Nearly a year after Congress rewrote consumer product safety laws and fundamentally redefined the duties of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, significant changes to agency funding and leadership appear imminent. According to a recent announcement by President Obama, agency funding will soon double, the agency will finally have a chair, and the commissioner ranks will swell from two to five.
Earlier this month, President Obama announced plans to double CPSC funding. Toward that end, Obama requested a 71% increase in agency funding over 2007. Given the recent expansion of CPSC authority, a two-fold increase may be inadequate to enable the agency to execute the ambitious agenda adopted by Congress in the CPSIA.
In addition, President Obama nominated Inez Moore Tenenbaum to lead the Consumer Products Safety Commission. I find it troubling that despite the sweeping legal changes and expedited rulemakings which have occurred during the past year, the position of commission chair has been vacant. It has actually been vacant since summer 2006 andCommissioner Nancy Nord has been Acting Chairman of the agency during that time. More troubling than operating without a chair while making high impact decisions is that fact that one commissioner seat has been vacant during this time. Indeed, the CPSC has operated with only two commissioners, Nancy Nord andThomas Moore for the past few years. Even before 2006, the agency had been operating with only three commissioners for over 15 years. You can review a chronology of CPSC commissioners at their website. To address this issue, Obama appointed Robert S. Adler as a new CPSC Commissioner, bringing (with Tenenbaum) the commissioner ranks to four. Obama promised to add a fifth commissioner.