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H.R. 3548 (110th): Plain Language in Government Communications Act of 2008

The text of the bill below is as of Sep 17, 2007 (Introduced).


I

110th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 3548

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 17, 2007

(for himself, Mr. Akin, Mr. Burton of Indiana, Mr. McGovern, and Mrs. Boyda of Kansas) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

A BILL

To enhance citizen access to Government information and services by establishing plain language as the standard style for Government documents issued to the public, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Plain Language in Government Communications Act of 2007.

2.

Purpose

The purpose of this Act is to improve the Federal Government’s effectiveness and accountability to the public by promoting clear communication that the public can understand and use.

3.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

Agency

The term agency means an Executive agency, as that term is defined in section 105 of title 5, United States Code.

(2)

Plain language

The term plain language means language that the intended audience can readily understand and use because it is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices of plain language writing.

4.

Responsibilities of Federal agencies

(a)

Requirement to use plain language in new documents

Within one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, each agency—

(1)

shall use plain language in any covered document of the agency issued or substantially revised after the date of the enactment of this Act; and

(2)

may use plain language in any revision of a covered document issued on or before such date.

(b)

Guidance

In implementing subsection (a), an agency may follow either the guidance of the Plain English Handbook, published by the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the Federal Plain Language Guidelines. If any agency has its own plain language guidance, the agency may use that guidance, as long as it is consistent with the Federal Plain Language Guidelines.

(c)

Covered document

In this section, the term covered document

(1)

means any document that explains how to obtain a benefit or service or that is relevant to obtaining that benefit or service; and

(2)

includes a letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction but does not include a regulation.

5.

Reports to Congress

(a)

Initial report

Within six months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the head of each agency shall submit to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate a report that describes how the agency intends to meet the following objectives:

(1)

Communicating the requirements of this Act to agency employees.

(2)

Training agency employees to write in plain language.

(3)

Meeting the deadline set forth in section 4(a).

(4)

Ensuring ongoing compliance with the requirements of this Act.

(5)

Designating a senior official to be responsible for implementing the requirements of this Act.

(b)

Annual and other reports

The head of each agency shall submit to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate a report on compliance with this Act—

(1)

annually for the first two years after the date of the enactment of this Act; and

(2)

once every three years thereafter.