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Highlights

Because advisory committees provide input to federal decision makers on significant national issues, it is essential that their membership be, and be perceived as being, free from conflicts of interest and balanced as a whole. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) was enacted in 1972, in part, because of concerns that special interests had too much influence over federal agency decision makers. The General Services Administration (GSA) develops guidance on establishing and managing FACA committees. The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) develops regulations and guidance for statutory conflict-of- interest provisions that apply to some advisory committee members. As requested, this testimony discusses key findings and conclusions in our 2004 report, Federal Advisory Committees: Additional Guidance Could Help Agencies Better Ensure Independence and Balance; GAO's recommendations to GSA and OGE and their responses; and potential changes to FACA that could better ensure the independence and balance of advisory committees. For our 2004 work, we reviewed policies and procedures issued by GSA, OGE, and nine federal agencies that sponsor many committees. For this testimony, we obtained information from GSA and OGE on actions they have taken to implement our recommendations; we also reviewed data in GSA's FACA data base on advisory committee appointments.

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