Freedom of Information Act Request
To the Consumer Product Safety Commission
Summary: Here is a copy of our letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission requesting their data from lab
testing of bicycle helmets. Their only response is reprinted below.
((Letterhead of the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute))
April 14, 1997
Mr. Todd A. Stevenson, Deputy Secretary
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Washington, DC 20207
Re: Freedom of Information Act Request
Dear Mr. Stevenson:
This will request that the Consumer Product Safety Commission make disclosure and provide copies of certain materials
available to us pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 5 USC Section 552, and the relevant regulations of the
agency. Specifically, we request the records of all tests of bicycle and other helmets performed in CPSC laboratories or
by contract laboratories on behalf of CPSC since January 1, 1994. These records would include the type of test, brand and
model of each helmet tested, and its performance in the test. We are not requesting test records submitted to CPSC by
outside labs not under contract to your agency, including those in the equipment comparison series known as "Round Robin"
Under present regulation, and case law pertaining to the Freedom of Information Act, we believe that these documents are
available to us and to other members of the public. They arc not exempted from required disclosure under present
interpretations of the Act. Notwithstanding such regulations and law, disclosure of the requested material would be in
the public interest. We intend to make the material available to the public on our website and through other means.
If any portion of this request is deemed denied, we request a detailed statement of the reasons for the withholding and
an index or similar statement of the nature of the documents withheld. To expedite this request, we would be willing to
discuss specific instances of deletion or other exemption claims in advance of a final decision by the agency. In the
event of deletions, we request that a reason be stated for each full or partial denial of access.
Pursuant to the Act, we promise to pay reasonable charges incurred for appropriate search and copying of these documents
upon presentation of an invoice along with the finished documents. If search and copying fees exceed $100. please
telephone us in advance at (703) 486-0100 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for agreement to such charges. We look forward
to your response within 30 days or earlier if possible.
: The language in the first paragraph exempting the "Round Robin" test results was intended to make it
unnecessary for CPSC to have to consider at all releasing that data, which is tied in to testing voluntarily done by
outside laboratories for CPSC to facilitate comparisons of different test rig designs. Since the testing is voluntary,
and may reveal characteristics of the individual labs' test rigs, it could well be considered proprietary. We also wanted
to be careful not to affect the labs' willingness to participate in further tests if they were concerned that data
submitted could be made public and even used in court against them at some point. Finally, these tests were undertaken on
only a few helmet models, and would not be very useful to consumers in any event.
We were looking forward to a response from CPSC and will post it here when received. If the request is denied we will
have to go to court for a final ruling.
Acknowledgment from CPSC
Letterhead: U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION WASHINGTON. D. C. 20207
April 18, 1997
BICYCLE HELMET SAFETY INSTITUTE
4611 SEVENTH STREET SOUTH
ARLINGTON, VA 22204-1419
RE: FOIA Request No. S-704092: Bicycle Helmets
Dear Mr. Swert
This is to acknowledge receipt of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking records from the Consumer
Product Safety Commission.
Due to the heavy volume of FOIA requests we have received, and because of certain procedural steps we are required to
take under our statute, there may be substantial delays in responding to many requests. Please be assured that every
effort is being made to process each request as equitably as possible and that the records you requested which can be
released will be made available to you at the earliest possible date.
If you have any questions concerning your request, feel free to contact this office at (301) 504-0785.
Todd A. Stevenson
Freedom of Information Officer
Office of the Secretary
We never received anything further from CPSC. The Freedom of Information Act was worthless for us in this case.
Here is our second FOIA request to CPSC
For a very different approach, see this page of
data posted by DOT listing results of 2019 helmet testing to their motorcycle helmet standard
. They publish their
results on the web. Imagine that!
And to see the result of CPSC's attitude on FOIA requests, see our page on the public database
of consumer complaints
that they are required by law to put up on the web.