Archive for the 'Paperwork Reduction Act' Category

1110: Now It’s Your Turn

Last week, we talked about the shortcomings of the Commission’s proposed amendment to its Part 1110 rule on product certifications—hidden costs, confusion on bans and testing exemptions, recordkeeping disharmony, and questions not asked. Today, I issued my formal statement on the vote, which delves more deeply into the history of our first attempt at this rule and what we should have done this go-round.

That being said, I supported the broad outlines of this package. One key reason I voted to move ahead? I believe it’s high time we asked the public what to do about certificates. So now it’s your turn to let us know how we could improve this rule. Talk to me here, but more importantly, talk to the all of us at the Commission by submitting comments here.

CPSC: NOT a Representative Sample of Good Regulating

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has completed another regulation dealing with the process of testing children’s products: the manner in which companies select the samplesPaperwork-mountain they test. Thanks to Congress, the result is better than it could have been. Thanks to my colleagues, it is not as good as it should have been.

Originally, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), required manufacturers and importers to test “random samples” of their products. We were poised to read the word random with its most pedantic statistical meaning, creating an employment boom for mathematicians.

Many commenters deplored this uber-technical reading of the term, urging that we read it more plainly. Congress agreed, amending the statute to require “representative”—instead of “random”—samples.  So we started our work again, coming up with a rule to tell companies what representative means. The definition we came up with – a selection process that “provide[s] a basis for inferring compliance” even among untested products – seems reasonable enough on its face. What is unreasonable about this rule is that, when read in the context of the periodic testing rule it is amending, at best it is redundant, adding dead weight to the already-unwieldy testing rule. But more likely, it adds new requirements to what is already in the testing rule, although to extent of those requirements will only be fleshed out when we start to bring compliance actions.

What the new rule does add is another peak among the mountains of documentation the testing rule requires. We’re demanding separate recordkeeping for the representative sampling procedure on top of the documentation mandate that already exists for testing. Just two years of this recordkeeping could cost nearly $46 million, in addition to the costs for the rest of the testing rule’s paperwork. And remember, this price tag isn’t for either setting up the testing plan or doing the testing; it’s just for showing the math on the selection process for testing. Did we pause for one second to consider how to reduce the recordkeeping burden? Of course not. Did we give even a passing head nod to the direction the White House gave us this past summer to find ways to reduce recordkeeping burdens? Again, of course not.

At this rate, I expect our rule to require the documentation of the process used to document the selection processes for the documented testing plan will hit the Federal Register shortly. And a tip to traders who follow our regulatory hit parade: It’s a good time to be in the hard drive and paper businesses.

You can read my statement giving further detail to the problems of this rule here.

Too Far From the Flagpole?

The CPSC has continually ignored and otherwise shrugged off direction from the White House regarding good regulatory policy.  The questions I have: Are we standing so far from the flagpole that we cannot hear the bugle?  Or are we just marching to a different drummer?  Either way, IF the White House were really serious about regulatory reform, then the CPSC’s continual disregard of Presidential executive orders should be of concern.  That is a big IF—could it be that they are not serious?

Today, I wrote an op-ed about the CPSC’s repeated failures to take seriously the President’s regulatory reform directives.  As a result we are shirking our responsibility to write rules that minimize the burden on the economy and marketplace and, consequently, consumers pay the price. You can read the piece online at the Washington Times.

A Million Here, A Million There…

In June, the White House Office of Management and Budget directed federal agencies to take action to reduce paperwork burdens.  What is the CPSC’s reaction? Well, last week we voted on a proposal that would require additional recordkeeping on top of extensive recordkeeping already required for periodic third-party testing of children’s products. By our own admission, this newest recordkeeping would probably only rarely be used. The price tag for this recordkeeping is estimated to be as high as $32.5 million at first, with an additional $13 million each year thereafter. And it must be noted that the burden would fall heavily on small businesses. This requirement was neither in the spirit of the OMB directive, nor was it good regulatory policy.

Simply put, the recent vote on “representative samples” would have added another regulatory requirement that incurred unjustifiably high costs with little benefit. As responsible regulators, it is our job to create rules that maximize safety while minimizing cost. I voted to support the definition of “representative samples” which was supported by all Commissioners, but without the additional unjustified costs. A million here, a million there, adds up to an ever-increasing burden for those trying to innovate and remain competitive, to say nothing of consumers who have to ultimately pay the cost.

Read my statement here.

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