Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Better Data Needed to Help Identify and Analyze Potential Hazards

T-HEHS-98-23: Published: Oct 23, 1997. Publicly Released: Oct 23, 1997.

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Carlotta C. Joyner
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GAO discussed the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) procedures to protect consumers from unreasonable risk of injuries, focusing on CPSC's project selection, use of cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment, and information release procedures.

GAO noted that: (1) although CPSC has established criteria to help select new projects, with the agency's current data, these criteria can be measured only imprecisely if at all; (2) CPSC has described itself as "data driven," but its information on product-related deaths and injuries is often sketchy, and its lack of systematized descriptive information on past or ongoing projects makes it more difficult for agency management to monitor current projects and to assess and prioritize the need for new projects in different hazard areas; (3) CPSC's data are often insufficient to support rigorous application of risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis; (4) in addition, the cost-benefit analyses conducted by CPSC between 1990 and 1996 were frequently not comprehensive, and the reports on these analyses were not sufficiently detailed; (5) CPSC has established procedures to implement statutory requirements restricting the release of manufacturer-specific information; and (6) although industry representatives, consumer advocates, and CPSC expressed differing views on the merits of these restrictions, available evidence suggests that CPSC complies with these statutory requirements.

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