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Portman, Hassan Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Transparency of Federal Advisory Committees

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) today introduced the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) Amendments, legislation that will impose stricter ethics requirements on advisory committee members, require agencies to make more information about committees public, make the procedures for establishing a committee and selecting members more transparent, and extend FACA to cover additional advisory committees that are currently exempt. Advisory committees are generally composed of individuals outside government who advise, and consult with, federal agencies on policy-making.  The text of the bill is here.

“American taxpayers deserve greater transparency and accountability from their government, and improving the transparency of federal advisory committees is essential to accomplishing that goal,” said Senator Portman.  “I’m particularly pleased that this bipartisan measure will strengthen the independence of federal advisory committees and close loopholes that permit agencies to skirt existing transparency requirements. At the end of the day American taxpayers deserve evidence-based, rather than interest-based, decisions by their government, and this bill will help to ensure that.”

“This common-sense, bipartisan legislation will increase the transparency of federal advisory committees to help ensure fiscal responsibility,” Senator Hassan said. “Federal advisory committees often make recommendations to federal agencies about how to spend taxpayer dollars, so it is crucial that there are checks in place to make sure that these recommendations are based in evidence, rather than in the committee members’ self-interest.”

NOTE: Federal government officials often consult with individuals outside of the federal government through commissions, committees, councils, task forces, or boards. These bodies are collectively referred to as federal advisory committees. Since 1972 the management of, access to, and oversight of these entities has been regulated by the Federal Advisory Committee Act.  Today there are roughly 1,000 federal advisory committees.  Since then, however, loopholes within FACA have been discovered, and experts agree reforms to close these loopholes and bring greater transparency to advisory committees are needed.  The measure is supported by Project on Government Oversight (POGO), National Security Archive, Open the Government, Demand Progress, Public Citizen, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).