Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras today presented FTC testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, the Departments of State, Justice, and Commerce, and Related Agencies, requesting $223 million and 1,074 full-time employees to accomplish the agency’s competition and consumer protection missions in FY 2007. The request represents an increase of $13 million from the FTC’s FY 2006 budget appropriations level.
“The work of the FTC is critical in protecting and strengthening free and open markets in the United States,” according to the testimony. “The FTC is the only federal agency with both consumer protection and competition jurisdiction in broad sectors of the economy. The agency enforces laws that prohibit business practices that are anticompetitive, deceptive, or unfair to consumers, and it promotes informed consumer choice and public understanding of the competitive process.”
According to testimony, $6 million of the requested budget increase would be used for mandatory salary and contract expenses; $3.8 million would be used for consumer protection enforcement, analysis, outreach, and maintaining competition litigation support; $1.4 million would be used for human capital, and information technology initiatives; $1 million would go toward records management, facility maintenance and other administrative needs; and $800,000 would fund physical security initiatives.
“During FY 2007, the FTC will address significant law enforcement and policy issues throughout the economy,” the testimony continued, “devoting major portions of its resources to those areas in which the agency can provide the greatest benefits to consumers.”
Overall, the testimony stated, the focus of the FTC’s consumer protection mission in the coming year will be on broad efforts to fight fraud and deception, as well as on initiatives supporting consumer privacy and combating technology-driven threats such as spam and spyware. The focus of the competition mission in FY 2007 will continue to be on merger and nonmerger enforcement, particularly in the areas of heath care, high technology, and international cooperation.
The testimony next outlined the FTC’s major consumer protection accomplishments in FY 2006, including enforcement of the nation’s consumer privacy, data security, and identity theft laws; business and consumer education outreach and cooperation initiatives; high-tech enforcement in areas such as spam, spyware, and converging technologies; monitoring the marketing of media violence to children; maintaining and enforcing the National Do Not Call Registry; enforcing credit, financial, and retail laws and regulations; working on health fraud, weigh-loss, and childhood obesity issues; and conducting the nationwide Hispanic Law Enforcement Initiative.
In the competition area, the testimony cited the FTC’s work in protecting consumers in the energy sector through both merger and nonmerger activities – specifically mentioning an order against Union Oil Company of California (Unocal) requiring it to stop enforcing patents on special-blend gasoline in California, potentially saving the state’s consumers hundreds of millions of dollars – including enforcing the antitrust laws in the pharmaceutical industry, investigating and stopping physician price-fixing, and implementing improvements to the merger review process that will help make it more efficient and less burdensome for merging firms.
Finally, the testimony noted several important international activities the agency undertook in FY 2006 to promote cooperation and convergence toward best practices with competition and consumer protection agencies around the world. The FTC responded to an era of increased globalization by developing increasingly international market-based consumer protection models that focus on protecting consumers, while maximizing economic benefit and consumer choice, and participating in, and leading, many international competition initiatives.
“The FTC consistently has pursued a vigorous and effective law enforcement program in a swiftly changing marketplace, with rapid growth in technology, in an increasingly globalized economy,” the testimony concluded.
The Commission vote authorizing the presentation of the testimony and its inclusion in the formal record was 5-0.
Copies of the Commission’s testimony are available on the FTC’s Web site at www.ftc.gov. The FTC’s Bureau of Competition seeks to prevent business practices that restrain competition. The Bureau carries out its mission by investigating alleged law violations and, when appropriate, recommending that the Commission take formal enforcement action. To notify the Bureau concerning particular business practices, call or write the Office of Policy and Evaluation, Room 394, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W., Washington, DC 20580, Electronic Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Telephone (202) 326-3300. For more information on the laws that the Bureau enforces, the Commission has published “Promoting Competition, Protecting Consumers: A Plain English Guide to Antitrust Laws,” which can be accessed at http://www.ftc.gov/bc/compguide/index.htm.
Mitchell J. Katz
Office of Public Affairs