Agency says, we don’t need your help

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By Consumers Union on Friday, October 26th, 2007

The chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission says a Senate bill that would more than double the agency’s budget and expand its authority would be too difficult for the agency to implement and “put the American people at greater risk.”

“It is my and the CPSC staff’s assessment that many of our existing public safety activities would have to be severely curtailed or would cease entirely in order to attempt to fulfill all of the bill’s proposed statutory directives,” acting chairman Nancy Nord wrote Wednesday in a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii). The Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer affairs is expected to take up the bill next week.

The agency didn’t comment in the article on the fact that the new legislation will more than double its budget and raise its staff to meet the new requirements (and better handle the old ones). And the new authority will make it easier and less time consuming to quickly respond when dangerous products are found in the market – whether found by consumers, industry, or whistleblowers.
Agency officials claim that the new law would bring the CSPC too much information about unsafe products. Higher penalties for companies and protection for whistleblowers will mean that more potentially unsafe products will be reported.
Acting Chairman Nancy Nord told the Post that a lower penalty would reduce the incentive for companies to report unsafe products, and ensure that only the worst unsafe products come before the agency. But that means that she believes that lots of potentially unsafe products should not be reported. Industry, with a reduced and manageable penalty, could afford to let some unsafe products go unreported and just pay the fine as a cost of doing business.
Do you want penalties to be set at a level that encourages companies and whistleblowers to report anything they think might be a problem, or just some things?

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