city government committee

Local Government Advisory Committee Management Best Practices

Advisory committees serve as essential conduits for informed decision-making and community engagement within governmental bodies. However, the success or failure of these committees often hinges on the clarity of their purpose and the effectiveness of their management. Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider when establishing and overseeing advisory committees:


  1. Clearly Define the Committee’s Charge:
    • Provide a concise and specific mandate outlining the committee’s purpose and responsibilities. Lack of clarity in the charge can lead to confusion and inefficiency.
  2. Set Time Limits:
    • Establish clear timelines for the completion of tasks or projects assigned to single-purpose committees. For ongoing committees, periodically reassess their relevance and effectiveness.
  3. Select Diverse Members:
    • Choose committee members based on a diverse range of factors such as expertise, demographics, geographic representation, and stakeholder interests. This ensures a well-rounded perspective and balanced decision-making.
  4. Provide Staff Support:
    • Allocate resources to provide administrative and logistical support to advisory committees whenever possible. While some committees may operate successfully without dedicated staff, support enhances their effectiveness.
  5. Define Relationship with Staff:
    • Clarify the role of staff in supporting the committee, including tasks such as providing resources, coordinating meetings, and implementing recommendations. Involve relevant managers in decision-making processes regarding the committee’s operations.
  6. Offer Orientation and Training:
    • Provide orientation and training sessions for new committee members to familiarize them with their roles, responsibilities, and the broader context of their work. This is particularly important for non-specialists or individuals new to governmental processes.
  7. Establish a Work Program:
    • Develop a structured work program outlining the objectives, timelines, and deliverables for the committee’s term. This keeps members focused and ensures progress towards achieving goals.
  8. Conduct Evaluations:
    • Regularly evaluate the committee’s performance and impact, either internally or through self-assessment. This allows for adjustments and improvements to enhance effectiveness.
  9. Maintain Communication:
    • Foster open and regular communication channels between the governing body, staff, and advisory committees. Regular reports from committees keep stakeholders informed, and periodic meetings facilitate dialogue and collaboration.
  10. Disband Committees Appropriately:
    • Acknowledge and express gratitude for the contributions of advisory committees when their work is completed. Disband committees promptly to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and resource allocation.


  1. Disregard Committee Advice:
    • Ignoring the advice of advisory committees undermines their purpose and discourages qualified individuals from participating in the future.
  2. Allow Committee Overreach:
    • Prevent advisory committees from exerting undue influence over staff, which can disrupt organizational hierarchy and decision-making processes.
  3. Overpopulate Committees:
    • Avoid creating an excessive number of committees in an attempt to demonstrate responsiveness. This can lead to conflicts, resource constraints, and a dilution of focus.
  4. Rush into Compensation:
    • Exercise caution when considering compensation for committee members. Conduct thorough studies and develop long-term plans to avoid financial pitfalls and ensure equity.

Effective management of advisory committees requires careful planning, clear communication, and adherence to established protocols. By following these do’s and don’ts, governmental bodies can leverage the expertise of advisory committees to inform policy decisions and promote community engagement effectively.