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A considerable portion of the Board of Regents' work is carried out by its committees. The Board Bylaws specify the number of Regents who must serve on each committee, and note that committees may include citizens who are not members of the Board.
Currently there are nine standing committees. As provided in Section 4.09 of the Bylaws, the Board may establish other standing or special committees, such as the ad hoc Search Committee whose efforts resulted in the 2008 appointment of Secretary G. Wayne Clough and the appointment of Secretary David J. Skorton in 2015.
Standing committees include:
The committees meet several times each year and inform the Board on their findings, actions, and recommendations. Whereas Regents must be physically present to participate in full Board meetings, committee members may use teleconference or other electronic communications to conduct their meetings.
The authority and purpose of each committee is grounded in statute (Title 20 of the United States Code), in the Bylaws of the Board of Regents, and by resolution of the Board. By law, the Executive Committee establishes the agenda for the Board meetings. The Executive Committee also is empowered to act on behalf of the Board when it is not in session.
Members of the Executive Committee (and the Chancellor) are nominated by the Governance and Nominating Committee and elected by the Board. Membership on all other committees is by appointment of the Chancellor, following recommendation by the committee chairs, endorsement by the Governance and Nominating Committee, and approval by the Board.
With the exception of the Executive Committee, and where authorized by the Bylaws, committees may include non-Regent members, rely on the Secretary and staff for assistance, and contract for the services of consultants. Committee members are not compensated for their time and expertise.
Overviews of each standing committee and lists of their members follow, as well as links to committee charters and minutes of recent committee meetings.
NOTE: Ex officio committee members are noted by a plus sign (+), Regent Emeriti are noted by two asterisks (**), and non-Regent members are noted by one asterisk (*).
The three-member Executive Committee is the only committee of the Board that was established in the original Charter Provisions of the Smithsonian in 1846. Two of the three members must be citizen Regents. The committee typically meets about seven to 10 days prior to each regularly scheduled Board meeting to determine the meeting agenda. The Board Bylaws state that, "The Executive Committee shall have and may exercise all powers of the Board of Regents when the Board of Regents is not in session, except those expressly reserved to itself by the Board of Regents, provided that all such proceedings shall be reported to the Governance and Nominating Committee and the Board of Regents on a regular basis." The committee also conducts informal meetings with the Secretary between each full Board meeting.
The Advancement Committee assists the Board of Regents by overseeing the Smithsonian's advancement philosophy and policies; providing guidance to the Secretary and senior Smithsonian staff on attracting private sector support; reviewing proposed gifts and sponsorships that may require full Board consideration or action; and leading, guiding, and overseeing pan-institutional development efforts, including fundraising campaigns and projects. No fewer than three Regents serve on the Advancement Committee.
The Audit and Review Committee is comprised of no fewer than three Regents and may include any number of non-Regent experts. As stated in the Bylaws, "The Audit and Review Committee shall do all things necessary to assure the Board that the Institution's accounting systems and internal financial controls are in good order and to facilitate communication between the Board of Regents and the Institution's Office of the Inspector General, its independent auditors, and those of the Government Accountability Office." The committee convenes between each full Board meeting and provides updates at subsequent Board meetings. Committee meetings are usually attended by the Secretary; the Under Secretary for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer; the Treasurer; the Inspector General; the General Counsel; other appropriate Smithsonian offices; and representatives of the Smithsonian's independent auditors.
The Compensation and Human Resources Committee assists the Board in its review of the Smithsonian's compensation philosophy, policies, and procedures; annual determination of reasonable compensation for the Secretary and certain senior Trust positions; and review of human resources management at the Smithsonian. The committee and management also examine significant developments in such areas as staff relations, organization structure, management depth, diversity, and employee training. No fewer than three Regents serve on the Compensation and Human Resources Committee.
The Facilities Committee provides leadership and oversight for the revitalization and maintenance of the Smithsonian's physical plant, and works with the Congress to address the Smithsonian's facilities capital needs. No fewer than three Regents serve on the Facilities Committee.
The Finance Committee oversees the Smithsonian's annual budgets and long-range financial planning, providing updates to the Regents at each regularly scheduled meeting of the Board. The membership of the Finance Committee includes no fewer than three Regents.
The Governance and Nominating Committee, which consists of at least three members of the Board, oversees the governance policies and practices of both the Board and the Smithsonian. It makes recommendations to the Board to improve governance policies and practices; assesses the effectiveness of the Board, its members, and its committees; recommends candidates for service as citizen members of the Board; and nominates candidates for election as Chancellor, Chair, Vice Chair, and membership on the Executive Committee. It also is responsible for other nominations or recommendations as may be required by the Board.
The Investment Committee is responsible for the oversight of the Endowment, including the Smithsonian's overall investment strategy and Endowment guidelines. The committee provides updates on the status and management of the Endowment at each of the regularly scheduled meetings of the Board. The Investment Committee consists of no fewer than two Regents.
In cooperation with the Secretary, the Strategy, Innovation, and Technology Committee assists the Board in overseeing the development, periodic refreshment, and implementation of a pan-Institutional strategic plan; providing programmatic guidance and direction; reviewing major programmatic initiatives and ensuring their consistency with the Smithsonian’s mission and nature as a public trust; promoting programmatic collaborations among Smithsonian units and between the Smithsonian and outside organizations; overseeing the Smithsonian’s innovation and technology strategies and initiatives; assisting with the evaluation of management proposals for strategic investments, partnerships, and collaborations; assisting the Board of Regents in fulfilling its oversight responsibility of Smithsonian Enterprises; and performing such related functions as may be assigned to it by the Board of Regents.