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Open Government

Advisories committees, like the FOIA modernization panel (above) that included the author, serve as a vehicle for agencies to get regular input from different perspectives and as a method of holding the government accountable, writes Moulton.

Closing the door on advice

Moulton is a senior policy analyst at the Project on Government Oversight.

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, 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Order 13875 directs agencies to eliminate committees that have achieved their objectives or whose subject matter is obsolete.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 advisory committees not required by law, which will impede agencies from getting timely advice on policy decisions and other federal actions.

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