The Federal Reserve could provide more clarity to the public about where policy is likely to go and how it might respond to various conditions, a top Fed official said on Monday.

Short of another round of large-scale asset purchases, there are various ways we could try to communicate with the broad public and markets, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said in response to questions after a speech to business students.

I certainly think it's conceivable that we could improve our communications, he said.

The U.S. central bank cut benchmark borrowing costs to near zero almost three years ago and has bought $2.3 trillion in bonds to boost growth.

More recently, it has shifted its portfolio to hold more longer term bonds to lower mortgage interest rates and has said it is unlikely to raise interest rates before the middle of 2013 to reassure markets it won't budge from easy money policies at the first sign the recovery has gotten stronger.

Lockhart said that given recent improvements to the economy, he believes that if the Fed decides it needs to take further steps, they should be through communications about policy, rather than expanded bond buying.

In light of the somewhat better performance of the economy, notwithstanding the slow pace of reduction of unemployment ... if we're looking at options, I would prefer communications, he told reporters after his speech.

The economy, while not terribly strong, has exceeded recent expectations and could log a growth rate above 3 percent in the last three months of the year, he said.

Given that the United States is an advanced economy ... the growth rate is respectable, Lockhart said.

(Reporting by Luciana Lopez; Writing by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by James Dalgleish)