EPA Plain Writing Initiative
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Plain Writing Act
2013 Annual Report
I. Senior Agency Official for Plain Writing
Eric E. Wachter
Office of the Executive Secretariat
A. The EPA has an online training for all employees who produce documents for the public and for any employee who would like to be trained in plain writing.
B. The EPA offers classroom workshops and training sessions for interested employees.
C. Among the training highlights in 2013:
i. The Office of Environmental Information held a plain writing training for approximately 20 communications staff members to discuss writing standards, including plain writing.
ii. The Office of Environmental Information also established a writing-for-the-web course that colleagues from the Office of External Affairs delivered several times for EPA web writers, coders and reviewers. This ongoing course emphasizes writing web content plainly and directly and how to target an audience and write for that audience. More information about this training can be found at http://www2.epa.gov/webguide/epa-web-training-classes#writing.
iii. As a supplement to the agency’s correspondence manual, EPA’s Region 2 produced a style guide that further explains clear, concise writing and provides alternatives for complex statements, technical jargon and acronyms. The region also has provided training on PowerPoint presentations to technical staff employees, with a focus on employees who participate in community outreach.
III. Ongoing compliance/sustaining change
A. The national-program and regional office have designated officials for plain writing to work in collaboration with the senior official. See appendix for a list of the designated officials.
B. With institutional knowledge of the unique processes and various documents produced in their offices, these designated officials have implemented processes for ongoing compliance.
C. These processes include communications officials’ approval of documents; multi-level managerial review for plain writing; designating plain-writing coordinators in individual offices; and refresher training courses.
D. Offices continue to follow plain-writing procedures that were already in place to satisfy the executive order and administrative orders that predate the Plain Writing Act.
E. Among the compliance highlights in 2013:
i. The Office of Air and Radiation follows a process for technical staff and communications staff to work together to review and approve public communications materials, including website content, factsheets, press releases and print materials, to ensure that they are written in plain language.
ii. Region 2 has implemented a formal review process for correspondence, social media, web posts and other written communications to require that at least one professional editor reviews the documents to ensure the documents are written plainly.
IV. Agency’s plain-writing website
A. The EPA’s plain-writing website is www.epa.gov/plainwriting.B. The site is linked from www.epa.gov/open.
EPA Plain Writing Designated Officials
Office of Administration and Resource Management
Office of the Administrator
Office of Air and Radiation
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
Office of Environmental Information
Office of the Chief Financial Officer
Office of the General Counsel
Office of the Inspector General
Office of International and Tribal Affairs
Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
Office of Research and Development
Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
Office of Water