Our organizations, members of the Professionals for the Public Interest coalition, are concerned about the role and independence of professionals serving on federal advisory committees. These panels should provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to participate in an environment free from external pressures.
Professionals in an array of fields, including education, science, engineering, the arts, health and healthcare, serve the public in many capacities. Through education, training, specialization, standards, and accountability, frontline professionals and other practitioners bring a wealth of accumulated knowledge and experience. Their skills deliver high performance.
The Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (FACA) was passed to bring expert advice, ideas, and diverse opinions to the federal government. Nearly 1000 committees and other panels are integrated into the operation of the government to provide outside, independent advice and perspective to the agencies and the White House. Each year, 7000 meetings are held, most under FACA, collectively involving 67,000 members.
While serving on federal advisory committees, professionals should not be expected to compromise or ignore professional standards, to put personal or public safety at risk, or to alter, downplay or withhold research data or findings. To ensure and protect the integrity of the process as well as the integrity of the participants, an environment must be maintained where trust and accountability are integral components.
FACA requires advisory committees to be “fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented and the functions to be performed.” The FACA panels are a primary vehicle to involve professionals in the development of federal programs, policies, regulations, and standards. Their involvement ensures a prudent and more effective use of federal resources.