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Activities

The Thrift Savings Plan is a tax-deferred defined contribution plan that was established as one of the three parts of the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS). For employees covered under FERS, savings accumulated through the Plan make an important addition to the retirement benefits provided by Social Security and the FERS Basic Annuity. Civil Service Retirement System

employees can also take advantage of the Plan to supplement their annuities.

The Board operates the Thrift Savings Plan and manages the investments of the Thrift Savings Fund solely for the benefit of participants and their beneficiaries. As part of these responsibilities, the Board maintains an account for each Plan participant, makes loans, purchases annuity contracts, and provides for the payment of benefits.

For further information, contact the Director of External Affairs, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, 805 Fifteenth Street NW., DC 20005. Phone, 202-523-5660.

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

Pennsylvania Avenue at Sixth Street NW., Washington, DC 20580
Phone, 202-326-2222 (Public Reference Branch)

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[For the Federal Trade Commission statement of organization, see the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Part 0]

The objective of the Federal Trade Commission is to maintain competitive enterprise as the keystone of the American economic system. Although the duties of the Commission are many and varied, the foundation of public policy underlying all these duties is essentially the same: to prevent the free enterprise system from being fettered by monopoly or restraints on trade or corrupted by unfair or deceptive trade practices. In brief, the Commission is charged with keeping competition both free and fair.

The purpose of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finds its primary expression in the Federal Trade Commission Act, cited below, and the Clayton Act (15 U.S.C. 12), both passed in 1914 and both successively amended in the years that have followed. The Federal Trade Commission Act prohibits the use in commerce of "unfair methods of competition" and "unfair or deceptive acts or practices." The Clayton Act outlaws specific practices recognized as instruments of monopoly. As an administrative agency, acting quasijudicially and quasi-legislatively, the Commission was established to deal with trade practices on a continuing and corrective basis. It has no authority to punish; its function is to "prevent," through cease-and-desist orders and other means, those practices condemned by the law of Federal trade regulation; however, court-ordered civil penalties up to $10,000 may be obtained for each violation of a Commission order or trade regulation rule.

The Federal Trade Commission was organized as an independent administrative agency in 1914 pursuant to the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 41-51). Related duties subsequently were delegated to the Commission by the Wheeler-Lea Act, the

Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act, the Clayton Act, the Export Trade Act, the Wool Products Labeling Act, the Fur Products Labeling Act, the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act, the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, the Lanham Trade-Mark Act of 1946, the Consumer Credit Protection Acts, the RobinsonPatman Act, the Hobby Protection Act, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty-Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Improvements Act of 1980.

Activities

The Commission's principal functions are

to:

-promote competition in or affecting commerce through the prevention of general trade restraints such as pricefixing agreements, boycotts, illegal combinations of competitors, and other unfair methods of competition;

-safeguard the public by preventing the dissemination of false or deceptive advertisements of consumer products generally, and food, drug, cosmetics, and therapeutic devices, particularly, as well as other unfair or deceptive practices;

-prevent: discriminations in price; exclusive-dealing and tying arrangements; corporate mergers, acquisitions, or joint

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ventures, when such practices or arrangements may substantially lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly; interlocking directorates that may restrain competition; the payment or receipt of illegal brokerage; and discrimination among competing customers in the furnishing of or the payment for services or facilities used to promote the resale of a product;

-bring about truthful labeling of textile and fur products;

-regulate packaging and labeling of certain consumer commodities within the purview of the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act so as to prevent consumer deception and to facilitate value comparisons;

-supervise the registration and operation of associations of American exporters engaged in export trade;

-petition for the cancellation of the registration of trademarks illegally registered or used for purposes contrary to the intent of the Lanham Trade-Mark Act of 1946;

-achieve true credit cost disclosure by consumer creditors (retailers, finance companies, non-Federal credit unions, and other creditors not specifically regulated by another Government agency) as called for in the Truth in Lending Act to ensure a meaningful basis for informed credit decisions, and to regulate the issuance and liability of credit cards so as to prohibit their fraudulent use in or affecting commerce; -protect consumers against circulation of inaccurate or obsolete credit reports and to ensure that consumer reporting agencies exercise their responsibilities in a manner that is fair and equitable and in conformity with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; and

-gather and make available to the Congress, the President, and the public, factual data concerning economic and business conditions.

Enforcement The Commission's law enforcement work falls into two general categories: actions to foster law obedience voluntarily and formal administrative litigation leading to mandatory orders against offenders.

