Plain Writing Act of 2010: Federal Agency Requirements
The Act requires the federal government to write all new publications, forms, and publicly distributed documents in a "clear, concise, well-organized" manner.
While the Act does not cover regulations, two separate Executive Orders emphasize the need for plain language. E.O. 12866 says that regulations must be "simple and easy to understand, with the goal of minimizing uncertainty and litigation..." (Sec. 1, Par. (b)(12)) and E.O. 12988 says that each regulation must specify its effect "in clear language". (Sec. 3 Par. (b)(2)).
What does my agency need to do?
- Create a plain writing section of its website — we've already written model language for you to use.
- Follow OMB–issued Final Guidance.
- Agencies may follow the Federal Plain Language Guidelines.
By July 13, 2011 agencies must:
- Designate a senior official for "plain writing"
- Explain the Act's requirements to staff
- Establish a procedure to oversee the implementation of the Act within the agency
- Train agency staff in plain writing
- Designate staff as points of contact for the agency plain writing web page
- Post its compliance plan for meeting the requirements of the Act on its plain language web page
- Here's our proposed compliance report template
By October 13, 2011 agencies must:
- Use plain language in any document that:
- is necessary for obtaining any federal government benefit or service or filing taxes
- provides information about an federal government benefit or service, or
- explains to the public how to comply with a requirement that the federal government administers or enforces
- Write annual compliance reports and post these reports on its plain language web page
OMB issued its Final Guidance on April 13, 2011.