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Monday December 19, 2022

CPSC IG Urges 7 Steps to Avoid Repeating 2021 Vote Conflict

CPSC's Inspector General (IG) office made seven recommendations following its investigation into the vote on the agency's FY2022 operating plan. That 2021 event (PSL, 10/4/21) involved a then-Acting Chairman Robert Adler attempting to override a 2-1 vote. The IG wrote (

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"We found that there were procedural irregularities in the Commission vote on the FY 2022 Operating Plan; that the acting General Counsel's nullification of the vote was improper; and that there was an unauthorized release of a related privileged document to the Washington Post."

About the third finding, the IG did not learn information about how the Post reporter got the privileged legal review used to nullify the vote but did suggest the reporter, probably unintentionally, misattributed authorship.


The first two suggestions below are amended from their initial form based on CPSC management feedback although the IG characterized the reactions as generally concurring:

  • "CPSC staff should ensure the Commissioners are aware of the OIG's report and recommendations. The Commissioners should then determine whether they wish to revise the Decision Making Procedures to better conform with current agency needs."

  • "The Commissioners should then determine whether the Decision Making Procedures should be published in order to ensure transparency when conducting Commission business. In the Report of Investigation into Irregularities in the FY 2022 Operating Plan Vote 14 alternative, if the decision is made to not publish them, the rationale for this decision should be recorded."

  • "The Commission and the General Counsel should review the Secretary's position at the agency and consider implementing a more robust role for the Secretary regarding the implementation of the Decision Making Procedures."

  • "The position description for the Secretary should be revised to reflect the actual duties performed by the Secretary."

  • "If changes are made to the Decision Making Procedures, relevant staff should be trained on the new Decision Making Procedures."

  • "The General Counsel retract, or in some other way clarify, the status of the legal review nullifying the Commissioners' vote on the FY 2022 Operating Plan. It should be made clear that the legal review does not constitute an accurate summation of the General Counsel's views on the legal issues involved or a precedent for future vote nullifications."

  • "The CPSC expand its existing training concerning information protection to include the prohibition on the release of privileged information and the possible consequences of same."

Republican Commissioners Dana Baiocco (who has since left CPSC) and Peter Feldman overrode the nullification 2-1. The initial trigger was Adler's concern over the pre-vote timing of the distribution of proposed amendments.


The Republicans were leveraging a few weeks of majority between the departure of Commissioner Elliot Kaye and confirmation of Chairman Alexander Hoehn-Saric.