Plain Language Award Presentations
OEOB Indian Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 6, 2000


On behalf of the Vice President, thanks for being here this afternoon and thanks for sharing his passion for plain language by showing your agencies the way.

I want to start today by commending the Plain Language Action Network (PLAN) and others throughout government who are making plain language the "official language" of the United States government.

And thanks to Laurie Ford at NPR, who does a great job spreading the word about plain language throughout the federal government...

And Bill Ryan who helps coordinate PLAN...

The Vice President created the "No Gobbledygook" Plain Language Award on June 1, 1998.

He wanted to use it to promote plain language throughout the government by recognizing individual federal employees and teams who translate regulations, letters, notices, and other publications from "governmentese, federalese, and legalese" into plain language.

NPR has received dozens of nominations for the award over the last 22 months.

So far, 17 rewrites have been chosen -- including the 3 we recognize today.

As a result of the Vice President's interest and leadership, new plain language standards are now in force throughout the government. President Clinton issued a Presidential Memorandum on Plain Language.

Some agencies have plain language implementation plans and others are coming on board.

Federal writers are now writing for their customers - the American people.

New documents are easier to read, more logical, and more understandable.

Old documents are being rewritten.

We are breaking old rules by saying it's okay to use pronouns, first- and second-person speech, short sentences, lists and charts, and fewer words.

Using plain language makes all of our jobs easier - writers, readers, and speakers.

So today, we're presenting the latest "No Gobbledygook" awards to:

Jane Virga - Farm Credit Administration

When Jane Virga and her team at the Farm Credit Administration began updating information of Information Act fees, she discovered a perfect opportunity to revamp what could best be described as a wordy and confusing document.

In fact, it logged a score of "dreadful" on Stylewriter's poor style index.

By the time she was finished, the size of the document shrank from 7,850 to 4,018 words. But the amazing thing is - and this is what makes plain language so important - it actually contained more information than the original

Its reduced size also translates into a more user-friendly document for the entire public at a lower printing cost. Congratulations, Jane...

Janet Hall and Jim Herzog - U.S. Marshals Service

Janet Hall, Jim Herzog, and their team at the U.S. Marshals Service are receiving the "No Gobbledygook" Award for their outstanding work to improve bidding procedures for towing, storing, and disposing of seized vehicles.

Before, the sheer size of the solicitation and proposal submission requirements overwhelmed many small businesses, inhibiting full and open competition.

Along with reducing the document's length, Janet and Jim came up with a more efficient process for handling contracts.

The revised solicitation instructions have saved time and money for the service's administrative staff and are a welcome change for contractors. Congratulations, Janet and Jim...

Bob Ashby and Jim Swart - U.S. Department of Transportation

Bob Ashby, Jim Swart, and their team at the Transportation Department have clarified the rules for drug and alcohol testing that cover several hundred thousand transportation industry employers and their 8 million employees.

They reorganized the rules into a question-and-answer format that makes them easier to understand and include helpful charts for instructions that are inherently technical.

Even the technical provisions are now expressed in plain language, using charts where helpful.

The Department has also posted the revised rules on its website.


On behalf of Vice President Gore, I am honored to present you all with the "No Gobbledygook" Plain Language Award.

I think we'd all agree that communication is the first step toward connection and it's an important step in reconnecting Americans to their government.

I congratulate each of you for being innovators - for being pioneers and leaders in the effort to help Americans connect with their government by understanding their government.

Now, I'm going to turn things over to NPR's Bill Ryan, who'll tell you more about where we're headed the rest of this year with the Plain Language Initiative.


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