Federal Government Funds 825 Advisory Committees…at a Cost of $334 Million a Year

Thursday, November 05, 2015
HHS chief Sylvia Burwell, whose agency has 264 advisory committees

The U.S. government spent more than $300 million last year to operate more than 800 advisory committees, according to the Congressional Research Service.

 

Advice and recommendations on policies were provided by 825 such committees in fiscal year 2014, at a cost of $334 million, according to the CRS report (pdf). The costs per committee ranged from $100 to more than $22 million. There were also 164 more committees that were inactive.

 

Executive branch agencies are prohibited from creating more than 534 advisory committees, but the committees themselves can also create their own advisory committees. Congress and the president can create as many as they want.

 

A quarter of the committees were based in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with many of them connected with the National Institutes of Health.

 

In total, the committees leaned on the expertise of more than 68,000 individuals. Some of these members were paid for their time, which cost $33 million. Another $43 million was allocated for their travel and per diems.

 

The CRS suggested federal agencies could reduce costs by cutting the pay for members from the private sector, state or local government, or a nonprofit organization, though it also admitted that such a move could make it harder to recruit qualified individuals.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Federal Agencies Spent $334M on Advisory Committees in 2014 (by Eric Katz, Government Executive)

The Federal Advisory Committee Act: Analysis of Operations and Costs (by Wendy Ginsberg, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)

Obama Loosens Restrictions on Lobbyists Serving on Advisory Boards (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)

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