Federal Advisory Committee Act:

Advisory Committee Process Appears to Be Working, but Some Concerns Exist

T-GGD-98-163: Published: Jul 14, 1998. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 1998.

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GAO discussed the: (1) views of federal advisory committee members and federal agencies on specific Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) matters; and (2) General Services Administration's (GSA) efforts in carrying out its oversight responsibilities under FACA.

GAO noted that: (1) advisory committees appear to be adhering to the requirements of FACA and Executive Order 12838, which led to the establishment of ceilings for each agency on the number of discretionary advisory committees; (2) these requirements do not appear to be overly burdensome to agencies; (3) although the responses of committee members and agencies portrayed a more positive than negative image of FACA, their responses did raise concerns and issues that the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Subcommittee on Government Management, Information, and Technology may wish to explore in its consideration of FACA; (4) there appears to be some concern among agencies about the possibility of being sued for noncompliance with FACA if they obtain input from parties who are outside of the agency and its advisory committees; (5) GSA's Committee Management Secretariat has fallen short of fulfilling its FACA oversight responsibilities; (6) further, GSA did not ensure that the advisory committees were established with complete charters and justification letters; (7) 36 percent of the 203 advisory committee charters and 38 percent of the 107 justification letters from October 1996 through July 1997 that GAO reviewed were missing one or more items required by FACA or GSA regulations; and (8) GSA said that it will take immediate action to improve its oversight.

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