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Updated February 16, 2024

CPSC Notification Requirements, Recalls and Recent Enforcement Actions: Desk Reference for Section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act

Arnold & Porter Desk Reference

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC or the Commission) is a small federal agency with a big job: protecting consumers from unreasonable risks of injury associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. With an appropriation for fiscal year 2023 of $152.5 million and about 550 employees — tiny by federal government standards — CPSC uses safety data submitted by companies pursuant to the notification requirements under Section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) to help carry out the agency’s mandate. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) dramatically increased the maximum penalties for noncompliance, and both CPSC and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have used that authority to impose multimillion-dollar penalties against a number of companies for alleged late reporting under Section 15 and other violations.

Congress created CPSC as an independent commission, which means that it does not report to the President either directly or through any department or agency of the federal government. CPSC can have up to five Commissioners, one of whom serves as Chair, and only three of whom can be from the same political party. CPSC’s Chair and Commissioners are appointed by the President for seven-year terms with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Currently, the Commission includes three Democratic Commissioners and one Republican:

  • Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric (term through October 2027) (Democrat)
  • Richard Trumka, Jr. (term through October 2028) (Democrat)
  • Mary Boyle (term through October 2025) (Democrat)
  • Peter Feldman (term through October 2026) (Republican)

In March 2023, President Biden nominated Douglas Dziak (currently a staffer for Commissioner Feldman) to fill the vacant seat. The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee advanced Dziak’s nomination following an October hearing, but he never received a vote on the floor in the first session of the 118th Congress. Dziak’s nomination remains pending in the second session. Notwithstanding the vacancy of the second Republican seat, the Commission has continued its trend of aggressive enforcement of the Section 15 reporting requirements.

This Desk Reference first explains the Section 15 reporting requirements, including the broad scope of CPSC’s jurisdiction, and then discusses routes to a product safety recall, reporting and recall trends, and penalties for late reporting.