Advisory Board Use Cases

Published 17 June 2023


The inherent flexibility of advisory boards means the structure can be adapted to support a variety of business priorities.  The most effective advisory boards are built upon a robust and well considered best practice foundation, then tailored to fit the particular needs or use case of the organisation.  In this series, we explore the various use cases of advisory boards and key considerations for implementation and facilitation.

Each situation is unique and the information provided is general in nature.  If you are looking to implement an advisory board for the first time, or are searching for support to enhance the effectiveness of your existing advisory structure or governance system, we strongly recommend engaging the support of a Certified Chair™️ .  Our tailored Advisory+ service can help connect you with the right advice for your organisation.


Advisory boards are a structured collaborative method for organisations to engage external advisors. The structure, role and operation of an advisory board is influenced by the organisation’s:

  • Operating environment
  • Legal requirements
  • Strategic direction
  • Leadership system
  • Available resources
  • Capacity and capability
  • Regulatory environment

How can advisory boards support Local, State and Federal GovernmentS?

With global volatility at an all-time high, critical issues and emerging trends are being highlighted for local communities, states and national interests. As matters come into focus, the need for investigator-led research has never been greater, whether it’s to fill a gap, meet a need, or make a change.

Advisory committees appear to be of the utmost importance to the US Government, so much so that in 1977 a “Federal Advisory Committee Act” was established to ensure independent thought remains a part of Congress decision-making. According to a Congressional Research Service report in 2016, “Federal advisory committees are created to bring together various experts – often with divergent opinions and political backgrounds – to examine an issue and recommend statutory, regulatory, grantmaking, or other policy actions. Federal advisory committees are one of only a few formalised mechanisms for private-sector citizens to participate in the federal policymaking process. [They are, however]…prohibited from creating policy or issuing regulations. Their role is to remain strictly advisory.

Engaging independent perspectives from experts across industry and academia in providing solutions to matters of critical importance ensures rigorous challenge of all factors by being independent and non-partisan, ultimately driving best practice across government.

An outstanding example of another government embracing this notion is the recent announcement by the UK Government of a “Cyber Security Advisory Board” after launching a cyber security strategy initiative in January 2022. The announcement listed the objectives of the advisory board which included, “bring depth and experience across multiple fields with a diversity of viewpoints to improve policy making by providing solutions to particular problems and challenges,” and, “ensure government is leveraging industry expertise to deliver on the goals of the strategy.

This is the ultimate power of an advisory board, and it is encouraging to see such a clear vision shared publicly by a government body.


An advisory board or committee may be formed to address a very specific, time-limited topic, or it may meet regularly to consider ongoing issues. At all times, the advice must remain relevant and objective. This pledge can be solidified through the board’s charter which outlines the purpose of the board, the authority under which it was authorised, the scope of its activities, its membership and how members are selected, the length of the board’s service, and any other relevant parameters.

At the beginning of the pandemic, we saw governments across the world utilising advisory boards to specifically address the challenges of COVID-19, including Australia and the United States.

In 2016, the Canadian Government formed its first iteration of the “Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court Judicial Appointments” to identify candidates to fill Supreme Court of Canada vacancies when they arise. As recently as May 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the next iteration of the board due to an upcoming Supreme Court opening. The list of members named on the advisory board is an empowering resume of diverse and extremely high calibre citizens, with Prime Minister Trudeau commenting how important it is for Canada to ensure that its judges are appointed, “through a process that is transparent, inclusive, and accountable to Canadians.


The ABF101 Advisory Board Best Practice Framework highlights key organisational considerations aligned to the best practice principles.  While all options need to be carefully considered for a particular use case and operating environment, the following list provides a starting point for your discussions:

  1. Advisory board structure options and timing
  2. Purpose and intended impact
  3. Investment and return
  4. Roles and selection
  5. Impact measurement


United States of America

The President’s Intelligence Advisory Board is an independent element within the Executive Office of the President. It exists exclusively to assist the President with an independent source of advice on the effectiveness with which the Intelligence Community is meeting the nation’s intelligence needs and the vigor and insight with which the community plans for the future. The President is able to appoint up to 16 members of the Board.

The National Science Board establishes the policies of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and serves as advisor to Congress and the President. The Board approves major NSF awards, provides congressional testimony and issues statements relevant to the nation’s science and engineering enterprise. The President is able to appoint up to 24 members to the Board, each for a term of six years.

The NSABB is a federal advisory committee that addresses issues related to biosecurity and dual use research at the request of the United States Government. The NSABB has up to 25 voting members with a broad range of expertise including molecular biology, microbiology, infectious diseases, biosafety, public health, veterinary medicine, plant health, national security, biodefense, law enforcement, scientific publishing, and other related fields.



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the members of the Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments. The members of the Independent Advisory Board will identify candidates to fill the upcoming Supreme Court of Canada vacancy, which will be created by the retirement of the Honourable Michael J. Moldaver in September. Coming from diverse backgrounds, the members will work alongside the Honourable H. Wade MacLauchlan, Chair of this independent and non-partisan board, to identify candidates who are jurists of the highest calibre, functionally bilingual, and representative of the diversity of our country.


United Kingdom

The Government Cyber Security Strategy (GCSS) was launched in January 2022 outlining the vision to ensure that core government functions are resilient to cyber attack, strengthening the UK as a sovereign nation and cementing its authority as a democratic and responsible cyber power. GCSAB will be a body comprised of independent external experts to build better links between government, the private sector and academia. It will provide independent perspectives and input from experts across industry and academia into providing solutions to the challenges of government cyber security, through rigorous challenge and driving best practices across government.



The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) is a multi-disciplinary international board with expertise in broad areas of technology. SAB convenes annually in Singapore to advise on NRF’s policies and programmes.



The National COVID-19 Health and Research Advisory Committee was established in April 2020 to provide advice on Australia’s health response to the COVID-19 pandemic to the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer.

The new Public Trustee Advisory and Monitoring Board will enhance transparency and public accountability of the services provided by the Public Trustee. The Board will monitor the performance of the Public Trustee’s functions and provide advice and make recommendations to for legislative change or improvements, while also being able to provide advice and recommendations to the Public Trustee.

The purpose of a CSIRO Advisory Group (CAG) is to provide independent, external advice to CSIRO on the national challenges and opportunities of a broad sector of the Australian economy, society or environment in which CSIRO is involved. It also provides guidance on how CSIRO might address these challenges and opportunities, the appropriateness of its pathways to impact, and on broader strategic issues relevant to the sectors in which CSIRO operates.



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