The Federal Trade Commission today released its draft strategic plan for the next five years, calling for a continued focus on protecting consumers, maintaining competition and advancing organizational performance.
The number one strategic goal outlined in the 23-page draft plan is consumer protection. This includes uncovering "any newly emerging methods of fraud or deceit," as well as targeting "enforcement, education, and advocacy on those areas where consumers suffer the most harm."
The plan is similar to the one released for 2009 to 2014, except the 2009 plan gave enforcement somewhat more prominence, flagging it as the second consumer protection objective. In the 2009 plan, the FTC said it aimed “to file large, difficult, or precedent-setting cases where appropriate.”
The draft 2014 plan sounds slightly less ambitious, calling for “aggressive law enforcement that focuses on preventing fraud and harmful financial practices, protecting consumer privacy, policing national advertising and new technologies.”
As for how to measure success in 2014, the FTC said it will look to “total consumer savings compared to the amount of FTC resources allocated to consumer protection law enforcement” and the “amount of money the FTC returned to consumers and forwarded to the U.S. Treasury.”
The FTC also called for more collaboration with domestic and international partners, including “the development of international consumer protection enforcement models or approaches.” Another goal is consumer education and research.
On the antitrust side, the FTC warned that the rising cost of litigation “could affect the number of enforcement actions brought, particularly in this austere environment.”
The first priority will be to “identify and take actions to address anticompetitive mergers and practices that harm consumers.” Overall, the language describing many of the competition goals is similar to the 2009 plan, but one new bullet point is to “increase the transparency of the decision-making process, including assessing whether revisions to the enforcement guidelines are warranted.”
As for performance goals, the agency is less specific, calling in 2014 for “consumer saving through merger actions taken to maintain competition.” In 2009, the agency included a dollar amount—“savings of at least $500 million through merger actions to maintain competition.” As for non-merger actions, the 2014 plan is similarly vague on savings. In 2009, the goal was savings of at least $80 million.
Comments on the draft plan are being accepting until August 16.