A committee or commission is a body of one or more persons subordinate to a
deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a meeting of members who use parliamentary procedure. Etymology In a speech to the electorate at Bristol in 1774, Edmund Burke described the British Parliament as a "deliberative assembly," and the expression became ...
. A committee is not itself considered to be a form of assembly. Usually, the assembly sends matters into a committee as a way to explore them more fully than would be possible if the assembly itself were considering them. Committees may have different functions and their types of work differ depending on the type of the organization and its needs. A member of a legislature may be delegated a committee assignment, which gives them the right to serve on a certain committee.


deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a meeting of members who use parliamentary procedure. Etymology In a speech to the electorate at Bristol in 1774, Edmund Burke described the British Parliament as a "deliberative assembly," and the expression became ...
may form a committee (or "commission") consisting of one or more persons to assist with the work of the assembly. For larger organizations, much work is done in committees. Committees can be a way to formally draw together people of relevant expertise from different parts of an organization who otherwise would not have a good way to share information and coordinate actions. They may have the advantage of widening viewpoints and sharing out responsibilities. They can also be appointed with experts to recommend actions in matters that require specialized knowledge or technical judgment.


Committees can serve several different functions: ;Governance: In organizations considered too large for all the members to participate in decisions affecting the organization as a whole, a smaller body, such as a board of directors, is given the power to make decisions, spend money, or take actions. A ''governance committee'' is formed as a separate committee to review the performance of the board and board policy as well as nominate candidates for the board. ; Coordination and administration: A large body may have smaller committees with more specialized functions. Examples are an audit committee, an elections committee, a finance committee, a fundraising committee, and a program committee. Large conventions or
academic conference An academic conference or scientific conference (also congress, symposium, workshop, or meeting) is an event for researchers (not necessarily academics) to present and discuss their scholarly work. Together with academic or scientific journal ...
s are usually organized by a coordinating committee drawn from the membership of the organization. ; Research and recommendations: Committees may be formed to do research and make recommendations on a potential or planned project or change. For example, an organization considering a major
capital investment Investment is the dedication of money to purchase of an asset to attain an increase in value over a period of time. Investment requires a sacrifice of some present asset, such as time, money, or effort. In finance, the purpose of investing i ...
might create a temporary working committee of several people to review options and make recommendations to upper management or the board of directors. ;Discipline:A committee on discipline may be used to handle disciplinary procedures on members of the organization. ;As a tactic for indecision: As a means of public relations by sending sensitive, inconvenient, or irrelevant matters to committees, organizations may bypass, stall, or disacknowledge matters without declaring a formal policy of inaction or indifference. However, this could be considered a dilatory tactic.

Power and authority

Generally, committees are required to report to their parent body. Committees do not usually have the power to act independently unless the body that created it gives it such power.


When a committee is formed, a chairman (or "chair" or "chairperson") is designated for the committee. Sometimes a vice-chairman (or similar name) is also appointed. It is common for the committee chairman to organize its meetings. Sometimes these meetings are held through
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or other means if committee members are not able to attend in person, as may be the case if they are in different parts of the country or the world. The chairman is responsible for running meetings. Duties include keeping the discussion on the appropriate subject, recognizing members to speak, and confirming what the committee has decided (through voting or by unanimous consent). Using ''
Roberts Rules of Order ''Robert's Rules of Order'', often simply referred to as ''Robert's Rules'', is a manual of parliamentary procedure by U.S. Army officer Henry Martyn Robert. "The object of Rules of Order is to assist an assembly to accomplish the work for which ...
Newly Revised'' (RONR), committees may follow informal procedures (such as not requiring motions if it's clear what is being discussed). The level of formality depends on the size and type of committee, in which sometimes larger committees considering crucial issues may require more formal processes. Minutes are a record of the decisions at meetings. They can be taken by a person designated as the secretary. For most organizations, committees are not required to keep formal minutes. However, some bodies require that committees take minutes, especially if the committees are public ones subject to open meeting laws. Committees may meet on a regular basis, such as weekly or more often, or meetings may be called irregularly as the need arises. The frequency of the meetings depends on the work of the committee and the needs of the parent body. When the committee completes its work, it provides the results in a report to its parent body. The report may include the methods used, the facts uncovered, the conclusions reached, and any recommendations. If the committee is not ready to report, it may provide a partial report or the assembly may discharge the committee of the matter so that the assembly can handle it. Also, if members of the committee are not performing their duties, they may be removed or replaced by the appointing power. Whether the committee continues to exist after presenting its report depends on the type of committee. Generally, committees established by the
bylaws A by-law (bye-law, by(e)law, by(e) law), or as it is most commonly known in the United States bylaws, is a set of rules or law established by an organization or community so as to regulate itself, as allowed or provided for by some higher authorit ...
or the organization's rules continue to exist, while committees formed for a particular purpose go out of existence after the final report.

