Federal Regulations Written in Plain English?


The following is a quick monitor of Washington farm and trade policy issues from DTN’s well-placed observer:

The White House Office of Management and Budget this week issued a memorandum ordering all federal agencies to write their regulations in clear, easy-to-understand language beginning immediately. Under the order, federal regulations should be “accessible, consistent, written in plain language, and easy to understand.”

The federal government has conducted “keep it short and simple” campaigns for its regulation writers — with varying degrees of success — ever since Washington Insider moved Inside the Beltway nearly 40 years ago. Indeed, this week’s memorandum follows up an Obama Executive Order of last January on the subject of “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.”

Clarity is much to be wished for, but difficult to achieve and even more difficult to maintain, given the predominant role of lawyers in the writing of both laws and regulations. Perhaps a better way to achieve simplicity and clarity would be to propose penalties and punishments for backsliders, rather than issue another directive. A few demoted bureaucrats could help focus the attention of the rest of the Civil Service on the ongoing writing problem.


© Copyright 2012 DTN/The Progressive Farmer, A Telvent Brand. All rights reserved.

Posted with DTN Permission by Haylie Shipp


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