President Obama recently unveiled his proposed budget for fiscal year 2013. While the proposal will likely never pass in its current form, it does offer businesses and their attorneys some valuable insight into the administration’s priorities for the upcoming year.
Since we suspect that no one (even members of Congress) has time to read the entire budget proposal, this post outlines a few notable initiatives that may impact your U.S. businesses in the near term:
Intellectual Property: The Department of Justice is seeking additional funding to address counterfeiting and other copyright infringement. After speaking out against recent legislative efforts to combat international piracy of intellectual property, the DOJ’s budget proposal makes it clear that stepped up enforcement is indeed a top priority.
The Department specifically seeks $5 million to hire 14 new employees, including nine attorneys and six International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (ICHIP) coordinators, who will focus solely on IP-related crimes. If passed, this increase will be welcome news for the entertainment industry, which has been pressuring the Obama Administration to do more to address the pirating of goods overseas.
Employment Law: The Department of Labor’s 2013 budget highlights its enforcement priorities for the upcoming year. The budget requests an increase of $6 million for heightened enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. It also asks for continued funding to detect and deter the misclassification of workers as independent contractors, including $10 million for grants to States to identify misclassification and recover unpaid taxes and $4 million for investigators at the Wage and Hour Division. Based on the DOL’s stated goals, employers should be sure to review their compliance initiatives in these key areas.
Corporate Compliance: The 2013 budget confirms that the administration will continue to crack down on fraud, particularly in the financial, healthcare, and mortgage industries. The DOJ budget seeks an additional $55 million for financial and mortgage fraud initiatives, while Department of Health and Human Services Department requests an additional $71.7 million to combat health care fraud. If you operate in these industries, be sure you are prepared for increased scrutiny.
Securities Oversight: The Security and Exchange Commission’s budget for the next fiscal year calls for a budget increase of $245 million. The bulk of the additional resources are devoted to adviser oversight initiatives by the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations. In its budget justification, the SEC further indicates that private-equity funds, hedge funds, exchange-traded funds, and money market funds will all face increased scrutiny.
Of course, this post highlights just a few of the legal issues that may impact businesses in FY 2013. We suspect that a variety of additional concerns will come to the forefront as Congress begins to debate the proposal.