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Monday February 27, 2017

Buerkle Continues Effort to Allay Transition Concerns

CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle February 22 emphasized collaboration in a speech before the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO). Among her pleas was to reject stereotypes that regulators, industry, and consumers can apply to each other. Much of her talk echoed points she made to the press a week before (PSL, 2/20/17), and she reiterated steps she took to calm staff anxiety with the transition.


On that point, CPSCers that PSL spoke to during the ICPHSO conference mostly seemed optimistic or at least unworried. Some of them even volunteered such views without prompting. The attitude was echoed by industry and some consumerist, many viewing immediate, major shifts as unlikely.


Consensus – before the speech – seemed to be that early change likely will involve emphasis and priorities. All acknowledged – as has Buerkle – that major alterations would be limited by lack of a Republican majority, likely to continue at least to the end of 2017.


In her speech, Buerkle further predicted gradual change, using the metaphor of CPSC as an aircraft carrier that needs to be maneuvered rather than a light switch that can be flipped. She reiterated comments made to PSL and other press that CPSC is an independent agency exempt from recent executive orders on regulations and that its laws, rules, and mission have not changed.


On the orders, she repeated her desire to find ways to follow their spirit while pointing out that the rulemaking freeze ends after 60 days (late March). She added that the guidance ( on the one-in-two-out mandate for regulations urges simply that independent agencies should try "to identify existing regulations that, if repealed or revised, would achieve cost savings that would fully offset the costs of new significant regulatory actions."


She said such efforts make sense regardless of executive orders or the outcome of the election. CPSC does have existing efforts to look at easing burdens and updating regulations. Some stemmed from congressional direction related to the CPSIA while others were prompted by voluntary compliance with executive orders that came in 2011 and 2012 during the Obama administration. Commissioners Elliot Kaye and Joseph Mohorovic also have led such efforts.