February 28, 1997, Vol. 3, No. 2

An Information Sheet for Federal Communicators, Managers, Workers, and Their Partners--Pass It On

President Clinton Thanks Federal Workers

On February 6, the White House issued an e-mail message from President Clinton that reached about one million federal workers. Here is an excerpt:
"... I want all of you to know how proud I am of your hard work and accomplishments during the past four years. I came to Washington with a high regard for civil servants, and you have only confirmed that opinion.....And I'm not the only one who has been impressed. Four years ago, public confidence in the federal government was at an all-time low. But you have begun to change that attitude. Even in a time of leaner budgets and smaller staffs, you have improved service to the public, forged effective partnerships with communities and private businesses, and discarded old-fashioned management systems. Now, for the first time in decades, public opinion of federal agencies is markedly on the rise. Congratulations -- the credit for this stunning turnaround goes to you."
Many workers wrote back. "Boy, this message was exactly what I need this morning," wrote a worker from the Health Care Financing Administration. "Sometimes your work efforts go unnoticed, or for better words, never expressed verbally. Thanks, I needed this."

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

What's New Online

Managing for Results--The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA or the Results Act) is hot right now because agencies are consulting with Congress, their customers, and others about the strategic plan they must file with Congress by September 1997. Agencies must measure their programs by results or outcomes, not intentions or processes. To help federal workers, we've improved our Managing for Results page on our Web site. You'll find case studies, resources, official guidance and other things to help you learn from each other as you implement good business practices to improve services to the American people. Visit: Click on "Initiatives," then "Managing for Results."

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 You may buy it from the Government Printing Office for $10 (stock number 041-001-00486-6). Call (202)512-1800 or visit

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

Hatch Act Advice--The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has new sections on its Web site ( 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 ( 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:

Plain English Rules Are Making a Hit

The public is beginning to take notice and applaud the excellent job that federal regulators are doing in writing rules in simple English that anyone can understand.

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 Contact the plain English hotline at (202) 632-0306 or e-mail:

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