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Statement from Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle on the 2014 Operating Plan

December 03, 2013

I joined my fellow Commissioners in a unanimous vote on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) operating plan for fiscal year 2014. I voted for the plan but not without reservations.

It is important for the agency and its staff to understand the initiatives and goals for the upcoming fiscal year. I commend the staff for their diligence and commitment in putting forth a plan, especially given the fiscal uncertainties that surround Washington. I thank them for their suggestions as well as their insights regarding what CPSC’s priorities should be and how they can be achieved. Their input and service are invaluable to this agency.

My reservations related to the operating plan have to do with the agency’s chosen path with regards to test burden reduction.  I commend Chairman Tenenbaum for taking action on this important issue by introducing an amendment that expands the scope of the determinations process, however, those efforts do not go far enough. The Commission has been directed by Congress to reduce the burden of testing and we must take that directive seriously.

I introduced two amendments to the operating plan that would take the agency’s role in test burden reduction a step further.

In the operating plan, CPSC staff recommended the Commission consider creating, maintaining, and recognizing a list of international standard testing equivalencies. My first amendment sought to direct a study to determine the evidence of conformity with said international standards as well as to determine potential streamline testing requirements. Unfortunately, my colleagues did not support my amendment. Rather, they introduced and passed their own amendment, which places the responsibility of testing equivalency data collection on the backs of industry. While I again appreciate the efforts of my colleagues, I could not support their amendment as it further burdens an already overwrought industry. 

It would seem logical that the agency that created those burdens would be the one to correct that problem.

I also offered an amendment that directed the Commission to send a letter to Congress requesting legal authority to allow for certification of a manufacturing process to be an acceptable method of satisfying the third party testing requirements of section 14(a)(2) and i(B)(2) of the CPSA. Congress instructed CPSC to come back to them if additional authority is needed to reduce testing burdens and I believe this letter is an appropriate way to do that. Although the amendment did not pass, I look forward to moving forward on this matter in the future.

CPSC has a responsibility to engage in meaningful rule making that directs industry to protect consumers from harm. However, the agency should approach that duty in a way that does not create unnecessary regulatory burden or redundancy. We must ensure that our policies are effective and efficient and do not lead to unintended consequences such as unnecessary increased testing costs. 

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