THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release
Thursday, July 20, 1999
Contact: (202) 456-7035
VICE PRESIDENT GORE PRAISES NASA EMPLOYEE FOR PLAIN LANGUAGE REWRITE OF SAFETY AND HEALTH HANDBOOKWashington, DC -- Vice President Gore awarded Den Clem, a NASA employee, his monthly "Plain Language" award today for leading the rewrite effort of a NASA safety manual.
In 1996, Clem, of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, became the principal force behind an effort to rewrite a 600 plus page Safety and Health Handbook into plain language. The handbook covers safety and health requirements for civil servants and contractors at the center, as well as other related sites in New Mexico and California.
The original manual was written in "legalese", was poorly organized and mixed administrative and technical material. Under Clem's guidance, the new handbook has been streamlined and written in a user-friendly question and answer format. Each chapter begins with "Who must follow this chapter?", so employees no longer have to wade through irrelevant introductory material to find out the information they need.
"This is a great example of taking critical technical information and making it accessible to the reader," Vice President Gore said. "More importantly, the rewrite of this manual will help ensure a safer workplace for NASA's employees."
"Safety is our number one priority at NASA, " said NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin. "I can't think of a better way to promote that goal than to communicate safe procedures to our employees in plain language. I'm very proud of the team at Johnson Space Center for this achievement and for the Vice President's recognition."
Today's award builds on an Executive Memorandum the Vice President announced on June 1, 1998. The memorandum directed all executive departments and agencies to: (1) write any new document that tells the public how to get a benefit or comply with a requirement in plain language by October 1, 1998; (2) write all new government regulations in plain language by January 1, 1999; and (3) revise all existing letters and notices into plain language by 2002.
With regard to today's announcement, below is a sample of the language both before and after it was re-written. Additional material from the manual and past plain language awards may be found on the www.plainlanguage.gov web site.