Consumer Product Safety Commission: A Key Action to Prepare for Product Inspection Disruptions | So Good News


GAO’s Findings

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) implemented remote testing procedures in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the period when all CPSC investigators worked remotely — March through August 2020 — investigators conducted fewer tests on consumer products than during similar periods during the pandemic. In particular, port inspectors carried out 850 tests during this period compared to 4,537 in March to August 2019 (see photo). Monthly tests returned to prepandemic in early 2021, although the commercial value of imported goods returned to the levels that began in July 2020. The CPSC also identified violations of import rules during the period when port employees worked at the port – 187 violations. between March and August 2020, compared to 1,413 during the same period in 2019.

CPSC Exams for Submissions by Month, 2018-2021

CPSC Exams for Submissions by Month, 2018-2021

The CPSC did not have a final operating plan before the outbreak, and had not conducted an emergency risk assessment, as required by the federal government. As a result, the CPSC made decisions regarding the continued operation of the ports and its remote control systems as conditions changed. The scope of the CPSC’s review of the docket inspectors was limited. The remote control also did not show differences between ports, such as the types of products arriving at the same ports. This led to a difference in the number of researchers who performed while working remotely compared to the tests performed in selected ports. No tests were performed on any of these ports during the removal process. By completing the business continuity plan, CPSC will be better prepared for emergency disruptions.

CPSC has taken steps to meet the requirements related to COVID-19 in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. standards and (2) develop performance metrics for its efforts to reduce non-minimis shipments. As a result, the CPSC’s ability to detect and report non-de minimis shipments, which occur in e-commerce sites, is limited.

Why GAO Did This Study

In support of the CPSC’s product safety mission, the agency’s inspectors examine products that consumers enter at certain US ports. In order to protect the safety of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, CPSC management removed inspectors from these ports in March 2020. As a result, CPSC was unable to conduct human tests on imported products until inspectors began returning to the ports in September 2020.

The GAO was asked to review the dismissal of CPSC investigators during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the CARES Act requires the GAO to report on ongoing efforts and oversight related to COVID-19. This report examines, among other purposes, (1) the CPSC’s risk reduction strategies and the extent to which the CPSC had emergency plans, and (2) the CPSC’s implementation of necessary measures related to COVID-19.

GAO analyzes CPSC documents; reviewed relevant laws and regulations, including requirements for the federal agency to continue developing operational plans; interviewed officials at CPSC headquarters and three designated ports and other designated agencies that conduct similar inspections; and analyzing data on CPSC tests and international trade statistics.


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