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Information about FACA subcommittees (work groups)

June 4, 2009


Fact Sheet on FACA (Federal Advisory Committee Act) Subcommittees

1. The rules for FACA subcommittees are found in 41 C.F.R. Part 102.3 (“the Rules”).

  • The Rules assume there is a “parent” advisory committee, chartered under FACA.
  • Subcommittee = subgroup, working group, task force, etc.; the actual name does not matter, as long as it reports to the chartered advisory committee.
  • Subcommittees are created by the agency, not by the parent advisory committee.

2. In general, the requirements of FACA and the Rules do not apply to “subcommittees of advisory committees that report to a Federal officer or agency.”

  • FACA assumes that the committee giving advice directly to the agency will be chartered and operated under the Rules.
  • However, subcommittees report to the chartered committee, not to the agency itself.
  • Therefore, most of the Rules do not apply to the subcommittees.
  • First Warning: “Subcommittees that report directly to a Federal officer or agency must comply with [the Rules] and include in a charter the information required by [the Rules]. (In other words, such subcommittees would need to be chartered.)

3. Holding meetings of a subcommittee

  • There is no requirement for subcommittee meetings to be announced in the Federal Register; nor is it necessary to allow public access.
  • The Designated Federal Official (DFO), or his or her alternate, must attend subcommittee meetings.
  • For advisory committees with many subcommittees, we recommend that the Charter provide for a DFO and Alternate DFO.
  • Second Warning: “If a subcommittee makes recommendations directly to a Federal officer or agency, or if its recommendations will be adopted by the parent advisory committee without further deliberations by the parent advisory committee, then the subcommittee’s meetings must be conducted in accordance with all openness requirements of this subpart.” In other words, you will need a Federal Register notice, open meetings, etc.
  • There is no specific requirement in the Rules to keep detailed minutes of subcommittee meetings; however, a note taker should keep some record as to what transpired in case a question later arises.

Notes drafted by Alice Kottmyer, Attorney, Office of the Legal Advisor, U.S. Department of State
13 February 2009

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