This article first appeared on The Fulcrum.
In an outright rejection of the basic concept that the federal government makes better decisions when it gets experts’ input, President Trump recently issued an executive order instructing all federal agencies to eliminate at least one-third of their advisory committees that aren’t required by law. This is sure to do more harm than good. In fact, it may well drive input from outside experts —on everything from public health to cybersecurity, from trade to civil rights—into the shadows, where we don’t know who agencies are hearing from or what is being said and where the public doesn’t have a voice.
Executive Order 13875 directs agencies to eliminate committees that have achieved their objectives or whose subject matter is obsolete. The order also sets an arbitrary government-wide cap of 350 for advisory committees not required by law, which will impede agencies from getting timely advice in the future on policy decisions and other federal actions.
Let’s take a step back and talk about where federal advisory committees come from and why we have them.