Plain Writing Act Annual Compliance Report April 13, 2013
The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to write "clear Government communication that the public can understand and use." President Obama also emphasized the importance of establishing "a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration" in his January 21, 2009, Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government.
The U.S. Department of Labor, is committed to complying with the Act. The Department has established a Plain Writing website that includes an overview of the Act and its requirements, documents that are covered, and timeframes associated with compliance. Plain Language Coordinators in each DOL agency have been identified. These coordinators are responsible for ensuring each agency's compliance with the Act's requirements. If someone wants to contact a Plain Language Coordinator in any DOL agency, the Department's senior Plain Language officials, just have a general question about DOL plain language implementation, they can send their request to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll ensure that their request will get routed to the appropriate staff.
Over the past year, the Department has been very active in meeting the objectives of the Act. In May 2012, we initiated a planned goal of the Department of providing on-line plain writing training to all 19,000 national and regional office employees and contractors. Over 85 percent of DOL employees and contractors participated in the training and received a Plain Writing Education and Training Certificate. Going forward, as part of the DOL Plain Writing Implementation Plan, the agency plans to ensure that all new employees receive on-line plain language training within 90 days of being hired and that all DOL employees receive on-line plain writing training every three years. The Plan also ensures that DOL will provide annual updates to the Plain Writing Act Compliance Report.
In addition to the on-line course, the Department regularly provides a two-day effective writing course for employees desiring or requiring more in-depth training. This course has been available to DOL and contractor employees in the national and regional offices over the past year and many have taken advantage of this opportunity.
Some DOL agencies have adopted their own plain writing polices to further the objectives of the Plain Writing Act. For instance, the Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) has instituted an internal review process for all outgoing correspondence to ensure clear, plain language is used when communicating to the public. In addition, VETS is in the process of revising their agency Style Guide to incorporate the requirements of the Plain Writing Act. DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy routinely requires that all written communications be reviewed by either its Supervisor for the Division of Policy Communication and Outreach or its Executive Officer. A critical part of their review is ensuring that written products are in plain English.
To further advance the concept of plain writing into daily DOL activities, a member of the DOL plain writing team also participates in The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN), a group of federal employees from many different agencies and specialties who support the use of clear communication in government writing (this organization has been in existence since the mid-1990's). PLAIN meets periodically to exchange ideas and members communicate via e-mail to pose questions to each other regarding ways to modify passages in documents so that they provide clear communication to the public. The DOL Plain Writing Implementation Plan requires that at least one member of DOL's plain writing team participates in PLAIN.