Note: I find this a really interesting little story, about a group trying against all odds to help government actually serve the public in a way the public can understand — Quin

(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) Seven years after enactment of a law requiring federal agencies to use accessible, “plain language” in its mass communications with the public, a watchdog group reported Thursday that agencies are communicating even less effectively than before.

The independent Center for Plain Language joined U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) on Thursday to report that agencies’ “plain language” grades have actually declined 11 percent, roughly half a letter grade, in the past year. And for the first time ever, two agencies – the Departments of Treasury and of Housing and Urban Development – received D+ grades for writing (and another received a D+ for info-graphics); In the two prior years, no agency had scored below the lower C range in any category.

Using a deadpan tone of voice indicative of deliberate understatement, Loebsack told a media conference call that “there really is some room for improvement here – plenty of room.”

President Barack Obama had signed the Plain Writing Act of 2010, passed by a bipartisan and nearly unanimous congressional majority, to require “clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.”

As one news analysis put it, “Overall, fixing government writing is supposed to save citizens’ wasted time and, maybe, also save money by cutting out overlapping government forms and bureaucratic make-work.”

(For example: Instead of web pages using gobbledygook such as “claimants under this subpart” “subrogating” the government, “plain writing” would simply ask for citizens to “pay back” the government if the government overpays a benefit.)

The law, however, had no enforcement mechanism. The non-profit Center for Plain Language stepped in, using well-trained volunteers and consistent criteria to analyze how well agencies are complying with the law….

[The rest of this little story is at this link.]

 

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