Advisory Committee Defined
An advisory committee is defined by FACA as any committee, board, commission, council, conference, panel, task force, or other similar group, or any subcommittee or other subgroup, that is established or utilized by the federal government to obtain advice or recommendations and is not composed solely of full-time or permanent part-time federal officers or employees.
FACA advisory committees may only provide advice or recommendations and may not establish law or policy, unless specifically provided otherwise by statute or Presidential directive.
Essentially, if EPA establishes a group that includes individuals who are not federal employees, and the purpose of the group is to provide advice or recommendations, then that group is an advisory committee and might be subject to FACA. Once it is determined that your group is an advisory committee, you should next determine whether it is a discretionary or non-discretionary advisory committee. These are discussed further in Section 1.2 but you may contact the Committee Management Officer (CMO) for assistance in this area.
Congress can exempt a specific advisory committee from the FACA requirements through legislation. In addition, the General Services Administration (GSA) regulations set out several types of groups that are not subject to FACA (see GSA Final Rule, 41 CFR §102-3.40). These exceptions are discussed later in this chapter.
Benefits of establishing a FAC:
- You receive independent advice from members of the public and individuals that are experts in their fields.
- You are able to obtain diverse points of view about your topic.
- You and EPA are able make better informed decisions due to the vetting of various options by your committee.
- You can facilitate improved buy-in for the decisions being made through the experience the FAC provides and the added value it brings.