ERISA Advisory Council Receives Borzi Update, Sets 2016 Agenda

By Ray Harmon • March 17, 2016 • 0 Comments
At the 180th meeting of the ERISA Advisory Council on March 16, Department of Labor (DOL) Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security, Phyllis Borzi updated the Council on the DOL’s activity since their last meeting in November and kicked off a new year of business for the group of industry volunteers.

Before diving into an extended brainstorming session on the Council’s goals for the year, Borzi provided updates on the DOL’s proposed fiduciary rule, state-run plans initiatives, Form 5500 updates and more.

The fiduciary rule update was brief, touting the DOL’s “nearly six months of public comment” which Borzi called “about the longest that anybody at [the Employee Benefits Security Administration] can remember,” and teased that the rule would be released “soon.” Some of the recent industry scuttlebutt believes “soon” could mean Good Friday, which would be just next week, although another estimate published this week, citing unnamed sources, puts the release at the end of May.

But the release of the rule itself is just the beginning, Borzi promised, telling the Council to expect the need for the department to clarify the rule in response to public questions and issue subsequent subregulatory guidance to that effect, at least in the first couple of years following publication.

In addition to the fiduciary rule, Borzi discussed the department’s effort to update Form 5500 to modernize and standardize it in order to improve the granularity of the data collected. She said that the new Form 5500 would likely be effective for the 2019 plan year or later, and that it would be released soon. She also outlined the DOL’s guidance to states wishing to adopt auto-IRA plans for private workers that was released this past winter and the department’s just-announced plan to conduct a household retirement savings study.

The Council then hashed out their plans for the year, ultimately settling on two goals:

1. addressing cybersecurity issues in retirement plans, including drafting model communications for plan sponsors, vendors and participants; and
2. creating tools for the DOL to better facilitate plan-to-plan transfers.

We will attend these meetings throughout the year and update you as to the Council’s progress.

Ray Harmon, Esq., is government affairs counsel for ASPPA.