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Highlights

Although employer-sponsored retirement plans can be an important component of income security after retirement, only about half of all workers participate in such plans. To foster greater participation among workers who have access to such plans, Congress included provisions that facilitate plan sponsors' adoption of automatic enrollment policies in the Pension Protection Act of 2006. To foster greater retirement savings among workers who do not have access to an employer-sponsored plan, proposals have been made at the federal level for an "automatic IRA" and at the state level for state-based programs. Because of questions about the extent of retirement savings and prospects for a sound retirement for all Americans, GAO was asked to determine (1) what is known about the effect of automatic enrollment policies among the nation's 401(k) plans, and the extent of and future prospect for such policies; and (2) the potential benefits and limitations of automatic IRA proposals and state-assisted retirement savings proposals. To answer these questions, GAO reviewed available reports and data, and interviewed plan sponsors, industry groups, investment professionals, and relevant federal agencies.

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