Statutes and Related Legislation

Advisory committees have played an important role in shaping programs and policies of the federal government from the earliest days of the Republic. Since President George Washington sought the advice of such a committee during the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, the contributions made by these groups have been impressive and diverse. The extent of these contributions also pointed to the need for regulated use of advisory committees. Attempts to regulate advisory committees included Department of Justice guidelines in 1955; a bill in 1957 that did not make it out of Congress; Bureau of the Budget (predecessor to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)) guidance in the early 1960’s; and an Executive Order in 1962.

It was not until a House Committee on Government Operations Subcommittee initiated an investigation on the use of advisory committees by the federal government in 1969/1970, and held hearings, that the groundwork was laid for legislation to regulate advisory committees. Based on the investigation findings, in 1970 the House Committee issued recommendations that became the foundation of a bill introduced in 1971 to regulate advisory committees. This bill was eventually passed by Congress, and President Nixon signed the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) into law (P.L. 92-463; 5 U.S.C. App. [DOC - 156 KB]) on October 6, 1972. The Federal Advisory Committee Act formalizes a process for establishing, operating, overseeing, and terminating Federal advisory committees (FACs). The Act’s legislative history [PDF - 3 MB] provides the rationale behind the language in the Act. Regulations have been promulgated that provide the details for implementing the Act and are known as the FACA Final Rule.

Since 1972, several laws and actions were implemented that affect the operation of FACs:

Section 204 of Public Law 104-4 (Unfunded Mandates Reform Act or UMRA). (1995 ) UMRA provides a critical exemption to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) [DOC - 156 KB], in order to promote the free communication between the federal government and state, local, and tribal governments. More details on what it means and whether or not the exemption applies to a particular situation can be found at UMRA. Access OMB guidelines and instructions for implementing Section 204.

Last Reviewed: 2022-06-06