Secret meetings and conflicts of interest for experts on federal advisory committees are still problems, openness advocates told Congress during Sunshine Week 2013.
Such problems are supposed to be addressed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act  (FACA) of 1972, but gaps in its requirements for openness and integrity have remained — and perennial efforts to amend the law have not fixed the problems. Bills to reform FACA have been considered, but not enacted, in the previous two Congresses.
This week the WatchDog hears talk that such efforts will continue in the current (113th) Congress. Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) has been a frequent sponsor of such bills in the past. He has not yet introduced a FACA bill in the current Congress.
FACA requires the Government Services Administration to maintain a searchable online database on federal advisory committees. It's a great aid for reporters in searching for secret meetings and conflicts of interest on a particular beat.
- FACA Database. 
- "In Support of the Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 2011,"  Climate Science Watch, October 14, 2011.
This is one of the stories in the March 13, 2013 issue of SEJ's biweekly WatchDog. Find the rest of the stories and past issues here.