For the most part, law obedience is obtained through voluntary and cooperative action by way of staff level advice, which is not binding on the Commission, advisory opinions by the Commission, and through issuance of guides delineating legal requirements as to particular business practices.

The formal litigation is similar to that of Federal courts. Cases are instituted by issuance of a complaint charging the respondent—a person, partnership, or corporation-with violation of one or more of the statutes administered by the Commission. Cases may be settled by consent orders or occasionally through informal administrative correction of minor violations. If the charges are not contested, or if in a contested case and after a hearing the charges are found to be true, a cease-and-desist order is issued requiring discontinuance of the unlawful practices.

Legal Case Work Cases before the Commission may originate through complaint by a consumer or a competitor; the Congress; or from Federal, State, or municipal agencies. Also, the Commission itself may initiate an investigation to determine possible violation of the laws administered by it. No formality is required in submitting a complaint. A letter giving the facts in detail is sufficient, but it should be accompanied by all supporting evidence in possession of the complaining party. It is the general policy of the Commission not to disclose the identity of any complainant, except as required by law or Commission rules.

Upon receipt of a complaint, various criteria are applied in determining whether the particular matter should be docketed for investigation. Within the limits of its resources, investigations are initiated that are considered to best support the Commission's goals of maintaining competition and protecting

consumers.

On completion of an investigation, there will be a staff recommendation for final Commission action. The staff may recommend that the matter be closed. If that recommendation is approved, a closing letter is sent to the individual or

company that was the subject of the investigation. The staff may instead recommend that the Commission approve the informal settlement of a case, usually by acceptance of an agreement containing a consent order to cease and desist. If such a consent order is worked out, it customarily provides that the respondent does not admit any violation of the law, but agrees to be bound by an order requiring the discontinuance of the challenged practices.

If the Commission determines that some action other than closing the investigation is appropriate, but no consent agreement can be negotiated, the Commission may issue a formal complaint alleging that the respondent has violated one or more of the laws administered by the Commission. The respondent is served with a copy of the complaint and a proposed cease-anddesist order to be used if the allegations of law violations are proved. The case is heard by an administrative law judge, who conducts a trial that is open to the public. While it is possible that FTC counsel supporting the complaint and respondents will negotiate a consent agreement after the issuance of a formal complaint, it is more likely that these formal proceedings will result in an initial decision by the administrative law judge.

The initial decision becomes the decision of the Commission at the end of 30 days unless the respondent or the counsel supporting the complaint appeals the decision to the Commission or the Commission by order stays the effective date or places the case on its own docket for review. In the Commission's decision on such appeal or review, the initial decision is sustained, modified, or reversed. If the complaint is sustained or modified, a cease-and-desist order is issued. If an initial decision dismissing a complaint is sustained, no cease-anddesist order is issued.

Under the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clayton Act, and the wool, fur, and textile acts, an order to cease and desist or to take other corrective action, such as affirmative disclosure, divestiture, or restitution, becomes final 60 days after date of service upon the respondent,

unless within that period the respondent petitions an appropriate United States court of appeals to review the order. The court has power to affirm, modify, or set the order aside. Either party, on writ of certiorari, may apply to the Supreme Court for review of the action of the court of appeals. In case of review, the order of the Commission becomes final after affirmation by the court of appeals or by the Supreme Court of the United States, if taken to that court on certiorari. Violations of a cease-and-desist order, after it becomes final, subject the offender to suit by the Government in a United States district court for the recovery of a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each violation and, where the violation continues, each day of its continuance is a separate violation. In addition to the administrative proceeding initiated by a formal complaint, the Commission may, in some cases, request that a United States district court issue a preliminary or permanent injunction to halt the use of allegedly unfair or deceptive practices. The Commission, after consultation with the Attorney General, may also bring suit in a United States district court to enforce a subpoena or civil investigative demand issued by the Commission, to obtain permanent injunctions in some cases without initiating underlying administrative proceedings, and to sue for civil penalties for violations of orders issued by the Commission.

The Commission also has specific authority to ask the United States district court to enjoin the dissemination of advertisements of food, drugs, cosmetics, and devices intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of disease, whenever it has reason to believe that such a proceeding would be in the public interest. Preliminary injunctions remain in effect until a ceaseand-desist order is issued and becomes final, or until the complaint is dismissed by the Commission or the order is set aside by the court on review.

Further, the dissemination of a false advertisement of a food, drug, device, or cosmetic, where the use of the

commodity advertised may be injurious

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