The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) is charged with certain responsibilities under the law. At the same time, the scope of the IACC is actually quite limited and often misunderstood. In my opinion, the word “coordinating” may be a bit of an overstatement as the committee does not control funding nor does it have the power to make policy or to initiate research.
Here are the responsibilities of the IACC, as well as some of the limitations of the IACC, from the IACC Charge Document.
Statutory Responsibilities of the IACC under the Combating Autism Act and
Combating Autism Reauthorization Act
The IACC was established to coordinate all efforts within the Department of Health and Human
Services concerning autism spectrum disorder and is required to:
Develop and annually update a strategic plan for ASD research, and submit the strategic plan
and annual updates to Congress.
Develop and annually update a summary of advances in ASD research.
Monitor federal activities with respect to ASD.
Make recommendations to the HHS Secretary regarding research or public participation in
decisions related to ASD.
Meet at least twice a year (full committee) and conduct meetings in public with time for public
participation (public comment).
The committee may establish subcommittees and convene workshop and conferences.
How has the IACC executed these responsibilities?
The IACC serves as a forum for coordination, communication and collaboration between Federal
agencies, private organizations and community stakeholders.
The IACC developed its first strategic plan in 2009 and updated it in 2010 and 2011 with the goal
of focusing and accelerating research. The plan was developed with public input and a focus on
The IACC has issued an annual Summary of Advances in ASD Research document each year –
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The IACC issues a Portfolio Analysis Report to analyze Federal and private funding for research
and how funding aligns with priorities identified in the Strategic Plan.
The IACC/OARC are launching a public database to provide information on federal and private
funded research projects.
IACC members and guest speakers provide research and services program updates at each
meeting of the IACC.
The IACC/OARC issues special reports on ASD activities such as the IACC/OARC ASD Research
The IACC has made recommendations to the HHS Secretary in the Strategic Plan and through
The IACC gathers public input and information on emerging issues in the autism community
through written and oral public comments at meetings of the full IACC, town hall meetings,
workshops and formal requests for public comment; all meetings, including phone meetings, are
open to the public by phone, webcast and/or webinar.
The IACC provides information to the public through its activities (all open to the public), public
website, news updates, listserv and Twitter announcements.
What is the committee not required or authorized to do?
To fund research – the IACC does not have or control a research budget.
To implement research or services programs – programs can only be implemented by
government agencies and private organizations.
To set government policies – the IACC is an advisory body that can raise awareness and make
recommendations for development or adoption of policies, but only government agencies and
private organizations can set policies.
To force government agencies to fund specific research projects or set particular policies.
Many seem to think of the IACC as a funding agency, or an group which sets the research agenda. It is “an advisory body”.
In my opiion, it is an advisory body which people listen to. Most of the research projects proposed in the Strategic Plan have been funded (which is pretty good in these economic times). Researchers I have spoken with have respect for the IACC.
By Matt Carey
(I serve as a public member on the IACC but all opinions expressed here and elsewhere are my own)