Fiduciary Duties of Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

B-284479: Jan 27, 2000

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A Congressman requested that GAO determine whether the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) "as a government corporation is held to the same fiduciary standard as other entities covered by [the applicable statute]" in protecting the assets of pension plans taken over by it. The Congressman refers to a 1986 decision in which GAO said that, when serving in its trustee capacity, "PBGC is treated as if it were a private fiduciary...and possesses the same authority and duty to act as would a nongovernmental party if it were appointed to that position."

GAO found that, when acting as trustee, PBGC is not held to the same fiduciary standards applicable to other trustees; the law exempts PBGC from those standards to the extent they are inconsistent with its functions as guarantor of benefits for participants in covered pension plans.