Home » Uncategorized » Why Don’t FACA Committees Like Facebook? Social Media, Public Input, and the Federal Advisory Committee Act

Why Don’t FACA Committees Like Facebook? Social Media, Public Input, and the Federal Advisory Committee Act

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Keith Rizzardi

rizzardi

Why Don’t FACA Committees Like Facebook? Social Media, Public Input, and the Federal Advisory Committee Act

Abstract:

The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) ensures public access to the meetings of the many stakeholder and expert groups advising the United States. But the author, an experienced chairman of a federal advisory committee, confronted challenges when the use of social media as a way to enhance public input was proposed. This article considers three simple questions. The first legal question “can FACA committees use social media?” is answered with a “maybe” after studying the statutory terms and case law. The second factual question “do FACA committees use social media?” is answered with a “no” based on actual data. The third policy question “should FACA committees use social media?” is also answered with a no, because direct use of a social media site by the government creates obligations to manage the information received, and because these advisory committees exist primarily to provide expert advice, not as a forum for public comment. Rather than trying to force the advisory committee’s legal procedures to comport with the new electronic era of social media, this article encourages agencies to bypass FACA’s requirements by posting final committee work products on non-governmental social media sites as a way to inform and engage the public. This recommended approach may necessitate changes to a recent Executive Memorandum, but it could also enhance public input into the policy process, and increase the visibility and legitimacy of the FACA committee’s outputs

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