H.R. 946: Plain Language Act

H.R. 946

Plain Language Act

Sponsor
Rep. Bruce L. Braley

Date
March 17, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

 

H.R. 946 is expected to be considered on the House floor on Wednesday, September 29, 2010, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage.  This legislation was introduced by Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) on February 19, 2009. 

Bill Summary

The bill would attempt to improve the effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies to the public by promoting clear government communication, including the use of “plain writing” (plain writing refers to the clear, concise, well-organized and best practices appropriate to the subject), that the public can understand and use.

The bill would require the head of each executive agency to designate one or more senior officials within the agency to oversee the agency’s implantation of this bill, communicate the provisions of this bill to their employees, train employees to utilize plain writing skills, create and maintain a plain writing section on each agency’s website, and to designate a point-of-contact to respond to and receive public input in regard to this bill.

H.R. 946 would also require that each agency use plain writing in every covered document, letter, publication, or forms of the agency in which that agency issues or revises.

Finally, the bill would require the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop and issue guidance on implementing the requirements of this bill.

Possible Member Concerns:

Members may be concerned that this bill would increase spending by roughly $5 million for agencies to implement the included provisions, and would further increase government bureaucracy.  In addition, Executive Order 12866 and the Presidential Memorandum on Plain Language (June 1, 1998) currently require government agencies to write in language that is comprehensible to readers.  

Background

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing H.R. 946 would cost about $5 million a year for agencies to implement the additional employee training and reporting requirements