Federal Advisory Committee Act:

Overview of Advisory Committees Since 1993

T-GGD-98-24: Published: Nov 5, 1997. Publicly Released: Nov 5, 1997.

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GAO discussed its work on federal advisory committees, focusing on: (1) whether Executive Order 12838, signed by the President on February 10, 1993, achieved its goal of reducing the number of discretionary advisory committees by at least one-third by the end of fiscal year 1993 and the extent to which the costs and number of committee members changed during the same period; and (2) an overview of the General Services Administration's (GSA) oversight responsibilities under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

GAO noted that: (1) according to the President's annual reports on advisory committees, the total number of advisory committees has decreased from a high of 1,305 during 1993 to a low of 1,000 during 1996; (2) the reduction in the number of advisory committees since 1993 follows the President's 1993 executive order; (3) despite the overall decline of advisory committees, their costs, number of committee members, and number of meetings has increased; (4) under FACA and GSA regulations implementing FACA, GSA's Committee Management Secretariat is responsible for: (a) consulting with agencies on new and reauthorized advisory committees to ensure that FACA requirements are met; (b) making comprehensive annual reviews of each advisory committee and making recommendations to the President and to the agency head or Congress on any action the Secretariat deems necessary; (c) preparing the President's annual report to Congress on the activities, status, and changes in the composition of advisory committees; and (d) ensuring that follow-up reports are prepared on the status of recommendations made by presidential advisory committees; (5) FACA and GSA regulations require that agencies consult with GSA before establishing new and reauthorized advisory committees; (6) the President is required to report annually to Congress on the activities, status, and changes in the composition of advisory committees; (7) FACA requires the President , or his delegate, to report to Congress within 1 year on his proposals for action or for reasons for inaction on recommendations made by a presidential advisory committee to the President; and (8) GAO has not assessed the merits of a proposal to amend FACA to specify that it does not apply to committees that are created by an entity other than an agency or federal official and are not subject to actual management and control by federal officials.

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