Title: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service logo - Description: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service logo

107 FW 4
Appointment of Committee Members

Supersedes 107 FW 4, 5/14/12

Date: February 13, 2019, as amended 6/4/2020

Series: Committees and Advisory Boards

Part 107: Advisory Committees

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                                                                        TABLE OF CONTENTS

Topics

Sections

OVERVIEW

4.1 What is the purpose of this chapter?

4.2 What is the scope of this chapter?

4.3 What are the authorities and responsibilities for this chapter?

Background on Committee Members

4.4 Who appoints committee members?

4.5 What are the different types of members?

4.6 Can members have alternates?

4.7 What are the standards for selection of members?

4.8 Are members subject to ethics laws and regulations?

4.9 Is there a limit on the length or number of terms?

4.10 Does the Service compensate committee members?

 

Soliciting Members

4.11 How are potential members solicited and evaluated?

4.12 Is there a vetting process for prospective members?

Appointment Process

4.13 What must be in the membership package that the Designated Federal Officer (DFO) prepares to request the Secretary’s consideration for appointments?

4.14 How does the DFO manage members’ participation after they are appointed?

OVERVIEW

 

4.1 What is the purpose of this chapter? This chapter describes the procedures for recruiting, selecting, and appointing members to Federal advisory committees that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) administers.

 

4.2 What is the scope of this chapter? The requirements in this chapter only apply to committees that are governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

 

4.3 What are the authorities and responsibilities for this chapter? See 107 FW 1 for the authorities and responsibilities for all the chapters in Part 107.

 

BACKGROUND ON COMMITTEE MEMBERS

4.4 Who appoints committee members? Unless otherwise provided by statute, regulation, or committee charter, the Secretary reserves the authority to appoint advisory committee members and alternates.

 

4.5 What are the different types of members? Members may be:

 

A. Representatives. These members represent entities or groups that are outside of the Federal Government. The opinions, information, and advice of these members will reflect the particular biases of the represented group. Most FACA members on Service committees are representatives.

 

B. Special Government Employees. Special Government Employees (SGEs) provide temporary service to the Government (not to exceed 130 days during any period of 365 consecutive days) with or without compensation. SGEs are often recruited because they provide outside expertise or perspectives that might be unavailable among an agency's regular employees. SGEs are subject to Government ethics laws and may be required to file a financial disclosure form (see section 4.8).

 

C. Ex Officio Members. An ex officio member is a member who is appointed to the advisory committee by virtue of his/her position. For example, if the authorizing statute or charter states that one member will be the Director of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, that member would be appointed as an ex officio member. Unless there are constraints in the authorizing statute or charter, ex officio members may have the same rights as other members, including debate, making formal motions, and voting.

 

D. Regular Government Employees. Selection of a Federal employee as a member of an advisory committee must be based on the employee's particular expertise or on his or her capability as a representative of the bureau or office. Members are expected to express official positions and make agreements that are subject to further review within the organization. They must inform supervising officials about committee activities (also see 115 FW 1, Official Public Communications).

 

4.6 Can members have alternates? If authorized in the committee charter to maintain membership balance if a member is absent, alternates may be appointed. Because alternates may participate as members and vote, the documentation required for appointment, including vetting, is the same as for primary members.

 

4.7 What are the standards for selection of members?

 

A. Lobbyists. A lobbyist is a person who takes part in an organized attempt to influence legislators. We consider any individual who is subject to the registration and reporting requirements of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, as amended, 2 U.S.C. 1605, at the time of proposed appointment or reappointment to be a lobbyist.

 

(1) Individuals who are registered as Federal lobbyists may not be appointed or reappointed to Federal advisory committees to serve as SGEs, and in some cases, as ex officio members.

 

(2) If such an individual previously served as a federally registered lobbyist, he or she may be appointed or reappointed if he/she has met at least one of the following requirements:

 

(a) Filed a deregistration and can prove it,

 

(b) Been delisted by his/her employer as an active lobbyist, or

 

(c) Not appeared on a quarterly lobbying report for three consecutive quarters because he/she has stopped lobbying activities.

