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Creating a Federal Advisory Committee in the Executive Branch

Creating a Federal Advisory Committee in the Executive Branch, Wendy Ginsberg, Analyst in American National Government. October 19, 2015

“Federal advisory committees allow members of the public to formally provide advice and recommendations to the executive branch of the federal government. These advisory committees, of which about 1,000 operate at any given time, provide advice and recommendations on issues ranging from how to support trade goals of small and minority-owned businesses to which drugs best treat arthritis pain. Many federal advisory committees are required to operate pursuant to the open meetings and records access requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). Advisory committees are established for a number of reasons, including to acquire new ideas from outside experts, remove certain controversial topics from politically charged arenas, and to help reduce the workload of Members of Congress. Congress has an important role in the establishment of federal advisory committees. Of the active federal advisory committees in FY2014, 705 (71.3%) were required or authorized by Congress — 515 (52.1%) of which were required by statute while 190 (19.2%) were authorized, but not required, by statute. Other federal advisory committees were established by executive branch agencies or the President. A committee’s establishment and mandate, membership requirements, powers, funding, and termination are some of the many components that Congress may consider when establishing an advisory committee. This report provides a brief overview on how Congress can establish federal advisory committees, and provides some considerations as to why a federal advisory committee may or may not be an appropriate mechanism for a particular policy or funding question. It presents data on the number of active committees established by Congress with special emphasis on the committees established in FY2014. This report concludes by presenting a list of the federal advisory committees currently proposed for establishment in legislation in the 114th Congress.”

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