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Survey Says Bureau of Labor Statistics Has Most ‘Readable’ Website

Photo: Brett Bouwer

An agency that deals mainly in crunching numbers takes the top spot for having clear and easy-to-understand written content, according to a recent survey.

VisibleThread, a firm specializing in developing document analysis solutions, released its first VisibleThread Website Index, covering the fourth quarter of federal fiscal year 2011.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics took the top spot out of 30 agencies for having low levels of long sentences, low levels of passive language and easy-to-understand terminology. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was ranked second, with the Census Bureau, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Cancer Institute rounding out the top five.

The index ranks websites on readability of content, use of active language, number of long sentences and word complexity.

“Whether you are filing a tax return or trying to understand labor rights, clear instructions mean we have a better chance of completing a task,” said Fergal McGovern, CEO of VisibleThread. “When people know what the government asks of them, there’s a better chance they’ll comply.

“If federal agencies make it easier for people to engage, it means lower cost for government due to fewer follow-up calls, letters and less time spent chasing. This index provides clear points of focus for agencies looking to improve, and that can only be a good thing,” said McGovern.

The deadline for the Plain Writing Act came in October. The law requires agencies to use “clear government communication that the public can understand and use.”

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