Federal advisory committees have become a core part of the federal government, guiding the work of many offices within the Executive Branch. Something like a thousand federal advisory committees exist, influencing governmental activities in a huge number of fields, such as agriculture, education, military affairs, public lands, scientific research and economic development.
What are these federal advisory committees doing? For the most part, it’s impossible to tell. Though they’re directing work done by what’s supposed to be our representative government, a large majority of these committees are operating in secret. According to a Secrecy Report Card just released, 73 percent of federal advisory committee meetings last year were closed to the public. Additional subcommittee and working group meetings were not even disclosed – so no one can tell how many such secret meetings took place.
That’s not the open government that candidate Obama promised us.