Populating a Federal Advisory Committee (FAC)
The Federal Advisory Committee (FACA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 5(b)(2) and 5(c) requires that when FAC’s are created their membership be fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented and the functions to be performed by the FAC. However, the FACA does not specify the manner in which advisory committee members and staff are appointed. While GSA’s regulations provide guidance, ultimately the population of a FAC is relegated to Department policy set forth in the Department’s August 15, 1997 memorandum and any requirements spelled out in the FAC’s charter and other establishing documents. The Department’s policy sets forth a 4 step process for recruiting, selecting, clearing and nominating FAC members, as highlighted in the flow chart below. The selection, clearance and nomination process is closely coordinated with the Department’s Office of White House Liaison.
- FAC members are recruited through solicitations in:
- the Federal Register;
- on the Departmental office's website; and
- through any other sources that would be useful in reaching the widest relevant audience.
- Members are recruited to serve in one of two capacities:
- as individuals based on their expertise (these members serve as Special Government Employees); or
- as representatives of outside groups which have an interest in the subject matter of the committee (members serve as representatives).
- Respondents to FAC recruitment notices should be reviewed based on membership criteria set forth in the FAC charter. Consideration of the scope, nature, and desired outcome of the FAC, the size of the FAC, the respondents expressed interest in the FAC and their individual expertise and/or technical skills should be given.
- Once respondents have been identified as potential members, they must be vetted and cleared. The vetting and clearance process includes the following for all prospective members:
- an internal vet through major line offices of the operating unit responsible for the committee;
- an external vet consisting of a Lexis-Nexis check;
- an ethics check to ensure that members do not represent organizations that appear on the Secretary's disqualification statement, if appointed by the Secretary (coordinate with the Ethics and Programs Law Division);
- a check to ensure that the members are not Registered Foreign Agents (written confirmation is required);
- a check to ensure that the member is not a registered lobbyist; and
- A SF-85, Questionnaire for Non-Sensitive Positions (for security clearances), or a SF-86, Questionnaire for Sensitive Positions (for security assurances), and a FD-258 Fingerprint Card must be completed;
- In addition to the above clearances, members who are to serve as Special Government Employees must also submit financial disclosure forms (OGE Form 450), and if applicable, a conflict of interest waiver request. Be sure to coordinate this review and clearance early in the process with the Ethics and Programs Law Division.
- Once the vetting and clearances process is complete, the Secretary should be forwarded the following to complete the nomination of a potential member:
- A memorandum for the Secretary containing membership recommendations;
- copies of the written clearance verifications; and
- letters of invitation for the Secretary's signature, with a copy of the filed charter enclosed.
Acceptance of the Secretary's invitation constitutes the members appointment to the FAC. The Designated Federal Officer of the FAC should retain all acceptance letters.