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Executive Order 11566—Consumer Product Information

October 26, 1970

Numerous agencies of the Federal government purchase from private industry a wide variety of consumer products for government use. The making of such purchases requires the development of extensive documents, reports, and other information for evaluating the products purchased.

The Federal government has an opportunity to help the consuming public by sharing the knowledge which the government has accumulated in the process of purchasing items for government use with tax dollars.

Investigation by an interagency committee representing the significant procurement agencies indicates that certain product information thus acquired is currently available from various government agencies but lack of awareness greatly restricts the use of such information by the consuming public and by other government agencies. Some of that information would be useful to consumers in its present form, but other such information would benefit private consumers only if translated from technical procurement documents into information designed for consumer education.

Such product information is acquired in the public interest, and it should be made available to the public and to other government agencies in a manner that is useful to consumers, fair to producers and vendors, and protective of government procurement processes.

Now, THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

SECTION 1. Consumer Product Information Coordinating Center. (a) The General Services Administration shall establish a Consumer Product Information Coordinating Center (hereinafter referred to as the Center). The Center shall:

(1) Promote the development, production, and public dissemination of government documents containing product information of possible use to consumers, including other government agencies, and the release of which may be accomplished in a manner that is both fair to producers and vendors and protective of government procurement processes.

(2) Review regularly the documents, reports, and other information of all Federal agencies which may contain product information useful to consumers.

(3) Make publicly available, after notice to interested agencies, the selected product information through the Federal Information Centers of the General Services Administration and other local and regional government offices, as appropriate.

(4) Coordinate the Federal effort to eliminate duplicative consumer product information from government publications.

(b) In carrying out its responsibilities the Center may convene meetings of affected Federal agencies, make recommendations to such agencies for accomplishing the objectives set forth herein, and utilize the resources of voluntary and other private organizations. In the course of its work the Center shall also seek to identify those government-procured commodities which have a major impact on family budgets, and to give priority to the development and release of information regarding such commodities.

SEC. 2. Cooperation by Federal agencies. (a) Each Federal agency shall:

(1) Furnish the Center with copies of all documents which may contain useful consumer product information and which the Center desires to review for possible distribution as provided in this order.

(2) Cooperate with the Center in effectively identifying and distributing the product information deemed to be most useful to the public.

(3) Consider the impact on family budgets, particularly as may be identified by the Center, in determining the commodities selected for specifications review, documentation, translation, or other information improvement.

(b) Nothing contained in this order shall be construed to require the release by any agency to the Center, or the release to the public by the Center, of any matter which falls within one or more of the exemptions in 5 U.S.C. 552 (b) or which is otherwise protected by law from disclosure to the public. Nothing contained in this order shall be deemed to permit the release of information which would disclose trade secrets, formulas, processes, costs, methods of doing business, names of customers, or other competitive information not otherwise available to the general public.

SEC. 3. Pilot program on consumer product information. (a) The U.S. Army Natick Laboratories, Department of Defense, shall undertake a pilot program to develop methods and procedures for translating selected technical documents and materials (including research and development reports), acquired by Federal agencies during the procurement specifications and standards development process, into information useful to public consumers. Upon completion of the pilot program, but not later than nine months from the date of this order, the Department of Defense shall submit a final report to the President's Committee on Consumer Interests (provided for in Executive Order No. 11136 of January 3, 1964, as amended). That report shall set forth the methods and results of the pilot project and shall include information as to the cost and feasibility of adopting such a program for all Federal agencies on a continuing basis.

(b) Each Federal agency shall cooperate with the Department of Defense in completing the pilot project described in subsection (a).

SEC. 4. Functions of the President's Committee on Consumer Interests. The President's Committee on Consumer Interests shall:

(1) Advise and assist the Center, and provide continuing policy guidance on the implementation of the activities provided for in this order.

(2) Review the effectiveness of government programs established for the release of useful consumer product information.

(3) Develop a program by which private media might be more effectively used to publicize available information.

(4) Initiate conferences designed to explore how individual companies, trade associations, standards organizations, consumer groups, and others may improve the product information to be supplied to consumers.

(5) Submit a report to the President describing the implementation of the programs outlined herein on each anniversary of the date of this order.

SEC. 5. Definition. As used in this order, the term "consumer product" means a type of article of personal property customarily sold for family or household use, consumption, or enjoyment, and the term "product information" means information relating to consumer products.

SEC. 6. Agency documents. Each government agency shall furnish to the President's Committee on Consumer Interests, within three months from the date of this order, copies of regulations, orders, or other documents issued to provide for the implementation of this order.

SEC. 7. Construction. Nothing in this order shall be construed as subjecting any function vested by law in, or assigned pursuant to law to, any Federal agency or the head thereof to the authority of any other agency or officer or as abrogating or restricting any such function in any manner.


The White House

October 26, 1970

NOTE: For a statement by the President on signing the Executive order, see the preceding item.

Richard Nixon, Executive Order 11566—Consumer Product Information Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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