Not later than 9 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the head of each executive agency to: (A) designate one or more senior officials within the agency to oversee the agency’s implementation of this Act; (B) communicate this Act’s requirements to the agency’s employees; (C) train agency employees in plain writing; (D) establish a process for overseeing the agency’s ongoing compliance with this Act’s requirements; (E) create and maintain a plain writing section of the agency’s website that is accessible from its homepage; and (F) designate one or more agency points-of-contact to receive and respond to public input on (i)the implementation of this Act; and (ii) the agency reports required under section 5.”According to H. Rept. 111-432, the history of the effort to implement plain language dates back to 1979 when President Carter issued Executive Order 12174 encouraging agencies to draft forms ‘‘to elicit information in a simple, straightforward fashion.’’ The title of the original bill, H.R. 946, was the Plain Language Act of 2009 when Rep. Bruce L. Braley of Iowa introduced it in February 2010. The Committee on Oversight and Government, chaired by Brooklyn Rep. Edolphus “Ed” Towns, reported the bill to the House in March 2010 and changed its name to the Plain Writing Act.
The new law is not retroactive so that regulations in effect at the time of its enactment, along with instructions for implementing them, need not be rewritten unless they are being “substantially revised”. Furthermore, the new law becomes effective one year after the date of its enactment in order to give federal agencies time to comply. Congressman Braley issued a press release with three before-and-after examples of plain language in federal documents.