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Plain Language: A Commitment to Writing You Can Understand

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.

We here at the Department of Energy are committed to writing new documents in plain language by October 2011, using the Federal Plain Language Guidelines.

We have assigned staff to oversee our plain language efforts:

  • Ingrid Kolb, Director of the Office of Management, Senior Agency Official Responsible for Plain Writing (202-586-2550)
  • Michael Coogan, Office of the Executive Secretariat, Plain Language Point-of-Contact

We’re 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.

You can help us to meet our plain language goals by letting us know when we fall short. If you have trouble understanding any of our documents or any material on our Web site, please contact Michael Coogan via e-mail at or by phone at (202) 586-5089.

For more information on our efforts as of July 2, 2015, please reference the Department's 2016 Plain Writing Act Compliance Report. For more information on the federal government's efforts to improve communication with the public, visit