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No Gobbledygook Award 3

The White House
Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release
September 24, 1998

Vice President Gore Presents Third Plain Language Award

Announces First Full Session of the Plain Language Action Network

Washington, DC - Vice President Gore presented two General Service Administration (GSA) employees the third Plain Language Award today for their rewrite of a GSA travel rule.

Jim Harte and Umeki Thorne, both program analysts at GSA, clarified and streamlined a 194-word rule on government-sponsored travel down to 45 words. “Their work makes the rules easier to understand - and to follow,” Vice President Gore said. “This is about making our government work better for our dedicated employees and for our customers - the America people.”

Today’s “No Gobbledygook Award” builds on President Clinton’s June 1st Executive Memorandum that directed all executive departments and agencies to make government documents clearer and more straightforward, with a goal of having all existing letters and notices into plain language by 2002.

The Vice President also announced that the Plain Language Action Network (PLAN) will hold its first full session today. PLAN, comprised of representatives from every cabinet department and dozens of federal agencies, is dedicated to monitoring government compliance to President Clinton’s memorandum on Plain Language.

“I ask all of the members of PLAN, as you go into your meeting, to commit yourselves to the principles of plain language,” Vice President Gore said. “Plain speaking helps create understanding, and understanding helps create trust. And trust - especially trust in our government’s ability to understand and be understood by our citizens - is essential if we are to move forward as a government and a people.”

With regard to today’s announcement, the attached page illustrates the regulation both before and after it was re-written.

GSA Federal Travel Regulation

  • Before

    Section 301-2.5(b) Indirect-route or interrupted travel.

    When a person for his/her own convenience travels by an indirect route or interrupts travel by a direct route, the extra expenses shall be borne by him/her. Reimbursement for expenses shall be based only on such charges as would have been incurred by a usually traveled route. An employee may not use contract airline/rail passenger service provided under contract with the General Services Administration (see part 301-15, subpart B, or this chapter) for that portion of travel by an indirect route which is for personal convenience. Additionally, an employee may not use a U.S. Government Transportation Request (GTR) (see section 301-10.2 of this chapter) or a contractor-issued charge card (see part 301-15, subpart C, of this chapter) for procurement of commercial carrier transportation services for that portion of travel by an indirect route which is for personal convenience. An employee may, however, use contract airline/rail passenger service, as well as a GTR or contractor-issued charge card, for portions of travel that are authorized to be performed at Government expense. (See section 301-11.5(a) of this chapter regarding reimbursement claims for travel that involves an indirect route.)

  • After

    Section 301.10.8 What is my liability if, for personal convenience, I travel or use an indirect route?

    If you travel on government business by anything other than the most direct, least cost route available, you must pay for the added costs so the taxpayers don’t.