The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an independent federal agency whose duty is to protect consumers from harmful or dangerous products sold in the United States. The CPSC works to guard the public from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard or can injure children. Examples of products the commission examines include toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals. Toys have been an especially hot topic for the commission, as findings have revealed numerous products marketed towards children that contained hazardous substances, such as lead. The CPSC has come under repeated criticism for failing to protect the public. The George W. Bush administration, which, according to consumer organizations, placed a low priority on consumer safety, was motivated by strong Congressional support to sign into law the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which established product manufacturing and testing requirements, penalties for violations, whistleblower protections, and a database for product information and consumer reporting
Prior to the establishment of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the federal government relied on a mixture of laws and agencies to protect consumers from faulty products. The Flammable Fabrics Act of 1953 was adopted to protect the public against the unreasonable risk of injury from fire. Three years later, Congress passed the Refrigerator Safety Act of 1956, which required manufacturers to design all refrigerators so they could be opened easily from the inside. The legislation was prompted by dozens of deaths resulting from children climbing into abandoned refrigerators and suffocating when the doors closed.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission spent $99.9 million from 2007-2011 on private contractors. A total of 4,267 contractor transactions paid for goods and services provided to the commission, such as ADP software ($17.1 million), data collection services ($16.2 million) and telecommunications services ($10.1 million).
One of Barack Obama’s most important victories during his run for the Democratic nomination in 2008 came in South Carolina, where he easily defeated rival Hillary Clinton. Of the many local officials who backed Obama over Clinton, Inez Moore Tenenbaum was the first major state Democrat to endorse his campaign and help him secure the South Carolina primary. This connection, more than anything else, explains why Tenenbaum—a former state school superintendent with no real background in consumer protection—was chosen to take over the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). She was confirmed by the Senate as the Chair of the CPSC on June 19, 2009.