If the President's letter has not reached your staff or colleagues, please circulate it by e-mail, print it in your newsletters, or post it on your bulletin boards. For the full text, see NPR's web site at http://www.npr.gov/library/announc/020697.html.
Access America--Vice President Gore's latest information technology recommendations are in Access America, a report of the NPR and the Government Information Technology Services Board. The book is online at http://www.gits.fed.gov. You may buy it from the Government Printing Office for $10 (stock number 041-001-00486-6). Call (202)512-1800 or visit http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/sale/order001.html.
Commerce Business Daily--Now the business community has free online access to the Commerce Business Daily and it's saving government money as well. The Government Printing Office and the Department of Commerce started the new service on January 2. The CBD advertises proposed contracts with vendors. Federal agencies must pay $18 to post announcements in the print version, but the online posting costs only $5. These savings should more than offset the loss of subscription fees to the government. The CBDNet Web site address is http://cbdnet.access.gpo.gov.
Hatch Act Advice--The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has new sections on its Web site (http://www.access.gpo.gov/osc). These include frequently asked questions about the Hatch Act (amended in 1993 to permit greater participation in political activity by most federal employees). It also has recent regulations and information on agencies and employees still covered by the pre-1993 law. The site also allows you to request Hatch Act advice through a link to a Hatch Act advisory opinion e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have questions about allowable or unallowable political activity, but don't have access to the Web, you can still ask your questions by phone at (800) 85-HATCH or fax at (202) 653-5151. For more information about the Web site, contact Erin McDonnell at (202) 653-8971 or e-mail: email@example.com.
Professor Joseph Kimble, who edits a regular feature on "Plain English" for the Michigan Bar Journal, recently wrote "The federal government may have finally seen the light." While editing a recent article, he said that he "entered 'plain English' on the Federal Register database in WESTLAW, and up came 160 entries. What a nice surprise: in one proposed rule after another, the agency says that the rule 'has been rewritten in plain English" or that the agency is "committed to writing the final rule in plain English.' The Department of the Interior seems to be the most active agency, with dozens of rewritten rules. But there are also new plain-English rules from the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, and many others."
Annetta Cheek, who leads Interior's plain English work in the Bureau of Land Management, works with Jean Logan to lead NPR's interagency plain English team. The team believes that part of good customer service means writing clear rules so that users won't have to waste time figuring out what the government means.
The team opened a web page at http://www.blm.gov/nhp/NPR/plaineng.html. Contact the plain English hotline at (202) 632-0306 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.