Veterans HealthMilitary NewsWhat is FACA? - Find Out The Top 10...

What is FACA? – Find Out The Top 10 Important Roles of The Federal Advisory Committee Act

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FACA – Learn more with Healthier Veterans Today The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) is a Federal law that governs the creation and operation of advisory committees.

The Federal Advisory Committee Act significantly guarantees transparency and accountability in the federal government’s decision-making processes. 

FACA establishes guidelines and regulations for the operation of advisory committees that provide advice and recommendations to federal agencies and departments. 

1. Transparency

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FACA requires that the meetings of advisory committees be open to the public, ensuring that citizens have access to information about the government’s decision-making processes.

Congress passed the Federal Advisory Committee Act in 1972 to create an orderly procedure by which federal agencies may seek collective advice from diverse customers, partners, and stakeholders.

Establishes procedures for the management of federal advisory committees, ensures transparency of advisory committee decision-making, and ensures balanced representation 

Ensures that federal advisory committees convened to give group advice are accountable to the public by maximizing public access to advisory committee deliberations and minimizing the influence of special interests through balanced committee membership.

Seeks to reduce wasteful expenditures and improve the overall administration of federal advisory committees

2. Public Participation

 FACA encourages public participation in policymaking by allowing interested individuals and organizations to attend meetings, provide input, and submit comments and recommendations.

Federal advisory committees are established by one of four authorities:

1. Presidential authority

2. Statutory requirement

3. Statutory authority

4. Federal Agency discretion

Today, an average of 1,000 federal advisory committees with over 50,000 members advise the President and the Executive Branch on various issues.

3. Balanced Representation

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FACA mandates that advisory committees be reasonably balanced regarding their membership, including diverse viewpoints, expertise, and backgrounds. 

This helps ensure that a single interest group does not unduly influence decisions.

This committee calls upon federal agencies to thoroughly consider the need for a new committee before establishing it. 

Under FACA, a discretionary committee is terminated after two years unless the agency renews the committee’s charter prior to the two-year expiration date. 

Further, they require agencies to terminate a committee once its function is completed.

4. Expertise

FACA allows federal agencies to tap into the expertise of individuals and organizations outside the government, helping them make informed and well-rounded decisions.

As a new member of a federal advisory committee, your responsibilities are to:

  1. Attend and participate in committee meetings.
  2. Study materials are provided in advance of the meetings.
  3. Be willing to engage in an exchange of views and perspectives and search for consensus-based solutions.
  4. Comply with the applicable ethics in government laws.
  5. Cooperate with your committee’s designated federal officer.
  6. Serve on the committee for your appointed term, or if you find you cannot serve, resign from the committee.
  7. Refrain from any language or activities that would compromise the civility of the committee.

5. Recommendations

 Advisory committees established under FACA are tasked with providing recommendations and advice to federal agencies, which can inform policy and regulatory decisions.

These committees play an essential role at the agency by providing advice that helps the agency develop regulations, accredited laboratories, and manage research programs, among other activities. 

These committees address pesticides, drinking water quality, air quality, rural community welfare, and children’s health.

6. Conflict of Interest Mitigation

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FACA requires advisory committee members to disclose potential conflicts of interest and allows agencies to address these conflicts to maintain the integrity of the advisory process.

Regular Government Employee (RGE) members are individuals employed by the federal government. 

As an RGE member, you are providing your best judgment based on your professional expertise, consistent with your agency’s policies. 

7. Record-Keeping

FACA mandates that detailed records be kept of advisory committee meetings, including minutes, transcripts, and other documents

This ensures transparency and accountability in the decision-making process.

Committee meetings must be announced in advance and open to the public unless designated as closed for national security or other appropriate reasons. 

The public shall be provided an opportunity to voice comments to the committee.

All committee documents provided to or prepared by the committee, including:

  1. Reports
  2. Transcripts
  3. Drafts
  4. Minutes
  5. Working papers
  6. Agendas

These must be made available for public inspection and copying unless they can be withheld under the Freedom of Information Act. 

The committees must be “balanced” in the points of view represented for the functions to be performed.

8. Termination and Renewal

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FACA establishes procedures for the termination or renewal of advisory committees, ensuring that they remain relevant and effective.

Your functions as a committee member may differ depending on the type of appointment under which you were invited to serve. 

Below are the three types of member designations under the Federal Advisory Committee Act:

  1. Representative members are selected to represent the point of view of a group. 

Representative members may represent groups or organizations, such as industry, labor, consumers, academia, or any other recognizable group of persons interested in matters before the committee.

  1. Exceptional Government Employee (SGE) members are appointed to provide the agency with their best independent judgment based on their expertise. As an SGE member, you speak for yourself as an expert in your field.
  2. Each committee must have a designated federal officer to manage the committee and attend each meeting. Meetings may only be conducted in the presence of the DFO.

9. Cost Efficiency

FACA requires agencies to justify the need for and the costs associated with establishing and maintaining advisory committees, promoting cost-effective governance.

10. Oversight

FACA establishes a role for Congress in overseeing the operation of advisory committees, helping ensure that they function according to the law and their intended purpose.

The Federal Advisory Committee Act is vital in promoting transparency, accountability, and effective decision-making in the federal government by regulating the operation of advisory committees. 

It helps ensure that diverse perspectives and expertise are considered in the policy and regulatory processes, ultimately benefiting the public interest.

Federal advisory committees are an essential tool within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for building consensus and providing input and recommendations from the EPA’s diverse customers, partners, and stakeholders. 

Important Roles of The Federal Advisory Committee Act…

These committees are governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972. 

The EPA manages 22 committees and 11 subcommittees, which are integral components that help advance the agency’s key priorities and carry out its mission to protect human health and the environment. 

The EPA holds numerous committee meetings annually. In 2022 the agency had 88 committee meetings, including 643 members representing science and technology, policy, public health, industry, academia, tribal groups, and other stakeholders.

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