Plain Writing Progress in 2014 - 2015

The State Department has been focusing most of its plain writing efforts on the internal employees and staff for the past two years.

  • The Assistant Secretary for Administration is currently the senior official responsible for Plain Writing efforts at the Department. 
  • The Assistant Secretary will be meeting with chosen representatives from each Bureau to discuss the current status of the Plain Writing program and plans for 2015-2016. 
  • The 2 FAH-1 Handbook (Foreign Affairs Manual Handbook) is being expanded to give writing principles its own subchapter and, in the process, re-introduce the concept of plain writing to the Department via a Department Notice and cable to the field. 
  • The Department’s internal network web page on plain writing is being updated with a fresher look.
  • A link to this internal web page has been given more prominence on the Office of Directives Management home page. 
  • The Office of Directives Management is reviewing the writing style of randomly selected “covered documents” and sharing the evaluations with the writers and the Assistant Secretary for Administration.

The Department is taking steps to revisit its activities with regard to its engagement with the public. 

  • It was difficult to find the plain writing web page on the Department’s public Internet site. There was a prominent link to the web page from the Department’s eGov website on state.gov. Thanks to feedback from the public it was discovered that the link had been inadvertently removed. It has now been restored: http://www.state.gov/m/a/dir/plainwriting/
  • The plain writing web page was originally created in 2011 and it is now being redesigned and refreshed. New features will include:
    • A direct email address so the public can offer feedback, comments, and suggestions directly to the Office of Directives Management. 
    • The web page will ask the public to “nominate” any Department document as a candidate for rewrite in plain language.
    • The Department will post before and after real-life examples of documents that have been rewritten. 
    • There will a significant reduction in the text on the web page through the use of more links to pertinent resources.
    • The web page will feature a dashboard that gives real-time data on how many documents have been reviewed for plain language and how many documents have been re-written to date.

The Office of Directives Management is providing the Assistant Secretary for Administration a monthly report on the status of all planned activities.
Any questions or comments on these activities may be emailed to LongLJ@state.gov