Monday November 19, 2012
Commissioners Weigh in on Senate Measure on Independent AgenciesBy Sean Oberle
CPSC members gave their views on a Senate measure, S. 3468, which would place cost-benefit burdens on independent regulatory agencies. Chairman Inez Tenenbaum and Commissioner Robert Adler wrote the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs that they have “serious concerns” about the bill. Meanwhile, Commissioner Nancy Nord wrote to the panel that she thinks its passage would help CPSC “strengthen its mission.”
In their November 7 letter, Tenenbaum and Adler wrote:
“Unfortunately, the current draft of S. 3468 would undermine [CPSC’s] independence. It would authorize the President to require independent agencies to submit their rulemakings to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for prior review. This would constitute a fundamental change in the role of all independent regulatory agencies.
Nord, in her November 13 letter, told the committee:
“CPSC has failed to analyze adequately for the costs or benefits of the key rules that it has adopted over the last several years. Citing too little money, time or interest, a majority of the Commission chose to be uninformed as we have sought to carry out our regulatory mission. For example, in the last two years, we have adopted two major rules with an impact on the economy of well over $100-million–out of a total of three in the agency’s history–without sufficient analysis. Especially in light of the nation’s economic crisis, this was astounding. Safety could have been achieved at a lower cost but we did not do that analysis.
Under the Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act of 2012, introduced in August by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the President could require agencies to do13 tasks related to their rules, including assessing the target problems, looking to see of other rules exist to address them, doing cost-benefit analysis, considering “alternative forms of regulation,” and drafting rules that are “simple and easy to understand.”
Then, for economically significant rules, the agencies also would need to seek the OMB review, which would look at costs, benefits and alternatives.
The measure was slated for possible markup by the committee on November 15 as PSL went to press.
It also was the subject of a November 5 opinion piece in The Hill by Linda Ginzel and Boaz Keysar, co-founders of Kids in Danger. They wrote, “[T]he sweeping reach of this proposal would lead to delays in the work of all regulatory agencies, including the CPSC. By mandating a whole new layer of economic analysis requirements, S. 3468 would significantly delay or prevent the implementation of the safety protections issued by the CPSC.”