H. R. 946
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
February 10, 2009
Mr. Braley of Iowa introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
To enhance citizen access to Government information and services by establishing that Government documents issued to the public must be written clearly, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Plain Language Act of
The purpose of this Act is to improve the effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies to the public by promoting clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.
In this Act:
The term agency means an Executive agency, as defined under section 105 of title 5, United States Code.
The term covered document means any document (other than a regulation) issued by an agency to the public, including documents and other text released in electronic form.
The term plain language means language that the intended audience can readily understand and use because that language is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices of plain language writing.
Responsibilities of Federal agencies
Requirement To use plain language in new documents
Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, each agency shall use plain language in any covered document of the agency issued or substantially revised.
Not later than 6 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall develop guidance on implementing the requirements of subsection (a).
The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall issue the guidance developed under subparagraph (A) to agencies as a circular.
Before the issuance of guidance under paragraph (1), agencies may follow the guidance of—
the writing guidelines developed by the Plain Language Action and Information Network; or
guidance provided by the head of the agency that is consistent with the guidelines referred to under subparagraph (A).
Reports to Congress
Not later than 6 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the head of each agency shall submit to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of Representatives a report that describes how the agency intends to meet the following objectives:
Communicating the requirements of this Act to agency employees.
Training agency employees to write in plain language.
Meeting the requirement under section 4(a).
Ensuring ongoing compliance with the requirements of this Act.
Designating a senior official to be responsible for implementing the requirements of this Act.
Using, to the extent practicable and appropriate, plain language in regulations promulgated by the agency.
Annual and other reports
The head of each agency shall submit reports on compliance with this Act to the Office of Management and Budget.
The Office of Management and Budget shall notify each agency of the date each report under subparagraph (A) is required for submission to enable the Office of Management and Budget to meet the requirements of paragraph (2).
Reports to congress
The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall review agency reports submitted under paragraph (1) using the guidance issued under section 4(b)(1)(B) and submit a report on the progress of agencies to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of Representatives—
annually for the first 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act; and
once every 3 years thereafter.