and recall products, evaluate the effectiveness of previous standards, and formulate information and educational campaigns.
In a recent report, the General Accounting Office (GAO) contends that CPSC's surveillance of injury-related morbidity and mortality underestimates the full extent of product-related hazards because it omits cases not treated in emergency departments and fails to capture information on vulnerable populations and those with chronic conditions. The GAO recommends an assessment of the feasibility, cost, and design of new data systems (GAO, 1997).
Research conducted or sponsored by the CPSC has traditionally encompassed two general activities: (1) the testing and evaluation of consumer products to ascertain the nature and cause of any safety hazard and (2) applied research to explore the possibility of developing innovative product designs to reduce existing safety hazards, and to explore the feasibility of new performance requirements. At the present time, the agency's limited resources for research are devoted almost entirely to the first of these activities. Product testing and evaluation are conducted intramurally or by small contracts. The CPSC maintains two laboratories, one in chemistry and the other in engineering, to test and assess the safety of consumer products.7 The FY 1997 budget for contracts to supplement the agency's internal capability was $250,000. CPSC does not support any extramural research grants.
In recent years, CPSC has intensified its educational activities to inform the public about product-related injuries. A noteworthy feature is that the educational activities are frequently undertaken through partnerships. Such partnerships enable CPSC to leverage its resources, given its relatively modest budget in relation to its broad jurisdiction. Two partnerships, highlighted in the CPSC publication Success Stories, are Baby Safety Showers and preventing infant suffocation (CPSC, 1996b). Baby Safety Showers is a national grassroots campaign inaugurated in 1995 to educate prospective parents about injury prevention at home. Predicated on the traditional baby shower, the program offers educational tips for prospective parents and encourages guests to give safety-related gifts instead of traditional gifts. CPSC promotes the program along with other federal partners and national safety and medical groups, while the program's chief financial supporter, Gerber Products Company, prints and distributes for parents, thousands of "how to" kits and checklists for safety. CPSC has sent out over 420,000 kits and checklists since the campaign began.