The US Consumer Product Safety Commission a Global Leader in Consumer Product Safety

By Tenenbaum, Inez M. | The Journal of Consumer Affairs, Fall 2014 | Go to article overview

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission a Global Leader in Consumer Product Safety


Tenenbaum, Inez M., The Journal of Consumer Affairs


In her 2014 Colston Wame Lecture, Inez M. Tenenbaum, former Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (2009-2013), reflects on the organization's accomplishments under her leadership and discusses work that remains to be done by the Commission.

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Good morning, everyone. It is a great pleasure to be attending the annual conference of the American Council on Consumer Interests. I will always be grateful to President Obama for nominating me to be the chairman of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in 2009. The four and one-half years that I served as chairman were the most transformative years in the history of the Commission. During this time, the CPSC became the global leader in consumer product safety, and my team and I made the CPSC a very different agency than when I joined it in 2009.

Today, the CPSC is stronger, more proactive, and better at protecting the consumer, especially children. Let me give you a few examples of the many proactive initiatives the CPSC undertook in the last five years:

* Developed a new five-year strategic plan which set forth a 21 st century mission and vision for the CPSC, made the agency more proactive, more focused on injury prevention, and moved the agency into being the global leader in consumer product safety;

* Increased its number of employees by 175--now an agency with more than 500 diverse employees;

* Implemented the landmark Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that establishes the lowest allowable lead limits in children's products, provides for a mandatory federal toy standard, and provides for new rules on infant-durable equipment. The United States can now say that it has the safest, strongest crib standard in the world.

* Pursuant to the CPSIA, developed more than 50 Congressionally mandated rulemaking activities in four years, which is a record that I do not believe will ever be topped by the agency.

* Launched a publicly searchable database on consumer products--saferproducts.gov--which allows consumers, government officials, and others to share their experiences with consumer products. Saferproducts.gov receives more than 200, 000 visits per month and has more than 15, 000 incident reports available for consumers to review.

* Opened the new National Product Testing and Evaluation Center in Rockville, Maryland, which allows the CPSC to test consumer products in a state-of-the art facility.

* Opened the first foreign CPSC office in Beijing, where our employees work with the Chinese government, domestic and foreign manufacturers, and other US government agencies to ensure safer products coming into the United States.

* Developed in cooperation with US Customs and Border Protection a Risk Assessment Methodology (RAM) pilot program at US ports that will go nationwide in 2016.

* Created the Office of Education, Global Outreach, and Small Business Ombudsman to offer educational resources on the regulated community as well as developed international partnerships for consumer safety.

Anyone who has followed the CPSC over the years will join in the opinion that my years as Chairman of the CPSC were transformative years. In the 40 years since the CPSC was established, never has so much positive change been accomplished under one Chairman's term. I am proud of my record at the CPSC, but there is still much more work to be done.

Port surveillance is one area that was greatly improved during my tenure, yet more work needs to be completed to have a comprehensive national port surveillance program. As previously mentioned, when Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, it directed the CPSC to create a pilot Risk Assessment Methodology (RAM) to identify imported products that are most likely to be noncompliant.

The RAM targeting system, which integrates data from CPSC's internal systems with data collected by Customs and Border Protection, is operational. …

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