The Citizen Handbook
Citizen Tools for Participation
An advisory committee can be a formal or informal group brought together by a larger body or single official to discuss issues, form a consensus, and then offer recommendations. The idea behind an advisory committee is to engage non-state actors in the process of public policy-making and to ensure that public officials and government policy-making bodies have direct access to key stakeholders at the community level.
Such committees can be given a very narrow mandate (i.e. identify development opportunities and challenges in a specific part of town) or have a wide range of areas and topics it will advise on.The purpose of these committees will determine their composition. Often elected officials, and even local assemblies, will utilize multiple advisory committees to provide guidance and input on a wide variety of issues (e.g. public safety, business, environment, health care, etc.). As such, members will come from specific areas of expertise.
Be sure to get to know the different members of advisory committees and try to attend their meetings. If possible, even try to make a presentation on issues important to you. An advisory committee's recommendations can influence on the policymaking and service delivery process, so do not under estimate their value to your own efforts. Furthermore, try to get on their email list and other contact lists so you can get copies of their reports and/or recommendations.