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Press Release Published: Oct 19, 2022

Comer, Oversight Republicans Question FTC Over Use of Unpaid Consultants

Seek to understand what controls are in place to prevent waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement

WASHINGTON — Today, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and several Oversight Committee Republicans are pressing Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan over the FTC’s use of unpaid consultants and experts. An investigation by the FTC Inspector General (OIG) recently found that the FTC lacked adequate controls to ensure compliance with applicable federal law, regulations, and FTC policy. In the letter to Chair Khan, the Republican lawmakers are requesting documents and information to understand the FTC’s controls to ensure unpaid consultants and experts are not unlawfully performing governmental and policymaking tasks and what plans the FTC has to implement the recommendations from the OIG investigation. 

“We write to investigate the use of unpaid consultants and experts at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC or Commission) and what controls are in place to ensure they are not involved in inherently governmental functions like policy and legal work,” wrote the Republican lawmakers. “Any outside consultants or experts who are hired must be adequately supervised by the agency to ensure compliance with these laws. In addition, the FTC’s own policies prohibit experts and consultants from performing work ‘of a policy and/or decision making or managerial nature.’ Despite these clear legal and policy prohibitions, OIG found that the FTC has limited controls to ensure unpaid consultants do not perform prohibited work.”

The OIG recently published the results of an audit finding a lack of comprehensive controls to prevent violations of law and policy in the hiring of outside unpaid consultants and experts at the FTC. Federal statutory provisions and regulations generally prohibit federal civilian agencies from hiring outside experts or consultants who will perform “managerial or supervisory work,” make “final decisions on substantive policies,” “function in the agency chain of command,” or are hired to “do work performed by the agency’s regular employees” or “fill in during staff shortages.”  

“You have claimed that no legal lines have been crossed in the FTC’s hiring and use of unpaid consultants and experts, but Oversight Committee Republicans have an obligation to investigate waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement,” continued the Republican lawmakers.

Read the letter to FTC Chair Khan here