The Business Council was set up in 1933 as a governmental advisory group, mainly to the department of commerce. However in 1961 the Council decided it should target its advice to all area of govenrment. 'The action was welcomed by President John F. Kennedy who said that "the various government agencies would be glad to have such a group available for consultation." Renamed The Business Council, it serves as an independent forum for the interchange of ideas and the development of positive, practical recommendations for action.' Its annual three day meetings with government officials include speeches, panel discussions, report presentations, as well as social events and informal discussions in a resort atmosphere, all paid for by corporations.
Since its formation, the Council has been called upon by Presidents in turn for counsel and advice. The Council has also served regularly as a de facto reservoir of experienced talent to assist an administration in carrying out its public mandate. During the critical years of the Second World War, for example, more than 50 Council members were called into government service to assist in meeting the tremendous challenges facing the nation. Subsequent years have seen many Council members leave private life to serve in critical positions within government at the request of Presidents from both parties. Today, as it has for many years, the Council numbers among its members many business leaders who are serving in various roles as public servants. And from its membership the Council has provided experienced business leaders as voluntary leaders for a variety of special panels and commissions that help develop policy for the federal government.
The Council membership of 150 is mainly composed of the heads of the largest corporations in the US who are appointed as individuals rather than representatives of their companies and meet three times a year.