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Press Release Published: Mar 16, 2021

Bipartisan Congressional Leaders Introduce Bill to Improve Transparency of Federal Advisory Committees

Washington, D.C. (Mar. 16, 2021)—Today, Reps. James Comer and Carolyn B. Maloney, the Ranking Member and Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, along with Senator Rob Portman, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Senator Maggie Hassan, Chair of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight, issued the following statements as they introduced the Federal Advisory Committee Transparency Act:

“This bipartisan legislation would strengthen the Federal Advisory Committee Act to make federal advisory committees more transparent and accountable.  Advisory committees provide expert advice to federal agencies on a range of topics,” said Chairwoman Maloney.  “For years, agencies have used loopholes to avoid making the work of these advisory committees transparent to the public.  Under this bill, agencies would have to disclose more information such as how advisory committee members are chosen and whether the experts who serve on those committees have conflicts of interest.”

“The federal government must serve and be accountable to the American people, but bureaucratic hurdles and shadow governing often get in the way. By amending the Federal Advisory Committee Act, we are ensuring greater transparency in how federal advisory committees operate and select their members so Congress and taxpayers can better see, understand, and hold accountable these committees for acting in the best interest of our country and its citizens,” said Ranking Member Comer.  “I appreciate Chairwoman Maloney, Senator Portman, and Senator Hassan’s partnership in introducing this commonsense legislation, and I strongly urge both Senate and House leadership to urgently move this bill through both chambers.”

“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 Ranking Member 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 bipartisan legislation will increase the transparency of federal advisory committees that can play a significant role in advising how Americans’ taxpayer dollars are spent,” said Senator Hassan. “This bill is one common-sense way to make our government work better on behalf of the American people, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to strengthen transparency and tackle waste, fraud, and abuse.”

The Federal Advisory Committee Transparency Act would make some of the following reforms:

·         Requiring that agencies inform committee members of any applicable ethics requirements.

·         Ensuring the disclosure of detailed minutes from advisory committee meetings.

·         Clarifying that the law applies to subcommittees and to committees set up by a contractor. 

A coalition of 18 transparency and good government groups and experts sent a letter supporting the bill.  

The Federal Advisory Committee Transparency Act passed the House of Representatives in the 114th, 115th, and 116th Congress.