Will We Listen to Our Inner Voice?

The CPSIA and the implementing regulations the CPSC is issuing have imposed unprecedented requirements on those manufacturing and selling consumer products.  Some of those requirements help insure the safety of the products used by American families.  Others impose regulatory requirements with little or no gain in terms of safety. 

To address the confusion and concern in the regulated community over the hard-to-understand requirements we are churning out, the agency is creating a new office of Education, Global Outreach and Small Business Ombudsman.  I supported this proposal.  While the new office will work to educate industry and small business on the requirements they face, I fully anticipate that these stakeholders will also educate the CPSC on issues of concern to them via their interactions with this office.  Therefore, perhaps the most important role the new office can play is to act as an internal voice for those potentially impacted by our activities.   My vote to establish this office is conditioned on an understanding that this office will act as an ombudsman inside the agency to help temper proposed actions that impose requirements without the requisite demonstration of a safety purpose. 

I recognize that creating a new office is no substitute for solving the real problems posed by the CPSIA.  I also recognize that there is a risk that such an office could merely try to put a rosy spin on troublesome policy decisions.  My responsibility as a Commissioner is to make sure this office communicates facts. 

All of us are aware that the requirements of the CPSIA have driven some companies out of business and have driven a number of perfectly safe products off store shelves.  The American public is paying the price in terms of lost jobs, higher prices, and less choice in the marketplace.  I view this office as a nod to the fact that we need to do a better job balancing the good we are trying to do with the harm actually being done.

3 Responses to “Will We Listen to Our Inner Voice?”

  1. 1 Sarah Natividad September 24, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    If you’re concerned with CPSC addressing the real risks that their CPSIA policy poses to economic activity in the U.S., how about starting with the recent recall of mood rings that were intended as adult novelties? I thought CPSC hadn’t yet formally approved the whole “it’s a children’s product if we say it is” policy, and here you guys are implementing it already. This opens up not just children’s products, but products clearly NOT intended for children to CPSIA enforcement. It is a terrible precedent to set. How is any manufacturer of any product supposed to believe that CPSIA won’t be enforced on general-use items now, Commissioner Moore’s wink-winks at ballpoint pens notwithstanding?

    The CPSC is getting out of control. What are you going to do to rein it in?

  2. 2 Esther September 23, 2010 at 11:54 am

    With all due respect this only adds to the bureaucracy. This will only add more confusion and complexity to the mess. There is only one true solution to the problem. Repeal the law or shut down the CPSC.

    • 3 Commissioner Nancy Nord September 24, 2010 at 10:46 am

      Esther, I recognize and share your frustration. This new office is no answer to the systemic problems of the CPSIA. We all need to keep working to address the overreaching impact of the law and the CPSC’s implementing regulations. However, we also recongize that the CPSC has not done a good job answering the thousands of questions that have been raised about the law. I hope that the new office will provide information to the regulated community and will provide a mechanism for those impacted by the law to bring those conerns to our attention. I do not intend to allow this new office to be a “fig leaf” so that we can say we have addressed the concerns of small business. Thanks for your note.

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