The SSA again earned top grades from the Center for Plain Language for the quality of its written materials for the public, and the center said that agencies in general are improving their compliance with the Plain Writing Act of 2010.
The organization grades agencies according to compliance with the law and their writing and information design, with SSA earning an A+ and an A, respectively. DHS had comparable grades, and others with A or A- grades in both categories included CFPB, Agriculture, Education, Interior and Treasury.
Of the 23 agencies—including all 15 Cabinet departments—graded, State came in last, with Transportation slightly above. Eight improved overall while four dropped. No grades were lower than a C-.
The Plain Writing Act applies to public documents that explain government benefits or services, offer guidance on them, or explain how to comply with government requirements. Agencies must appoint one or more senior officials to oversee implementation of the Act; establish a plain language program; set up a public feedback mechanism; train employees in how to write in plain language; and post an implementation plan and progress updates online.
Content was graded on writing style; understanding the audience; manner or voice; structure and navigation; information design and presentation; pictures, graphics, and charts; overall effectiveness; and whether an agency had tested the entries with end users and stakeholders.