Text: H.R.3548 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

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Placed on Calendar Senate (08/01/2008)

 
[Congressional Bills 110th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 3548 Placed on Calendar Senate (PCS)]






                                                       Calendar No. 929
110th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                H. R. 3548


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                             April 15, 2008

                                Received

                             August 1, 2008

                 Read twice and placed on the calendar

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT


 
  To enhance citizen access to Government information and services by 
   establishing plain language as the standard style for Government 
        documents issued to the public, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Plain Language in Government 
Communications Act of 2008''.

SEC. 2. PURPOSE.

    The purpose of this Act is to improve the Federal Government's 
effectiveness and accountability to the public by promoting clear 
communication that the public can understand and use.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Agency.--The term ``agency'' means an Executive agency, 
        as that term is defined in section 105 of title 5, United 
        States Code.
            (2) Plain language.--The term ``plain language'' means 
        language that the intended audience can readily understand and 
        use because it is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows 
        other best practices of plain language writing.

SEC. 4. RESPONSIBILITIES OF FEDERAL AGENCIES.

    (a) Requirement to Use Plain Language in New Documents.--Within one 
year after the date of the enactment of this Act, each agency--
            (1) shall use plain language in any covered document of the 
        agency issued or substantially revised after the date of the 
        enactment of this Act;
            (2) may use plain language in any revision of a covered 
        document issued on or before such date; and
            (3) shall, when appropriate, use the English language in 
        covered documents.
    (b) Guidance.--In implementing subsection (a), an agency may follow 
either the guidance of the Plain English Handbook, published by the 
Securities and Exchange Commission, or the Federal Plain Language 
Guidelines. If any agency has its own plain language guidance, the 
agency may use that guidance, as long as it is consistent with the 
Federal Plain Language Guidelines, the Plain English Handbook, 
published by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the 
recommendations made by the Comptroller General under section 5(c).
    (c) Additional Provisions Relating to Use of English Language.--
Nothing in this Act shall be construed--
            (1) to prohibit the use of a language other than English;
            (2) to limit the preservation or use of Native Alaskan or 
        Native American languages (as defined in the Native American 
        Languages Act);
            (3) to disparage any language or discourage any person from 
        learning or using a language;
            (4) to impact or affect protections regarding language 
        access; or
            (5) to be inconsistent with the Constitution of the United 
        States.
    (d) Covered Document.--In this section, the term ``covered 
document''--
            (1) means any document that explains how to obtain a 
        benefit or service or file taxes, or that is relevant to 
        obtaining a benefit or service or filing taxes; and
            (2) includes, whether in paper or electronic form, a 
        letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction but does not 
        include a regulation.
    (e) Use of Plain Language by Agencies.--Each agency should, to the 
extent practicable and appropriate, use plain language in any 
collection of information (as defined in section 3502(3)(A)(i) of title 
44, United States Code).
    (f) Incorporation of Comptroller General Recommendations.--
            (1) Reports.--
                    (A) Federal aviation administration.--The 
                Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, 
                acting through the Plain Language Action and 
                Information Network, shall submit to the committees 
                described in paragraph (2) a report on whether the 
                recommendations made by the Comptroller General in the 
                report under section 5(c) have been incorporated into 
                the Federal Plain Language Guidelines described in 
                subsection (b), and, if such recommendations have not 
                been incorporated, an explanation of why they have not 
                been incorporated.
                    (B) Securities and exchange commission.--The 
                Securities and Exchange Commission shall submit to the 
                committees described in paragraph (2) a report on 
                whether the recommendations made by the Comptroller 
                General in the report under section 5(c) have been 
                incorporated into the Plain English Handbook described 
                in subsection (b), and, if such recommendations have 
                not been incorporated, an explanation of why they have 
                not been incorporated.
            (2) Committees.--The committees described in this paragraph 
        are the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the 
        House of Representatives and the Committee on Homeland Security 
        and Governmental Affairs of the Senate.
            (3) Deadline.--The reports required under paragraph (1) 
        shall be submitted within six months after the issuance of the 
        report provided by the Comptroller General under section 5(c).

SEC. 5. REPORTS TO CONGRESS.

    (a) Initial Report.--Within six months after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the head of each agency shall submit to the 
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of 
Representatives and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs of the Senate a report that describes how the agency intends to 
meet the following objectives:
            (1) Communicating the requirements of this Act to agency 
        employees.
            (2) Training agency employees to write in plain language.
            (3) Meeting the deadline set forth in section 4(a).
            (4) Ensuring ongoing compliance with the requirements of 
        this Act.
            (5) Designating a senior official to be responsible for 
        implementing the requirements of this Act.
            (6) Using, to the extent practicable and appropriate, plain 
        language in regulations promulgated by the agency.
    (b) Annual and Other Reports.--
            (1) The head of each agency shall submit to the Committee 
        on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of 
        Representatives and the Committee on Homeland Security and 
        Governmental Affairs of the Senate a report on--
                    (A) compliance with this Act; and
                    (B) the agency's continued efforts to meet the 
                objectives specified in subsection (a).
            (2) A report under this subsection shall be submitted--
                    (A) annually for the first two years after the date 
                of the enactment of this Act; and
                    (B) once every three years thereafter.
    (c) Evaluation and Report by Comptroller General.--Within six 
months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller 
General shall evaluate existing guidance for agencies on writing in 
plain language, including the guidance listed in section 4(b), and 
provide to the Office of Management and Budget, the Committee on 
Oversight and Government Reform of the House of Representatives, and 
the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the 
Senate a report providing recommendations on--
            (1) plain language guidelines; and
            (2) best practices for plain language.

            Passed the House of Representatives April 14, 2008.

            Attest:

                                            LORRAINE C. MILLER,

                                                                 Clerk.
                                                       Calendar No. 929

110th CONGRESS

  2d Session

                               H. R. 3548

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT

  To enhance citizen access to Government information and services by 
   establishing plain language as the standard style for Government 
        documents issued to the public, and for other purposes.

_______________________________________________________________________

                             August 1, 2008

                 Read twice and placed on the calendar