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A significant function of the staff of the Office of the Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States is to furnish advice and assistance on problems of administrative procedure to the agencies and to the Congress. The Administrative Conference Act specifically contemplates a role for the Conference in advising the agencies and arranging for the interchange of information among them on matters of administrative procedure. See 5 U.S.C.89574(2), 575(c) (14). Because of the Conference's perspective over the broad range of agency and administrative programs, the consultative capacity of its staff is a unique resource-one that the Congress increasingly has recognized and relied upon.
In several recent instances, Congress has specifically directed the Conference to perform advisory and consultative services for the agencies. A notable example is the Government in the Sunshine Act, P.L. 94-409. Signed into law on September 13, 1976, the Act requires the collegial agencies of the Federal Government to open meetings of agency members to public observation, except where the subject matter of the meeting falls within one of ten specified categories of exemption. Subsection (g) of the Act provided a six-month period between its enactment and its effective date to permit the affected agencies to prepare implementing regulations, and it assigned to the Office of the Chairman the duty of consulting with the agencies on the preparation of those regulations.
Pursuant to this mandate, Executive Secretary Richard K. Berg and Staff Attorney Stephen Klitzman held a series of meetings with representatives of affected agencies, circulated drafts and other materials supplied by the agencies, offered oral and written comments on proposed regulations, endeavored to answer questions from agency representatives, and generally served as an effective clearinghouse for Sunshine Act information in the process of preparing the regulations.
Building upon that consultative activity, Messrs. Berg and Klitzman have written this Interpretive Guide to the Government in the Sunshine Act. The Guide brings together in concise form materials drawn from the consultative effort, as well as from the published legislative history, from proposed and final agency regulations, and from other relevant sources. In their work on the Guide the authors have had full editorial freedom, and it should be emphasized that the views expressed in the Guide are those of the authors and do not represent official positions of the Administrative Conference.