On March 5 Representative Dingell sent a letter to the CPSC with a number of questions for them about CPSIA. Since his letter was posted on his website, and quickly became a matter of public record – many of us who are being hit hard by the new regulations chose to respond to his questions as well. I initially faxed Representative Dingell my answers and then contributed them to the massive number of emails that were collected for delivery to him.
The CPSC currently consists of only two Commissioners – Nancy Nord and Thomas Moore. On 20 March, Mr. Moore’s two-page letter appeared on the CPSC website. It would not be an overstatement to say that we do not see eye to eye with Mr. Moore, or vice versa.
Comments from Moore’s letter, and my reactions to them:
" ... two Commissioners who do not view the Act in the same light and who do not always agree on the Act's meaning...That is also why there is no Commission response to your questions.”
"Despite the hue and cry of some in the business community who will never be happy with the closer scrutiny and accountability..." Wait! WE'RE the bad guys?
"However, I think that when the agency gets the third Commissioner we will be better able to address some of the concerns voiced by staff and by industry. Until then any legislative “fixes" are premature. Only the Commission should recommend what, if any, changes should be made to the CPSIA…” So, we in the business world are told to forget changes until they can get their act together?!? Maybe the whole law could just be put on hold until then?
Ms. Nord, on the other hand, did try to get reasonable answers to the questions asked. She referred them to the CPSC staff – who responded with a detailed, well-though out 21-page letter. It was somewhat comforting to read their responses to Mr. Dingell’s questions. I have included highlights from the questions, “the staff’s answers”, and my comments below. (I hope to finish in the next few days…)
1.To what extent has robust implementation of the Act been hampered by CPSC’s lack of resources?“The CPSC has made implementation of the CPSIA our highest priority.”
This sounds like the first problem with this Act to me – so the CPSC has gone from its real task of “Saving Lives and Keeping Families Safe” to focusing on implementing CPSIA – which will not save lives.
“As we implement each new requirement, we are seeing unanticipated issues arise, and we are learning more of the far-reaching effects of the CPSIA…”So, it seems the CPSC is getting unintended consequences, even if Congress is not.
2. Given the paramount importance of ensuring children’s safety and the overall mission of the CPSC, to what extent are the deadlines in the Act practicable for CPSC and industry to meet acting with all deliberate speed?“…the deadlines mandated in the CPSIA have jeopardized our ability to meet Commission priorities and proven to be too much for a relatively small agency to handle all at once”
Just the question being asked NOW was aggravating…Retailers and Resellers are being hit hard by the February 10, 2009 deadline already – we would have liked this discussion to have occurred at least one month before that deadline, not one month after it! And if the deadlines are too much for the CPSC, imagine what they are doing to businesses.
“…the statue did not permit the agency to exempt products from the scope of the definition of children’s product…”While Congress is busy blaming the CPSC for its actions and lack of actions, they have done nothing to untie their hands, and give them the power they need to make these types of decisions. (Apparently it’s easier to play the blame game than it is to fix a bad piece of legislation.)
“…each of the various initiatives in the Act…will require significantly more time to implement than anyone originally anticipated.”So will they move the February 10, 2010 deadline again? If so, how about sooner rather than later?
“The Commission staff must have some relief from the deadlines imposed.”While we would concur, we would point out that affected businesses (and consumers) need relief even more!
“Use of risk assessment methodology would all the Commission to establish priorities, provide for common sense exemptions, and set CPSIA implementation deadlines.”
“Risk assessment” and “common sense exemptions”? Great idea. How about sooner rather than later? Neither of those seemed to be factored into writing the law.
“…An ideal solution to these challenges would be for Congress to let the Commission decide what level of testing is required for which products…”Since the CPSC must enforce the law, it would seem appropriate that they have some flexibility in making decisions about the law.
“The question asks us to comment on the impact of the deadlines on industry…every industry needed more time to determine which, if any of its products were covered under the definition of children’s product, test those products for compliance, and develop new methods of manufacture…”
“The scope of products covered by the new regulation and the amount of inventory implicated went well beyond what many may have contemplated.” To which we say, Amen!