Data Deficit Hampers Consumer Product Safety Commission

August 26, 2009

The Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection Agency is blocking another federal agency from protecting Americans from poisonous or unsafe imports.

An Aug. 14, 2009, report by the Government Accountability Office says Customs has refused to give the Consumer Product Safety Commission information it has been requesting for years. The information is from shipping manifests on products imported into the U.S. There have been many recalls of toxic and unsafe imported products in recent years.

That news came just as the CPSC's new authority for reporting on the lead content of products came into effect. The regulations were implemented under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, enacted in 2008.

Under that law, the CPSC is supposed to gather and share information about the lead content of toys and the hazards of children's products. A system of tracking labels is supposed to ensure that consumers know about the origin of imported products and whether they have been recalled.

"It remains unclear whether CPSC has adequate resources to enforce the new requirements," the watchdog group OMB Watch reported.