FTC Opens Rulemaking Petition Process, Promoting Public Participation and Accountability

Changes to FTC Rules of Practice reflect commitment to public access to vital agency processes

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At an open Commission meeting today, the Federal Trade Commission voted to make significant changes to enhance public participation the agency’s rulemaking, a significant step to increase public participation and accountability around the work of the FTC.

The Commission approved a series of changes to the FTC’s Rules of Practice designed to make it easier for members of the public to petition the agency for new rules or changes to existing rules that are administered by the FTC. The changes are a key part of the work of opening the FTC’s regulatory processes to public input and scrutiny. This is a departure from the previous practice, under which the Commission had no obligation to respond to or otherwise address petitions for agency action.

“Guarding against insularity is a constant challenge for virtually all federal agencies, and ensuring that the FTC is accessible even to those who lack well-heeled counsel or personal connections is essential to our institutional credibility,” said Chair Lina M. Khan. “Congress granted the FTC the power to issue rules, equipping us with a vital tool to protect the public from harmful business practices. Interested members of the public will be able to petition the FTC to invoke its rulemaking and other authorities to advance its mission.” 

The updates to the Rules of Practice make a number of changes designed to clarify the process of submitting petitions to the FTC while also adding more opportunities for public input and accountability in the Commission’s response to the petitions it receives.

Among the changes are:

  • More clarity for those seeking to file petitions related to rulemaking with regard to information that is required with submissions, as well as guidance on the data that can be helpful to the Commission in evaluation petitions.
  • A new requirement that the Commission publish all petitions for rulemaking that it receives in the Federal Register and solicit public comment about those petitions.
  • A new requirement that the Commission provide petitioners with a specific point of contact in the agency, and that the Commission provide a response to petitioners on its decision to either act on or deny the petition.

In addition to formal rulemaking, the new changes will also apply to requests by certain parties for special exemption from FTC rules, as well as petitions related to industry guidance issued by the Commission.

The Commission vote to approve the changes to the Rules of Practice and other related rules and to publish the changes in the Federal Register was 4-1, with Commissioner Christine S. Wilson voting no. Chair Khan issued a separate statement. Commissioner Rohit Chopra also issued a separate statement.

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