Federal Advisory Committee Charters
Regardless of whether a federal advisory committee (FAC) is required by the President (Presidential), is required by statute (statutory), or is authorized by statute or created under agency authority (discretionary), a formal charter must be prepared and filed before the FAC can meet or take any action. In addition to establishing a FAC, the purpose of the charter is to specify the FAC’s mission or charge, specific duties, and general operational characteristics. Transparency and clarity are the primary objectives. Agency staff or designated federal officers who are assembling a FAC should contact their agency Committee Management Officer for advice and guidance on preparing and filing a charter. In general, the steps include:
The statutory and regulatory requirements for the components of a FAC charter are identified in Section 9 of FACA (5 U.S.C. App.), and are repeated in the FACA implementing regulations in 41 CFR § 102-3.75. The guidance provided in the FACA statute and regulation is broad and leaves room for interpretation; therefore, the GSA Committee Management Secretariat (CMS) prepared best practice guidance for writing effective and compliant advisory committee charters (Preparing Federal Advisory Committee Charters). As noted in this guidance, there are 15 statutory and recommended components that need to be incorporated into the FAC charter. Download example charters for the different types of committees (Presidential, statutory, and discretionary). The charter is informed by, and must be consistent with, the Membership Balance Plan that is prepared for each FAC.
Charter Consultation and Filing
Whether or not an agency must formally consult with CMS on a charter, and the procedures for public noticing and filing of the charter, depend on the type of FAC (Presidential, statutory, or discretionary) and the current action being taken with regard to that FAC (establishment/re-establishment, renewal, or amendment). Subpart B of the FACA regulation describes the required actions and the appropriate sequence. FAC charters must be filed with the agency head, the Library of Congress, the appropriate standing committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the CMS. The charter for any federal advisory committee is uploaded to the FACA database and can be accessed and downloaded from www.facadatabase.gov.
In general, per 41 CFR § 102–3.55, a FAC automatically terminates two years after its date of establishment unless the statutory authority used to establish the FAC provides a different duration, the FAC charter is renewed, or the FAC completes its work and is terminated.