On April 11, 2018, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will hold its annual Agenda and Priorities Hearing to discuss fiscal years 2019 and 2020. The upcoming hearing offers a valuable opportunity for all stakeholders to help shape the CPSC's near-term agenda. CPSC has broad jurisdiction over 15,000 product lines, including toys, cribs, power tools, ATVs, cigarette lighters, small appliances, furniture, electronics, and household products. For companies that sell, manufacture, or import consumer products, this is a chance to engage directly with the CPSC and have their concerns and suggestions heard.

CPSC has explicitly invited the public to submit comments regarding which issues it should prioritize and dedicate resources to and, conversely, which issues the Commission should consider de-emphasizing in the upcoming fiscal years.

CPSC proposed several priorities in the Commission's FY 2019 Budget Request, including: (1) focusing CPSC resources on the most urgent consumer product safety risks; (2) improving import surveillance by continuing incremental development of the Risk Assessment Methodology system to identify and stop noncompliant imported products from entering the U.S. marketplace; (3) strengthening outreach and education efforts by engaging stakeholders through forums and workshops; and (4) expanding the sources and types of data analysis used to identify and assess product safety risks and inform compliance decisions.

Last month, in her keynote speech at the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization's Annual Symposium, Acting CPSC Chair Ann Marie Buerkle reaffirmed her commitment to increasing CPSC's engagement with the broad stakeholder community. This includes collaborating with companies on issues such as (1) emerging and advanced technologies, including lithium ion batteries; (2) eCommerce and recall issues; (3) connected devices and Internet of Things technology and safety issues; (4) improving the CPSC's data; and (5) outreach, information, and education with regard to all stakeholders, especially on compliance efforts. If regulation or developments in any of these areas may impact your business, the Agenda and Priorities Hearing is the perfect occasion to provide real-world information on these matters to the CPSC. For example:

Are you bringing a new product to market in the United States? Does the CPSC need to understand certain issues related to this product to ensure smart and fair regulation?

Do you make or sell a new, innovative smart product connected to the Internet? Is it a toy? Is it a general-use product? Do you have ideas on best practices or guidance for smart products related to product safety?

Do you manufacture a product for which the current regulations or testing requirements are outdated or not relevant anymore? Do they need to be updated?

Is there a specific CPSC regulation, testing or certification requirement, or guidance that does not help make the product safer but is overly burdensome to your ability to manufacture or sell a certain product or product category?

If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then you should participate at the upcoming hearing or submit written comments regarding the issue.

Venable has a team of attorneys dedicated to consumer protection issues. They will be monitoring the topics raised at this hearing. Our practitioners are equipped to help interested parties submit written comments, prepare to testify at the hearing, or meet with CPSC to discuss specific issues of concern. The deadline to submit written comments or requests to participate in the hearing is March 28, 2018.