Thursday, March 15, 2012

FTC Commissioners Testify on Fiscal Year 2013 Appropriations Request . . .

This posting was written by Jeffrey May, Editor of CCH Trade Regulation Reporter.

In testimony before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government on March 5, the FTC summarized the agency's Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget request and described its ongoing work to promote competition and protect American consumers.

The testimony, delivered by FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz and Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch, outlined steps the agency has taken to carry out its mission. It described FTC consumer protection initiatives as well as recent efforts to ensure that American consumers benefit from competition in the health care, technology, and energy sectors.

The testimony requested $300 million to support 1,186 "full-time equivalent" employees (FTEs) to meet the challenges of FY 2013. This is an overall decrease of $11,563,000 below the FTC’s FY 2012 enacted appropriation, according to the testimony. The FTC anticipates a decrease of $25.5 million related to the replacement of satellite space at 601 New Jersey Avenue due to an expiring lease in August 2012. There are increases for mandatory pay adjustments and technology improvements, among other initiatives.

Commissioner Rosch dissented from the appropriations requested for the FTC, noting that “in these austere times we should do more to perform those [consumer protection or competition] missions with fewer resources.”

. . . Express Concern over GSA Study on Relocating Agency

In a March 8 letter to the leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the four FTC commissioners expressed concerns with a resolution directing the General Services Administrator to prepare a plan to move the agency out of its headquarters building at 600 Pennsylvania Avenue to Constitution Center, a privately-owned building next to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The commissioners stated that the move would impose well over $100 million in wholly unnecessary costs. In addition, “it is completely infeasible for the FTC to shoehorn its entire Washington, DC operation into the available space at Constitution Center,” according to the commissioners.

The resolution is part of an effort led by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (Florida) to transfer control of the building at 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, called the Apex Building, to the National Gallery of Art. Rep. Mica introduced the proposed “Federal Trade Commission and National Gallery of Art Facility Consolidation, Savings, and Efficiency Act of 2011” (H.R. 690) in February 2011.

In response to that bill, the then-five commissioners sent a letter to members of the House committee expressing their opposition to the efforts and arguing that the move would impose additional costs on the American taxpayer.

Later in 2011, Congressman Mica included provisions calling for the relocation of the FTC and transfer of the 600 Pennsylvania Avenue property to the National Gallery of Art in legislation proposing a “National Women's History Museum” (H.R. 2844). Rep. Mica contends that relocating the FTC will save taxpayer dollars.

No comments: