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Private Pensions: Fulfilling Fiduciary Duties Can Present Challenges for 401(k) Plan Sponsors (GAO-08-774)
American workers are increasingly reliant on 401(k) plans for their retirement security,
and sponsors of 401(k) plans have critical obligations under the Employment
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). To administer these plans,
the sponsor—typically the employer offering the 401(k) plan—selects plan
features and other characteristics, including the types of investment
options offered to participants. To learn more about how sponsors
select plan features and oversee plan operations, we conducted a
Web-based survey of sponsors in coordination with Plansponsor Magazine (Plansponsor).
This e-supplement presents results from our survey and includes a summary of
respondent views on proposed legislative changes to 401(k) requirements.
To solicit survey responses, Plansponsor distributed survey notifications
through their daily newsletter. Plansponsor also sent a more targeted
electronic survey notification to its 2007 Defined Contribution Survey
respondents. Using Plansponsor’s distribution estimates, we
estimate that the total number of 401(k) sponsors that received
notification of our survey to be approximately 22,000. We received
448 usable responses to our survey.
As members of Plansponsor’s subscription list, our survey
respondents may have self-selected to be members of a publication
that provides information for managers of pensions and 401(k) retirement plans.
Consequently, the survey responses presented in this e-supplement are
anecdotal in nature and are not necessarily representative of the
overall sponsor population.
A more detailed discussion of our scope and methodology is contained in
our report: Private Pensions: Fulfilling Fiduciary Obligations Can Present
Challenges for 401(k) Plan Sponsors, GAO-08-774 (Washington, D.C.: July 16, 2008).
We conducted our review from January 2007 through June 2008 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
How to View The Surveys
- Click on the Table of Contents link located in the lower right of this
screen. To read to the bottom of the screen, you may need to use your scroll
bar on the right side of this screen.
- The first screen in the survey is an introduction and general
information that was sent to and viewed by recipients of the survey. There
are no survey results to view on this screen. This screen is for information
only and you may bypass it by clicking on Next located at the bottom of the
screen in the lower right.
- The survey may have links to allow respondents to bypass
inapplicable questions (skip patterns). While these were active
links during the data collection period, they have now been
- We analyzed the comments made to questions 19a, 20a and 21. We organized these
comments into categories and provide the frequency with which the comments were placed in each
category. We also provide a narrative summary of the comments.
How to View the Responses for Each Question
- To view the responses to each question, click on the question number
(links to survey questions will look like this:
- After viewing the responses to each question, click on the "x" in
the upper right corner of your screen to close that window and return to the questionnaire.
How to Return to a Page That You Previously Visited
- To return to the last screen you viewed, click the Previous button on
the lower right corner of the screen.
- Click the Next button to advance to the next screen.
How to Make the Font Larger on Your Screen
- You can make the font larger by changing your browser setting. For
example, on Internet Explorer you can change the font size by going to View
and selecting Text Size.
- If you have questions concerning these data, please contact Barbara Bovbjerg, at (202)512-7215 or
Table of Contents
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