S. 574 (111th): Plain Writing Act of 2009

111th Congress, 2009–2010. Text as of Mar 11, 2009 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

II

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 574

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 11, 2009

(for himself, Mr. Voinovich, Mr. Carper, Mr. Levin, Mrs. McCaskill, and Mr. Tester) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

A BILL

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.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Plain Writing Act of 2009.

2.

Purpose

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.

3.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

Agency

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

(2)

Covered document

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.

(3)

Plain writing

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

4.

Responsibilities of Federal agencies

(a)

Requirement To use plain writing in new documents

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, each agency shall use plain writing in every covered document of the agency issued or substantially revised.

(b)

Guidance

(1)

In general

(A)

Development

Not later than 6 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Office of Management and Budget shall develop guidance on implementing the requirements of subsection (a).

(B)

Issuance

The Office of Management and Budget shall issue the guidance developed under subparagraph (A) to agencies as a circular.

(2)

Interim guidance

Before the issuance of guidance under paragraph (1), agencies may follow the guidance of—

(A)

the writing guidelines developed by the Plain Language Action and Information Network; or

(B)

guidance provided by the head of the agency that is consistent with the guidelines referred to under subparagraph (A).

5.

Reports to Congress

(a)

Initial report

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:

(1)

Communicating the requirements of this Act to agency employees.

(2)

Training agency employees in plain writing.

(3)

Meeting the requirement under 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

(1)

Agency reports

(A)

In general

The head of each agency shall submit reports on compliance with this Act to the Office of Management and Budget.

(B)

Submission dates

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).

(2)

Reports to congress

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 the House of Representatives—

(A)

annually for the first 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act; and

(B)

once every 3 years thereafter.