The SSA, Agriculture Department and SEC have gained top rankings for compliance with the Plain Writing Act, with each netting an A+ for organizational compliance while the SSA scored an A for writing quality and the other two a B+ in the latest report card from the Center for Plain Language.
Half of the 22 departments and large agencies rated scored at least an A- on compliance, which involves training, staffing and reporting required by the law. In contrast, Commerce, HUD, Interior, Transportation, Treasury and EPA received failing grades in that area.
Only the VA joined SSA in getting an A on the writing quality aspect, which involves an assessment of an agency’s most-visited web page and of a page the public might visit due to an urgent need for help.
The latter pages overall are “stylistically clear, but too often they struggled to find what they needed because of poor information design. Getting in the way were irrelevant or oversized sized photos, self-promotional news (here’s what our agency is doing), excessive links, poor labeling, and relatively less-important information or information for relatively less-important audiences.” Further, agencies overall “still need to cut down on technical jargon.”
HUD received the lowest grade on writing, a D, with Commerce, Education, Justice, and Transportation getting Cs.