The most significant FTC Moments for me were when we made a difference in furthering the public interest. This came from consumers thanking us for making redress, or from those on opposite sides of an issue who complained about the same FTC action; that meant we just about “got it right.”

An example of that was when I coordinated undercover test shops of scores of funeral homes in four states. These “sweeps” uncovered many Funeral Rule violations and led to numerous consent decrees. This led the industry to complain loudly but eventually approach us to establish the Funeral Rule Offenders Program (FROP), a self-regulatory training and certification alternative to law enforcement that still exists. And it works: the FTC publicizes improved test shop results, and it goes after FROP graduates who violate the Rule. But what looked to industry like a hatchet job, looked to consumer watchdogs like a whitewash. In her famous expose’s sequel, “The American Way of Death Revisited,” Jessica Mitford slammed my “no comment” on the sweeps’ genesis and used phrases like “tepid burst of activity,” “shameful failure” and “official concession.”

Well, given the reactions from both sides, I think we just about “got it right”, and that was my FTC Moment. Another FTC Moment was coming up with the website’s first tagline, “For The Consumer”! Finally, I got to work with (and before) incredibly talented, dedicated colleagues, in the only agency that feels more like a family. That was the best FTC Moment of all.

—Thomas Cohn