Commit (motion)

parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the accepted rules, ethics, and customs governing meetings of an assembly or organization. Its object is to allow orderly deliberation upon questions of interest to the organization and thus to arrive at the sense ...
, the motion to commit (or refer) is used to refer another motion—usually a main motion—to a committee. A motion to commit should specify to which committee the matter is to be referred, and if the committee is a special committee appointed specifically for purposes of the referred motion, it should also specify the number of committee members and the method of their selection, unless that is specified in the bylaws. Any proposed amendments to the main motion that are pending at the time the motion is referred to a committee go to the committee as well. Once referred, but before the committee reports its recommendations back to the assembly, the referred motion may be removed from the committee's consideration by the motion to discharge a committee.


In the
United States House of Representatives The United States House of Representatives, often referred to as the House of Representatives, the U.S. House, or simply the House, is the lower chamber of the United States Congress, with the Senate being the upper chamber. Together they ...
, a motion to recommit can be made with or without instructions. If the motion is made without instructions, the bill or resolution is simply sent back to the committee. If the motion is made with instructions and the motion is agreed to, the chairman of the committee in question will immediately report the bill or resolution back to the whole House with the new language. In this sense, a motion to recommit with instructions is effectively an amendment.

Variations for full assembly consideration

In ''Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised'' (''RONR''), the motion to commit has three variations which do not turn a question over to a smaller group, but simply permit the assembly's full meeting body to consider it with the greater freedom of debate that is allowed to committees. These forms are to go into a committee of the whole, to go into a quasi-committee of the whole, and to consider informally. Passing any of these motions removes the limitations on the number of times a member can speak. '' The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure'' has informal consideration, but does not have "committee of the whole" and "quasi committee of the whole".

Discharge a committee

In ''Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised'', the motion to discharge a committee is used to take a matter out of a committee's hands before the committee has made a final report on it. A committee can use this motion to discharge a subcommittee. The vote required is a majority vote if the committee has failed to report at the prescribed time or if the assembly is considering a partial report of the committee. Otherwise, it requires a majority vote with previous notice; or a two-thirds vote; or a majority of the entire membership. Under ''The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure'', the assembly that has referred a motion or a matter to a committee may, by a majority vote, withdraw it at any time from the committee, refer it to another committee, or decide the question itself.


Executive committee

Organizations with a large board of directors (such as international labor unions, large corporations with thousands of stock holders or national and international organizations) may have a smaller body of the board, called an ''executive committee'', handle its business. The executive committee may function more like a board than an actual committee. In any case, an executive committee can only be established through a specific provision in the charter or
bylaws A by-law (bye-law, by(e)law, by(e) law), or as it is most commonly known in the United States bylaws, is a set of rules or law established by an organization or community so as to regulate itself, as allowed or provided for by some higher authorit ...
of the entity (i.e. a board cannot appoint an executive committee without authorization to do so). Members of the executive committee may be elected by the overall
franchised Franchise may refer to: Business and law * Franchising, a business method that involves licensing of trademarks and methods of doing business to franchisees * Franchise, a privilege to operate a type of business such as a cable television ...
membership or by the board, depending on the rules of the organization, and usually consist of the CEO and the Vice Presidents in charge of respective directorates within the organization. However formed, an executive committee only has such powers and authority that the governing documents of the organization give it. In some cases, it may be empowered to act on behalf of the board or organization, while in others, it may only be able to make recommendations.

Conference committee

Governments at the national level may have a ''conference committee''. A conference committee in a bicameral legislature is responsible for creating a compromise version of a particular
bill Bill(s) may refer to: Common meanings * Banknote, paper cash (especially in the United States) * Bill (law), a proposed law put before a legislature * Invoice, commercial document issued by a seller to a buyer * Bill, a bird or animal's beak Pla ...
when each house has passed a different version. A conference committee in the United States Congress is a temporary panel of negotiators from the House of Representatives and the Senate. Unless one chamber decides to accept the other's original bill, the compromise version must pass both chambers after leaving the conference committee. The committee is usually composed of the senior members of the standing committees that originally considered the legislation in each chamber. Other countries that use conference committees include France, Germany, Japan, and Switzerland. In Canada, conference committees have been unused since 1947. In the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...
(EU) legislative process, a similar committee is called a ' Conciliation Committee', which carries out the
Trilogue A trilogue is a literary form in which an imagined conversation between three participants is recorded. Extant examples suggest that it is used especially to treat scientific, especially chemical and philosophical, topics. References Dialogues ...
negotiations in case the Council does not agree with a text amended and adopted by the
European Parliament The European Parliament (EP) is one of the Legislature, legislative bodies of the European Union and one of its seven Institutions of the European Union, institutions. Together with the Council of the European Union (known as the Council and in ...
at a second reading. Although the practice has fallen out of favour in other Australian Parliaments, the
Parliament of South Australia The Parliament of South Australia is the bicameral legislature of the Australian state of South Australia. It consists of the 47-seat House of Assembly ( lower house) and the 22-seat Legislative Council ( upper house). General elections ar ...
still regularly appoints a "Conference of Managers" from each House to negotiate compromises on disputed bills in private.

