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house Bill H.R. 70

Should Federal Advisory Committees Face More Stringent Ethics Requirements?

Argument in favor

The public should have access to information about who the experts advising federal agencies are, and how they are chosen. Because their position carries significant influence, all advisory committee and subcommittee members should comply with federal ethics laws and conflict of interest rules.

Margaret's Opinion
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01/04/2017
Representatives of the house and of congress work for the people. We pay your wages, superior benefits, and expect you to be transparent and protectors of our democracy. Representative should be held accountable. In my profession I am held accountable so I expect no less of our governing body.
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Leo's Opinion
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01/04/2017
Transparency and ethics are required for good government.
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Doris's Opinion
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01/04/2017
The highest level of ethical standards should be applied to ensure proper governance.
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Argument opposed

There should continue to be a distinction between advisory committee members and subcommittee members when it comes to compliance with federal ethics laws. Political appointees to advisory committees aren’t likely to allow political pressure to alter their recommendations.

Marines1994's Opinion
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01/05/2017
Read the first line, it's says require, "for federal advisory committees to comply with federal ethics laws, and require federal agencies to disclose more information about committee activities". They are already supposed to be doing this and no ones cares. Start enforcing the laws already in place. #RocketScience
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Alis's Opinion
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01/04/2017
Lordy. The pro argument is laughable considering that it is almost impossible to get Americans to vote! Who in the general population is likely to care enough to seek out this information if it was easily available? SO WHY SPEND THE MONEY? Besides, given the loose grip on ethics the current Republican dominated federal government has evidenced, I'm not certain this would make any difference! They are out to make a misery of the lives of ordinary citizens while robbing us blind. Nothing is likely to stop the carnage!!!
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Steve's Opinion
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01/20/2017
Correct me if I'm wrong, but this seems like another democrat scheme, in which they appear to be concerned about transparency by introducing duplicate legislation. Legislation which they're already ignoring. I agree with others who say, enforce the laws already in existence.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • The house Passed January 4th, 2017
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Trade
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 70?

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;

  • Notices of future committee meetings.

Impact

Citizens interested in federal advisory committees; members of federal advisory committees and subcommittees; federal agencies; and ethics officials in federal agencies.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 70

$70.00 Million
The CBO estimates that implementing this legislation would cost $70 million over the 2016-2020 period.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO) introduced this legislation to increase transparency and remove political influence within federal advisory committees:

“This bill opens up the Federal Advisory Committee selection and oversight process by providing greater transparency and ensuring real independence for appointees. The act also imposes much tougher standards to ensure that committee members are insulated from political pressure to influence their recommendations. Finally, my act would require any FACA appointee selected by the President or an agency to provide expert advice to fully comply with all conflict of interest rules and federal ethics laws.”

This bill was reported by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee by unanimous consent, and it is currently cosponsored by two Democrats in the House.



Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user ITU Pictures)

AKA

Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 2017

Official Title

To amend the Federal Advisory Committee Act to increase the transparency of Federal advisory committees, and for other purposes.

    Representatives of the house and of congress work for the people. We pay your wages, superior benefits, and expect you to be transparent and protectors of our democracy. Representative should be held accountable. In my profession I am held accountable so I expect no less of our governing body.
    Like (45)
    Follow
    Share
    Read the first line, it's says require, "for federal advisory committees to comply with federal ethics laws, and require federal agencies to disclose more information about committee activities". They are already supposed to be doing this and no ones cares. Start enforcing the laws already in place. #RocketScience
    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
    Transparency and ethics are required for good government.
    Like (27)
    Follow
    Share
    The highest level of ethical standards should be applied to ensure proper governance.
    Like (22)
    Follow
    Share
    See the problem is we think Congress works for us when currently they work for special interests and big money groups. Let's show them the door, Congress' job is to work to make everyone's lives better. Start by listening to them.
    Like (8)
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    I would like the works: Who, When, Where, How, Why, History, Taxes as well as Ethics. If you can clear all the hurtles, you're clean to a seat on a committee to advise the President. However, if the President wants specific information from a single, knowable expert, this should be permitted.
    Like (6)
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    Let's not forget the first order of business in the House was to try to gut the Ethics Committee. Transparency is a good thing and that is why the GOP/Party of Dump is against it.
    Like (5)
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    Lordy. The pro argument is laughable considering that it is almost impossible to get Americans to vote! Who in the general population is likely to care enough to seek out this information if it was easily available? SO WHY SPEND THE MONEY? Besides, given the loose grip on ethics the current Republican dominated federal government has evidenced, I'm not certain this would make any difference! They are out to make a misery of the lives of ordinary citizens while robbing us blind. Nothing is likely to stop the carnage!!!
    Like (4)
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    If I have to follow the law, so should government and those that work with or for it.
    Like (3)
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    More transparency and any method to force a bipartisan working structure is superior to what exists right now.
    Like (3)
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    This seems to increase government transparency. We could always use more of that.
    Like (3)
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    Of course, too many elected officials have not operated ethically or legally in the past for this not to be something we keep.
    Like (3)
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    Right and wrong are black and white. One cannot have too stringent ethics policies.
    Like (2)
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    Control the facts, control the policy, control the nation. It's critical that the selection of our expert advisors is held to a uniform, bi-partisan-enforced standard of ethics.
    Like (2)
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    I feel that currently, our government has been overlooking ethics.
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    the public should have complete transparency. Without haste.
    Like (1)
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    No matter the committee, actions should always be ethical.
    Like (1)
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    Anyone influencing public policy should be bound by federal ethics regs
    Like (1)
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    We need more ethics oversights now more than ever!
    Like (1)
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    The public should have access to information about who the experts advising federal agencies are, and how they are chosen. Because their position carries significant influence, all advisory committee and subcommittee members should comply with federal ethics laws and conflict of interest rules.
    Like (1)
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