Re: Status of the technical writer

Subject: Re: Status of the technical writer
From: Eddie Hollon <eddiehollon -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Techwr-L List <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2007 01:02:44 -0700 (PDT)

I agree with Gene for the most part, but I've got
another kind of example. I just escaped (!) the world
of government contracting, because it let me do very
little "technical" writing. For the military (and
engineering) contracts that we worked on, a team of
SMEs, marketers, and "tech writers" developed
proposals in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP).
The request for RFP was written by military personnel
who rotate assignments, locations, etc. every 2 years
and are usually well-trained in military tactics, but
have very little writing experience. They basically
follow a book of regulations and guidelines for
developing the RFP with some oversight from someone in

On our end, all the "technical writing" was done by
ex-military personnel or ex-journalists who had
experience writing RFPs, military documents, and other
proposals. The documents we created were designed to
sell, but had to meet strict requirements for
technical data, which were usually written by SMEs and
(hopefully) edited. (And I'm not beating up on the
ex-military folks, just saying that should have been
used as SMEs, not writers)

Now, here's the punch line: if the proposal was
accepted, it became the contract...literally. Meaning,
it was accepted as a legal document and the terms were
that the contractor must meet the proposed obligations
on the military deadlines. After than, tech writing is
performed by contractor personnel who are usually
office staff or part-time personnel who go out to the
location to prop up the document set and then leave it
to the operations folks to maintain.

So, you can guess why the GSA has no understanding of
our concept of technical writing - it doesn't exist in
many contracting environments.


In the federal government, it pretty much always has
been. The
content of documents in federal agencies is drafted by
and field staff, and "technical writers" (if any are
used) review,
edit and update to ensure that documents comply with
agency and dept-specific requirements. The
"technical" part is
understanding the *document* requirements (which are
at least as complicated as filling out your income
taxes). Most
"technology" employed by government is produced by
private-sector contractors, and the "tehcnological
writing" is done there.

I have no experience with government documentation on
state or local levels, but I would expect them to be

Gene Kim-Eng


Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: Simplified Technical English
Next by Author: Re: Jobs in India
Previous by Thread: RE: Status of the Technical Writer
Next by Thread: RE: Status of the Technical Writer

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads