On July 1, 2021, the FTC commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a package of omnibus resolutions that instructed the agency’s personnel to employ fact-finding “compulsory process” devices, such as subpoenas and civil investigative demands, to scrutinize seven areas that have been designated as enforcement priorities. The enforcement areas of interest encompass: conduct affecting workers and small businesses; COVID-19-related damages; healthcare organizations, specifically hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and pharmacy benefits managers; mergers, both in-progress and already consummated; repeat offenders; and technology companies and digital platforms.
Compulsory process mandates that a party under investigation, or a related party, provide the commission with information, testimony, documents, or data. While compulsory process approval is sometimes limited to a particular investigation, the newly-approved resolutions enable its use in the specified industries or situations on a continuing basis for 10 years, except if revoked earlier by the Commission. However, for any individual investigative document to be issued, it still must first be signed by a commissioner.