IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
March 11, 2009
Mr. Akaka (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
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
Plain Writing 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 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.
Responsibilities of Federal agencies
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.
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).
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 in plain writing.
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.
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 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—
annually for the first 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act; and
once every 3 years thereafter.