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house Bill H.R. 5321

TL; DR Act: Should Agencies Clearly Explain Action Items for Constituents at the Top of Communications?

Argument in favor

Federal agencies should be clear with constituents about action items they can or must respond to from the very beginning of their communications and what they entail. It’s just common sense and effective communication.

Hillary's Opinion
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04/13/2018
Absolutely yes. I find many government documents are poorly written at best, intentionally misleading in the worst cases. This is especially important for communications that require a response.
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Judith's Opinion
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04/13/2018
THE CORRUPT REPUBLICANS AND THEIR DONORS WOULD LOVE IT IF WE WERE DUMB ENOUGH TO VOTE NAY ON THIS BILL !
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04/14/2018
I will support any effort that addresses the improved effectiveness of our government in meeting the needs of the American people.
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Argument opposed

There’s no need for federal agencies to clearly describe required or optional action items to constituents at the beginning of communications, they can read on and find the information they need.

Jeremy's Opinion
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04/13/2018
Legislation and policy is complicated. A "clear outline" is an easy way to politicize communication and bury important facts beneath soundbite-worthy misnomers.
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Nastasja's Opinion
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04/14/2018
While this is good in theory (an outline of what is contained in the document), I would be extremely weary of people only reading the TL;DR version while others hide elements within the document. We've watched Congress way too long to not think they are above this. You have one job: read the document, then vote.
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Mark's Opinion
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04/14/2018
Just another ploy to obfuscate the true, deeply buried functional content of legislation. Only a fool would fail to see this effort for what it is. Come on sheeple. Wake up.
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What is House Bill H.R. 5321?

This bill — the TL; DR Act of 2018 — would require federal agencies to place important action items at the beginning of communications with constituents when they’re allowed or required to complete an action item. The clearly marked section at the top would include: the action item; if a response is required or optional; the deadline (if applicable); how to complete the action item; and the agency’s contact information. The Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) develop and issue regulations implementing this requirement.

Within nine months of this bill’s enactment, the head of each federal agency would publish an agency plan for compliance with the requirements on the plain writing section of the agency’s website. Within 18 months of this bill’s enactment and annually thereafter, agencies would be required to post a compliance report on its website.

The bill’s full title is the Too Long, Didn’t Read Act.

Impact

Constituents receiving communications from federal agencies which include action items; federal agencies; and the OMB.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 5321

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) introduced this bill to require agencies to place important action items at the beginning of communications with constituents, when they are allowed or required to complete an action item:

“People seeking assistance from the government should not be tied up in bureaucracy and bogged down with confusing paperwork. It’s past time we simplify the process of dealing with federal agencies and eliminate barriers to things like VA benefits and Medicare. Government bureaucracy should not be standing in the way of people receiving their benefits. This bipartisan effort will make it easier to contact federal agencies and follow through with any action items required. And it will make government more efficient.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) added:

“Any time we can take a step toward making our government more transparent and accountable to the voters, it’s a good day. It’d be difficult to find a better place to start than by making agency guidelines easier to understand and fully digest, so that Americans can get a head start on understanding the rules and regulations for federal benefits they are working with.”

This legislation has the support of three cosponsors, including two Republicans and one Democrat.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: lissart / iStock)

AKA

TL; DR Act of 2018

Official Title

To improve communication from Federal agencies to individuals by requiring clear instructions, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedMarch 15th, 2018
    Absolutely yes. I find many government documents are poorly written at best, intentionally misleading in the worst cases. This is especially important for communications that require a response.
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    Legislation and policy is complicated. A "clear outline" is an easy way to politicize communication and bury important facts beneath soundbite-worthy misnomers.
    Like (24)
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    THE CORRUPT REPUBLICANS AND THEIR DONORS WOULD LOVE IT IF WE WERE DUMB ENOUGH TO VOTE NAY ON THIS BILL !
    Like (25)
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    I will support any effort that addresses the improved effectiveness of our government in meeting the needs of the American people.
    Like (22)
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    Transparency is good. However, we also could use improvement on the actual body of the communication. Many potential questions may be answered in the body of the text, reducing the need for action if the public sees that potential issues have been anticipated. A Cliffs notes version followed by full text works well for food safety and outbreak notices on one of the mailing lists I’m on, and I would support having a summary, deadline, possible courses of action, and contact info at the beginning of each publication, section or notice. But I think people also need to check the full document to see if their concerns have already been addressed.
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    If it’s not understood, it’s not a law!
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    TRANSPARENCY
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    Why the HELL not, pray tell, probide a brief summary of ALL legislation, during the legislative process and final release. Lets not be like Nancy Pelosi and say that we need to pass a bill, before we know what’s in it. Remember the “Shades of ACA Legislation” when passed. We often have seen numerous examples of this occurring in Democratic Legislation activities and, O’ Yes, President Obama’s many pen actions initiatives. 4*13*18......
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    While this is good in theory (an outline of what is contained in the document), I would be extremely weary of people only reading the TL;DR version while others hide elements within the document. We've watched Congress way too long to not think they are above this. You have one job: read the document, then vote.
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    It’s become and issue that key details are being buried in the text.
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    Of course Agencies should communicate to constituents fully and with the intent to inform and include them in all decisions and processes. Our country is a community. Not a dictatorship where those in power of any kind should be encouraged to make decisions without the whole “family” being involved.
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    Of course! This shouldn’t even be a question.
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    This makes sense. By the way, THRILLED to hear the feckless paul ryan will not seek reelection. His mean spiritedness was extraordinary. Take your (russian born) Ayn Rand books and stay out of our government. Good riddance!
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    This has a lot of common sense behind it. All bills related to this proposal would speed up the process and allow anyone interested in the bill total transparency.
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    Full and clear disclosure!
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    Not only should they be concise and we'll thought out, but also should not be used as a vessel to pass other laws that are not related to main body of what the law is meant for. Too often are laws shoehorned into a bill which has nothing to do with each other
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    Transparency and clarity is vital for a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
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    Federal agencies should be clear with constituents about action items they can or must respond to from the very beginning of their communications and what they entail. It’s just common sense and effective communication. Transparency is key.
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    It would really help to know what our Congress is considering. Thanks
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    Yes I support this. But, I would like to include a section on the website that allows constituents to list their actions items for the agency and hold public round tables for ANY action item with more than 10 percent of the population served by the particular agency requesting said action item. For example, if state agency 123 provides services for county ☘️, who has a total tax payer population of 1000, wants the agency123 to notify the people via text messaging when a water main bursts and 99 others feel this service would be helpful. Then the agency and county would need to hold a public meeting to explore why or why not it is feasible. In short, I want to give the power back to the people to decide how an agency spends their tax dollars.
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