The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)’s program to collect injury data reached beyond its bounds and did not adequately ensure the quality of data coming in, according a report released by the CSPC Inspector General on November 9.

The report, conducted on behalf of the inspector general’s office by Kearney & Company, found that the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) was collecting data that could not be traced back to specific products, which exceeded CPSC’s jurisdiction and was not backed by a legal opinion. While the program expanded to collect this data back in 2000, the audit did not find any authorizing language in legislation. The report recommended that CPSC obtain a legal opinion to continue collecting this data, which CPSC concurred with.

As for the data itself, the report found inconsistencies and issues, with responsibility for data cleaning seeming unclear. A review of the data found nearly 325,000 records with errors out of 4.58 million records reviewed, which exceeds the five percent error rate expected from the program. The data collected for NEISS is collected through interagency agreements (IAAs), where Federal agencies share data collected from hospital records. While CPSC staff raised concerns that the responsibility for data quality lay with them, the report found that CPSC is responsible for cleaning the data in its IAAs, and the quality of the data that it shares externally.

“Without an adequate data governance framework, the CPSC and public may inadvertently rely on inaccurate data as they make risk-based decisions about product safety,” the report states.

CPSC concurred with the report, and agreed to implement controls moving forward.

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MeriTalk Staff