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Consumer Product Safety

The Consumer Product Safety Commission faces a number of challenges regulating a wide range of consumer products.

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is responsible for regulating the safety of thousands of consumer products, ranging from children’s toys to off-road recreational vehicles. However, it faces a number of challenges regulating this wide range of products.

For example:

  • CPSC’s ability to respond to new and emerging product risks in a timely manner is limited by factors like its rulemaking process and its reliance on voluntary industry safety standards. For example, CPSC cannot legally compel a manufacturer to comply with a voluntary standard or take action against it for not complying. 
  • Certain legal restrictions may hamper CPSC's ability to stay informed about new product hazards to public health and safety, particularly those related to the growing volume of imported products. In particular, CPSC cannot have information-sharing agreements with foreign counterparts because it cannot allow foreign counterparts to disclose confidential business information. 
  • CPSC oversees consumer product safety along with other federal agencies, and it is not always clear who is responsible for overseeing which products. Sometimes, jurisdiction for a product can change depending on where or how it is used. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulates hand-held infant carriers when used as car seats, but CPSC regulates the carriers when used outside of motor vehicles.

Regulation of Infant Car Seats/Hand-held Infant Carriers by Two Different Federal Agencies

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  • portrait of Alicia Puente Cackley
    • Alicia Puente Cackley
    • Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment
    • cackleya@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-8678