The 1972 Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), one of the “open government” laws, generally mandates that federal advisory committee meetings be held openly, except under certain specified circumstances. But over the past ten years, the number of closed meetings has actually increased, a new analysis by the Congressional Research Service found.
“FY2014 reported the highest percentage of closed meetings (71.1%) during the time period of examination,” CRS found.
Official advisory committees can be an important mechanism for exerting non-governmental influence on the policies of executive branch agencies. So the composition of such committees, their operations and their recommendations are susceptible to political pressures. FACA was intended to help counter abuse of the advisory committee process and ensure a modicum of fairness to competing points of view, in part by requiring that their meetings be conducted openly.
There are normally around a thousand advisory committees subject to FACA. “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 CRS report found.
See The Federal Advisory Committee Act: Analysis of Operations and Costs, October 27, 2015.
Other new reports from Congressional Research Service include the following.
Air Force Bomber Contract Awarded, CRS Insight, October 28, 2015
A Survey of House and Senate Committee Rules on Subpoenas, October 26, 2015
Federal Reserve: Dividends Paid to Commercial Banks, CRS Insight, October 28, 2015:
Iran’s Central Bank Will Have Its Day in the Supreme Court, CRS Legal Sidebar, October 28, 2015
Congressional Efforts to Reduce Restrictions on Growing Industrial Hemp, CRS Insight, October 29, 2015
Senate Passes Cybersecurity Information Sharing Bill — What’s Next?, CRS Legal Sidebar, October 28, 2015