Federal Advisory Committees

Committees provide valuable, independent advice to the Office of Science (SC) regarding complex scientific and technical issues influencing the planning, management, and implementation of research programs. The Director of the Office of Science has at least one established Federal Advisory Committee (FAC) for each of the core science programs. These committees are governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) of 1972 (Public Law 92-463; 92nd Congress, H.R. 4383) and all applicable FACA Amendments, Federal Regulations, and Executive Orders. While these committees provide advice and guidance, federal program officials make all programmatic decisions.

Charter and Composition

To conduct business, every Advisory Committee must have an approved active Charter. Charters require renewal every two years, and their purpose is to specify the committee’s mission or charge. The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that the committees be “fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented and the functions represented and the functions to be performed,” and hence SC Advisory Committees generally include representatives from universities, national laboratories, and industries involved in program-relevant scientific research.

The Under Secretary for Science and Energy (or designee) holds authority to nominate, appoint, renew, and or terminate any of the committee’s membership, with such authority delegated by the Secretary of Energy. Committee members are experts appointed as Special Government Employees. A variety of factors are considered in formulating a Committee’s membership: primary among these is professional experience and qualifications; other factors include balance of representation across disciplines, institution types, regions, and demographics. Suggestions for membership on an Office of Science Federal Advisory Committee are welcome and may be submitted to the designated Committee Manager (see the individual Committee webpages for contact information). The Office of Science regrets that it may not be possible to respond to each suggestion.

Committees of Visitors

The Director of the Office of Science charges the relevant advisory committees to assemble special subcommittees, known as Committees of Visitors (COV), to assess the Office of Science programs on a regular basis. The COVs assess the efficacy and quality of the processes used to solicit, review, recommend, monitor, and document funding actions and to assess the quality of the resulting portfolio. The national and international standing of the programs’ sub-elements are part of the evaluation of the breadth and depth of the portfolio.

More information and an archive of COV reports is available here.

Notification and Frequency of Meetings

Public announcements of open, closed, or partially closed Advisory Committee meetings appear in the Federal Register at least two weeks prior to the meeting date. Relevant program web pages post meeting agendas, presentations, and minutes. Each SC Advisory Committee typically meets two to three times per year. A Designated Federal Official (DFO) manages each committee. Often, the Director of the Office of Science addresses committee meetings to deliver “the view from Washington” and to answer any questions.