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Austin Directs 'Zero-Based Review' of DOD Advisory Committees

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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has directed a "zero-based review" of all Defense Department advisory committees, DOD officials said today.

A metal placard reading "DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE" is displayed on a building facade.
Pentagon Sign
The Department of Defense sign is displayed on the Pentagon's exterior, Jan. 22, 2021.
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando, DOD
VIRIN: 210122-D-BN624-0029Y

The officials, speaking on background, also said Austin directed all members of the committees to resign from the committees by Feb. 16.

The action does not include presidentially or congressionally appointed committees. So, while the Defense Policy Board will be affected, the visitors boards of the military academies will not.

There are at least 42 committees containing hundreds of advisors who are covered by the secretary's ruling. These committees advise on a broad swath of issues within the department including policy, personnel, business, scientific education, training, health care and memorial activities, the official said.

The secretary was concerned "with the pace and the extent of recent changes to memberships of the department advisory committees done with a bit of frenetic activity in the final two months of the previous administration," the official said. "I think it … gave him pause to consider the broad scope and purpose of these boards and to think about how they can best be aligned and organized and composed to provide competent, technical professional advice."

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Pentagon View
An aerial view of the Pentagon, Oct. 28, 2018.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Quinn Hurt
VIRIN: 181028-M-YQ395-0060Y

Austin directed the interim director of administration and management, as well as the acting general counsel of DOD, to lead the study. They must have their recommendations to the secretary of defense by June 1. "These recommendations will include items such as retention, realignment, termination, changes to mission or function, membership, membership size, and even possible legislative changes to non-discretionary advisory committees," officials said.

Officials said there is some overlap in the studies of many of the committees. They look at this study as a way to address that.

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