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Improving NWS Controlled Correspondence

Tips, Templates & Training suggestions

Before creating the correspondence:

  • Have a plan before starting to write. You should consider:
  • Memorandum or letter? 
    • If you are communicating outside of DOC/NOAA or writing a thank you letter to someone within NOAA, then a letter is appropriate. 
    • Any official communication within DOC/NOAA requires a memorandum.  In most cases, correspondence going to DOC and/or NOAA leadership requires an additional transmittal memorandum.
  • Who is your audience?
    •  The end user of the document is the reader, not the signer.
  • Why are you writing this?
    • Explain with incoming correspondence or a point paper,
    • Use the discussion and background section of the correspondence cover sheet
    • Do you have the correct level of signature? 
  • When does this correspondence have to arrive at the addressee?
    • Allow four working days from the time you submit the correspondence package to EA until signature. 
  • Do you have the proper “buy-in”? 
    • Acquire all necessary clearances
      • Legal = General Counsel
      • Legislative = Legislative Affairs and/or SPP

Writing the correspondence

Use Correspondence Handbook (NWSM 1-801)
  • Keep letters and memorandum to one page if at all possible. 
    • If you need to provide additional information use an enclosure (letter) or attachment (memorandum).
  • Get to the point of the correspondence as soon as possible.
  • Avoid long sentences.
  • Avoid repeating information.

Packaging the Correspondence

  • The better a package is put together, the quicker it will be signed
    • Correspondence Cover sheet with all clearances. 
    • Background
    • Discussion
    • Recommendation
    • Due dates to EA, NWS & NOAA
  • Email the electronic version to:
  • The inside left-hand side should have the correspondence checklist, background and the EA task sheet
  • Email clearances stapled to the right inside with a blank cover sheet labeled “clearance” 
  • Document to be signed on top with enclosure/attachments

Final Steps

  • Deliver the Package to EA 
    • EA will score for completeness, formatting and compliance.
    • If changes are needed EA will return to the XO
    • Return to EA when changes are made
  • When signed:
    •  EA staff will notify your office
    • Your office distributes the correspondence
  • Evaluate your work:
    • Compare original to final in Lotus notes
    • Use score sheet

Training Worth Taking

  • Available at Commerce Learning Center
    • Crisp Composition - (4.5 hrs.)
    • Sentence Construction – (2.0 hrs)
    • Avoiding grammatical errors in business writing – (4.5 hrs)



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