Different use of term

In organizations, the term "conference committee" may have a different meaning. This meaning may be associated with the conferences, or conventions, that the organization puts together. The committees that are responsible for organizing such events may be called "conference committees".

Standing committee

A standing committee is a subunit of a political or deliberative body established in a permanent fashion to aid the parent assembly in accomplishing its duties, for example by meeting on a specific, permanent policy domain (e.g. defence, health, or trade and industry). A standing committee is granted its scope and powers over a particular area of business by the governing documents. Standing committees meet on a regular or irregular basis depending on their function, and retain any power or oversight originally given them until subsequent official actions of the governing body (through changes to law or by-laws) disbands the committee.


Most governmental legislative committees are standing committees. The phrase is used in the legislatures of the following countries: * Australia **
Australian House of Representatives committees Parliamentary committees of the Australian House of Representatives are groups of Members of Parliament, appointed by the House of Representatives, to undertake certain specified tasks. They comprise government and non-government Members and have ...
** Australian Senate committees * Canada **
List of committees of the Canadian House of Commons The House of Commons of Canada (french: Chambre des communes du Canada) is the lower house of the Parliament of Canada. Together with the Crown and the Senate of Canada, they comprise the bicameral legislature of Canada. The House of Commons is ...
** Standing committee (Canada) * China ** Standing Committee of the National People's Congress ** Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party *
Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic Ocean and in the Arctic Ocean. Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Iceland's capital and largest city is Reykjavík, which (along with its ...
List of standing committees of the Icelandic parliament The following is a list of standing committees of the Icelandic parliament. See also * List of Icelandic ministries *Government agencies in Iceland The government agencies in Iceland are state controlled organisations who act independently t ...
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, in north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the s ...
** Committees of the Oireachtas * Hong Kong ** Legislative Council (Hong Kong) § Committee system * India **
Standing committee (India) In the Indian Parliament, a Standing committee is a committee consisting of Members of Parliament or MPs . It is a permanent and regular committee which is constituted from time to time according to the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of ...
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federal constitutional monarchy consists of thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two regions: Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo's East Mal ...
Dewan Rakyat committees The following is the list of members of Dewan Rakyat committees, which comprise Committee of Selection, House Committee, Standing Orders Committee, Committee of Privileges The Commons Select Committee of Privileges is appointed by the House of ...
Dewan Negara committees Committee of Selection 14th Parliament 13th Parliament 12th Parliament 11th Parliament 10th Parliament 9th Parliament 8th Parliament 7th Parliament 6th Parliament 5th Parliament 4th Parliament 3rd Parliament 2nd Parliamen ...
* New Zealand **
New Zealand House of Representatives committees Parliamentary committees of the New Zealand House of Representatives are groups of MPs appointed by the House of Representatives and tasked with overseeing bills and government policy in detail. Committees for the 53rd Parliament are established ...
* United Kingdom ** Parliamentary committees of the United Kingdom ** Public bill committee * United States ** Standing committee (United States Congress) Under the laws of the United States of America, a standing committee is a Congressional committee permanently authorized by
United States House of Representatives The United States House of Representatives, often referred to as the House of Representatives, the U.S. House, or simply the House, is the lower chamber of the United States Congress, with the Senate being the upper chamber. Together they ...
United States Senate The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, with the House of Representatives being the lower chamber. Together they compose the national bicameral legislature of the United States. The composition and po ...
rules. The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 greatly reduced the number of committees, and set up the legislative committee structure still in use today, as modified by authorized changes via the orderly mechanism of rules changes.

Examples in organizations

Examples of standing committees in organizations are an audit committee, an elections committee, a finance committee, a fundraising committee, a governance committee, and a program committee. Typically, the standing committees perform their work throughout the year and present their reports at an annual meeting of the organization. These committees continue to exist after presenting their reports, although the membership in the committees may change.

