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Make it Plain: It's The Law

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In theory at least, the federal government just got clearer and easier to understand. On Thursday, The Plain Language Act, signed by President Obama last October, officially went into effect. By now, agencies must have training programs in place and must begin writing materials in plain language.

Documents covered by the law include anything necessary for filing taxes or receiving federal benefits, and any document, paper or electronic, that explains how to comply with a federal requirement.

Proponents of the act, like those at the Center for Plain Language say concisely worded government documents increase transparency and accountability.

To mark the milestone, the center hosted a workshop on implementing plain language. John Strylowski of the Interior Department introduced the basic principles, while representatives from several agencies shared best practices for feds and contractors.

Caitlin Fairchild joined Government Executive in summer 2011 as an editorial fellow, after graduating from the College of William & Mary, where she spent four years writing for the student newspaper, The Flat Hat. In March 2012, she was hired full time as a web producer. She has completed internships at Washingtonian Magazine and at the public affairs office of Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

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