Merit review panels exempt from Trump order to reduce federal advisory committees ?>

Merit review panels exempt from Trump order to reduce federal advisory committees

President Donald Trump issued an executive order on June 14 to limit the number of federal advisory committees in the federal government.  The Executive Order on Evaluating and Improving the Utility of Federal Advisory Committee requires each executive department and agency to terminate one-third of its committees by Sept. 30.

The order also states that no agency can create a new advisory committee if the agency already has 350 or more advisory committees in place. None of the agencies we track meets this criteria. 

Federal agencies may request a waiver from the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, explaining why the exemption is needed.

Merit review panels at science agencies, such as the National Institute of Health and National Science Foundation, are exempt from this executive order.  Section 5 states that it does not apply to a “merit review panel or advisory committee whose primary purpose is to provide scientific expertise to support agencies making decisions related to the safety or efficacy of products.”

Meanwhile, advisory committees that provide scientific expertise and oversight for the institutes at the NIH may be included in the count. According to the Federal Advisory Committee Act database, the NIH and NSF operate 159 and 52 advisory committees, respectively.

Though President Barack Obama attempted to reduce the number of advisory committees during his time in office, community pushback thwarted those efforts.

Neither the NIH nor the NSF has released a response to Trump’s order.

Agencies are required report to the OMB director a detailed plan of continuation or termination of their advisory committees by Aug. 1.

We will continue to monitor developments and report relevant agency reports and findings. 


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