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Highlights

The Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) are responsible for administering and enforcing the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Private pension plans are required to report substantial information to these agencies under the act. GAO investigated the ERISA information management activities of Labor, IRS, and PBGC to determine the adequacy and effectiveness of: (1) the agencies' efforts to make sure that pension plans file ERISA annual reports, annual premium filings, and summary plan descriptions; and (2) IRS efforts to ensure that annual reports filed by plans are complete.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Congress should amend ERISA to: (1) eliminate the requirement that employee benefit plans routinely file copies of plan descriptions and plan summaries with Labor; (2) require the plans to provide Labor with copies of plan summaries at the request of Labor; and (3) require Labor to obtain, on behalf of plan participants and others, copies of plan summaries from the plans when so requested. Congress should make these amendments before plans have to meet summary refiling requirements in 1982.
Closed - Not Implemented
Follow-up on this recommendation should be discontinued. Congress has taken no action on this recommendation. In accordance with the GAO Project Manual, GAO follow-up on recommendations to Congress should be considered satisfied when Congress has not acted on the recommendation in over 22 months.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Labor The Secretaries of Labor and the Treasury and the Executive Director of the PBGC should reassess the need for each annual report information item and eliminate the reporting requirement for those not needed to carry out the overall participation protection goals of ERISA.
Closed - Implemented
Please call 202/512-6100 for information.
Department of the Treasury The Secretaries of Labor and the Treasury and the Executive Director of the PBGC should reassess the need for each annual report information item and eliminate the reporting requirement for those not needed to carry out the overall participation protection goals of ERISA.
Closed - