Factbox: Some efforts to limit U.S. government: speak

Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:30am EDT
 
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(Reuters) - The U.S. government has spent decades trying to purge jargon, technical terms and other bad writing from public documents. A law passed in 2010 requires that federal agencies use plain language in communicating with the public.

As agencies prepare to report their progress on Friday, plain language advocates worry that bureaucratese lives on.

Below are examples of revisions made to clean up obtuse writing.

Examples come from U.S. agencies, federal government's Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) and from author Joseph Kimble's upcoming book "Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please."

CENTERS FOR MEDICARE & MEDICAID SERVICES, MEDICARE FRAUD LETTER

The U.S. agency that oversees healthcare for the elderly, disabled and poor updated this letter to beneficiaries who report mistakes.

* BEFORE: "Investigators at the contractor will review the facts in your case and decide the most appropriate course of action. The first step taken with most Medicare health care providers is to re-educate them about Medicare regulations and policies. If the practice continues, the contractor may conduct special audits of the provider's medical records. Often, the contractor recovers overpayments to health care providers this way. If there is sufficient evidence to show that the provider is consistently violating Medicare policies, the contractor will document the violations and ask the Office of the Inspector General to prosecute the case. This can lead to expulsion from the Medicare program, civil monetary penalties, and imprisonment."

* AFTER:

"We will take two steps to look at this matter:   Continued...