According to a news source, the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission’s (CPSC’s) efforts to ensure that consumer goods entering the United Sates meet safety requirements may be thwarted as a result of the congressional budgetary impasse referred to as “sequestration” and its impact on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Evidently, both agencies will experience significant budget cuts if the sequestration runs its full course.
The 5-percent across-the-board spending cuts translate to a $6-million loss from CPSC’s $115 budget, and CBP’s budget is expected to be reduced by more than a half-billion dollars. A CPSC spokesperson has reportedly indicated that CBP cuts have forced adjustments in port inspection operations, stating, “CPSC has scaled back on our more compliance oriented exams during this time period and will be focused on high risk shipments.” Cargo may be conditionally released to an importer’s premises for testing, he indicated, “given the reduction in resources available at ports of entry.”
“This week is National Consumer Protection Week, and I think more than ever we need to focus on how we can best protect consumers against unreasonable risks of harm,” said CPSC Commissioner Nancy Nord, who has long sought to rein in the agency, on her March 8, 2013, blog. “Though we have done an admirable job of that over the years (doing things like improving portable generators and improving crib safety), we need to zero in on our priorities, given our limited resources. The sequester cut CPSC’s budget, so we must be sure that we are laser-focused on our mission. We cannot afford to waste resources chasing secondary violations, paperwork slip-ups, and minor infractions … We need to identify where and when there is the greatest risk of harm from a consumer product, and be there to protect the consumer from it.” See Bloomberg BNA Product Safety & Liability Reporter, March 11, 2013.