What Is the Purpose of a Subcommittee?

A subcommittee is a small group of people tasked with a specific objective, usually of an immediate and temporary nature. Once the objective is accomplished, the subcommittee provides the completed work to the committee that formed it. If no further action is required, the subcommittee is disbanded.

A subcommittee is selected from a committee with a broader and more enduring area of focus, usually a permanent fixture of the organization it helps to govern. Forming a subcommittee is a way of assigning one of the committee's goals to a few of its members, thus ensuring that the goal is either met or further developed before it is considered again by the committee at large.

The U.S. Congress relies heavily on a committee and subcommittee structure to function. As of April 2014, 25 committees are listed on the U.S. House of Representatives website. Its website reports, "The House’s committees consider bills and issues and oversee agencies, programs, and activities within their jurisdictions." Many of these objectives are assigned to subcommittees, although the committee must agree with the subcommittee's findings before a recommendation is made to Congress.

All congressional bills are first considered by a committee or subcommittee. If the bill does not pass in the committee, it is not presented to Congress. According to the Independence Hall Foundation, each year 8,000 bills go before a committee, but less than 10 percent are presented to Congress.