Last week the CPSC formally announced it would be holding its annual "agenda and priorities" hearing at the CPSC on July 24th at 10am. The purpose and importance of this meeting is somewhat underappreciated in terms of the role it can play for individual stakeholders wishing to have the agency change its allocation of resources for particular projects over the next two years. In its Federal Register notice, the agency states it is seeking public input on the following questions:
- What are the priorities the Commission should consider emphasizing and dedicating resources toward in the fiscal year 2015 Operating Plan and/or the fiscal year 2016 Congressional Budget Request?
- What activities should the Commission consider deemphasizing in the fiscal year 2015 Operating Plan and/or the fiscal year 2016 Congressional Budget Request?
- Should the Commission consider making any changes or adjustments to the agency's education, safety standards activities, regulation, and enforcement efforts in fiscal years 2015 and/or 2016, keeping in mind the CPSC's existing policy on establishing priorities for Commission action (16 CFR 1009.8)? Comments are welcome on whether particular action items should be higher priority than others, should not be included, or should be added to the fiscal year 2015 and/or fiscal year 2016 agendas.
In other words, if there is an activity you think the agency should devote greater or fewer resources to or a particular project you believe should be added or eliminated from the agency's planned activities, then this is your forum to properly express that desire to the Commission.
In order to understand why, it's important to be familiar with the agency's budget request and operating plan cycle. For every fiscal year, the agency creates an "Operating Plan" and a "Budget Request" that allocate the agency's resources. The Budget Request always precedes the Operating Plan and serves as the foundation of the CPSC's request to Congress for a certain funding level. Typically after the CPSC is provided its final funding level by Congress, the Commission then votes on the Operating Plan, which reflects the Budget Request in large part but does take into account any changes in Commission priorities, the level of funding the agency actually received, and any other new circumstances that warrant changes from the original Budget Request.
The annual priorities hearing is the agency's primary method of seeking public input on the contents of both the Operating Plan for fiscal year 2015 (beginning October 2014) and the Budget Request for fiscal year 2016 (beginning October 2015). The agency only recently began seeking input on the upcoming Operating Plan at this hearing--a changed welcomed by many stakeholders.
Stakeholders who wish to participate are not required to give oral testimony at the hearing but those desiring to do so must notify the agency by July 10th according to the notice.