President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-274) into law on October 13, 2010 “to improve the effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies to the public by promoting clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.”
The Act requires that Federal agencies prepare certain documents intended for the public in writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and consistent with other best practices. Covered documents include documents relating to agency benefits and services and compliance with agency laws and regulations. They include both paper and electronic versions of documents such as letters, publications, forms, notices, and instructions.
The NCUA is responsible for ensuring that agency staff prepares documents intended for the public according to plain writing guidelines. The NCUA is also responsible for providing annual compliance reports on the implementation of the Plain Writing Act, and for establishing a mailbox for receiving and responding to public comments on our results.
Roles and Responsibilities
1. The Office of General Counsel (OGC), in consultation with other appropriate Offices, will be responsible for notifying senior officials of the Act’s requirements.
2. The Office of Human Resources (OHR), working with the Offices and Regions, will be responsible for developing a training plan for staff and appropriate training materials.
3. The Office of Public and Congressional Affairs (PACA), with appropriate delegation, will be responsible for implementing the Act’s requirements within their organization and for ensuring that the PACA staff comply with these requirements.
4. The Office of Executive Director (OED), in coordination with the appropriate Offices and Regions, will be responsible for establishing a process to oversee the NCUA’s ongoing compliance with the Act’s requirements.
5. The Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO), working with appropriate Offices, will be responsible for developing a plain writing section on NCUA’s public website.
6. The OED will be the point-of-contact for public comments on the NCUA’s implementation of the Act and will be responsible for all required reports.
1. On September 19, 2011, the Executive Director will issue a memorandum to all Office and Regional Directors providing guidance on roles and responsibilities for implementing the Plain Writing Act at NCUA. The memorandum will request that each Office and Region designate contact individuals to interact with the program coordinator in OED and to prepare a comprehensive list of document types that are believed to be “covered documents” under the Act.
2. Based on input from Offices and Regions, the program coordinator will compile and maintain, with the advice and concurrence of the OGC, a comprehensive list of NCUA generated documents believed to be covered under the Act. The list will be updated periodically on an as needed basis. In the event a question arises concerning whether a document should be covered under the Act, the program coordinator will consult with the OGC for appropriate guidance.
3. On September 24, 2011, the OCIO, working with the appropriate Offices, will launch a plain writing section on the NCUA’s website. The site will provide an overview of NCUA’s compliance with the Act, will include links to plain writing reference materials, and will provide the email link to a mailbox for public comments. The website will also include copies of NCUA’s implementation plan and annual compliance reports (due on April 13, 2012 and annually thereafter.)
4. The OHR, Division of Training and Development will provide training for employees on plain writing principles. Initial training to employees with a high need for awareness will be conducted during 2011 and periodically thereafter.
5. All NCUA employees will use plain writing in every covered document the agency issues or substantially revises by October 13, 2011.
6. As required, the OED, working in conjunction with other Offices and Regions, will respond to public comments received through the plain writing mailbox and will oversee the resolution of any compliance issues that may arise.
7. During March 2012, and annually thereafter, the program coordinator will work with the Offices’ and Regions’ contact individuals to develop information on the NCUA’s compliance with the Act. In any circumstances of noncompliance, Offices and Regions will be required to develop steps to remedy the noncompliance.