Bob Adler of the University of North Carolina Business School and the Obama Transition Team (along with Pamela Gilbert) gave a keynote speech at the ICPHSO conference yesterday. Bob has been very influential in the development of this organization, and has strong ties with both the CPSC and consumer groups. He gave a fairly gloomy report.
In his speech, he noted that the CPSIA was written in anger and that the Agency is in turmoil. The 42 deadlines in the new law are unworkable and won't be met, notwithstanding the hard work of the CPSC. It's an impossible task. He also acknowledged that important work of the agency is NOT reflected in the new law, meaning there are other key hazards left untouched (but perhaps overwhelmed) by the CPSIA.
He projects intense scrutiny of the Agency (tinged with great skepticism) as it attempts to implement this law by both Congress and the media. Given the overreaching requirements of the law, he seems to doubt that they can meet expectations, or at least it will be quite difficult.
He also forecasts another significant brain drain at the CPSC, which is not good for them or for us.
When considering the impact of the new Chairman, he noted that not only must the new Chairman hit the ground running in his/her administration of the agency, but must also be a master of managing expectations on the Hill and with consumer groups. He specifically noted the importance of catering to Congressional staffers (in case you thought your elected officials were running the government). The new Chairman must be able to talk some of these folks into a more reasonable, realistic position. He indicated that he was aware of the problems implicit in the retroactive effect of the standards. Let's hope the new Chairman can do something about retroactivity QUICKLY.
He had some optimistic thoughts as well. He has a vision of a more modern agency that uses electronic media to improve communication with consumers. He also noted that the clutter of warnings could be cleaned up in this new paradigm. He believes that consumer groups are more reasonable than they are perceived to be, and can be a constructive partner on safety. [We'll see.] Adler had similarly nice things to say about industry. He noted that safety is a non-partisan issue. [Could have fooled me.]
He finished his speech with a plug for Pamela Gilbert as new Chairman.
That's all for now.