New Executive Order Directs All Federal Agencies to Eliminate One-Third of Federal Advisory Committees

Jun 21, 2019

The White House recently released a new Executive Order (EO) directing all federal agencies to reevaluate all of its federal advisory committees, and terminate at least one-third of them. While this may raise a few eyebrows at the offset, the EO provides guidelines for the committees that should be cut. These guidelines note that committees that fall under the following purview should be discontinued:

  • Stated objectives of the committee have been accomplished;
  • Subject matter or work of the committee has become obsolete;
  • Primary functions have been assumed by another entity; or
  • Agency determines that the cost of operation is excessive in relation to the benefits to the Federal Government.

Many federal agencies depend on the counsel and advice of their advisory committees. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in particular relies on a bevy of committees to help keep it informed on a variety of issues. Some of the EPA’s most relied-upon committees include the Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC); the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC) and the EPA Science Advisory Board.

A White House spokesperson noted that a review off all committees was past due, having not taken place since the Clinton administration. “The President believes it is time to once more review and eliminate ones that are not relevant and providing valuable services so that we are good stewards of the taxpayers’ money,” the spokesperson said in an email to The Hill.

However, this announcement also received some pushback. “The things you are worried about are that complex decisions deserve to have the best experts and scientists convening,” said Gina McCarthy, EPA chief under former President Obama, in a recent phone interview. “While the agencies have terrific people, they don’t necessarily have the breadth of expertise they need.”

All agencies are directed to make the requisite cuts by September 30. The EO notes that after this date, the total number of advisory committees across the entire federal government is not to exceed 350, this means that almost 462 committees will need to be cut government-wide. However, as agencies evaluate their current committees and strive to eliminate one-third, they are permitted to include any committees that have been terminated since January 20, 2017 in their count to reach one-third.

However, agencies are permitted to request a waiver from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). If the Director deems a committee is necessary for the “delivery of essential services, for effective program delivery, or because it is otherwise warranted by the public interest” the agency may not be required to cut it.

To view the EO in full, click here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-evaluating-improving-utility-federal-advisory-committees/

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