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June 1, 1998

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Today, with the President's Memorandum, plain language becomes the rule, rather than the exception, in the federal government. Clarity helps advance understanding and understanding can help advance trust. Trust -- especially trust in the promise of our self-government -- is essential if we are to come together to solve the problems we face as a nation.

-Vice President Al Gore
June 1, 1998

Today, Vice President Al Gore announces the release of an Executive Memorandum making public government documents clearer, more straightforward, and easier to understand.

Making Federal Documents Easier To Understand. Today, the President signs 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.

"Plain Language" Helps All Americans Interact Better With Government. Many 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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