Justice Department:

Changes in Antitrust Enforcement Policies and Activities

GGD-91-2: Published: Oct 29, 1990. Publicly Released: Dec 10, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the management operations of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division, focusing on the Division's enforcement policies, priorities, and activities from fiscal year (FY) 1980 through FY 1989.

GAO found that: (1) the Division shifted its resources toward criminal activities and away from antitrust activities; (2) between FY 1980 and FY 1989, the Division's budget decreased by over $14 million, from $50 million to $36 million; (3) between FY 1980 and FY 1989, the Division's staff declined from 883 to 458; (4) between FY 1980 and FY 1989, the number of investigations initiated by the Division declined; (5) Division officials reported that they no longer opened investigations into some matters that they would have investigated earlier, such as mergers and other civil matters; (6) budget and staffing reductions hampered the Division's hiring of new attorneys; (7) between FY 1981 and FY 1989, the Division filed an average of 81 criminal cases annually, 4 times the average number filed between 1970 and 1976, and over twice the number of cases filed between 1977 and 1980; (8) over half of the criminal cases filed between FY 1982 and FY 1988 involved either price fixing or bid rigging in road construction or government procurement; (9) the Division filed fewer civil suits between FY 1980 and FY 1989 than in previous years; (10) between FY 1981 and FY 1989, the Division filed an average of 13 civil cases each year compared to the annual average of 48 cases between FY 1970 and FY 1976 and 30 cases between FY 1977 and FY 1980; (11) the number of private antitrust cases decreased from 1,292 to 638; (12) the Division filed fewer cases involving anticompetitive mergers between FY 1980 and FY 1989 than it did between FY 1970 and FY 1979; and (13) between FY 1982 and FY 1987, the Division's merger enforcement actions did not conflict with its merger enforcement guidelines.

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