HHS spent $1.6B on advisory committees over 10 years

New GSA website shows $3.2B total federal spending on FACA committees

The Health and Human Services Department spent $1.6 billion on its official advisory committees in the last 10 years, half the federal government’s total spending of $3.2 billion on such committees during that period, according to figures released by the General Services Administration on a new website   about advisory spending transparency.

The GSA released information on agency spending under the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 on its new eFACA website. The official committees, board and commissions are created by Congress, the president or agency officials to provide recommendations on policy.

HHS was the highest-spending on FACA among cabinet-level agencies during the decade, followed by the Defense Department at $255 million, the Environmental Protection Agency at $137 million, the Interior Department with $88 million, the Energy Department at $74 million and the Veterans Affairs Department at $68 million.

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For all federal agencies, spending on advice rose from $226 million in 2001 to $384 million in 2006. It then dropped to $343 million in 2008 before rising again in 2010 to $387 million.

Agency expenditures on the advisory committees did not appear to follow a specific pattern. Some remained relatively flat, while a number peaked midpoint in the decade.

GSA created the new website to make it easier to access information on the committees, including overall spending, the number of committees per agency, membership, terminations, and topics covered.

"The eFACA website makes information from the Federal Advisory Committee Act database easier to find, understand, and use,” Kathleen Turco, associate administrator for the GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy, said in a news release on April 14.

The GSA also said that the new site supports its efforts to encourage the federal advisory committees to use social media and Web 2.0 media to reduce costs and improve public access.

Data on the advisory committees is also available through the Library of Congress, Data.gov, and the GSA’s FACA database website, which currently has information from 1995 to the present. GSA officials said they are working on expanding information available on years before 1995.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Tue, Apr 19, 2011

It's terrific that the Goverment agencies consult Advisory Committees but the question is: " What happens to the advice and is it implemented?" Or is the "funding" the best part of the process?

Tue, Apr 19, 2011 Tim Stephens DC

Excellent article, quite possibly explains why we have such a hard time controlling health costs: too much advice. Any thoughts?

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