Nominating committee

A nominating committee (or nominations committee) is a group formed for the purpose of nominating candidates for office or the board in an organization. It may consist of members from inside the organization. Sometimes a governance committee takes the role of a nominating committee. Depending on the organization, this committee may be empowered to actively seek out candidates or may only have the power to receive nominations from members and verify that the candidates are eligible. A nominating committee works similarly to an electoral college, the main difference being that the available candidates, either nominated or "written in" outside of the committee's choices, are then voted into office by the membership. It is a part of governance methods often employed by corporate bodies, business entities, and social and sporting groups, especially clubs. The intention is that they be made up of qualified and knowledgeable people representing the best interests of the membership. In the case of business entities, their directors will often be brought in from outside, and receive a benefit for their expertise. In the context of nominations for awards, a nominating committee can also be formed for the purpose of nominating persons or things held up for judgment by others as to their comparative quality or value, especially for the purpose of bestowing awards in the arts, or in application to industry's products and services. The objective being to update, set, and maintain high and possibly new standards.

Steering committee

A steering committee is a committee that provides guidance, direction and control to a project within an organization. The term is derived from the steering mechanism that changes the steering angle of a vehicle's wheels. Project steering committees are frequently used for guiding and monitoring IT projects in large organizations, as part of
project governance Project governance is the management framework within which project decisions are made. Project governance is a critical element of any project, since the accountabilities and responsibilities associated with an organization's business as usual ...
. The functions of the committee might include building a business case for the project, planning, providing assistance and guidance, monitoring the progress, controlling the project scope and resolving conflicts. As with other committees, the specific duties and role of the steering committee vary among organizations.

Special committee

A special committee (also working, select, or ad hoc committee) is established to accomplish a particular task or to oversee a specific area in need of control or oversight. Many are research or coordination committees in type or purpose, and are temporary. Some are a sub-group of a larger society with a particular area of interest which are organized to meet and discuss matters pertaining to their interests. For example, a group of astronomers might be organized to discuss how to get the larger society to address
near Earth object A near-Earth object (NEO) is any small Solar System body whose orbit brings it into proximity with Earth. By convention, a Solar System body is a NEO if its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) is less than 1.3 astronomical units (AU). ...
s. A subgroup of engineers and scientists of a large project's development team could be organized to solve some particular issue with offsetting considerations and trade-offs. Once the committee makes its final report to its parent body, the special committee ceases to exist.


A committee that is a
subset In mathematics, set ''A'' is a subset of a set ''B'' if all elements of ''A'' are also elements of ''B''; ''B'' is then a superset of ''A''. It is possible for ''A'' and ''B'' to be equal; if they are unequal, then ''A'' is a proper subset of ...
of a larger committee is called a ''subcommittee''. Committees that have a large workload may form subcommittees to further divide the work. Subcommittees report to the parent committee and not to the general assembly.

Committee of the whole

When the entire assembly meets as a committee to discuss or debate, this is called a " committee of the whole". This is not an actual committee but a procedural device that is more commonly used in legislative bodies.

Central Committee

" Central Committee" was the common designation of a standing administrative body of communist parties, analogous to a board of directors, whether ruling or non-ruling in the 20th century and of surviving communist states in the 21st century. In such party organizations the committee would typically be made up of delegates elected at a party congress. In those states where it constituted the state power, the Central Committee made decisions for the party between congresses, and usually was (at least nominally) responsible for electing the Politburo. In non-ruling Communist parties, the Central Committee is usually understood by the party membership to be the ultimate decision-making authority between Congresses once the process of democratic centralism has led to an agreed-upon position.

See also

* Caucus *
List of IEC technical committees The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a standards-making body in the field of electrical and electronics technologies. The IEC works with National Committees in different countries in preparing and maintaining standards in this s ...
List of the Czech Republic Senate committees {{short description, None This is a complete list of all committees currently operating in the Senate of the Czech Republic. Committees * Committee on Agenda and Procedure **Chairperson: Milan Štěch ***1st Vice-Chairperson: Přemysl Sobotka ...
* Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Saudi Arabia) * Parliamentary Committees of the United Kingdom *
Popular Committees (disambiguation) Popular Committees may refer to any of the following organizations: * Popular Committees (Syria) * Popular Committees (Yemen) * Palestinian Popular Committees * Popular Resistance Committees * Popular Resistance Committees (Yemen) See also * Revolu ...
* Revolutionary committee (disambiguation) *
Standing Committees of the European Parliament The committees of the European Parliament are designed to aid the European Commission in initiating legislation. Standing committees are made up of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), who are directly elected to the seats in the Europ ...
* United States congressional committee


{{Authority control Human communication Legislatures Meetings Parliamentary procedure Political communication