It’s another sad story for the American public, where a government agency exhibits self-loathing. The current acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Nancy Nord, is marching in lock-step with the pro-business/limited regulation ideologues. She is following in the footsteps of her recent predecessors, political appointees who basically never believed in the mission of this small agency. They have worked hard to avoid doing their job -- which is to protect consumers from dangerous products -- choosing instead to protect manufacturers of unsafe household products and toys.
Busy parents and grandparents used to depend on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to test the products, work with the manufacturers to address safety concerns and order a recall if they wouldn’t take action on their own. In recent years, the once-proud agency has seen its budget and personnel decimated to protect those who would rather make a buck than bother selling safe products.
Congress has stepped up this year by approving legislation which would bring much-needed reforms to CPSC. Ms. Nord opposes the bill. It is certainly a remarkable phenomenon in Washington to see the head of an agency actually opposing a bill that gives her agency more authority, doubles its budget, and increases the size of its staff.
The bill would also protect whistleblowers from retaliation. This is a key element in bringing to the public’s attention the dangers often found in the marketplace, especially when the agency charged with uncovering these hazards is asleep at the switch. The public strongly supports whistleblower protection. They can no longer depend on their government to do the right thing. They want Congress to act on their behalf. No one else in the federal government is willing to speak for them. Let's hope the Congress can breathe life back into this hobbled agency.