The Year Ahead

Under CPSC’s statutes, Commissioners serve seven-year terms, with the opportunity to remain in office one year past their terms’ expirations or until their successors are named, whichever occurs first. Though my term expires October 27, 2012, I will continue to serve until October 27, 2013, or until my successor is confirmed by the Senate.

My term has spanned a lot of change at CPSC, some of it good and some of it not-so-good. Under my initiative, we began an important surveillance program in our ports, signed the lease for a new modern testing laboratory, began a thorough review of our crib standards, and made numerous recommendations to the Congress on how to improve the agency’s execution of its mission to protect consumers.

I’ve also seen the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, the most significant change in our statutes since the agency was created in 1972. I’ve seen my colleagues use that law as reason to show commendable enthusiasm but, unfortunately, run roughshod time and again over responsible process and thoughtful regulation. I’ve seen Congress pull back on the reins with last year’s H.R. 2715, directing us to do the kind of thinking we should have done on our own. I’ve even seen the White House ask us to start looking more at how our rules are actually functioning in the real world after we pass them, not just drop them on the market and move on to our next target, a request we largely ignored.

What will I see in the next twelve months?

Obviously, much of the answer to that question depends on the presidential election, as the candidates have outlined quite different visions of regulation. However, it also depends on you.

How are CPSC regulations affecting you, either as a consumer or as a business owner? Are there specific mandates that just don’t work? Are there standards we need to take a closer look at? Are we doing enough to reach out to the companies we regulate and the consumers we’re trying to keep informed?

I have no intention of just marking time in my last year. Not only do I have work I’d like to get done, I will also continue to lend my voice to the debate to improve CPSC’s rules, enforcement, and communication.

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