This bill would modify and expand requirements for federal advisory committees to comply with federal ethics laws, and require federal agencies to disclose more information about committee activities to the public. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which this legislation amends, defines a federal advisory committee as a provides the government with independent advice and recommendations.
Any person appointed to an advisory committee who isn’t a full-time or permanent part-time officer or employee of the federal government could be designated as either a special government employee or a representative. Special government employees would be providing advice based on their personal experience or expertise, while representatives represent the views of a non-federal entity.
Federal agencies would be prohibited from designating committee members as representatives to avoid subjecting them to federal ethics rules. A designated ethics official of each agency would be required to review the designation of each member of an advisory committee has an appropriate designation, and could redesignate members if appropriate. A person would be considered to be an advisory committee member if they regularly attend and participate in meetings, even if they have no voting rights over committee affairs or are part of a subcommittee.
Appointments to federal advisory committees would be required to be made without regard to political affiliation or political activity unless required by federal law. The head of a federal agency making an appointment to an advisory committee must give interested persons an opportunity to suggest potential members in the Federal Register or on the committee’s website. Agencies must consider all comments submitted in the process of making selections of advisory committee members.
For each advisory committee, federal agencies would be required to make available the following:
- The committee’s charter;
- The member appointment process;
- A list of all current members, including designations as representatives or special government employee;
- Any recusal agreement made by a member to avoid a conflict of interest;
- Committee processes for making decisions;
- Detailed meeting minutes; and
- Notices of future committee meetings.