Archive for May, 2012

First Things First

Like many of you, I do basic housekeeping a few times a week. Then in the spring I get out the scrub brushes, hammer, and nails, and roll up my sleeves to do the major projects. To keep a house in good working order, you need both. The federal government also needs to do both major work and routine maintenance to keep a regulatory regime working at its optimum.

To be in good working order, federal agencies’ rules should be tailored to achieving their goals without unnecessarily burdening the public. I have long said this, so I was pleased when President Obama asked independent agencies, in a July 2011 executive order, to write plans to review their rules to identify and fix those that are outdated, inefficient, or needlessly burdensome.


The plan we adopt shouldn’t focus on the equivalent of minor housekeeping fixes when major house repairs are in order. Minor regulatory housekeeping should be part of our everyday activity. That doesn’t require a major plan; major repairs do. The Commission’s plan should be an “ambitious and unprecedentedly open process for streamlining, improving, and eliminating regulations,” to use the words of Cass Sunstein, director of the President’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The end of this process should be a regulatory regime that protects the public’s health and safety while ensuring that American consumers, employers, manufacturers, and innovators face the lowest reasonable burden.


Last fall, the CPSC asked the public for input on the elements of a rule review plan. The staff has now given us a draft plan that represents a starting point for Commission consideration. I have asked that the rule review plan be put on the Commission’s agenda so that we can discuss it collegially and openly as a Commission. We have a public meeting on another matter scheduled for late June. While I hope that we can take up a regulatory review plan sooner, at a minimum, I hope that this item can be added to the agenda for the June meeting.  

A Call for Smarter Regulation

I thought I would share a thought-provoking video editorial by NBC 4 Washington’s anchor Jim Vance. He has an interesting take on overzealous, feckless safety regulations and the evolution of the U.S. nanny state. As regulators, it’s our responsibility to make sure our actions address unreasonable risks, not every possible risk facing consumers. Take a look at this short piece and let me know what you think.

Vance’s View: Overprotection From Regulations

Time to Discard the Precautionary Principle at the CPSC


If you’d like some light weekend reading, check out the post that I wrote for RegBlog, the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s blog on federal regulation. I write about something you should all be familiar with: the type of risk analysis that produces the best consumer product safety rules. It describes what I think is essential to how we operate effectively at the CPSC.

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