The function of a steering committee is to provide support, advocacy and enablement for the projects which they oversee. A steering committee is not designed to actually manage or run a project, and should be kept from doing so. Rather, the steering committee should facilitate the project manager's ability to plan and direct a given project, giving advice and support along the way.
Steering committees function best when the scope of their responsibilities and purposes are clearly defined. They often function as a decision-making body, determining the budgets, time lines and personnel for the projects they oversee. A steering committee should not be loaded up with members who are not needed; instead, every member on the committee should have a specific function tied to oversight, recording of decisions, budgeting or other specific skills needed depending on the project.
At times, steering committees have been known to get too involved with the projects they are supposed to be providing oversight for, and they begin to take an overly active role in the management of the project. When this occurs, someone on or off the committee must remind the steering committee of its advisory role in the project, directing the focus back onto the project itself and what needs to be done to bring it to a successful conclusion.