The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to write "clear Government communication that the public can understand and use." President Obama also emphasized the importance of establishing "a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration" in his January 21, 2009, Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is committed to writing new documents in plain language by October 2011, using the Federal Plain Language Guidelines and following the Office of Management and Budget's final guidance issued on April 13, 2011.
We need your help to comply with this Act! Let us know if you have trouble understanding our documents or the pages on our Web site. Send an email to VAPlainLanguage@va.gov
Bonnie Miranda, Executive Secretary, and Jennifer Smith Jessup, Deputy Secretary from the Office of the Secretary, Office of the Executive Secretariat, have oversight responsibility for VA's plain language efforts. Rachel Eisinger-Baskin at (202) 461-0307 is responsible for VA’s Plain Language Working Group. Other Department Points of Contact are: Ms. Katrice Pasteur, Director, Office of Executive Correspondence, Veterans Health Administration; Ms. Andrea Downs, Executive Reviewer, Veterans Benefits Administration; and Ms. Liz Tate, Chief, Executive Correspondence, National Cemetery Administration. They can be reached at VAPlainlanguage@va.gov
We are training our employees and have strengthened our oversight process to ensure that you— the reader—will benefit from our products and services. To this end, we intend to use plain language in any document that:
To help us comply with this Act and evaluate our progress, we invite you to contact us with feedback on the following topics:
You can review the Department of Veterans Affairs Plain Language Implementation Plan here.
VA has organized a committee of Plain Language points of contact from the three Administrations and Staff offices to:
The Department's Plain Writing Act Compliance report provides an overview of our implementation efforts.
The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is the official interagency working group designated to assist in issuing plain writing guidance. The PLAIN Web site includes guidelines on plain language and tools for writing in plain language.
VA continues to strive to improve how well we communicate with our primary target audience, our Nation’s Veterans and their families. VA’s Learning University (VALU) developed a series of 13 classes to educate Department employees who write policies, reports, memos, briefs, and other business documents. To date, over 1150 employees have taken these classes to improve their writing skills. Employees are also learning to apply plain language techniques and document testing skills to perform Plain Language compliance testing on multi-use documents (documents sent out to hundreds and thousands of people).
Free on-line training is available to the public at the following sites: