Editor’s Note: The complete study is available here.
From: George Washington Law Review, 2015, Forthcoming | Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-08
Cynthia R. Farina, Mary J. Newhartand Cheryl Blake
This article, part of the symposium commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Administrative Conference of the United States, situates ACUS’s recommendations for improving public rulemaking participation in the context of the federal “plain language” movement. The connection between broader, better public participation and more comprehensible rulemaking materials seems obvious, and ACUS recommendations have recognized this connection for almost half a century. Remarkably, though, the series of Presidential and statutory plain-language directives have not even mentioned the relationship of comprehensibility to participation—until very recently. In 2012, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) issued “guidance” instructing that “straightforward executive summaries” be included in “lengthy or complex rules.” OIRA reasoned that“[p]ublic participation cannot occur … if members of the public are unable to obtain a clear sense of the content of [regulatory] requirements.”