WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and James Lankford (R-OK) introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that guidance, instructions, and other public information published by the federal government is written in plain language. The bill updates existing laws to expand the types of information agencies must publish publicly in plain writing.
“The last thing Michiganders and Americans who are seeking assistance from the federal government need is to be confused by vague and complicated information,” said Senator Peters. “By ensuring that material written by the federal government is easy to understand – this bipartisan bill will make sure agencies can rebuild trust in government by effectively communicating with taxpayers."
“Government is confusing enough. The least an agency can do is to speak plainly. Agencies do not have to communicate with jargon, technical terms no one understands, confusing deadlines, and a million citations and references to obscure laws that only an elite few can understand,” said Senator Lankford. “It shouldn’t be complicated for agencies to use plain language and communicate clear expectations when interacting with the public. Our bill holds agencies accountable to speak ‘citizen speak,’ not government speak."
The Clear and Concise Content Act updates the Plain Writing Act of 2010 to expand the types of information agencies must publish publicly in plain writing. The bill creates a broad definition of “covered content” to ensure nearly all information, guidance, instructions, and other material public information are drafted in plain writing. The bill requires new data reporting requirements to ensure information published by federal agencies improves taxpayers’ experience when they are interacting with the government. The bill also requires that all new and existing agency websites meet covered content requirements within one year. Finally, the legislation makes clear that Congress and the Office of Management and Budget will increase public accountability to ensure agencies create documents, forms, webpages, and other materials that are plainly written.