use of newspaper and radio, thought needs to be given to how newer methods of information transmission (e.g., electronic means such as computer bulletin boards) might be utilized to communicate commission conclusions.
Action-forcing Powers. Although a national commission should be advisory, its recommendations should be published, and relevant federal agencies should be required to respond to those recommendations within a defined "comment period" (e.g., 180 days), either by adopting the recommendations or by explaining why they are not being adopted.
For recommendations that are addressed to federal departments and agencies, action-forcing authority is highly desirable, as the positive experiences of both the National Commission and President's Commission and the negative experiences of the HFTTRP demonstrate. However, such authority is not self-executing, and agency officials who want neither to act nor to explain their inaction may sometimes disregard the statutory requirements. This is especially easy for them to do once the commission goes out of existence.
Having action-forcing powers means that deliberations will be approached more thoughtfully by all, including members of the commission itself. National commissions of the past have worked more effectively in reaching their recommendations when they knew that the recommendations would be responded to by others and would potentially have a direct regulatory impact.
Funding and Staff. A national commission should be given adequate resources and staff to accomplish its task. It should be funded by direct appropriation to ensure its independence. It should have authority over its own budget and the hiring and firing of its staff.
The cost of running a national commission depends on the breadth of the group's mandate, the estimated number of commissioners and staff needed, the number and location of the anticipated meetings, and the cost of printing and disseminating the reports that will be produced. The President's Commission was authorized for $5 million per year for four years; in operation, it expended under $5 million over its entire lifetime (39 months), meeting 28 times (generally for 2 days) and publishing a total of 17 volumes. The ability to bring highly qualified experts to the staff for one- and two-year terms of service has several beneficial results: it accelerates a commission's work, because of the experts' knowledge of their fields; it enhances the quality of the work, because such staff members want to produce work they can be proud of when they return to their home institutions; and it helps to avoid bureaucratization of the commission.