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United States Office of Government Ethics, Preventing Conflicts of Interest in the Executive Branch

Plain Language

The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to write "clear Government communication that the public can understand and use." President Obama also emphasized the importance of establishing "a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration" in his January 21, 2009, Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government. The Office of Government Ethics is committed to writing new documents in plain language by October 2011, using the Federal Plain Language Guidelines.

Our Efforts
We are training our employees and have strengthened our oversight process. We must use plain language in any document that:

  • is necessary for obtaining any federal government benefit or service or filing taxes;
  • provides information about any federal government benefit or service; or
  • explains to the public how to comply with a requirement that the federal government administers or enforces.

The act also requires our agency to use plain writing in every paper or electronic letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction. We are required to report our progress and compliance with the Act and will post annual reports here.

Public Feedback
We need your help to comply with this Act! Please contact us at and let us know if you have trouble understanding our documents or the pages on our website.