Federal agencies to receive grades on their adherence to the Plain Writing Act

Apple with A+ on itHow well are federal agencies adhering to the Plain Writing Act? The Center for Plain Language is issuing a “report card” grading several federal agencies on how well they are implementing the Act. The results will be released at a telephone news briefing on Thursday, July 19, 12 noon, featuring Rep. Bruce Braley (IA), the main sponsor of the Act, and Annetta L. Cheek, PhD, chair of the Center for Plain Language, the nonprofit organization grading the federal agencies.

About the Plain Writing Act

The Plain Writing Act improves the effectiveness and accountability of the federal government by promoting clear government communication that the public can understand and use.

The first phase of the Act, which went into effect July 2011, required all federal agencies to adhere to basic compliance with the law. They need to designate a senior official to oversee the implementation; communicate the requirements to employees; train employees in plain writing; establish a process for compliance; and create and maintain a section of the Agency’s website on plain writing. It also requires that the agency designate a point of contact to receive and respond to the public’s comments on the agency’s implementation and required reports.

About the Report Card

The report card gives the agencies a grade from “A” to “F” on how well they are implementing the basic requirements of the Act:

  • have they appointed a senior official,
  • created an implementation plan, filed a compliance report,
  • created a plain language page on their website that links from their home page,
  • provided a mechanism for public feedback,
  • educated employees in plain language, and
  • used plain language in documents.

The Center is also asking whether the agency is conducting plain language testing on its documents, forms and websites.

We will be blogging about the results after the 19th. Check back here to see who passed and who failed.