Original Press Release
Interagency Working Group Finalizes Action Plan for Import Safety
Press release date: November 7, 2007
The Interagency Working Group on Import Safety, a committee charged with identifying actions to improve the safety of imported products, has finalized and delivered its report to President Bush.
The Action Plan for Import Safety outlines a roadmap for continual improvement, detailing the organizing principles, recommendations, and short- and long-term actions needed to ensure the safety of American consumers.
Overall, the plan identifies the need for the U.S. to shift from its current import safety system to a risk-based approach that focuses on prevention. Increased reliance on voluntary consensus standards will play a key role in this shift, as will continued government participation in the development of these standards and compliance programs. The plan specifically identifies the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as the accreditor of many well known standards developers, and as an organization that can help to accelerate and coordinate any additional needed documents and programs [page 22].
Third-party certification programs and the accreditation of certifying bodies will also play an important preventative role, helping to build safety into the products that reach American shores. The plan cites the Toy Safety Coordination Initiative, a collaboration between ANSI and the Toy Industry Association (TIA), as an example of a private-sector led program that is strengthening conformity assessment systems for consumer products [page 25].
The action plan posits three organizing principles, fourteen broad recommendations and fifty specific action steps, each with an assigned lead agency and time frame:
Prevention with Verification -Create new and strengthen existing safety standards -Verify compliance of foreign producers with U.S. safety and security standards through certification -Promote good importer practices -Strengthen penalties and take strong enforcement actions to ensure accountability -Make product safety an important principle of U.S. diplomatic relations and increase the profile of relevant foreign assistance activities
Intervention -Harmonize federal government procedures and requirements for processing import shipments -Complete a single-window interface for the intra-agency, interagency, and private-sector exchange of import data -Create an interactive import safety information network -Expand laboratory capacity and develop rapid testing methods for swift identification of hazards -Strengthen protection of intellectual property rights
Response -Maximize the effectiveness of product recalls -Maximize federal-state collaboration -Expedite consumer notification of product recalls -Expand the use of electronic track-and-trace technologies
According to the plan, members of the Working Group will reconvene within thirty days to assess the implementation process. Chaired by Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, the group is comprised of senior officials from twelve agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce, the U.S. Trade Representative, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The Action Plan for Import Safety is available for review and download at importsafety.gov.