DOD discourages using acronyms

Defense Department memo instructs officials to reduce acronym use

Defense Department Executive Secretary Michael Bruhn is tired of playing the acronym game and wants to limit the use of short-form titles in the department immediately, Federal News Radio reported.

“Many acronyms have multiple meanings and are not always well-known outside a particular organization,” wrote Bruhn in a Nov. 30 memo on Wonkette.com.

“Although using acronyms in written material is intended to make writing clearer, their misuse or abuse does the exact opposite,” the letter continued.


Related story:

OMB issues preliminary guidance on Plain Language Act


If written correspondence prepared for DOD has acronyms, he said a glossary of terms should be included at the end of the materials.

Particular attention should be given to Read-Aheads and slide presentations, Bruhn wrote.

This latest action parallels the Plain Writing Act of 2010 signed into law by President Barack Obama in October.  It's intended to make it easier for the public to understand documents that are not often written with the layperson in mind. 

The law is designed to promote “clear government communication that the public can understand and use,” according to a Nov. 5 memo sent by the Office of Management and Budget to the heads of executive departments and agencies.

Transparency, public participation and collaboration cannot easily occur without plain language, the guidance said.

Plain writing, the memorandum continued, can reduce costs by:

  • Reducing questions from the public to agency staff members.
  • Improving compliance with regulations. 
  • Reducing resources spent on enforcement.
  • Cutting errors on forms and applications.
  • Reducing time spent addressing errors.

A guidance for implementing the act will be developed by April 2011.

According to plainlanguage.gov, a website agencies can reference to help them develop new guidelines, the public's misunderstanding of documents could lead to pricey litigation in some cases.

The current and most successful effort to spread the use of plain language started in the mid-1990s in several agencies, the website indicates. A group of government employees, the Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) began meeting in 1995 to try to spread the use of plain language.

In November, PLAIN members were designated to be the official working group to help agencies develop guidance to meet the new law, said Federal News Radio.

About the Author

Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology.

Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.