Federal advisory committees are frequently chartered by the Chief Executive, Congress, and agency heads to render independent advice and to make recommendations. By virtue of their ad hoc status, advisory committees can circumvent normal bureaucratic constraints to provide diverse points of view in matters of public policy within a definite time frame. Whether designated as commissions, committees, councils, or task forces, these independent study bodies have dealt with social crises, policy issues, and technical problems of major proportions. Commissions provide a flexible option, since their composition, organization, and working arrangements may be varied through the specific mandates establishing them. Congress formally acknowledged the merits of using advisory committees to obtain expert views drawn from business, academic, government, and other interests when it enacted the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) in 1972 (5 U.S.C. Appendix Federal Advisory Committee Act; 86 Stat. 770, as amended). Pursuant to FACA requirements, the General Services Administration (GSA) maintains and administers management guidelines for commissions. This report sets forth definitions and requirements for creating commissions as required by FACA. Twelve commissions were created by the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (112 Stat. 2681), and are used here to illustrate the various options that are available for creating independent study bodies. This report will be updated periodically to reflect changes in FACA guidelines.