U.S. Product Safety Commissioner: Executive Branch 'Top Heavy in Power'

By Lauretta Brown | June 3, 2016 | 7:47pm EDT
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) spoke out Thursday about what she called a “huge shift from the legislative branch to the executive branch where it is top heavy in power.”

She argued that “Congress does not do the oversight that they should on the regulatory agencies.”

“Congress does not do the oversight that they should on the regulatory agencies. If they’re watching us do any kind of a regulation or promote a policy that is contrary to what they intended or contrary to the will of the American people, they could defund us like that,” Buerkle pointed out in an Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) panel hosted by Cam Edwards on the culture of alarmism in regulation.

Buerkle, a former New York congresswoman, also noted the CPSC’s tendency to react to reports from media rather than data.

“One of the things that just drives me insane in our agency is rather than looking at data, we will react to a ‘60 Minutes’ story or we will react to a newspaper article rather than looking to the data and seeing whether or not it supports doing something on that issue,” Buerkle said.

CNSNews.com asked Buerkle for more details about CPSC’s reaction to media.

“We should be able to look at all of our data, combine it together and look for trends. Is there a product that in this many cases has shown it causes injuries or death, but sometimes what we see is if ‘60 Minutes’ covers a story, a newspaper covers a story about a product, it certainly can enter into that whole data group that we’re looking at and reviewing, but if it’s one event or two incidents, you can’t make a rule. You can’t promulgate a rule based on such little data. You’ve got to have the proper data that really justifies any kind of rule-making,” she replied.

“I personally think from where I sit in government and watching other regulatory agencies, serving our regulatory agencies, the government and regulatory agencies want to grow. They want to justify their existence,” she continued.

“Every year my colleagues go to the Hill and ask for more money, and I’m sitting there saying, ‘No, we don’t need any more money. We’ve got quite enough money,’ but they want to grow. They want to be relevant,” Buerkle explained. “They like the sexy issues, because that gets them into ‘60 Minutes’ or that gets them into the newspaper, and then that makes us more relevant and more important.

“In fact, my personal feeling is I’ll tell you what. If we’re not looking at data and good science, we become irrelevant. We become less dependable,” she concluded. “Consumers are going to say they’re not really about good data. They’re really about promotion and feelings and reactions.”

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