administrative work, increased costs.
Procurement of translation services
announced March 6, 2012
• 5 language areas​​, tenders may be submitted on one or more
• Fixed ranking within each language area, a number of options for
the customer to deviate from the ranking,
• Requirements for translators with advanced knowledge in at least
5 of 12 specified disciplines (law, economics, medicine, etc.)
• Supplier shall declare the types of documents (articles,
agreements, decisions, etc.) they have experience in translating,
• Requirements for short response times, clear feedback, delivery,
availability, etc.
Procurement of translation services
• Supplier must always ensure that the necessary information from
customers has been obtained before assignment begins,
• Requirement of named translators should if possible be met,
otherwise the most appropriate for the task. The customer has the
right to deselect translators who are not considered appropriate or
previously delivered poor quality,
• Confirmation of orders by 15:00 the next working day, 16:00 the
same day if urgent and maximum of 500 words, the same
deadlines for declined orders.
• Requirements for Customer Relationship Management (CRM),
Procurement of translation services
• Requirements for dedicated project manager for each assignment,
• Requirement to carry out computer-assisted translation with CAT
tools, to receive and use a translation memory.
• Requirements for handling and storage of documents,
requirements for information security,
• The translator must self check and adjust their work prior to
delivery. The supplier is responsible for correct delivery.
• Normal delivery, express delivery, document formats.
Procurement of translation services
• Requirements to provide certified translators in specific language
where such are available,
• Requirements on the translator's professional competence,
education and translation experience,
• Requirements on delivery of statistics to the NPS,
• Monitoring and verification of requirements in procurement will be
made with suppliers on a regular basis during the agreement
Procurement of translation services
• Follow up through "Satisfied Customer Index" and by a link to the
central NPS website for customers comments;
• Repeated measurements during the contract period,
• Authorities may submit comments,
• Dialogue with the supplier, demand for action plan,
• Follow up of action plan after 3 months,
• Written warning if deficiencies not corrected ,
• 6 months “quarantine” if deficiencies are not corrected within 1 month,
• After three warnings to the supplier within a single language area,
the following sanctions are possible:
• Demotion to last place in the ranking within the language area,
• Termination of the Framework Agreement as regards the language
Prestudy for the procurement of interpretation
services – commenced in jan-feb 2012
• Reference group meetings - largest users,
• Survey Mailings to suppliers and contracting authorities,
• Meetings with current framework suppliers (agencies) ,
• Meetings with interpreters associations,
• Meeting with other stakeholders,
• Studies of public reports and other procurements.
Key points highlighted in the prestudy– issues and
• Tender areas –
• Geographical division (by county) is preferred,
• Fixed ranking (3-5 suppliers) is preferred, possibly call-off by renewed
competition for conference interpreting,
• How to promote the principle of proximity? Higher travel costs will
counteract low prices in the procurement.
• Range of services –
• Contact and Telephone Interpretation, possibly separate subareas,
different suppliers?
• Conference (simultaneous) interpretation, possibly new service?
• Sign-language interpretation, quite different conditions and prices.
Key points highlighted in the prestudy– issues and
• Booking and cancellation procedures –
• What is reasonable time for confirmation of appointed assignments to
the customer? Too short time for confirmation (2 h or less) makes it
difficult to plan, risk of poorer quality,
• Confirmation to customers must not be too late - difficulties in
rebooking assignments to next supplier in the ranking,
• Weekly Schedule for the most frequented interpreters?
• Coordination of assignments at the customer - save time and travel
expenses? Important with long-term planning.
• SMS queries to interpreters - Fair and open, - or - stressful and to the
disadvantage of authorized interpreters?
Key points highlighted in the prestudy– issues and
• Booking and cancellation procedures –
• Allocation of resources - Letting agency decide which interpreter is
best suited for the task? Not always an authorized interpreter.
Resources must be better used.
• Requirements for Web-based booking system? Customer can book
and receive confirmation immediately, check the status of booking,
cancel, complain, become more engaged in the assignment,
• Cancellation procedures – is it reasonable with a different time frame
towards customers respectively interpreters in order to find a new
assignment? Is it to be regulated in the framework agreement?
Key points highlighted in the prestudy– issues and
• Remuneration and invoicing –
• Fixed interpreter tariff for all assignments? Competition only with the
agency fee? Interpreters will not be affected negatively, interpreter
profession would become more attractive - or - too expensive
interpretation services, lower use of interpreters, would not solve the
problems with travel time or interpreter shortages at certain times?
• Minimum charge of 30 minutes?
• Should interpreters be able to invoice the customer directly and not via
the agency? No uncertainty of their rightful compensation, - or increased administration for authorities? Uniform rules for how the
billing will take place is needed.
Key points highlighted in the prestudy– issues and
• Remuneration and invoicing –
• Differentiated reimbursement to the agency – higher skills give higher
compensation – incentives to always offer the highest competence
and stimulate continuing education and authorization?
• Differentiated reimbursement to the intrepretor - normal rate when the
interpreter is available, surcharge for beeing present at certain time?
• Written consent of interpreters for the procurement - conditions for
beeing associated to an agency? Interpreters are able to influence the
pricing of the tender, - or – a lot of additional work for the agency at
the tendering. Is it better to bring in data from the agency on how
many interpreters the agency has paid salaries and the proportion of
those who were authorized?
Key points highlighted in the prestudy– issues
and comments
• Quality monitoring –
• Important with opportunities for monitoring and auditing requirements
and quality during the contract,
• We have to make clear in the framework agreement the requirements
to be followed up, important with practicable requirements,
• Requirements must be continuously verified, otherwise a risk that the
best bids author win the contract,
• New evaluation of the quality performance 6-12 months after the
award decision?
• Possibility of cancellation, quarantine, demotion in rank, etc?
• Deduction of fees at lower delivered competence?
Key points highlighted in the prestudy– issues
and comments
• Skills development and user training –
• Which basic level does an interpreter need to have to perform
assignments? A sufficient level of interpreting competence should be
• Who is responsible for and provides training?
• Should agencies provide mentoring to interpreters for working with
difficult situations/severe cases?
• The interpreter need time to prepare for the assignment, important
with information from the customer about the assignment.
Key points highlighted in the prestudy– issues
and comments
• Skills development and user training –
• Important with information and training to interpreter users.
• Interpreter users have equal responsibility for the interpretation as the
individual interpreter,
• Who will be responsible for the training?
• How can interest be increased from the authorities?
• Important with start-up meetings on new contracts for contracting
Key points highlighted in the prestudy– issues
and comments
• New technology –
• Video interpretation - more secure than telephone interpretation,
reduced travel time, benefits for the environment?
• Who pays for the technology and costs?
• Telephone Interpretation inappropriate in court, the user must have a
choice of interpretation method on needs and situation,
• Call Centre for telephone interpretation, hardly any authorized
interpreters who want to work in a call center?
• The same remuneration for telephone interpreting as for contact
Contact information
• Information about authorization and registration +46 8 7000 800
• Ivett G Larsson,
• Information about the National Procurement Services framework
agreements can be found on our webb-site
• Klas Ericsson,

National Procurement Services at Kammarkollegiet, Sweden