Monday, April 4, 2011

Funding Debate

Last week, I had the honor of representing the CPSC as a witness before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. The hearing, which focused on the CPSC'S 2012 Performance Budget Request, afforded me the opportunity to testify about ways in which I believe we can reduce our budget while actually improving our ability to fulfill our core safety mission.

In my prepared testimony, I illustrated several points where I believe the CPSC is inefficiently using its resources, focusing on the requirements of the CPSIA. For example, I discussed the Commission Majority’s decision to broaden the scope of what falls under the definition of “children’s product.” That decision unnecessarily increased the number of products that must undergo third-party lab testing for compliance with the statutory lead content limits applicable to children’s products. Moreover, the majority failed to meaningfully define “absorption” for purposes of excepting from the third-party testing requirements products that contain no risk. As a result, the rule makes no distinction between products containing lead that is likely to be consumed and products where the lead content cannot cause harm. These regulatory decisions by the Majority have actually increased the economic damage caused by the CPSIA, in areas where the Commission had the discretion to limit that damage.

In addition to my prepared testimony I was able to highlight two points that I believe would be instrumental in reducing both the size of the Commission’s budget and its regulatory burden, especially on small businesses:

First, I urged the Committee to prohibit funding for the new public database until the Commission’s regulations ensure that the information contained in a report of harm is verifiable, and the Commission has established an effective procedure for resolving a claim of material inaccuracy before a report of harm is put on the Database.

Second, I urged the Committee to prohibit funding for the Commission to implement any new third-party testing and certification requirements of the CPSIA. Of course, the Commission would still have its authority to impose such requirements where necessary to address a risk. This will ensure that our focus is on ensuring safety rather than on enforcing standards and paperwork requirements entirely unrelated to risk.

Finally, I was pleased with the discussion by Chairwoman Jo Ann Emerson of the need for a cost-benefit analysis of regulations promulgated under the CPSIA. I believe such an analysis would reveal that much of our CPSIA mandated regulation cannot be justified. This will not only help to save businesses throughout the county that are struggling, but it will also ensure that we are using the resources provided to us by the taxpayer in a logical and substantive manner.

Click here to view last week's broadcast.

1 comment:

Wacky Hermit said...

Thank you for posting the link to the broadcast. I'll have to watch it later though. I appreciate all your work on trying to make the database serve an actual function for people other than trial lawyers and "consumer" groups fishing for new targets and competitors looking to sabotage their competition. I also appreciate you and Commissioner Nord trying to rein in the excesses of the CPSC.