Click here to skip navigation
This website uses features which update page content based on user actions. If you are using assistive technology to view web content, please ensure your settings allow for the page content to update after initial load (this is sometimes called "forms mode"). Additionally, if you are using assistive technology and would like to be notified of items via alert boxes, please follow this link to enable alert boxes for your session profile.
An official website of the United States Government.

Open Government Blog

Plain Writing

Posted 3:38 PM by

Today we released our first annual Plain Writing Act Compliance Report. We invite you to give it a read.

As you will see in the report, we've primarily focused our efforts on informing and training our own OPM employees. We're also de-cluttering our website and beginning to ensure our documents are written in plain language for everyone. However, we'd like your help. Keep an eye out for a challenge we will issue for you to identify OPM documents we should make easier to understand using plain language.

Until then, we'd love to hear your comments on the report and how you think we’re doing with the plain writing initiative. Please leave us your comments in – you guessed it – the "Comments" section.


The Office of Management and Budget recently requested a self-evaluation of each Executive Branch agency’s Open Government efforts. Some of the areas evaluated are publishing government information on our website, improving the quality of the information we provide, and ways we encourage participation with citizens. In 2010 we conducted our first self assessment. We are happy to report we have continued to make significant progress on all three tenets of openness: transparency, collaboration, and participation. Our recent activities include:

  • Hiring a dedicated records officer who has been systematically implementing improvements to records management at OPM.
  • Exploring social media for interacting with the public. We have Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube accounts, all accessible from our homepage. We were particularly pleased to receive kudos on a recent earthquake-related Facebook post: "Thanks for keeping us informed! You guys are doing a great job in using social media to keep feds informed."
  • Expanding online training for OPM employees with integrated social media tools, one of which allows users to share comments on books in our online library.
  • Using a crowdsourcing tool to get ideas from employees on how to improve our work and environment here at OPM.

Of course we will continue to work with our employees, our customers and other federal agencies on ways we can improve. In the next few weeks we’ll ask for your feedback on plain writing in our documents and then report back to you on our progress. We remain committed to working with and for you. Please feel free to leave your comments on how to make OPM more open here on our blog.


Posted 10:50 AM by

On October 13, 2010, President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act into law. This Act requires all Federal agencies to write most documents in plain language and requires all new covered documents to be written in plain language beginning October 13th.

As you know, plain language is communicating with your audience so they understand what you're saying the first time they read or hear it. It's worth remembering that language that is "plain" to one set of readers may not be plain to others. So keeping in mind who your audience is will help immeasurably.

Written material is in plain language if your audience can easily:

  • Find what they need;
  • Understand what they find; and
  • Use what they find to meet their needs.

What kind of documents should be written in plain language? Any document that (1) is necessary for obtaining any Federal Government benefit or service or filing taxes, (2) provides information about any Federal Government benefit or service, or (3) explains to the public how to comply with a requirement the Federal Government administers or enforces. This includes (whether in paper or electronic form) a letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction and does not include regulations.

Want to learn more? Online plain language training is available from the National Institutes of Health at plainlanguage.nih.gov/CBTs/PlainLanguage/login.asp. You don’t have to login, just click Browse to get started.

If you have any questions, please visit our Plain Language site or feel free to leave us a comment here.


 

Archive

Learn More

If you would like to learn more about the OpenOPM initiative, visit www.opm.gov/open.

 
Control Panel

Unexpected Error

There was an unexpected error when performing your action.

Your error has been logged and the appropriate people notified. You may close this message and try your command again, perhaps after refreshing the page. If you continue to experience issues, please notify the site administrator.

Working...