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Monday September 26, 2016

CPSC Draft FY2017 Operating Plan Assumes $130.5M Funding

CPSC staff September 22 briefed the commission on a draft FY2017 operating plan based on the requested $130.5 million budget. Whether that amount will be available is in question as Congress has not yet approved money for the year, which begins October 1.


Until final funding occurs, CSPC presumably would operate under a continuing resolution, most likely at its current $125 million, and spending based on the increase (PSL, 2/15/16) would be delayed. Moreover, it even is possible that CPSC's resources could fall as there have been moves in Congress to cut the agency's funding, including $121.3 million (PSL, 7/11/16).


In any event, under the plan, staffers would rise from 567 to 582 FTEs with all 15 new people going to import surveillance work. The projected $5.5 million funding increase ($125 million to $130.5 million) would rise to $6.5 million in available additional money due to a $1 million decrease in spending related to testing burdens. The freed money would go into three areas: $3 million for imports, $3 million for researching chronic hazards to children, and $500,000 for data work.


Explanations for the four changes included:

  • Testing: Staffers wrote that there is "sufficient existing funding in FY2017" to complete ongoing work, including that on Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy commercialization analysis.

  • Data: The half million is needed to maintain current levels of NEISS work due to contract cost rises. But it also will go towards improvements like better web-based data collection and incident review activities.

  • Imports: The agency seeks to increases its coverage to 7% of ports. Those targeted would account for about 65% of the flow of incoming products under its jurisdiction.

  • Chronic Hazards: The "Healthy Children at Home, at Play, and In School" effort would involve the agency's attention to nanotechnology and crumb rubber.

The plan, which also includes many performance goals, is at The nearly three hour briefing followed what is typical of such sessions, with commissioners often focusing on issues well known as important to them. Getting a large share of attention was education work on furniture tipovers. Members of both parties worried about funding/activity gaps.


Watchers also heard that the agency has received its first request to head a voluntary standards panel. If allowed, staffers would lead work on electronic sensors in protective headgear.


The reason staff is presenting the document before funding is known follows concern voiced earlier this year (PSL, 2/15/16) by Commissioner Marietta Robinson that the commission has been effectively delegating its statutory authority to staff in the way operating plans have been handled in recent years. While the CPSA calls for the panel to vote on an agenda 30 days prior to the start of the fiscal year, such action has not occurred well into the year after much of the work has been done. That timeline has stemmed from funding delays due to budget fights. At the briefing, she praised the timing this year