Plain Writing Act: 2015 Annual Report
I. Senior Agency Official for Plain Writing
Eric E. Wachter
Office of the Executive Secretariat
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.
Among the training highlights in 2015:
EPA's Leadership Development Institute annually holds agencywide plain-writing courses and offered three open-enrollment courses in 2015. The course is designed for employees at all levels of the agency. Participants engage in exercises to improve their written communication, decrease muddy language and slang, and eliminate information clutter. This exercise-based workshop focuses on setting quality writing standards with an overall objective to increase productivity, identify problem areas, improve clarity of message, and enhance one's ability to share information to a broad audience.
In response to a review of the Action Development Process, the Office of Policy in the Office of the Administrator worked to finalize a webinar to promote plain writing during rule writing to help the public better understand EPA regulations.
Region 10 included plain-writing principles when it launched in spring 2015 the year-long Community College Certificate Training Program. This program focused on external and internal communications and community engagement.
The Office of Communications and Government Relations in Region 3 produced in March 2015 an internal guide for preparing regional and divisional correspondence in response to external inquiries and requests for information. The guide includes key plain-writing principles and provides tips to address the most common issues and questions that writers encounter when preparing correspondence.
III. Ongoing compliance/sustaining change
The national-program and regional offices have designated officials for plain writing who work in collaboration with the senior official. See appendix for a list of the designated officials.
With institutional knowledge of the unique processes and various documents produced in their offices, these designated officials have implemented processes for ongoing compliance.
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.
Offices continue to follow plain-writing procedures to satisfy the executive order and administrative orders that predate the Plain Writing Act.
Among the compliance highlights in 2015:
The Office of the Chief Financial Officer's special assistants in the six OCFO offices serve an important role in delivering clear and effective communication. Recent continuity in these positions has fostered institutional knowledge of the importance of plain writing in OCFO communications.
During its reorganization in 2015 the Office of the Chief Financial Officer worked diligently to ensure that it continues to maintain high level of quality control over the review of documents.
Region 10 emphasized the plain-writing courses provided through the employee training portal SkillPort.
IV. Agency's plain-writing website
EPA's plain-writing website is epa.gov/home/plainwriting.
The site is linked from epa.gov/open.
Appendix: EPA Plain Writing Designated Officials
Office of Administration and Resource Management
Office of the Administrator
- Eric Wachter
Office of Air and Radiation
- Wanda Farrar
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
- Keith Bartlett
Office of Environmental Information
- Jonda Byrd
Office of the Chief Financial Officer
- Gene Pontillo
Office of the General Counsel
- Aditi Prabhu
Office of the Inspector General
Office of International and Tribal Affairs
- Chris Hoff
Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
Office of Research and Development
- Dayna Gibbons
Office of Land and Emergency Management (formerly "Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response")
- Nancy Cohen
Office of Water
- Travis Loop
- Nancy Grantham
- Michael McGowan
- Terry White
- Bryan Myers
- John Peterson
- David Gray
- Wendy Dew
- Kelly Zito
- Charles Bert