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Plain Writing

Clear air... clear water... it all depends on clear writing.

The Plain Writing Act of 2010 (pdf) requires federal agencies to write "clear Government communication that the public can understand and use." Former President Obama emphasized the importance of establishing "a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration" in his January 21, 2009 Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government.

We are committed to writing new documents in plain language, using the Federal Plain Language Guidelines.

We have assigned staff to oversee our plain language efforts. Eric Wachter is the Senior Agency Official for Plain Writing.

We're training our employees and have strengthened our oversight process. We must use plain language in any document that:

  • is necessary for obtaining any federal government benefit or service or filing taxes;
  • provides information about any federal government benefit or service; or
  • explains to the public how to comply with a requirement that the federal government administers or enforces.

We have to report our progress and compliance. This site includes the initial report, issued in 2011, and subsequent annual reports that the Plain Writing Act requires.

We need your help to comply with this Act! Let us know if you have trouble understanding our documents or the pages on our website, or if we haven't written a document in plain language.