Consumer agency to establish online database

Effort part of Consumer Product Safety Commission's nine-part IT modernization

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is looking for ideas on how to design and deploy a searchable online database of incidents involving the safety of consumer products. The database is a component of a nine-part IT modernization effort.

The commission will hold a public hearing on Nov. 10 to get input on establishing the database, according to a Oct. 22 notice in the Federal Register.

The commission is working on the database plan as part of the implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. The database is a component of the commission’s broader information technology modernization initiative totaling nine systems in all.

The commission last month presented a report to Congress on plans for the operation, content, maintenance and functionality of the database, which is tentatively named SaferProducts.gov. The agency also intends to hold a public awareness campaign.

The goal is to build a database where consumers can go to report product-safety incidents, and to search for prior incidents and recalls on products they own or may be thinking about buying, according to the agency’s report to Congress.

The commission's modernization efforts includes:

  • A data warehouse for all product incident and case data.
  • An early warning system that provides staff with the ability to compare incidents and look for patterns.
  • An investigation coordination system for internal commission users.
  • Workflow, which is a systematic translation of business processes in a specific predefined order so they can be tracked.
  • Document management system for case files and incident data.
  • External interfaces that link with industry partners such as retailers and government partners, and allow for transmission of data between partners.
  • Predictive modeling algorithms to automatically scan incident data to more rapidly identify product hazards.
  • Product data hub database of all consumer products that fall under the commission’s jurisdiction.

The commission is an independent agency established by Congress in 1972. It has faced criticism for alleged shortcomings in how it tracks dangerous or tainted products and their recalls, including toys.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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