Executive Order — Steps to Increase Competition and Better Inform Consumers and Workers to Support Continued Growth of the American Economy.
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to protect American consumers and workers and encourage competition in the U.S. economy, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. Maintaining, encouraging, and supporting a fair, efficient, and competitive marketplace is a cornerstone of the American economy. Consumers and workers need both competitive markets and information to make informed choices.
Certain business practices such as unlawful collusion, illegal bid rigging, price fixing, and wage setting, as well as anticompetitive exclusionary conduct and mergers stifle competition and erode the foundation of America’s economic vitality. The immediate results of such conduct — higher prices and poorer service for customers, less innovation, fewer new businesses being launched, and reduced opportunities for workers — can impact Americans in every walk of life.
Competitive markets also help advance national priorities, such as the delivery of affordable health care, energy independence, and improved access to fast and affordable broadband. Competitive markets also promote economic growth, which creates opportunity for American workers and encourages entrepreneurs to start innovative companies that create jobs.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have a proven record of detecting and stopping anticompetitive conduct and challenging mergers and acquisitions that threaten to consolidate markets and reduce competition.
Promoting competitive markets and ensuring that consumers and workers have access to the information needed to make informed choices must be a shared priority across the Federal Government. Executive departments and agencies can contribute to these goals through, among other things, pro-competitive rulemaking and regulations, and by eliminating regulations that create barriers to or limit competition. Such Government-wide action is essential to ensuring that consumers, workers, startups, small businesses, and farms reap the full benefits of competitive markets.
Sec. 2. Agency Responsibilities. (a) Executive departments and agencies with authorities that could be used to enhance competition (agencies) shall, where consistent with other laws, use those authorities to promote competition, arm consumers and workers with the information they need to make informed choices, and eliminate regulations that restrict competition without corresponding benefits to the American public.
(b) Agencies shall identify specific actions that they can take in their areas of responsibility to build upon efforts to detect abuses such as price fixing, anticompetitive behavior in labor and other input markets, exclusionary conduct, and blocking access to critical resources that are needed for competitive entry. Behaviors that appear to violate our antitrust laws should be referred to antitrust enforcers at DOJ and the FTC. Such a referral shall not preclude further action by the referring agency against that behavior under that agency’s relevant statutory authority.
(c) Agencies shall also identify specific actions that they can take in their areas of responsibility to address undue burdens on competition. As permitted by law, agencies shall consult with other interested parties to identify ways that the agency can promote competition through pro-competitive rulemaking and regulations, by providing consumers and workers with information they need to make informed choices, and by eliminating regulations that restrict competition without corresponding benefits to the American public.
(d) Not later than 30 days from the date of this order, agencies shall submit to the Director of the National Economic Council an initial list of (1) actions each agency can potentially take to promote more competitive markets; (2) any specific practices, such as blocking access to critical resources, that potentially restrict meaningful consumer or worker choice or unduly stifle new market entrants, along with any actions the agency can potentially take to address those practices; and (3) any relevant authorities and tools potentially available to enhance competition or make information more widely available for consumers and workers.
(e) Not later than 60 days from the date of this order, agencies shall report to the President, through the Director of the National Economic Council, recommendations on agency-specific actions that eliminate barriers to competition, promote greater competition, and improve consumer access to information needed to make informed purchasing decisions. Such recommendations shall include a list of priority actions, including rulemakings, as well as timelines for completing those actions.
(f) Subsequently, agencies shall report semi-annually to the President, through the Director of the National Economic Council, on additional actions that they plan to undertake to promote greater competition.
(g) Sections 2(d), 2(e), and 2(f) of this order do not require reporting of information related to law enforcement policy and activities.
Sec. 3. General Provisions. (a) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(b) Independent agencies are strongly encouraged to comply with the requirements of this order.
(c) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to a department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(d) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
THE WHITE HOUSE,
April 15, 2016.