THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Tuesday, June 30, 1998
THE CLINTON/GORE ADMINISTRATION:
BUILDING A MORE EFFICIENT GOVERNMENT
Writing in plain language is difficult. As we in the federal government begin to write in plain language, we will not merely be cutting words and phrases, we will be re-examining the original purpose of our rules and regulations. In this sense -- reviewing and rewriting government communications is reinventing government itself. That was our promise when President Clinton and I took office in 1993, and that is a promise we are fulfilling as we make plain language the rule, rather than the exception, in the federal government.
Vice President Al Gore
June 30, 1998
Today, at a White House event, Vice President Al Gore presents the first Plain Language Award, which was created as part of a presidential initiative that requires all federal agencies to convert their regulations into plain language. Today's award recipient is Marthe ("Marta") Kent, Director of Regulatory Analysis at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Making Federal Documents Easier To Understand. On June 1, 1998, President Clinton signed an Executive Memorandum directing all federal government agencies to: (1) write any new document that tells the public how to get a benefit or comply with a requirement in plain language by October 1, 1998; (2) write all new government regulations in plain language by January 1, 1999; and, (3) revise all existing letters and notices into plain language by 2002.
Recognizing Achievement By Federal Agencies. The Administration is committed to making the federal government more responsive to the citizens it serves. At today's ceremony, the Vice President recognizes the efforts of OSHA in drafting a new regulation on "dip tanking", a potentially hazardous metal coating or varnish stripping procedure.
"Plain Language" Helps All Americans Interact Better With Government. In addition to the work done by OSHA, other agencies have made substantial progress in rewriting their regulations into plain language, including:
- The Small Business Administration, which has redrafted its loan applications. These new forms assisted victims of recent storms in California get their applications processed quickly;
- The Veterans Benefit Administration, ("VBA") which has simplified the language used in its forms. These new forms caused one customer to remark, upon receiving a letter from the VBA, "this is how the government should write to its customers. I feel like I'm talking to a real person."
Reinventing Government Efforts Make A Difference. Today's announcement is another example of the Administration's commitment to a better, more efficient federal government. When they took office, the President and Vice President made a commitment to streamlining government and making it work better for all Americans. In March, 1993, the National Partnership for Reinventing Government ("NPR") was formed to address this matter. In the five years since its creation, the NPR has succeeded in:
- Reducing the size of the federal government by over 300,000 employees, giving us the smallest federal government since the early 1960s, and, as a percentage of the work force, since before the New Deal.
- Abolishing over 200 outdated federal government programs.
- Eliminating more than 16,000 pages of red tape, and saving the American people over $137 billion.
A Continued Commitment to Better Government. The Administration will continue its efforts to make government work better. These changes are more than just cosmetic, the NPR has made the federal government less expensive, less expansive and more efficient. Under the leadership of the President and Vice President, the nature of our national bureaucracy has moved away from complacency and entitlement and toward initiative and innovation.
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