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White House Proposes to Slash Number of Federal Advisory Committees

An executive order issued by President Trump on 14 June instructs federal agency heads to evaluate the need for each of their current advisory committees established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act and to terminate at least one-third of non-statutorily required advisory committees by 30 September, thereby reducing the input provided to the federal government by the private sector, academia and other important stakeholders. Recommendations by federal agency heads on the committees that should be continued or terminated – including statutorily required committees, in which case recommended legislation may be provided as appropriate – are due by 1 August.

In particular, committees are to be targeted for elimination if their stated objectives have been accomplished, the subject matter or work of the committee has become obsolete, the primary functions of the committee have been assumed by another entity, or the federal agency determines that the cost of operation of the committee is excessive in relation to the benefits to the federal government.

Agencies with fewer than three current eligible committees are exempt from the committee termination requirement, as are agencies that obtain a waiver from the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Committees terminated since 20 January 2017 may be counted toward the committee termination requirement.

The EO also seeks to limit at 350 the combined total number of government-wide eligible committees (i.e., committees authorised by law but not required by statute, excluding those of independent regulatory agencies), down from about 1,000 currently. If that number is exceeded, an agency would not be able to establish a new advisory committee unless it obtains an OMB waiver.

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