Congressional Membership and Appointment Authority to Advisory Commissions, Boards, and Groups [February 5, 2013] [open pdf - 649KB]
"Over much of its history, Congress has created a wide array of advisory bodies, separate from each chamber's committees and officers, in order to better exercise its legislative, oversight, and investigative mandates, and to attend to both temporary and ongoing administrative tasks and responsibilities. During the past two decades, Congress has established or renewed the existence of hundreds of statutory entities to study, advise on, coordinate, or monitor matters of particular interest to Congress. These entities vary in several dimensions, including their official designation, purpose, lifespan, membership, and mechanism by which members are appointed. Many of these bodies are expressly identified as commissions, but others are designated as boards, advisory committees, or by other terms. In this report, they are referred to generically as 'congressional advisory bodies.' These groups are generally created to address a single purpose, perhaps to study a discrete policy issue, or to attend to one-time or recurring administrative functions. Often, they have a well-defined mandate, which typically includes the submission of a final report to Congress detailing findings and recommendations. Although some have a specific lifespan, many have been created to provide ongoing support and advice (for instance, the boards of visitors for the United States military service academies, or the Commission to Recommend Individuals to the President for Appointment to the Office of Architect of the Capitol). […] This report is intended to inform members of Congress of their specific appointment responsibilities and to make them aware of their opportunities to serve as members of congressional advisory bodies. Additionally, observations regarding the rationale and effects for the many variations in the appointment schemes for existing bodies are intended to provide some alternatives to legislators to facilitate the drafting of membership language in future statutes."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33313