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From Products Liability Law Daily, October 3, 2013

GOP subcommittee members seek answers from CPSC on third-party testing costs

By Joseph Bichl

In a letter dated October 1, 2013, seven republican members of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade expressed their concern to CPSC Chair Inez Tenenbaum that the Commission was not dedicating the appropriate resources to the congressional mandate to reduce third-party testing costs (Letter to CPSC Chair Inez Tenenbaum, October 1, 2013).

Background. A 2011 amendment to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 directed CPSC to seek public comments on “opportunities to reduce the cost of third-party testing requirements consistent with assuring compliance with any applicable consumer product safety rule, ban, standard or regulation.” The law further directed the Commission to review the comments within a year after enactment and to implement any ideas that would reduce costs while assuring compliance. The Commission published a notice for comments in November 2011 (76 FR 69596, November 8, 2011). CPSC staff reviewed the comments and highlighted 16 opportunities to reduce costs. In October 2012, the Commission voted to pursue nine of the ideas.

Committee’s concerns. The letter intoned that one year later, the agency has “yet to implement any of the cost-reduction opportunities.” In order to keep moving the process forward, the committee members requested that Tenenbaum provide them with a schedule for implementation of each of the nine cost-reduction opportunities and to identify those testing opportunities the Commission voted not to pursue. In addition, of those opportunities that the agency voted not to pursue, the members demanded to know if it was because Tenenbaum felt the agency did not have authority to implement and, if so, would she favor legislative action augmenting the Commission’s authority. Given the “thousands of companies struggling with the costs of testing,” the committee members requested the information be provided to them by October 21, 2013.

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