Serving as a Commissioner for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) since 2013, and as the Acting Chairman for two and a half years, has been an honor and one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career.
My respect for CPSC, its mission, and most importantly, for the agency’s staff, has grown each year that I have been with CPSC. It has been both a pleasure and a privilege to work with so many talented and capable individuals.
Throughout my time with the agency, I have led with integrity and principle – always with our safety mission above politics. I am incredibly proud of the accomplishments achieved during my tenure and deeply appreciate the support and excellent work by the CPSC staff.
Since first arriving at the agency, I took an approach to my role that focused on three areas: education, collaboration, and balance.
I thought that if we could better educate consumers on potential hazards and the importance of product safety, as well as educate industry on best practices and the importance of thinking about safety sooner in the production timeline, that we would prevent injuries and deaths. I thought that we could do a better job on the business education side. To that end, we launched and subsequently enhanced the Regulatory Robot. We have conducted numerous international and domestic import trainings to help industry understand the product safety requirements that should be considered before a company begins manufacturing or importing, helping to ensure sure their products are safe and compliant for consumers.
On the consumer education side, we made improving recall effectiveness and SaferProducts.gov a priority, launched a recall app, and undertook dozens of education campaigns, including Anchor It!, Pool Safely, and hurricane safety. Not to mention our famous twitter account, run by the Office of Communication’s Joe Galbo, which has used creativity and ingenuity to try to capture the attention of consumers in a world where they are inundated with information.
I thought that if we did a better job of building relationships with all stakeholders and kept the lines of communication open so we could leverage one another’s knowledge, insight, and expertise, that would enable us to remove unsafe products from the marketplace faster and to prevent them from entering the market altogether, --thus benefiting the consumer.
With that in mind, I’ve had regular calls with consumer safety groups to understand and respond to their priorities. I asked staff to hold tech-to-tech meetings to help us better understand the products we regulate and to hold workshops on topics such as recall effectiveness and compliance so that we could gain input from stakeholders as well as inform them of our thoughts and expectations. And we prioritized engagement with fellow government agencies to ensure a strategic and coordinated effort on issues with overlapping jurisdiction.
Finally, no group has been more influential to me than the victims and their families that I have met over the years. Their courage, resolve and desire to ensure that no other parent, relative or loved one has to suffer the tragedy they faced has helped me to never lose sight of the importance of CPSC’s mission as well as its effect on Americans.
I thought that if we took a balanced, reasonable approach to regulation, one that relied on science and data, and did our best to avoid unintended consequences, that we would truly foster a safer environment for consumers without adding unnecessary regulatory burdens.
In this regard, I have tried to ensure that our resources are dedicated to the highest priority risks and that we are always looking ahead to what hazards may emerge in the future. We have taken steps to promulgate mandatory rulemaking where appropriate and have been dutiful in enforcing the laws and regulations we are charged to uphold. We have been steadfast in working to improve voluntary standards along with the regulated community, consumer groups, and family advocates. And we have taken steps to reduce regulatory burdens without impacting safety where and when we can.
Looking back at my six years at the Commission, and in particular my Acting Chairmanship, I believe that these approaches were successful and that we have taken many actions that have enhanced safety and saved lives including:
- Developing a stronger NPR for inclined sleep products
- Initiating a multi-pronged approach on strengthening furniture tipover safety standards and enforcement
- Eliminating window cords in 80% of the market to prevent child strangulation
- Educating people on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and facilitating the development of new portable generator standards, resulting in safer products being available today in the market place.
- Guided the disbursement of over $2 million in grants to reduce drownings and pool entrapments
- Approving more than a dozen new or revised mandatory standards, many of them for children and infant products
- Leading CPSC’s efforts to address the safety of the Internet of Things, including the formation of an interagency working group
- Jumpstarting a process to improve and modernize saferproducts.gov
- Increasing funding and resources for the CPSC each year since I’ve been Acting Chairman, including the House’s current mark of $135.5 million
In addition, CPSC is better positioned to be effective and efficient because of the agency-wide improvements made under my leadership. We have taken steps to modernize the agency both with data and technological advancements as well as enhancing the organization and prioritization of staff and resources. The work we have done, and that continues to occur, will help ensure that CPSC is equipped to succeed in a rapidly changing global marketplace where the types of products and how consumers buy and interact with those products is constantly evolving.
These achievements could not have been accomplished without the CPSC staff, who truly are the backbone of our agency. It has been an honor to lead them and to serve alongside them.
Following my departure from CPSC, my hope is that staff and the Commission will build upon the successes of my tenure, as I have sought to build on the legacies of those that came before me. I hope my efforts to put politics aside and make principled decisions will endure and that the agency culture of civility, respect, kindness, and openness that we worked so hard to create will remain. And I hope the agency continues to leverage the expertise and knowledge of our staff and all stakeholders to advance safety measures for consumers everywhere.
My life’s work has always been in advocacy, healthcare, and public service. I believe that my time at the CPSC has been a culmination of a lifetime of these experiences and has made the American public safer. I truly look forward to the next chapter of my life and will continue my service to community, country and most importantly my six wonderful children and 18 grandchildren.