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The Federal Advisory Committee Act: Analysis of Operations and Costs

CRS Report – The Federal Advisory Committee Act: Analysis of Operations and Costs, Wendy Ginsberg, Analyst in American National Government. October 27, 2015.
“Federal advisory committees are established to allow experts from outside the federal government to provide advice and recommendations to executive branch agencies or the President. Federal advisory committees can be created either by Congress, the President, or an executive branch agency. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) requires agencies to report on the structure, operations, and costs of qualifying federal advisory committees. The General Services Administration (GSA) is authorized to collect, retain, and verify the reported information, and does so using an online tool called the FACA Database. This report provides an overview of the data that populates the FACA Database, which details the costs and operations of all active federal advisory committees. This report examines the data from FY2004-FY2014, with additional in-depth analysis of FY2014. Generally, the data show that the number of active FACA committees has remained relatively stable over time, hovering around 1,000 committees in any given fiscal year. The Department of Health and Human Services consistently operates the most federal advisory committees, with 264 active committees in FY2014. The Department of Agriculture had the second most active committees in FY2014 with 166. In any given year, around half of the active FACA committees were required to be established by statute. In FY2014, Congress established 10 new FACA committees by statute. Generally, around 70,000 people serve as members on FACA committees and subcommittees in any given year. In FY2014, 68,179 members served. In FY2014, 825 federal advisory committees held 7, 173 meetings and cost more than $334 million to operate. The report provides an in-depth examination of FACA committee operations, using the data collected by GSA. The report concludes by providing a list of policy options that Congress can consider when deliberating current or future legislation to amend FACA.”

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