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Plain Writing Act Compliance Report, April 2013

The Federal Communications Commission is committed to producing public documents that are clear, concise, well-organized and follow other best practices in keeping with guidance from the Office of Management and Budget. This report outlines our compliance with the Plain Writing Act of 2010 during the past year.

Using Plain Language

Specific FCC documents made available in formats consistent with plain writing guidelines include, but are not limited to:

  • Consumer Publications Library: The Web and Print Publishing Division conducted its annual review of CGB’s Consumer Publications Library, consisting of approximately 175 consumer guides and factsheets. Documents were edited for plain language and updated with new information as needed. Also part of this year’s review, the print versions of all consumer guides were reformatted with a cleaner, simpler design to improve readability, and reorganized for consistency throughout the publications library. See, for example, the print version of our Call Splashing guide. The bureau has also undertaken revising call-center scripts for responding to consumer complaints and inquires, assuring consistency with its published consumer guides and in keeping with plain-language guidelines.
  • Reports and Proceedings: The principles of plain writing guided development of new web pages posted on FCC.gov. These include Commission reports such as our Measuring Broadband America series, proceedings such as the Incentive Auctions rulemaking and Public-Private Initiatives efforts such as the Smartphone Security Checker.
  • Other Documents: In addition to the above, other documents include those that are necessary for obtaining a federal government benefit or service, that provide information about any federal government benefit or service, or that explain to the public how to comply with a requirement that the federal government administers or enforces were created in keeping with the federal guidelines.

Communication and Training Requirements

We have communicated the requirements of the Plain Writing Act to document creators, editors and other staff members in a variety of ways. The primary means of communication is through our ongoing training program.

FCC University courses in plain writing were held in April, June and August 2012. Taking our course were 58 document creators and handlers from bureaus and offices throughout the agency. Students included attorneys and paralegals, engineers and scientists, administrators, economists, analysts, accountants and auditors.

This is in addition to the approximately 880 staff members who were briefed on requirements and expectations as part of our initial FCCU training program in the summer and fall of 2011. Previously, all FCC staff were informed of the requirements of the Plain Writing Act by internal communication from the chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.

Ongoing Compliance

A number of activities support ongoing compliance and sustaining change. These include: development of bureau review processes to implement plain language directives on all updated and new documents on the FCC website; periodic reminders to staff at division meetings regarding plain writing requirements; initial review of work product by project team leaders or first-level division management: and document reviews by division chiefs or designated deputies.

Senior Agency Official for Plain Writing

Howard Parnell, chief of the Web and Print Publishing Division in the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB), is the senior official for plain writing at the Federal Communications Commission. In addition to leading consumer-focused publishing for CGB, he is also a member of the cross-agency New Media team developing FCC.gov and other digital content initiatives.

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