Monday May 20, 2019
Discipline Not Out of the Question in 6(b) Situation; CR Got Info on at least 10% of Affected Firms
Disciplinary action is not off the table in CPSC's internal investigation of information released outside 6(b) procedures, but that possibility is tempered with the phrase, "if warranted." That status was among new information in a CPSC FAQ page (bit.ly/2JMqzHs) on the situation.
The detail comes in a response to a question about who did the releasing and what is being done about it. The answer to who is not given, and the agency explains that its inspector general (IG) office still is looking into the matter. A decision about discipline or any other needed actions will come after the IG's report.
About a third of the FAQ involves the agency's five-step process for dealing with the situation (PSL, 5/2/19), and it gives a few new details not reported by PSL earlier:
Some other details not previously reported by PSL included:
The release of information occurred at least in the range of late 2017 to early 2019 (PSL, 5/2/19), with the three releases to Consumer Reports occurring in December 2017, August 2018, and February 2019. CR explained that it rebuffed CPSC's return/destroy request because it sees it as a duty to release product incident details (PSL, 4/22/19). The situation is directly linked to CR's promotion of deaths associated with inclined sleepers, leading to recalls by Fisher-Price and Kids II.
Although most attention has been on information being released outside the law – and potential harm to companies – consumer groups and others have countered that it shows CPSC's information-release duties are extreme and that such disclosures occur regularly at other agencies without controversy (PSL, 5/6/19). The situation with sleepers also has led to criticisms of CPSC's recall abilities and to calls for improvements (PSL, 5/6/19).
Other PSL stories related to this matter:
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.
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.