The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) is a network of researchers, advocates, organizers, and students who act as a non-partisan consumer and environmental advocacy group. They are a national federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) comprising a half million members. Working in state capitals and Washington, DC, they work to represent the general public against special interest groups concerning such topics as product safety, health issues, political corruption, and economic policies.
Through investigative reports, newsletters, news updates, petitions, litigation, and advocacy, the U.S. Public Interest ResearchGroup has been “standing up to powerful interests” for over 20 years.1 What began as a public interest law firm by Ralph Nader, changed significantly to be college campus activist groups during the 1970s. After ten years, they combined to form the US PIRG in Washington, DC for national influence. Controlling credit card abuses and Wall Street have been examples of their recent national influence concerning financial issues. As a nonprofit organization, their funding comes from the Fund for Public Interest Research – known as “the Fund.”2
Starting in 1992, PIRGs in conjunction with Consumer Federation of America (CFA) organizations conducted periodic playground investigations. They were looking to document safety hazards due to inadequate surfacing, unsafe designs of equipment or play environments, and aging equipment.
While only eleven states were surveyed in 1992, the 1994 assessment involved 22 states, and the 1996 survey included 25 states. In 1998, the PIRGs and CFA organizations investigated 760 playgrounds in 24 states and Washington, DC.3 The volunteers were encouraged to assess the same playgrounds that were done in the 1996 survey as well as to add a random mix of new playgrounds. The fifth survey done in 2000, involved 1,024 playgrounds in 27 states and Washington, DC.4 In 2002, the last playground survey was taken by the PIRGs and CFA members when they investigated 1,037 playgrounds in 36 states and Washington, DC.5
The findings of these surveys have been published jointly with the CFA. The resulting suggestions for improvement has come through the CFA's “Model Law on Public Play Equipment and Areas” written for state and local governments. The joint published findings also recommend the CFA's “Parent Checklist: How Safe Is Your Local Playground?” for parents and concerned citizens.
- 1. Site motto. U.S. Public Interest Research Group. < www.uspirg.org/ > 16 Aug. 2010.
- 2. “Public Interest Research Group”. Wikipedia.org. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Interest_Research_Group > 16 Aug. 2010.
- 3. Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia.
- 4. The same states as above minus Hawaii and Montana and with Indiana, Texas, South Carolina, Washington, and Wisconsin added.
- 5. The same states as in 2000 minus Alaska, but with Alabama, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont added.