An increasing number of federal agencies have turned to the use of advisory committees over the last several decades for guidance on public policy or technical review of government-funded projects.
An important and potentially contentious issue surrounding the use of advisory committees is how to judge their success. A general review of readily available literature regarding federal advisory committees suggests that the success of an advisory committee is fundamentally linked to a precise, unambiguous knowledge of the objectives and purposes of the particular committee (i.e., knowing exactly what needs to be accomplished and how to accomplish it) and is generally judged in terms of actual contributions made towards decision-making. However, the determination of the value of the contributions made or evaluation of committee performance is more directly tied to the unique function of the committee.
To address that unique need, the Secretariat contracted with the Gallup Organization to conduct a series of focus groups among federal officials and advisory committee participants and managers to gain and incorporate insights and guidance from federal officials, federal advisory committee members, and federal advisory committee managers on the specific performance measures that would be appropriate for advisory committees. Differences between committees that deal with technical and grant/peer review issues and those that deal with policy recommendations were also sought.