Work on those communication skills, HHS
This time, the “C” doesn’t refer to Medicare Part C or Hospital Compare. Instead, it stands for the “satisfactory” grade HHS received recently from the Center for Plain Language on how well the department follows the requirements of the Plain Writing Act, a 2010 law that requires the federal government to write all publications, forms and documents in a “clear, concise, well-organized manner.”
The Falls Church, Va.-based group recently released its Plain Writing Act Report Card, which gave 12 federal agencies two grades: one for how well an agency followed the act’s requirements, and another for how well it reflected the “spirit” of the act. HHS earned a “C” for the former and a “B” for the latter category.
“Unless federal agencies are held accountable, they won’t implement the changes required by the Plain Writing Act,” Rep. Bruce Braley (DIowa)—author of the act—said in a news release that announced the results. “The mixed results of the first-ever Plain Language Report Card show that we still have a long way to go to make government forms and documents simpler and easier for taxpayers to understand.”
HHS fared much better than the Veterans Affairs Department, which earned an “F” in both categories, but not as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which got an “A” for the first category and a “B” for the second.
While Outliers is a little disappointed HHS only got a C for delivering clear, concise language, we hope it does more to live up to its potential next semester. And VA, we’ll see you after school.