Thursday May 02, 2019
CPSC Details In-Progress Mitigation of Disclosures; 11K Firms AffectedBy Sean Oberle
CPSC changed its information-release procedures in early April in reaction to its problematic disclosures to 29 recipients since 2017 and affecting approximately 11,000 companies. Primary in those changes is rerouting all requests made to the Information Clearinghouse through the FoIA system. The Clearinghouse was the source of the problem, which involved release of information without following 6(b) procedures.
The agency also set up a five-part process aimed at stopping the problem and fixing it going forward. It currently is at part 3, which involves answering companies' questions or filling in knowledge gaps (see timeline below).
CPSC spokesman Joe Martyak May 2 emphasized to PSL the already-in-process nature of these actions, beginning about a month ago. He also stressed that CPSC has considered the situation to be a high priority and that it takes its related legal obligations very seriously – those sentiments are similar to ones stated by Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle May 1 when concerns about the disclosure controversy arose at a CPSC priorities hearing.
As for what happened, Martyak explained that the focus has been on stopping the problem, informing companies, and ensuring against recurrence. Piecing together the underlying problem will come later.
Other known details include that about half of the 29 recipients have agreed to CPSC's request to return or certify destruction of the materials. CPSC is re-contacting recipients that have not responded. The recipient of the largest quantity of information is among those who agreed to comply. The only recipient known to PSL as refusing is Consumer Reports (PSL, 4/22/19). PSL was not a recipient; it typically does not use the Clearinghouse.
Other parts of the timeline as known to PSL:
Other PSL stories related to this matter:
Companies need to confirm to CPSC immediately that they received letters about unauthorized release of their information.
CPSC's recurring disclosures of companies' information outside 6(b) procedures happened for over a year, and at least one recipient has rejected the agency's request to return or certify destruction of the materials.
Consumer Reports (CR) April 18 told PSL it saw a "duty" to consumers to publicize incidents CPSC provided outside the 6(b) process, and it confirmed the connection to the Fisher-Price Rock 'n' Play matter.