View Header


Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release June 1, 1998

Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore unveiled an Executive Memorandum today directing that all new government regulations be written in plain language, making government writing clearer and easier for Americans to understand.

President Clinton signed the Executive Memorandum today to direct 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.

"Today, with the President's Memorandum, plain language becomes the rule in the federal government, not the exception," said Vice President Gore, who appeared with Small Business Administrator Aida Alvarez at an event in downtown Washington D.C. to mark the opening of Small Business Week.

"Clarity helps advance understanding and understanding can help advance trust," the Vice President added. "And 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."

Many agencies have made great progress in rewriting their regulations into plain language, including the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA), and Americans have begun to make notice.

For instance, during a recent storm in California, an SBA loan applicant who had filed his own application by mail visited an SBA disaster office to confirm that he had filled out the form correctly. Because it was so clear and so easy, he was worried he had missed a page or filled out the wrong form.

The VBA has also simplified its language, prompting one customer to say after 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."

Under the Administration's efforts to reinvent government, President Clinton and Vice President Gore have eliminated over 200 outdated programs, 16,000 pages of regulations, and 640,000 pages of internal rules.