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Consumer Product Safety Commission: Better Data Needed to Help Identify and Analyze Potential Hazards

HEHS-97-147 Published: Sep 29, 1997. Publicly Released: Oct 23, 1997.
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) project selection, use of cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment, and information release procedures, focusing on: (1) the criteria CPSC uses to select projects and the information it relies upon in making these choices; (2) the information CPSC draws on to perform risk assessment and cost-benefit analyses and CPSC's methodology for conducting cost-benefit analyses; and (3) CPSC's procedures for releasing manufacturer-specific information to the public and whether evidence exists that CPSC violated its statutory requirements concerning the release of such information.


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Consumer Product Safety Commission The Chairman, CPSC, should improve the quality of CPSC's injury, death, and exposure data by consulting with experts both within and outside the agency to: (1) prioritize CPSC's needs for additional statistically valid surveillance data on injuries and deaths related to consumer products and on exposure to consumer products and product-related hazards; (2) investigate the feasibility and cost of alternative means of obtaining these data; and (3) design data systems to collect and analyze this information.
Closed – Implemented
CPSC has met with other federal agencies to consider expanding CPSC's system for collecting data on injuries and has initiated a feasibility study of collecting such additional information. However, CPSC has neither taken nor planned actions to address other areas covered by the recommendation, such as investigating potential improvements in the agency's exposure data.
Consumer Product Safety Commission The Chairman, CPSC, should direct agency staff to develop and implement a project management tracking system to compile information on current agency projects. For each project, such a system should include, at a minimum, a description of the hazard addressed, start and end dates, project origin, and major agency action resulting from it.
Closed – Implemented
The agency has developed a project tracking system to monitor ongoing projects. This system includes the elements specified in the recommendation.
Consumer Product Safety Commission The Chairman, CPSC, should direct agency staff to develop and implement procedures to ensure that all cost-benefit analyses performed on behalf of CPSC are comprehensive and reported in sufficient detail, including providing measures of precision for underlying data, incorporating information on all important costs and benefits, and performing sensitivity analysis.
Closed – Implemented
CPSC has implemented this recommendation, directing staff to ensure that agency cost-benefit analyses contain the elements specified and directing supervisors to review analyses to ensure that they are comprehensive and reported in sufficient detail.

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Consumer protectionCost effectiveness analysisData collectionData integrityManagement information systemsPerformance measuresProduct safetyReporting requirementsSafety regulationStatistical dataStatistical methodsRisk assessment