HomeWashington Letter2019 ▶ Trump Administration Orders Federal Agencies to Reduce Science Advisory Boards by One-Third
Trump Administration Orders Federal Agencies to Reduce Science Advisory Boards by One-Third

Earlier this month, President Trump issued an executive order to slash the number of federal government agency advisory panels, including some EPA science advisory boards, by at least one-third, capping the total number of advisory panels across all government agencies at 350, down from the current number of approximately 1,000 panels. The administration has set a deadline of Sept. 30, 2019, for agencies to review all panels and recommend eliminations. The order exempts committees tasked with consumer product safety or efficacy and extramural research grant review panels, including FDA and NIH advisory panels.

Federal advisory panels are intended to provide regulating agencies such as the EPA with independent science-based policy guidance. Experts estimate that about 14 of the EPA’s 22 committees could be vulnerable to elimination. EPA committees that could face the chopping block include the Children’s Health Protection Committee, Clean Air Advisory Committee, National Environmental Advisory Council and the Great Lakes Advisory Board. EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), which the Administration has limited scientific representation on while expanding industry positions on the panel, would not be under consideration for elimination because it was created through congressional statute. Advisory panels eliminated since January 2017 can count towards the overall committee cap of 350. The administration has also indicated that agencies can apply for waivers.

The ATS is concerned that the elimination of federal advisory panels will reduce scientific expertise and guidance used to develop critical public health regulations and agency transparency in developing such regulations. The administration’s executive order could face congressional opposition as Congress utilizes federal advisory panels to provide oversight.

Last Reviewed: June 2019