Plain Writing Act: 2014 Annual Report
I. Senior Agency Official for Plain Writing
Eric E. Wachter
Office of the Executive Secretariat
EPA has an online training for all employees who produce documents for the public and for any employee who would like to be trained in plain writing.
Among the training highlights in 2014:
EPA's Leadership Development Institute annually holds agencywide plain-writing courses and offered two open-enrollment courses in 2014. The course is designed for employees at all levels of the agency. Participants engage in exercises to improve their written communication, decrease muddy language and slang, and eliminate information clutter. This exercise-based workshop focuses on setting quality writing standards with an overall objective to increase productivity, identify problem areas, improve clarity of message and enhance one's ability to share information to a broad audience.
The Office of Research and Development held two plain writing trainings for its staff. ORD also offered in November its first e-writing training to the communications team. The training focused on communicating more effectively through email as ORD tends to email with the public regularly.
The Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response's community involvement coordinators participated in OSWER's writing webinars, including writing outreach materials and community involvement plans. OSWER conducted one-on-one writing instruction for remedial program managers doing technical presentations and raised awareness of the plain-writing requirements by reducing the use of jargon and acronyms.
Region 5 held two plain-writing training sessions: one for Superfund community involvement staff and a second for a section of the Land and Chemicals Division.
III. Ongoing compliance/sustaining change
The national-program and regional offices have designated officials for plain writing to work in collaboration with the senior official. See appendix for a list of the designated officials.
With institutional knowledge of the unique processes and various documents produced in their offices, these designated officials have implemented processes for ongoing compliance.
These processes include communications officials' approval of documents; multi-level managerial review for plain writing; designating plain-writing coordinators in individual offices; and refresher training courses.
Offices continue to follow plain-writing procedures that were already in place to satisfy the executive order and administrative orders that predate the Plain Writing Act.
Among the compliance highlights in 2014:
The Office of the Chief Financial Officer's special assistants in the six OCFO offices serve an important role in delivering clear and effective communication. Recent continuity in these positions has fostered institutional knowledge of the importance of plain writing in OCFO communications. OCFO also has stream lined its correspondence process, which is enabling better plain-writing quality control.
Region 1's communications team, which meets weekly and includes representatives from each program office, emphasizes plain writing in its meetings. Region 1 has instituted office hours with one of its press officers to provide support for effective, clear and plain writing for blogs. Program staff is involved in press-release drafting, and the senior press officer edits documents to ensure they are written plainly. He also explains his approach on a case-by-case basis, so staff learn why changes are being made and how to incorporate them in future documents.
IV. Agency's plain-writing website
EPA's plain-writing website is epa.gov/plainwriting.
The site is linked from epa.gov/data.
Appendix: EPA Plain Writing Designated Officials
Office of Administration and Resource Management
- Joanne Oxley
Office of the Administrator
- Eric Wachter
Office of Air and Radiation
- Wanda Farrar
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
- Keith Bartlett
Office of Environmental Information
- Jonda Byrd
Office of the Chief Financial Officer
- Gene Pontillo
Office of the General Counsel
- Aditi Prabhu
Office of the Inspector General
Office of International and Tribal Affairs
- Chris Hoff
Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
Office of Research and Development
- Dayna Gibbons
Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
- Nancy Cohen
Office of Water
- Travis Loop
- Nancy Grantham
- Michael McGowan
- Terry White
- Bryan Myers
- John Peterson
- David Gray
- Wendy Dew
- Kelly Zito
- Charles Bert