Traditionally, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been able to attract quality employees and talent based on their reputation as one of the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.” In fact, when surveyed across all government agencies, the FTC has historically been ranked second on that list. But one year of Lina Khan’s leadership as FTC Chair has changed that reputation. This year, the FTC ranked 22nd on the list of “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.”
This decline in the FTC’s reputation as a top-notch employer comes in light of a report from MLEX documenting Chair Khan’s highly abrasive leadership style. FTC Deputy Director of Public Affairs Peter Kaplan, one of Chair Khan’s allies, attempted to dismiss the report’s findings as part of the “considerable change” that Lina Khan is bringing to the FTC. However, the report found that most of the complaints against Khan were not policy related.
Khan has created a disconcerting environment within the FTC. She refuses to ask any experienced staffers for advice or even address their concerns. The “free flow of information” that traditionally has existed between the chair’s office and their employees has been blocked by what employees have described as a “wall of silence.”
Staffers are petrified over publicly revealing even the most minor critiques against Khan. Their fear has led to multiple staffers becoming worried about “follow[ing] the wrong person on Twitter or lik[ing] a post on LinkedIn that criticizes Khan or her agenda.” Essential freedoms of staffers to have and express their own opinions have become so restricted that they are even fearful of supporting a friend on social media. This change of approach is unprecedented for an FTC Chair to take regardless of their policy preferences.
Based on these reports, it is no surprise that the FTC’s reputation as a top-tier place to work in the federal government has crumbled in recent years. The reputation that the FTC used to proudly use to attract talent has become one that is repelling top-tier talent, as the FTC has experienced a brain drain due to these practices. Congress needs to investigate the circumstances that has sullied the reputation of the FTC in the past year. Khan also ought to face tough questioning for these matters so that she is held accountable for her lack of leadership.
Photo Credit: CRA_033122351 by E Gillet is licensed under CC0 1.0