By-Laws and Operating Procedures
The following By-Laws and Operating Procedures (the “By-Laws”) will govern the operations of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (the “Commission”), a unit of the Executive Office of the President (“EOP”), whose support will be provided by the Executive Office of the President (“EOP”).
Section I: Functions, Objective, Organization and Operation
The functions of the Commission are advisory only. Its objective is to identify policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run. Specifically, the Commission shall propose recommendations to the President to balance the budget, excluding interest payment on the debt, by 2015. This result is projected to stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio at an acceptable level once the economy recovers. In addition, the Commission shall propose recommendations that meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government. The Commission shall provide its advice and recommendations, analysis, and information directly to the President. The President may direct the Commission to provide its analysis, information, and advice and recommendations to an agency with responsibilities relevant to the objective identified in the Charter, to Congress, or any other relevant congressional committee. To meet these objectives, the Commission will hold such activities, as necessary. The Commission shall vote on the approval of a final report containing a set of recommendations to achieve the objectives set forth in the Charter no later than December 1, 2010. The issuance of a final report of the Commission shall require the approval of not less than 14 of the 18 members of the Commission.
The Commission has been formed by the authority vested in the President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America. The Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App. 2 §§ 1-16, as amended (“FACA”), governs the creation and operation of advisory committees. In the event of any inconsistencies between the By-Laws and FACA (including its implementing regulations), the Commission will carry out its Charter in accordance with FACA (including its implementing regulations), as the same may be amended from time to time.
Section II: Members
The Commission shall be composed of 18 members who shall be selected as follows:
- six members appointed by the President, not more than four of whom shall be from the same political party;
- three members selected by the Majority Leader of the Senate, all of whom shall be current Members of the Senate;
- three members selected by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, all of whom shall be current Members of the House of Representatives;
- three members selected by the Minority Leader of the Senate, all of whom shall be current Members of the Senate; and
- three members selected by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, all of whom shall be current Members of the House of Representatives.
From among his appointees, the President shall designate two members, who shall not be of the same political party, to serve as Co-Chairs of the Commission. The Co-Chairs shall appoint an Executive Director, who shall supervise the staff of the Commission. Each member of the Commission shall serve for the duration of the Commission.
Section III: Meetings
- In General. The Commission shall meet at the call of the Co-Chairs with the approval of the Designated Federal Officer (the “DFO”), or at the call of the DFO. An official Commission meeting consists of a quorum of the Members (including the Co-Chairs) then serving on the Commission. The DFO shall approve all of the Committee’s meetings and ensure compliance with the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (“FACA”) and its implementing regulations. One or both of the Co-Chairs will preside at all meetings of the Commission, unless the President directs the DFO to preside in accordance with FACA. The presiding officer(s) of the Commission may specify the use of rules of parliamentary procedure consistent with the By-Laws. Subject to such reasonable guidelines and procedures as the presiding officer(s) of the Commission may adopt, Members may participate in a meeting by means of conference telephone or similar communications equipment if all Members can hear one another at the same time and members of the public entitled to hear them can do so.
- Notice. The Commission will publish notice of each meeting in the Federal Register at least 15 calendar days before the meeting, unless there are exceptional circumstances in which case the reason will be included in the Federal Register notice. The notice will include (1) the name of the Committee; (2) the time, date, place, and purpose of the meeting; (3) a summary of the agenda and/or the topics to be discussed; (4) a statement as to whether all or part of the meeting will be open to the public and, if any part is closed, a statement as to why, citing the specific statutory provision that serves as a basis for closure; and (5) the name and telephone number of the DFO or other official who may be contacted for additional information concerning the meeting.
- Agenda. Commission staff will distribute the agenda to the Members before each meeting and will make available copies of the agenda to members of the public attending the meeting. Items for the agenda may be submitted to the Co-Chairs by any Member of the Commission or by any member of the public.
- Quorum. A quorum will consist of 14 Members (including the Co-Chairs) then serving on the Commission.
- Voting. A Member must attend a Commission meeting either in person or by telephone to cast a vote. When a decision or recommendation of the Commission is required, the presiding officer(s) will request a motion for a vote. Any Member (including the Co-Chairs) may make a motion for a vote. No second after a proper motion will be required to bring any issue or recommendation to a vote. The issuance of a final report of the Commission shall also require the approval of not less than 14 of the 18 members of the Commission.
- Open Meetings. Unless otherwise determined in advance, all meetings of the Commission will be open to the public either in person as space permits or via live webcast. If, during the course of an open meeting, matters inappropriate for public disclosure arise during discussion, the presiding officer will order such discussion to cease and will schedule the matter for closed session in accordance with FACA. All materials brought before, or presented to, the Commission during an open meeting will be made available to the public for review during the meeting. All such materials also will be made available on the Commission’s web site, in accordance with FACA. The Co-Chairs of the Commission, or Executive Director, may decide in advance to exclude oral public statements during a meeting, in which case the meeting notice published in the Federal Register will invite written statements as an alternative. Members of the public may submit written statements to the Commission at any time.
