Federal Advisory Committees: A Primer [Updated April 4, 2008]   [open pdf - 189KB]

Federal advisory committees are frequently chartered by the Chief Executive, Congress, and agency heads to render independent advice and to make recommendations. An advisory committee can be established by congressional legislation, by presidential executive order or directive, or by an agency head under general agency administrative authority. By virtue of their ad hoc status, advisory committees can circumvent normal bureaucratic constraints to provide diverse points of view in matters of public policy within a definite time frame. Whether designated as commissions, committees, councils, or task forces, these independent study bodies have dealt with social crises, policy issues, and technical problems of major proportions. Commissions provide a flexible option, since their composition, organization, and working arrangements may be varied through the specific mandates establishing them[...] On April 3, 2008, the House introduced H.R. 5687 to amend FACA to require that advisory committee members be appointed without regard to political affiliation. The GSA Administrator would be authorized to issue regulations and guidelines to ensure that advisory committees provide impartial advice and expertise. The legislation would also require FACA provisions to be made applicable to any subcommittee or subgroup established by a federal advisory committee."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL30260
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