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Overview and General Information on Advisory Committee Membership

As part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ongoing efforts to recruit qualified representatives and experts with minimal conflicts of interest who are interested in serving on USDA’s advisory committees. USDA is requesting nominations for members to serve on its advisory committees. To ensure that nominees are taken into account for the needs of underserved and diverse communities served by the USDA, memberships will include, to the extent practicable, individuals representing minorities, women, and persons with disabilities. USDA prohibits discrimination in all of its programs and activities based on race, sex, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, or disability. Additionally, discrimination based on political beliefs and marital status or family status is also prohibited by statutes enforced by USDA (not all prohibited bases apply to all programs).

Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) Advisory Committee Membership Types

USDA’s advisory committee members must be qualified and have experience or specialized knowledge or points of view in a particular field and/or interest area.

Our memberships come from both the public and private sectors and play an important role in shaping public policy on difficult issues facing Government decision makers. Although any executive branch employee and even an independent contractor may serve as a member of an advisory committee, most of USDA’s memberships fall into one of three categories:

Representatives. A representative is not a Government employee. Individuals who serve on advisory committees as representatives are appointed to a committee to provide it with the points of view of nongovernmental entities or of a recognizable group of persons (e.g., an industry sector, labor unions, or environmental groups, etc.). It is expected that representatives will represent a particularly bias.

Special Government Employees. A Special Government employee (SGE) is a temporary government employee who is retained, designated, appointed, or employed to perform temporary duties, with or without compensation, for not more than 130 days during any period of 365 days. Individuals who serve on advisory committees as SGEs are appointed to a committee to exercise their own individual best judgment on behalf of the Government. It is expected that SGEs will discuss and deliberate in a manner that is free from conflicts of interest. This distinction is important because SGEs are subject to less restrictive conflict of interest requirements and ethics rules than Regular Government Employees, but are subject to more restrictive requirements than nonemployees, who generally are not covered by the conflict of interest laws at all. SGEs are obligated to complete a public or confidential financial disclosure form report.

Ex-Officio. A federal employee who serves on a federal advisory committee to represent his/her agency and who has expertise in the subject matter.

A USDA Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO) will provide a committee’s membership designation and support agencies needing individual advice on memberships.

AMS Research and Promotion Boards Memberships refer to to find out more information on program board specific nomination process and requirements.