This article was updated to reflect a change in the data on the Federal Advisory Committee Act database.
Federal agencies are on notice to make plans for eliminating at least one-third of their advisory committees by Aug. 1, as part of a June executive order’s plan to keep the number of those committees across the government below 350.
Federal advisory committees are formed by Congress, the president or the head of a federal agency to provide unbiased insights and expertise, and they are generally made up of members that don’t already work for the federal government.
Those committees also come with federal support staff, which are agency employees assigned to coordinate with and assist the committee members. That staff could face a loss of work or change in responsibilities if the committees they support are chosen for termination.
According to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) database, over 7.68 full-time equivalent count are projected to support advisory committees in fiscal 2019, at a cost of over $1 million.
The next fiscal year’s estimates for those same totals would cut the FTE to 4.15 at a cost of $409,030.
The Office of Management and Budget released a memo July 5 detailing how exactly agencies will have to calculate the one-third reduction for advisory committees.
“To calculate the minimum number of eligible committees required for elimination under Section l(b) [of the executive order], an agency should first divide the total number of current advisory committees established under section 9(a)(2) of [the Federal Advisory Committee Act] by three and then round down this resulting value to the nearest whole number,” acting OMB Director Russell Vought wrote in the memo.
“The agency may then subtract from this value the total number of eligible committees terminated since Jan. 20, 2017, if any, and the resulting value constitutes the minimum number of committees that each agency must terminate.”
So, in theory, an agency that had nine total advisory committees and had terminated one since January 2017 would be required to pick two additional committees to eliminate.
Under the executive order, an agency would not be allowed to form a new advisory committee unless the total governmentwide number of those committees dropped below 350.
According to the FACA database, agencies had a total of 504 committees active in 2019, a steep drop from the 1,064 reported in 2018.
Under the required one-third purge of committees, the federal government would have a total of 336 committees remaining, though Vought encouraged agencies in the memo to “terminate all eligible committees that the agency identifies as unnecessary or otherwise meriting termination,” and agencies may request waivers from the one-third requirement from OMB.