A committee (or "commission") is a type of small deliberative assembly that is usually intended to remain subordinate to another, larger deliberative assembly—which when organized so that action on committee requires a vote by all its entitled members, is called the "Committee of the Whole". Committees often 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 committee (such as a Board of Directors or "Executive Committee") is given the power to make decisions, spend money, or take actions. Some or all such powers may be limited or effectively unlimited. For example of the later case, the Board of directors can frequently enter into binding contracts and make decisions which once taken or made, can't be taken back or undone under the law.
- Coordination: individuals from different parts of an organization (for example, all senior vice presidents) might meet regularly to discuss developments in their areas, review projects that cut across organizational boundaries, talk about future options, etc. Where there is a large committee, it is common to have smaller committees with more specialized functions - for example, Boards of Directors of large corporations typically have an (ongoing) audit committee, finance committee, compensation committee, etc. Large academic conferences are usually organized by a co-ordinating committee drawn from the relevant professional body.
- Research and recommendations: committees are often formed to do research and make recommendations on a potential or planned project or change. For example, an organization considering a major capital investment might create a temporary working committee of several people to review options and make recommendations to upper management or the Board of Directors. Such committees are typically dissolved after issuing recommendations (often in the form of a final report).
- Tabling: 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.
Famous quotes containing the word committee:
“What are men celebrating? They are all on a committee of arrangements, and hourly expect a speech from somebody. God is only the president of the day, and Webster is his orator.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“A committee is an animal with four back legs.”
—John le Carré (b. 1931)
“Any committee that is the slightest use is composed of people who are too busy to want to sit on it for a second longer than they have to.”
—Katharine Whitehorn (b. 1926)