Durbin Chairs Hearing on CPSC Budget

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today chaired a hearing on the FY11 budget request for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and to review the steps it has taken to improve product safety after years of high-profile product recall.
“In just a few short years, the CPSC has gone from a watchdog agency with no bite to being a robust, proactive agency with greater enforcement powers and more frontline inspectors,” Durbin said. “The dramatic decline in toy recalls since this agency’s transformation tells me the word is out. There’s a new sheriff when it comes to consumer product safety.”
CPSC Chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum was the only witness at today’s hearing.
In 2008, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act which dramatically increased the authorities and resources for the watchdog agency. The bill increased fines and criminal penalties for companies who willingly violate product safety laws; required that all children’s products be tested by an independent third-party lab; granted whistleblower protections and allowed Attorneys General greater ability to enforce product safety laws.
In that time, the agency’s budget has increased by more than 30% from $80 million to $118.2 million last year. Staffing levels have also increased from an all time low of 385 in 2008 to more than 530 by the end of this year. CPSC recently opened its first foreign office in Beijing this year, helping to coordinate and promote US product safety standards not only in China, but throughout Asia.
Most impressively, the need for toy recalls has declined 75% from 2008 to 2009, including an 80% decline in recalls due to lead content violations.
The President’s budget request for CPSC for FY11 is $118.6 million – a $400,000 increase. With this increase and additional resources at its disposal, CPSC plans to hire additional staff in the areas of compliance, hazard investigations and inspections as the agency moves from developing new product safety rules to enforcing those rules.