Much of CPSC’s work under 2008’s Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) is done, but one giant piece remains: the periodic testing and certification rule. That rule will mandate periodic testing for manufacturers of children’s products, resulting in repeated testing against myriad standards and requirements. As it was proposed, the rule requires that this ongoing testing be done by third-party laboratories.
There are more than a few looming questions about how we will design and implement the rule. Perhaps the most fundamental is whether or not we will continue the majority’s approach of handing down needlessly expensive, one-size-fits-all regulations that treat the biggest international corporations, the mid-size companies, the niche businesses, and the one-person crafters the same.
There is reason to hope, however, that we will chart a new course. The CPSC reform law the President signed last Friday (176k PDF) requires us, within two months, to ask the public for information about the costs of third party testing requirements and ways to minimize those costs. A reasonable reading of our new law should lead us to give the public the chance to share their views with us and to give ourselves the chance to understand and consider those views as we develop the final rule. This would lead to a more thoughtful, more collaborative, and more transparent testing rule. As an added advantage, this would also help us develop a final rule that does not impose unnecessary costs on an already stressed economy.
My hope is that my colleagues will recognize how invaluable public input is, seek it now, and produce a testing and certification rule that utilizes that input. I’m hopeful the majority has understood the clear message from Congress and the President that we take the time to understand what it is we’re doing before we do it.