Revisiting CPSC’s Regulatory Roots

It’s rare in life to meet the people who blazed the trail you’re walking, but that’s exactly what my colleagues and I did today.

This year is the CPSC’s 40th anniversary, and the agency’s five original commissioners joined us for a day of looking back and looking forward. Each of these extraordinary individuals—Dick Simpson, Larry Kushner, Connie Newman, Barbara Franklin, and David Pittle—signed up for the daunting task of opening the doors at a new federal agency. Their management skills and their commitment to consumer safety public service set a standard we try to live up to, and many of their policy choices remain in place 40 years later.

The staff and the current commissioners spent the morning learning from the people who did it first. After a wonderful lunch, we gave them a tour of our new lab, a continuation of the science-driven policymaking they began decades ago. In talking with and listening to these trailblazers, I was most impressed by their spirit of public service, a spirit that ensured a collegial atmosphere even during their most contentious policy discussions.

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