Agencies get plain language grades

The Department of Agriculture was the only federal agency to receive an “A” on the Center for Plain Language’s Report Card for Agency Progress on the Plain Writing Act.

The Plain Language Report Card grades federal agencies on how well they are meeting the Plain Writing Act of 2010. The report card was released a year from the date the first requirement of the Plain Writing Act went into effect.

The Center gave 12 government agencies two grades, for how well they followed the requirements of the Act, and how well they followed the “spirit” of the act that asks government agencies to take steps to assure that they are communicating clearly with businesses, consumers and other stakeholders.

The first score is based on the specific requirements in the Plain Writing Act and was determined by the Center for Plain Language. The highest score possible is 100. They include:

  • 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
  • used plain language in documents

The second score identifies elements that reflect whether agencies are undertaking a variety of supporting activities addressing the “spirit” of the Act. The highest score possible is 200. For the second score, the Center worked with PLAIN, the federal plain language group.

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