S. 2337 (112th): Plain Writing Act for Regulations of 2012

112th Congress, 2011–2013. Text as of Apr 23, 2012 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

II

112th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 2337

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

April 23, 2012

(for herself, Ms. Collins, and Mr. Coburn) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

A BILL

To require that Federal regulations use plain writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Plain Writing Act for Regulations of 2012.

2.

Purpose

The purpose of this Act is to require that Federal regulations use plain writing, to enhance public understanding of regulations, and to increase the level of public participation in the rulemaking process.

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)

Director

The term Director means the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

(3)

Plain writing

The term plain writing means writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience.

(4)

Regulation

The term regulation means a rule, as that term is defined in section 551(4) of title 5, United States Code, that is issued by an agency.

4.

Responsibilities of Federal agencies

(a)

Preparation for implementation of plain writing requirements for regulations

(1)

In general

Not later than 9 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the head of each agency shall—

(A)

designate a senior official within the agency to oversee the implementation of this Act by the agency;

(B)

ensure that the obligation of the agency to use plain writing in no way diminishes the ability of the agency to perform scientific analyses or technical analyses, or disclose scientific data or technical data or any other findings, that are required to be performed or disclosed under chapter 5 of title 5, United States Code, or any other provision of law;

(C)

communicate the requirements of this Act to the employees of the agency;

(D)

train employees of the agency to write regulations using plain writing;

(E)

establish a process for overseeing the ongoing compliance of the agency with the requirements of this Act; and

(F)

designate an employee of the agency to serve as a point of contact to receive and respond to public input on—

(i)

the implementation of this Act by the agency; and

(ii)

the agency reports required under section 6.

(2)

Individuals designated

The individual designated under subparagraph (A) or (F) of paragraph (1) may be the same individual designated to carry out similar functions under the Plain Writing Act of 2010 (5 U.S.C. 301 note).

(b)

Requirement To use plain writing in new and revised regulations

Not later than 12 months after the date of enactment of this Act, each agency shall use plain writing in accordance with the guidance issued by the Director under the Plain Writing Act of 2010 (5 U.S.C. 301 note) in each proposed or final regulation issued or substantially revised by the agency.

(c)

Certification of compliance

For each proposed or final regulation issued by an agency, the head of the agency shall certify to the Director that the agency head has read the proposed or final rule and that the rulemaking documents use plain writing.

(d)

Exemption from certain information collection provisions

An agency action to collect information from the public about a regulation is exempt from the information collection provisions of sections 3506(c) and 3507 of title 44, United States Code, if the agency head certifies that the sole reason for the information collection is to improve the clarity of the regulation in accordance with this Act.

5.

Responsibilities of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget

(a)

Guidance

Not later than 6 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Director shall develop and issue guidance on implementing the requirements of this Act that ensures that the head of each agency understands that the obligation of the agency to use plain writing does not in any way diminish the ability of the agency to perform scientific analyses or technical analyses, or disclose scientific data or technical data or any other findings, that are required to be performed or disclosed by chapter 5 of title 5, United States Code, or any other provision of law. The Director may designate a lead agency, and may use interagency working groups to assist in developing and issuing the guidance.

(b)

Publication of certifications

The Director shall publish each certification required under section 4(c) on the official website of the Office of Management and Budget.

6.

Reports

(a)

Initial report

Not later than 9 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the head of each agency shall publish on the plain writing section of the website of the agency created under the Plain Writing Act of 2010 (5 U.S.C. 301 note) a report that describes the agency plan for compliance with the requirements of this Act.

(b)

Annual compliance report

Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the head of each agency shall publish on the plain writing section of the website of the agency a report on the compliance of the agency with the requirements of this Act.

(c)

GAO report

Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit a report 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 that—

(1)

evaluates the extent to which regulations use plain writing, by conducting a survey of different intended audiences for a representative sample of major regulations that measures—

(A)

the level of comprehension of each respondent for each regulation; and

(B)

the satisfaction of each respondent with the plain writing used in each regulation, focusing on whether the regulation uses writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience of the regulation;

(2)

assesses the extent to which plain writing helped increase the level of public participation in the rulemaking process; and

(3)

provides recommendations to—

(A)

improve compliance with the requirements of this Act; and

(B)

better use plain writing to enhance public understanding of regulations and increase public participation in the rulemaking process.

7.

Judicial review and enforceability

(a)

Judicial review

There shall be no judicial review of compliance or noncompliance with any provision of this Act.

(b)

Enforceability

No provision of this Act may be construed to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any administrative or judicial action.