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improvement of safety practices. The issues before the CPSC should be publicly aired; they are less likely to be smothered in the competition of Federal agencies for public notice. Similarly, CPSC's needs for staff and funds will receive more public attention and consideration by the Congress and by the Bureau of the Budget than those of a section of a branch of a division of a bureau of a service of an office of a department.
Finally, in developing acceptable safety standards for consumer products, it is important that manufacturers confront Government officials who, like themselves, are in command of resources and authority and able to make firm commitments and decisions.
The preference of at least some in the business community for an independent agency over one of the existing agencies in the product safety area was indicated in an informal poll of more than 50 industry officials taken by Underwriters' Laboratories in August 1969. The poll listed 14 proposed governmental safety functions; the group preferred that an independent agencyabout which they knew nothing-administer 12, in preference to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and the Commerce Department's National Bureau of Standards'3.
The relationship between the President's Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs and the Consumer Safety Advocate of the Commission can be expected to be complementary. The role of the Advocate will, however, be quite different from that of the proposed Consumer Protection Division in the Department of Justice, which has a potential for filing suits to enjoin deceptive practices and intervening in agency proceedings.
In the past, the legal doctrine that participants in adversary proceedings must have a direct economic interest has deprived consumers of "standing" before courts and agencies. This “standing" doctrine, admitting only parties with substantial economic interest, has been broadened recently by several court decisions'.
A Consumer Safety Advocate in Commission proceedings will assure consumers of the representation now authorized by the courts and supplement the efforts of nongovernmental advocates, if granted author. ity and staff sufficient to draw upon the technical resources of other Federal agencies.
We do not propose that he have any jurisdictional authority over the Commission or other Federal regulatory agencies. We propose that, through him, the consumer will be assured the same rights as any other interested group: access to information and the resources for asserting and defending his rights. There is clear justification for an office which will defend public interests against bureaucratic
or private indifference.
A Consumer Advocate
Contrary to the common concept that “we are all consumers" and the simple assumption that a public agency always defends the public interest, in reality most if not all public decisions represent a compromise among contending factions.
Recognition of the consumer's need for representation in Government decisionmaking was the motivating force in the creation of the President's Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs in 1963 and for the continuance of that function in the President's Committee on Consumer Interests.
On day-to-day matters of product safety, however, the consumer has no official champion. The assumption that Federal officials represent the general public interest breaks down when, in a bargaining situation, no one bargains for the consumer. Frequently, instead of serving the consumer, the Federal agency merely provides the forum where the consumer is an affected but helpless bystander.
We believe that the highly complex issues which will face the Consumer Product Safety Commission require a specialized Consumer Safety Advocate to make the voice of the consumer heard. When the agency serves as an arbiter, seeking to reconcile contending interests, the Advocate will defend the consumer. By institutionalizing a focus of consumer representation, it may no longer be said that “everybody's business is nobody's business."
In the absence of unreasonable risks, Federal action is unnecessary. Government should avoid needless intervention in private enterprise and the expense of developing redundant standards. At the same time, the existence of Federal authority to set mandatory safety standards may well stimulate improvements in, and compliance with, adequate voluntary standards. We have designed proposed standard-setting provisions to operate only when an identified product hazard is found and then only after a reasonable opportunity has been given to private individuals and consumer and industry groups to develop a draft standard for submission to the CPSC'S.
When the Commission determines that a product presents an identified hazard to life or health, the task of framing safety standards must be performed promptly but with sure-handed judgment. Because informal rulemaking is best suited for the determination of the kinds of issues in the development of standards and to prevent obstruction, the informal procedure rather than a formal hearing is preferable, with judicial review for all interested persons.
In any event, the Commission must be selective, limiting its development and updating of safety standards to categories of consumer goods which contain an unreasonable risk or the threat thereof.
When the need for action is apparent, the writing of safety standards must not drag on for months. A standard must be completed as quickly as governmental and private resources permit. We have provided in the proposed system that the Commission may make an interim product safety standard effective immediately where it finds an imminent risk to safety'.
In the event that private sources fail to frame a needed and adequate standard, the CPSC must have its own technical resources and authority to tap personnel and facilities of the Federal Government and private sources to develop mandatory safety standards. Safety standards cannot be deferred until all makers of a product are satisified; dissatisfied manufacturers will be able to appeal what they consider unjustifiably stringent standards to the CPSC or, ultimately, to the courts.
DIGEST OF RECOMMENDATIONS
4. That the Consumer Product Safety Commission be given the further responsibility to
Establish an Injury Information Clearinghouse to collect and analyze data on deaths and injuries associated with consumer products;
It is not the number or kinds of injuries but the fact of injury-the chronic disability, the mental anguish, the burden of medical costs, and the economic wastethat demands remedial action to reduce unreasonable product hazards by the most direct and efficient means.
By way of remedy, our recommendations, stated in full at the conclusion of this report, provide:
Disseminate information to the public about hazardous consumer products and practicable means of reducing hazards; and
Cooperate with and assist States and locali. ties in programs germane to consumer product safety.
1. That the Congress of the United States enact an omnibus Consumer Product Safety Act committing the authority and resources of the Federal government to the elimination of unreasonable product hazards.
5. That a Consumer Safety Advocate to the Commission be appointed by the President, with specific responsibility to represent consumer interests before the Commission.
2. That an independent Consumer Product Safety Commission be established as a Federal agency concerned exclusively with the safety of consumer products.
3. That the Consumer Product Safety Commission be directed to secure voluntary cooperation of consumers and industry in advancing its programs and that, when necessary to protect consumers from unreasonable risks of death or injury, the Commission be empowered to
6. That the Consumer Product Safety Commis-
Develop and set mandatory consumer
7. That the Federal Trade Commission promul-
Enforce compliance with consumer product
8. That Federal agencies provide industry and
A CHARTER FOR CONSUMER SAFETY
In formulating its recommendations, the Commis. sion has followed certain basic guidelines, namely:
port, these forces can be channeled to assure
A FEDERAL PRESENCE
Consumers have a right to safe products. When a
WE RECOMMEND that, through the enactment of a Consumer Product Safety Act and establishment of an independent Consumer Product Safety Commission, the authority and resources of Government be committed to eliminate unreasonable hazards found in and around the American home.
The cost to society of injuries from consumer products-amounting to several billion dollars a year in time lost, disability, patient care, and physical or mental distress-is awesome. Industry efforts, the common law, and existing Federal programs are inadequate to protect the public. State, local, and voluntary agencies lack