 

(3) Representatives (and some ex officio members) may be or may have been lobbyists because we appoint them to represent the interests of a nongovernmental entity, which is what people do in their capacity as lobbyists.

 

(4) The Department of the Interior requires that we include the following statement in all Federal Register notices and other methods we use to solicit members:

 

“Individuals who are federally registered lobbyists are ineligible to serve on all FACA and non-FACA boards, committees, or councils in an individual capacity. The term "individual capacity" refers to individuals who are appointed to exercise their own individual best judgment on behalf of the Government, such as when they are designated Special Government Employees, and not when they are appointed to represent a particular interest.”

 

B. Membership Balance. The membership of advisory committees must be balanced in terms of the points of view represented and the functions to be performed. We select appointees to ensure that the advice and recommendations of the advisory committee will not be inappropriately influenced by the Service or by any special interest, but will be the advisory committee's independent judgment. Additional considerations are:

 

(1) The membership of a committee depends on its functions (e.g., the membership of a committee whose sole function is to consider scientific questions may be limited to scientists). However, when membership is limited to a group like scientists, we should make an effort to include scientists representing different points of view and different types of employment (university, industry, etc.).

 

(2) Depending on the committee’s functions, we should select members to represent a variety of economic and social groups and geographic areas.

 

(3) There must be no discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, age, disability, national origin, sex, or genetic information. Selection based on tribal status, when appropriate for the functions of the committee, is not considered discrimination on the basis of race, as the tribal status is a political identity, not racial, and based on the Federal trust responsibility.

 

4.8 Are members subject to ethics laws and regulations?

 

A. All members must follow the ethics requirements that appear in their charters, regardless of the type of appointment.

 

B. SGEs are subject to ethics in Government and conflict-of-interest laws and may be required to file a confidential financial disclosure form (OGE Form 450, Confidential Financial Disclosure Report) when appointed and annually as long as they serve. SGEs have to file the OGE Form 450 if they are involved in any of the following activities as part of their committee duties:

 

(1) Contracting or procurement;

 

(2) Administering or monitoring grants, subsidies, licenses, or other federally conferred financial or operational benefits;

 

(3) Regulating or auditing any non-Federal entity; or

 

(4) Other activities in which the final decision or action will have a direct and substantial economic effect on the interests of any non-Federal entity.

 

If a Designated Federal Officer (DFO) is unsure about whether or not an SGE must file an OGE Form 450, he/she should contact his/her servicing Ethics Counselor.

 

C. Federal Government employees serving on an advisory committee are subject to the ethics laws as required by their employment. See Part 212 of the Service Manual.

 

D. Ex officio members who are not Federal employees must comply with the ethics requirements of their organizations (e.g., state, local government, tribe, non-profit) and those that appear in the committee’s charter.

 

4.9 Is there a limit on the length or number of terms?

 

A. Unless otherwise stated in law or regulation, membership appointments may not exceed 3 years.

 

B. Although there is no limit established by law on the number of terms, charters may limit how many terms a member may serve. Even if there is no limit, when terms expire, we encourage the DFO to solicit new membership to preserve a fresh perspective and ensure impartiality of points of view represented.

 

4.10 Does the Service compensate committee members? Unless otherwise specified in law, committee members serve without pay, but they may be eligible for reimbursement for travel and per diem expenses while attending committee meetings (in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 5703). Alternates may also be eligible for reimbursement of travel and per diem expenses when attending a meeting in the absence of the primary member.

 

SOLICITING MEMBERS

4.11 How are potential members solicited and evaluated? The DFO, or his/her designee, should begin the solicitation and evaluation process at least 6 months prior to the date appointments need to be made. (We recognize that the Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils in Alaska have a comprehensive and effective solicitation and evaluation process that is somewhat different from the one described in this section.) Having people who represent key interests and balanced viewpoints enables the committee to provide the Department and the Service with recommendations that represent diverse stakeholder perspectives.

