The President swore in a new face to the Commission for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on June 30, 2022. Mary T. Boyle, however, is not an entirely new face as she served in various positions within the CPSC for more than a decade. She formerly served in various leadership rules, including CPSC’s Executive Director from 2018 before being confirmed as the new Commissioner. Ms. Boyle also served as CPSC’s Senior Counselor for Policy and Planning, General Counsel, and Deputy General Counsel.
At CPSC, Ms. Boyle led various initiatives to protect U.S. consumers from hazardous and dangerous products, with an emphasis on infant sleep safety and high-powered magnets. She specifically led efforts in mandating companies to issues mandatory recalls on products that create the risk of high-powered magnet ingestion.
The Senate confirmed Ms. Boyle on June 22, 2022, by a majority vote along partisan lines. Her term runs until October 2025, and this is the first time the Commission has all five seats filled since 2019.
Ms. Boyle’s confirmation process was held up for about a year in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation amid Republican concerns regarding her role in CPSC’s unauthorized disclosures of company and consumer information in 2019. Additionally, Republicans were concerned about her role in pulling CPSC staff from port surveillance operations during the pandemic. This prompted President Biden to nominate Ms. Boyle twice, first in 2021, and subsequently, in a second nomination in January 2022.
CPSC’s Top Three Challenges:
Ms. Boyle believes the top three challenges facing the agency are: (1) Import and E-Commerce Regulation; (2) Strengthening Compliance and Enforcement; and (3) Improving Data Analysis and Hazard Identification.
Import and E-Commerce Regulation
Ms. Boyle asserts that the CPSC’s ability to detect and prevent entry of dangerous products into the US will continue to be a great challenge for the agency. She explains the pre-pandemic and the pandemic itself solidified consumer reliance on online shopping, which subsequently created “a large volume of low-value, potentially noncompliant or hazardous shipments of foreign-manufactured products” that “are being shipped directly to consumers.” Ms. Boyle states that this problem requires a “multi-pronged approach,” including voluntary corrective action and, if necessary, mandatory recalls through litigation.
Strengthening Compliance and Enforcement
In collaboration with efforts to stop noncompliant products from entering the US at ports and eCommerce hubs, CPSC will be challenged to execute a comprehensive compliance and enforcement program “to ensure defective products not subject to regulation are removed through recalls or other corrective actions.”
Improving Data Analysis and Hazard Identification
Ms. Boyle maintains that the voluminous amount of data that CPSC receives each year is a significant barrier to the agency’s ability to “identify hazards and hazard patterns,” and inhibits the CPSC’s central mission to protect consumer from unreasonable risks of injury. She also raises that the CPSC will continually be faces with the challenge of keeping pace with technology advances. Fortunately, during Ms. Boyle’s time as Executive Director, she developed and supervised agency efforts to identify hazards by implementing a new, user-friendly online Fast-Track reporting portal that she intends to continue to improve upon.
Prior to joining CPSC, Ms. Boyle enjoyed a long career both in the public and private sector. Ms. Boyle worked for the Office of Congressman Stephen J. Solarz (D-NY) in various capacities, including as a staff assistant for the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs. Ms. Boyle also served as a Grants Administrator and Affordable Housing Coordinator for the City of Gaithersburg, Maryland, developing affordable housing programs. In the private sector, Ms. Boyle worked at Paul Hastings LLP, where she focused her practice in class action employment litigation. Finally, for a decade she served as the primary caregiver for her three children.
She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Georgetown University, and obtained her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. She currently is licensed in both Maryland and District of Columbia Bars.
Written with the assistance of Talia Wolkowitz, a summer associate in the Husch Blackwell LLP St. Louis, Missouri office.