Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Join the Public Service Recognition Week Celebration, May 4-10

By: Jason Briefel, for the Public Employees Roundtable

Celebrated the first week of May since 1985, Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) is time set aside to honor the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county, and local government employees and the work they do for our country. PSRW is coordinated annually by the Public Employees Roundtable (PER) and its member organizations. This year PSRW will take place the week of May 4-10.

The theme for PSRW 2014 is Proud to Serve. Government employees and leaders alike are encouraged to take the opportunity to communicate the benefits and value of the work they do. Members of the public are also invited to share their appreciation for America’s dedicated public servants.

To do so, PER is conducting a I “Heart” Public Service whiteboard photo campaign and a PSRW and throughout the year. Faces of Government campaign to collect testimonials from government employees and members of the public for sharing on social media during PER is also conducting a Thunderclap campaign with a goal of 500 participants, which will automatically send out a message thanking public servants at the start of PSRW on Sunday, May 4. To help PER spread the word and participate in these campaigns, like them on Facebook, follow on Instagram, and join the conversation on Twitter by tagging posts with #PSRW and/or #Proud2ServeUSA.

Events currently scheduled in Washington, D.C. include the 2nd annual Public Service 5K run/walk on May 4 benefitting the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA), May 6 government employee appreciation day (with discounted tickets) at the Washington Nationals stadium, and a May 8 public service town hall with cabinet secretaries hosted by the Partnership for Public Service.
Other events and celebrations take place all around the country. To share stories of PSRW celebrations in your town or agency, or to find out other ways to get involved contact

PER has developed a PSRW Celebration Toolkit, as well as other celebration resources, including teacher guides, sample PSAs and sample op-eds.

PER is encouraging federal employee organizations and their members, like those of FCN, to join in these PSRW initiatives and to help spread the word about the value of government and to show support for fellow public employees. Thank you in advance for your assistance and participation, as well as for your service to our country.

I “Heart” Public Service whiteboard photo campaign
Faces of Public Service Flyer

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Plain Language: All in the .Gov Family

by Katherine Spivey, Management & Program Analyst and Plain Language Launcher, GSA

A few months ago, my dad was researching on some .gov sites to find out if my great-aunt was eligible for surviving spousal support. He’s a smart guy, persistent, used to the web, happy with his iPad, a former fed.

He couldn’t find it. He tried everything he knew how to do: used the navigation, searched the web site, and searched Google. However, he ended up having to call on the phone and make an appointment some weeks later to go to Richmond, some hours away.

That’s a fail. He should have been able to:
  • find what he needed,
  • understand it when he found it, and
  • use it to help my great-aunt get the money she’s entitled to.
Now, to be fair, he said the government worker he met with was fantastic, explained everything clearly, and got him the right forms, etc.

But it shouldn’t have taken that extra step. He should have been able to do it all on the website.

And that is why I’m training federal workers in plain language.

Well, that’s the short answer. But it’s for the numbers of people like my dad, trying to solve a problem on a government website. Reading government websites should be easy.

Do you write for the web? Here are my top 8 plain language tips:
  • organize for your reader
  • use design features such as headers, tables, and bullets
  • write short sentences and paragraphs
  • use “you,” “we,” and other pronouns
  • write in active voice, not passive
  • emphasize verbs, not nouns
  • use consistent terms, not jargon or acronyms
  • choose common, everyday words
And for how they all fit together—and which plain language techniques really help you write for the web--and help you help your reader, listen to me explain how to write plain language on the web: my February 26, 2014, course on Plain Language: Writing for the Web is on

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gov Communicators Get Social

Posted by: Britt Ehrhardt, Co-Chair Federal Communicators Network and Technical Writer/Editor, National Institutes of Health

More than 50 communicators joined the Federal Communicators Network and the National Association of Government Communicators on Wednesday night, April 16, for a great networking happy hour. Thanks for coming out, everyone! We hope you were able to make some valuable new connections or renew some existing relationships. And if you couldn't make it this time, perhaps we'll see you at the next one.

John Verrico, Chris O'Neil, Wendy Wagner-Smith and others were there representing NAGC. And FCN and friends came in big numbers too. Ethan Alpern, of the FCN leadership team, was joined by Victor Romero, Bernetta Reese, Steve Lewis, and many others. What great conversations, and what fun to see you all there.

Britt Ehrhardt, FCN, and John Verrico        
Josh Folk and Kim Seigfreid
Jimmie Cummings and Larry Tracy