 

A. Begin the solicitation process by developing a list of people or organizations that have knowledge or involvement in the issues that the committee will address. You should broaden the pool of qualified individuals by publishing a call for nominations in the Federal Register, in newspapers, on the internet, and through other forms of public solicitation. See the FACA website for a sample call for nominations notice for publication in the Federal Register.

 

B. Develop criteria to rank prospective members. Use the committee charter as a basis for establishing criteria to fulfill membership needs. Some examples of criteria that you could use to screen candidates include:

 

(1) Background and qualifications. This includes the level of knowledge and experience that members need to adequately address issues facing the committee, and the ability to make decisions or provide advice on behalf of an organization or represented group.

 

(2) Interest in or involvement in the issues the committee will address.

 

(3) Skills and experience in communication and collaboration processes.

 

(4) Availability and willingness to commit the time needed to participate as a member of the committee.

 

C. After evaluating prospective members, prepare a membership package (see section 4.13) for the Secretary’s consideration for appointment to the committee. If a statute, regulation, or charter allows someone other than the Secretary to make appointments, the full package may not be required.

 

4.12 Is there a vetting process for prospective members? Yes. The Office of the Secretary ensures that all prospective members are vetted to be sure there are no issues that would affect their service on the advisory committee. While the membership package is in the surname process, the DFO should work with the Group Federal Officer (GFO) in the Division of Policy, Economics, Risk Management, and Analytics, Policy and Regulations Branch (PRB), on vetting proposed members. The GFO will coordinate vetting with the Department’s Committee Management Officer.

 

APPOINTMENT PROCESS

4.13 What must be in the membership package that the DFO prepares to request the Secretary’s consideration for appointments? The membership package includes recommendations and information on prospective members for the Secretary’s consideration when appointing committee members.

 

A. Email the following draft documents to the GFO in PRB for review (see the Service’s FACA website for templates):

 

(1) Note to reviewers describing appointments and due dates.

 

(2) Transmittal memorandum providing background information on the committee and recommendations for appointment. This memorandum is addressed from the Director through the Assistant Secretary – Fish and Wildlife and Parks to the Secretary.

 

(3) Briefing paper(s) for the White House Liaison providing background on qualifications of nominees. Depending on the needs of the current administration, additional briefing papers (and even in-person briefings) may be required. Check with the GFO about current requirements.

 

(4) Appointment letter for each prospective member. Appointment letters must contain:

 

(a) A brief sentence stating the purpose of the letter, name of the committee, and the scope of the committee.

 

(b) Type of appointment (see section 4.5). For representatives, the letter must include the group being represented. For SGEs, the letter must include information on ethics responsibilities.

 

(c) Term of appointment (e.g., “for 3 years beginning the date of this letter”).

 

(d) Name of the DFO and contact information.

 

(5) Resumés or biographical information for each prospective member.

 

(6) Copy of current charter for the advisory committee.

 

(7) Copy of vacancy report for the committee or list of current members.

 

(8) Authorizing legislation (if applicable).

 

B. After incorporating the GFO’s comments on the draft documents, upload the documents into the Data Tracking System (DTS), and send them for surname through your chain-of-command to your supervising Directorate member.

 

C. After your supervising Directorate member surnames the package, it should be assigned to PRB. PRB will prepare the hard copy package if your program does not prepare it, and send it through the appropriate chain-of-command to the Director’s office. The Director’s office will send it to the Department for the Assistant Secretary’s and Secretary’s approval.

 

4.14 How does the DFO manage members’ participation after they are appointed? DFOs should work with a Service Ethics Counselor to arrange for an ethics briefing for FACA members soon after they are appointed. See 107 FW 5, Meetings, Recordkeeping, and Reporting for Advisory Committees for more information.

 

For more information about this policy, contact Krista Bibb in the Policy and Regulations Branch, Division of Policy, Economics, Risk Management, and Analytics.

 

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