As one agency boasted, adhering to the new Plain Writing Standard has resulted in “more efficient clearance.” Why didn’t they just say that using simplified language reduced the number of revisions?
And even Vilsack — or possibly his ghostwriter — is guilty of using meaningless big words. The headline on his April 26 column, “Accomplishing More by Democratizing Data,” told me little. The article actually was about openness in government and providing more public access to scientific data.
I will give the USDA credit, though. For the most part, authors have shortened sentences to something that the brain and eyes can actually follow. It wasn’t too long ago that some USDA documents frequently featured unwieldy sentences of more than 60 words.
But overall, I have to give the USDA a C. The department has improved but still is average when it comes to overuse of jargon and acronyms, run-on sentences and just plain big words.
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