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  Daily Briefing  

January 8, 2001 

Clinton administration awards last
plain language prize 

Jason Peckenpaugh 

The National Partnership for Reinventing
Government (NPR) presented its final “No
Gobbledygook” award Friday to two Health Care
Financing Administration employees who wrote
a Medicare booklet in plain language. 

NPR has awarded one plain language prize a
month since the award was established in July
1998 for a total of 27 awards. Vice President Al
Gore created the award to recognize federal
employees who use plain language in
innovative ways after President Clinton issued
a June 1998 memorandum directing agencies to
write all forms, documents and letters in plain
language. NPR also commended six other
agencies with “No Gobbledygook” awards at
the Friday ceremony, its first since June. 

“Federal employees have taken what seemed
like an impossible task–getting people to
communicate more clearly using a new plain
language methodology–and recorded great
achievements,” said NPR director Morley

The “No Gobbledygook” award was the
centerpiece of Gore’s plain language initiative,
which took shape after Clinton issued his
memorandum. Under the initiative, NPR and
the Office of Management and Budget formed a
group called the Plain Language Action Network
(PLAN) that provided plain language training to
agencies. Winograd said results of the 2000
governmentwide employee satisfaction survey
show that the plain language initiative has
been a success. 

“The percentage of people who said they
noticed the use of plain language writing in
their workplace went up by 8 percent–the
biggest increase in our survey,” Winograd said.
“People are noticing that this initiative is
taking hold.” 

Winners of the plain language prize over the
last seven months include: 

July : The National Institutes of Health’s
Dr. Alexa McCray who developed, a Web site that provides
information on the status of clinical
research studies. 
August : Anne Cyr of the Occupational
Health and Safety Administration, who
rewrote a lengthy poster to clearly inform
employees of their right to know if their
employer had committed OSHA violations. 
September : Steven Griswold, David Neil,
Lauren Mason and Andrea Macri of the
Board of Immigration Appeals within the
Department of Justice. Griswold and his
partners rewrote a confusing manual
describing conditions under which
immigrants can be deported in a succinct
question-and-answer format. 
October : The Food and Drug
Administration’s Naomi Kulakow and
Christine Lewis who wrote a pamphlet
describing how to read and use the
nutrition facts printed on food labels. This
marks FDA’s fourth “No Gobbledygook”
prize – the most of any federal agency. 
November : Laura Fulmer, Helen Kirkman,
Vikki Vrooman, James Cesarano, John
Moro and Melodee Mercer of the Internal
Revenue Service. These foes of
gobbledygook rewrote a form telling
taxpayers how to obtain a refund check. 
December : The Federal Aviation
Administration’s Don Byrne and Linda
Walker, who reformatted an airworthiness
directive to clearly explain potential safety
hazards on a type of airplane. 
January 2001 : Susan Hollman and
Valerie Perkins of the Health Care
Financing Administration, who wrote a
handbook entitled “Medicare and You” that
clearly explained Medicare benefits.

Winograd also presented a rare “creativity
award” to Karen Pelham O’Steen, Rose Mary
Padberg, Jennifer Flach and Mary S. McCabe of
the National Institutes of Health for their work
in creating “The Eye Site,” a traveling exhibit
on poor vision that appears in shopping

While acknowledging that the Bush
administration may not give out “No
Gobbledygook” awards, Winograd was hopeful
that the Bush administration would continue
efforts to encourage the use of plain language.

“We hope [the Bush administration] continues
to encourage the plain language movement,”
Winograd said. “The Hammer awards and plain
language prizes are associated with the Vice
President, so they may not want to continue
with that. But I hope they find another way.” 


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