Responsiveness to Public Inquiries by the Office of Employee Benefits Security, DOL

HRD-77-7: Published: Oct 21, 1976. Publicly Released: Oct 21, 1976.

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The Department of Labor's practices and procedures for responding to public inquiries on pension plan requirements imposed by federal law were reviewed, and the actual and approved staffing levels for Labor's pension activities were compared. A review of 477 inquiries requiring interpretational or policy considerations disclosed a general lack of timely response to the inquiries, with only 34 answered by the response due date. The disposition of another 25 inquiries could not be determined from the data in the files. The Administrator of Pension and Welfare Benefit Programs should implement a centralized system of accountability and monitoring to ensure that inquiries are answered within reasonable established response target dates. For inquiries not readily answerable because of the absence of clarifying requlations or precedents, the system should provide for a prompt acknowledgement of the inquiries and controls to insure an eventual response. The delay in hiring the staff authorized by Congress was attributed to the need to complete a time-consuming revision in the mission of planned offices and duties of anticipated staff because substantially fewer staff positions had been authorized than anticipated. In addition, it was necessary to obtain permission to advertise positions outside the normal governmental system.

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