Information to Assist Faculty in Securing Appointments to Federal Committees

The State University System of Florida has created a helpful guide to assist faculty in applying for federal agency advisory boards or committees. As explained in the guide, service on such committees and advisory boards is an excellent way to contribute to both the university at large and the agency served. Further, such service can enhance one’s own professional development and career trajectory via gains in knowledge about the grant making process as well as through networking and leadership opportunities. The guide below provides information about agencies with such positions and how to be selected for them.

State University System of Florida 

April 25, 2016

Resources to help in securing appointments to federal boards

We would like to pass along some information to help our State University System faculty and administrators when considering an application for service on federal agency advisory boards or committees.  In this increasingly competitive federal funding environment, such service may help your institution and the individual become even more successful in the grant application process.

There are over 1,000 agency committees across the government.  Service on them usually involves a 4 or 5 year term appointment. Travel and related expenses are covered by the sponsoring agency.

Such service contributes to:

  • the agency — by providing the government with needed outside expert advice
  • the university — by having its visibility raised in these settings
  • the appointed faculty member – by achieving prestigious agency service which can be a career enhancer

Serving on these committees can provide faculty with valuable knowledge and insight about an agency’s culture, budget and inner workings, as well as exposure to agency leaders and decision makers.

Central listing

The government maintains a centralized access point for all “Federal Advisory Committee Act” committees arranged by agency.  See: This database provides important information about the committees, including their decision-makers and general information. It contains a wealth of information for each committee.

The link to the complete list of agencies with advisory boards and committees is found at

Click on each agency of interest to see the latest list and links to each. For instance, to find NIH-related committees, click on the Department of Health and Human Services and then click on the committee of interest to see background information and the contact information for the relevant official.

Or, to search by name for committees at individual agencies, see

How to use the link

The link will take you to a complete list of government agencies sponsoring committees under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, a law that specifies certain procedures for open meetings, adequate meeting notice and chartering.

From there you can select an agency of interest.  For example, clicking on the Department of Health and Human Services link will provide a list of 267 committees operating under the agency. Selecting a particular committee will provide general information, members and the contact or decision maker relating to the committee. Committees range from the Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect to the World Trade Center Health Program Scientific Technical Advisory Committee –and everything in between!

Nomination letter

Once a committee has been identified, normally a letter of nomination is required to the appointing official, often the Department Secretary. These letters can be sent by other faculty, deans, school presidents, association leaders. Usually a local Member of Congress can also provide a letter of endorsement if the faculty member is known to the Member. Often for peer review groups, the process involves a self nomination. It also generally helps to have your professional association, university supervisors or some other third party who is familiar with your work write a letter of support.

Other agency resources

In addition to the main committee link provided above, your faculty may also want to explore the websites of individual agencies for more information on other committees, especially peer-review or study sections that review grants.

For example the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and Department of Energy each have great need for faculty, including early career reviewers, to serve on peer review committees to judge grant applications.

National Institute of Health Study Sections

For information on the expertise required and the nomination and selection criteria and process at NIH, see:  To find lists of all study sections, integrated review groups and special emphasis panels:

NIH lists the top ten reasons for serving in this way: We asked a number of reviewers why someone considering becoming a reviewer should do it, and here is what they told us:

Get a Front Row Seat to the Future: “It’s intense and cutting edge . . . and intellectually stimulating to see the wonderful ideas and approaches to major problems that come through.”

Become More Successful: “It really helps you to appreciate the difference between good grant writing and bad grant writing, more importantly between good science and bad science.”

Learn More: “It is the best way to stay up to date in your field, and to gain insights from other fields that can be applicable to your own work.”

Meet New Colleagues: “Getting together with colleagues to review grants is still one of the best mechanisms for building and maintaining professional contacts.”

Become a Better Mentor: “I got much better at counseling young people in how to think about their applications and what to do, and it’s paying off in their success.”

Give Back: “I feel it’s something I owe the scientific community . . . If you’re going to be a part of the system, you have to bear the responsibility.”

Shape the Future: “Helping to mold what direction science goes in is very satisfying.”

Reviewers with a substantial commitment to NIH review also can submit at anytime applications that would otherwise have a standard due date.

National Science Foundation

NSF has similar needs for merit reviewers. For information on how to become an external reviewer at the National Science Foundation, see:

Department of Energy

For information on advisory committees at the Department of Energy, Office of Science, please visit:

Prepared by Cavarocchi-Ruscio-Dennis Associates for the State University System of Florida.  For more information, contact Brent Jaquet at or 202 484-1100.