January 22, 1985
Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies
Subject: Reform of Federal Advisory Committees
Federal agencies receive outside advice, information, and assistance from some 900 advisory committees, councils, boards, and commissions. They include a total of about 20,000 members, at a combined annual cost of approximately $74 million. About two-thirds are established by statute.
A recent analysis found that 284 advisory committees reported no significant accomplishments during the last reporting period, and of these, 161 reported no activity whatever. The study also found that in many cases agencies failed to give serious consideration to the policy recommendations of committees.
It is evident that many advisory committees are not serving a useful purpose, and should be eliminated. It is also obvious that valuable committees are not receiving proper support and attention from agency leadership. Elimination of needless committees and improved management of the remainder will result in increased committee credibility and better advice and information at lower cost to the government.
Therefore, you should undertake a thorough review of your agency's committees and achieve the following objectives:
1. Assure that all committees are effectively managed, that they are provided adequate policy guidance, that recommendations are evaluated, and cost savings achieved wherever possible.
2. Eliminate all committees not producing significant results, or whose advice is no longer needed by the government. Legislation would be required to abolish committees established by statute.
The Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration will assist you in this effort and will report overall progress, consistent with the annual review required by the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
In the interest of good management, I urge your continued attention to this matter.