National Partnership for Reinventing Government

For Release Contact:
Sue Blumenthal
Thursday, April 6, 2000
(202) 694-0087


Washington, DC B The National Partnership for Reinventing Government today recognized employees from three federal agencies for writing in plain language. Careful editing reduced by half the Farm Credit Administration's procedures for submitting Freedom of Information Act requests. It also improved U.S. Marshals Service solicitation documents and procedures and clarified Transportation Department drug and alcohol testing instructions.

"These employees took the time to rethink and rewrite some very lengthy, technical rules that few of us would have understood the first time through," said Morley Winograd, director of the reinvention partnership. "Alt is important that we recognize them for their time and effort. Government agencies have to focus on clear communications in order to improve customer service."

When Jane Virga of the Farm Credit Administration began updating information on Freedom of Information Act fees, she discovered a perfect opportunity to revamp the wordy and confusing document. By the time she finished, the size of the document shrunk from 7,850 to 4,018 words and still contained more information than the original. The reduced size translates into printing cost savings and is, overall, easier for the general public to use.

Janet Hall and Jim Herzog of the U.S. Marshals Service improved the solicitation and award procedures for seized vehicle contracts. Along with reducing the document's length, they developed a more efficient process for awarding contracts. The revised solicitation and instructions have saved time and money for the service's administrative staff and are a welcome change for contractors.

A team led by Bob Ashby and Jim Swart of the U.S. Department of Transportation has clarified rules for drug and alcohol testing covering several hundred thousand transportation industry employers and their 8 million employees. The rules have been reorganized in a question-and-answer format that makes them easier to understand and include helpful charts for instructions that are unavoidably technical. The department has also posted the revised rules on its web site. The awards presented today represent some of the latest since Vice President Gore launched a plain language initiative in June 1998 requiring user-friendly government documents. More information on the initiative is available on the Internet at

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