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Failing to Modernize: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Has Let Key Issues Languish at the Agency

Public Citizen’s Remington Gregg Testifies During Yearly Hearing on the Agency’s Priorities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) should increase transparency, ensure greater diversity in key agency personnel, and invest in technology to modernize its operations to better advance the agency’s mission to protect consumers, Remington Gregg, Public Citizen’s counsel for civil justice and consumer rights said in testimony today before the commission.

“As Public Citizen—and soon the CPSC itself—marks five decades of work on behalf of keeping consumers safe, we urge the agency to truly assess what it will take for the CPSC to fulfill its mandate, protect consumers and their families from unsafe products, and be a visionary leader at home and abroad for product safety enforcement,” Gregg said.

Gregg urged the CPSC to increase the agency’s transparency by supporting congressional repeal of Section 6(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act, a provision of the law that restricts the agency from disclosing information to the public about specific products until they have effectively received permission from the manufacturer or another authorized entity. This allows a manufacturer or company to weigh in on or object to product safety information, which slows the flow of pertinent safety information to the public. In 2019, Public Citizen released a report detailing how Section 6(b) prioritizes the reputation of manufacturers over the safety of the public.

Gregg also urged the CPSC to increase their investment in technology to modernize the agency and to urge Congress to advocate for more funding for the agency. Currently, the CPSC, with jurisdiction over the safety of more than 15,000 products, has a staggeringly low budget of less than $130 million per fiscal year.

In addition, Gregg called on the CPSC to promote diversity among its staff and its policies. Black and Brown people continue to have disproportionately lower health outcomes, life expectancies, incomes, and household wealth than whites, and until the CPSC displays a commitment to these communities and creates policies that address these concerns, the commission will remain complicit in allowing these disparities to persist.

Gregg’s full testimony can be found here.