An ad hoc committee is a group set up to consider a specific issue and generate recommendations or work on a resolution. Such organizations are typically temporary in nature and disband when they satisfactorily achieve their objectives. Membership in an ad hoc committee may be diverse and can include representatives of multiple agencies and organizations.
One reason to establish this type of committee is when a larger organization wants to address an issue, but does not have an appropriate committee or working group in place to handle it. To create a mechanism for expanding the reach of the organization or focusing on an issue of importance, it can set up an ad hoc committee. Members may be drawn from existing membership and the organization could also recruit outsiders if it is covering a new or unfamiliar issue.
Legislative bodies use these committees when they want a temporary group to focus on a particular topic and come up with legislative recommendations. They are typically offshoots of permanent committees and will take their findings to the larger committee so it can address the issue on the floor. For example, if a legislature has a committee on employment and labor rights, it might form an ad hoc committee to discuss employment of people with disabilities as part of a government effort to promote opportunities for disabled people.
Resources available to an ad hoc committee can vary. Some have substantial funding and can call upon outside experts and sources of information to accomplish their aims. Others may not have large resource bases to draw upon and could be more limited in scope. Charitable organizations often limit funding to temporary committees to avoid the creation of a drain on their finances. Committees may apply for grants or funding from outside sources to make up for funding shortfalls.
The power of an ad hoc committee is also variable. A committee may have the ability to set regulations, develop a framework for enforcement, and take other concrete steps. In other cases, it can only make recommendations to a larger committee or organization. The larger body will decide which actions to take, if any, after considering presentations and reports from the committee. Proceedings can be open or closed. Some committees prefer to work in closed session to focus on complex topics and develop a polished, thorough report for the public. Others may be open and could welcome public testimony and input as they work on an issue of interest and importance.