Federal agencies are improving in their compliance with the Plain Writing Act, and many of them also are improving the way they present information to the public, according to a group that monitors the law. The Center for Plain Language graded agencies on compliance, writing and information design, giving DHS, SSA and SEC agencies grades of A, A and B in those three categories.
All 22 agencies examined got an A in compliance except that Interior and State received Fs for not reporting and Education received a D. Compliance with the law requires steps such as appointing an official responsible, training employees in how to write in plain language and setting up a public feedback mechanism.
In the writing category, agencies other than DHS, SSA and SEC getting an A were Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, HHS and GSA. The rest were Bs, Cs, or incomplete. The group credited programs such as comprehension testing of documents before they are issued.
Scores were much lower in information design: apart from the three top-ranked agencies, only Education scored a B, with the rest C or incomplete. That category measures whether writing uses typography, layout, color, white space, and graphics to guide readers’ attention and reinforce key messages.