Thursday, July 14, 2011

FTC Releases Ten-Year Regulatory Review Schedule, Invites Public Comment on Process

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

The FTC has updated its regulatory review schedule for the next 10 years and has invited public comments on ways it can improve its regulatory review process to better serve consumers and businesses. The Commission’s revised regulatory review schedule for 2011 through 2020 appears here on the FTC website and at CCH Trade Regulation Reporter ¶38,005.

The notice announcing the revised review schedule appears at 76 Federal Register 41150, July 13, 2011.

The Commission schedules all rules and guides for review every ten years. The Commission’s regulatory review docket includes 13 rules and guides currentlyunder review and 10 additional rule reviews scheduled to start this year. More than a third of the Commission’s 66 rules and guides will be under review, or will have just been reviewed, by the end of 2011, according to the agency.

The agency revises the schedule annually, with adjustments in response to public input, changes in the marketplace, and resource demands. The FTC said that in recent years it has accelerated the review of six rules and guides to address changes in technology and the marketplace and to reduce burdens on industry.

For instance, in 2011, the agency will review portions of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act (HSR) Coverage Rule, 16 CFR Part 801, that were set for review in 2013. In addition, the Appliance Labeling Rule, 16 CFR Part 305, will be reviewed in 2012 instead of 2018.

The Commission also removed nine matters from its regulatory review schedule because authority to modify or repeal them will be transferred to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2011. Those rules deal primarily with credit reporting and debt collection.

Request for Public Comments

For the first time, the FTC is seeking comment on how it can improve its regulatory review process. Comments must be submitted on or before September 6, 2011. Comments, marked “Regulatory Review Schedule, should be sent to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex N), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.

Comments also can be submitted electronically online here.

Congressional Testimony

The FTC’s regulatory review efforts were the topic of July 7 hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Testifying for the FTC, Chairman Jon Leibowitz and Commissioner William E. Kovacic said that since 1992, the FTC has had a systematic and rigorous process in place to review its rules “to ensure that they enhance consumer welfare without imposing undue burdens on business.” As a result of that program, “the Commission has rescinded 37 rules and guides and updated dozens of others since the early 1990s.”

The testimony also noted that the Commission is in the process of identifying reports required by statute as well as statutes themselves that appear to be of limited value, but that divert business or Commission resources from more pressing work.

The two congressionally mandated reports were identified: an annual report on concentration in the ethanol market and a report, prepared by the Commission together with the Department of Justice and the Department of Education, describing actions taken to address scholarship scams.

The testimony appears here.

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