Yesterday, with little fanfare, the agency posted in the Federal Register an announcement that we invite comments from the public on ways to reduce the costs of third-party testing of children’s products required under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. This inquiry is mandated by a new law (H.R. 2715) passed by Congress this past summer. After reviewing the comments we receive, we may either implement cost-saving changes to our regulations and/or report to Congress on additional authority we need to reduce costs. This new law explicitly acknowledges what our staff economists have told us—third-party testing by outside labs is very expensive and will result in increased costs and reduced choices for consumers.
I remain hopeful (call me naïve!) that, with this push from Congress, my colleagues will finally get serious about addressing the costs of the CPSIA in an honest and forthright manner. However, the recent vote on the Testing Rule, which imposes expansive and expensive third-party testing requirements beyond what is required by statute, may show this hope is misplaced. Today I filed a supplemental statement describing why I believe that the CPSIA does not require that all periodic continuing testing of children’s products needs to be done by a third-party lab. Had my colleagues adopted this interpretation, testing costs would have been lowered without sacrificing safety and without the months of staff time the majority’s piecemeal approach will require.
I challenge readers of this blog to respond to the Federal Register request with comments on how to lower testing costs. Be creative and constructive in your comments! All suggestions will be read and considered, and I will be pushing my colleagues and our staff to actually think about ways to drive down costs and adopt the best ideas we get.