Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
Plain Language (Updated for 2021)
The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to write "clear Government communication that the public can understand and use." The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is committed to writing new documents in plain language by October 2011, using the Federal Plain Language Guidelines and following the Office of Management and Budget's final guidance issued on April 13, 2011. Let us know if you have trouble understanding our documents or the pages on our Web site. Send an email to VAPlainLanguage@va.gov.
Vivian Drake, Staff Assistant, Office of the Executive Secretary, at (202) 461-7028, serves as the coordinator.
We are training our employees and have strengthened our oversight process to ensure that you— the reader—will benefit from our products and services. To this end, we intend to use plain language in any document that:
- is necessary for obtaining VA benefits or services;
- provides information about any VA benefit or service; or
- explains to the public how to comply with a requirement that VA administers or enforces.
To help us comply with this Act and evaluate our progress, we invite you to contact us with feedback on the following topics:
- Our Plain Writing Action Plan
- Difficulty understanding our documents or information on our public Web site
- Use of plain language in our public meetings
View the Department of Veterans Affairs Plain Language Implementation Plan.
VA has organized a committee of Plain Language points of contact from the three Administrations and Staff offices to:
- Assist in the review and revision of policy and guidance.
- Monitor VA compliance with the Plain Writing Act.
- Promote VA's implementation plan.
- Share best practices and resources.
The Department's Plain Writing Act Compliance report provides an overview of our implementation efforts.
The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is the official interagency working group designated to assist in issuing plain writing guidance. The PLAIN Web site includes guidelines on plain language and tools for writing in plain language.
VA continues to strive to improve how well we communicate with our primary target audience, our Nation’s Veterans and their families. VA’s Learning University (VALU) developed a series of classes to educate Department employees who write policies, reports, memos, briefs, and other business documents. Employees are also learning to apply plain language techniques and document testing skills to perform Plain Language compliance testing on multi-use documents (documents sent out to hundreds and thousands of people).
Free on-line training is available to the public at the following sites:
- National Institutes of Health: module-based training
- PLAIN: half-day plain language training
- Federal Aviation Administration: module-based training