- Activities Not Subject to Notice and Open Meeting Requirements. Consistent with FACA regulations, the following activities are excluded from the procedural requirements contained in Sections III(B) and III(F): (a) Preparatory work. Meetings of two or more Commission Members or subcommittee members convened solely to gather information, conduct research, or analyze relevant issues and facts in preparation for a meeting of the Commission, or to draft position papers for deliberation by the Commission; and (b) Administrative work. Meetings of two or more Commission Members or subcommittee members convened solely to discuss administrative matters of the Commission or to receive administrative information from a Federal officer or agency.
- Closed Meetings. All or parts of meetings of the Commission may be closed in limited circumstances in accordance with applicable law. Consistent with Section III(B)(4), the notice of the Commission meeting published in the Federal Register must include information on the closure.
- Hearings. The Commission may hold hearings to receive testimony or oral comments, recommendations, and expressions of concern from the public. The Commission may hold hearings at open meetings or in closed session, in accordance with the standards in the By-laws for closing meetings to the public. The Co-Chairs of the Commission may specify reasonable guidelines and procedures for conducting orderly hearings, such as requirements for submitting requests to testify and written testimony in advance and placing limitations on the number of persons who may testify and the duration of their testimony.
- Minutes. The DFO will prepare minutes of each meeting of the Commission and submit them to the Co-Chairs of the Commission for certification of their accuracy. The DFO will distribute copies of the certified minutes to each Member. Minutes of open or closed meetings will be made available to the public consistent with FACA requirements. The minutes will include a list of the persons who were present at the meeting, and a full description of the matters discussed and the resolution, if any, made by the Commission regarding such matters; and copies of all reports or other documents received, issued or approved by the Commission at the meeting.
Section IV: Officials
- Co-Chairs. The Co-Chairs of the Commission are appointed by the President and serve at the sole discretion of the President to perform the duties specified in the Charter and the By-Laws.
- Executive Director. The Co-Chairs of the Commission shall designate an Executive Director. The Co-Chairs of the Commission will work with the Executive Director and the DFO to establish priorities, identify issues that should be addressed, determine the level and types of staff and financial support required, and serve as the focal point for the Commission’s membership.
- Designated Federal Officer. The DFO is designated by the President (or his designee). Under FACA, the DFO must, among other things, approve or call all meetings of the Commission, attend meetings, and adjourn meetings when he or she determines such adjournment is in the public interest. In addition, the DFO is responsible for: (1) notifying Members of the time and place for each meeting; (2) maintaining the roll; (3) preparing the minutes of all meetings of the Commission and its subcommittees, as required by FACA; (4) attending to official correspondence; (5) maintaining official Commission records, including subcommittee records, as required by law; (6) maintaining a website for the Commission; (7) collect, validate and pay all vouchers for pre-approved expenditures of the Commission authorized by law; and (8) preparing and handling all reports (except those required by section 6 of FACA), including the annual report of the Commission required to be submitted to the General Services Administration under the FACA regulations.
- Support Staff. The President (or his designee) has determined that staff from the Federal Government is available to provide adequate staff support for the Commission. The Commission may, with the approval of the Executive Director, obtain such other staff, or advisory or assistance services appropriate to the goals of the Commission.
Section V: Subcommittees
The Co-Chairs, in consultation with the Executive Director, have the authority to create such subcommittees as necessary for the Commission to conduct its work. The Co-Chairs of the Commission will be ex officio members of each subcommittee. Only Members of the Commission will have the right to vote or make a motion for a vote in a subcommittee. No subcommittee will have any authority to provide advice or recommendations (1) directly to the President or any other agency or officer of the Federal Government or (2) to be adopted by the Commission without deliberation or consideration at an open meeting of the Commission. All activities of the subcommittees will be in compliance with FACA, as applicable.
Section VI: Records
- The records, reports, transcripts, minutes, appendixes, working papers, drafts, studies, agenda, or other documents which were made available to or prepared for or by the Commission shall be presidential records and shall be available for public inspection and copying at a single location online or in the offices of the Commission or the EOP.
- All other documentary material created or received by the Members or staff of the Commission in the course of carrying out the activities of the Commission shall be presidential records and maintained in accordance with the Presidential Records Act of 1978, 44 U.S.C. § 2201-07.
Section VII: Expenses
Expenses related to the operation of the Commission that are authorized by law will be borne by the EOP. Expenses of any kind must be approved in advance by the DFO.
Section VIII: Amendments
The By-Laws may be amended from time to time by approval of the Co-Chairs and the Executive Director.