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Statement on Signing an Executive Order Creating a Consumer Product Information Coordinating Center.

October 26, 1970

ONE YEAR ago, I sent to the Congress a group of proposals of great interest to every housewife in the Nation.

I proposed a "Buyer's Bill of Rights"--laws that would help the consumer get more information about products, that would enable consumers to get their complaints heard, that would better protect the consumer's health and safety.

Congress has not acted to help the consumer as I proposed. This needed legislation has been blocked by those who say my recommendations go too far and others who say they do not go far enough. Unfortunately for the consumer, there are those in Congress who would rather have a political issue to talk about than have real progress toward a Buyer's Bill of Rights. By demanding all or nothing, they have achieved nothing for the consumer.

However, there is some action I now can take to benefit the consumer that does not depend on a drifting Congress.

By Executive order [11566], I am taking action to make more information about products available to the consumer, so that he or she can make a more informed choice.

We all know how difficult it is to make an informed judgment on many complex products in today's marketplace. The Federal Government is a consumer, too, and to buy intelligently, the Government often sets standards for the products it needs. In the course of establishing these standards, much useful information about product characteristics is developed.

It is time for the Government to share with the American consumer much of this information it gathers about the products the Government buys. We cannot do this in a way that divulges trade secrets or discourages bidding on contracts or puts the Government into the "seal of approval" business--that would not be in the taxpayers' interest--but we can make available much more information than we presently do. And we can make it available in plain English, cutting through the technical jargon.

To do this, I am creating a Consumer Product Information Coordinating Center in the Government agency that handles much of our purchasing, the General Services Administration.

This consumer center will make public much of what the Government learns during the procurement process, in a form that will be useful to the consumer and fair to the manufacturer. In addition, the Department of Defense is undertaking a pilot program to translate technical procurement information into a form useful to consumers. My consumer adviser, Virginia Knauer, will report to me on the progress of both of these projects.

Richard Nixon, Statement on Signing an Executive Order Creating a Consumer Product Information Coordinating Center. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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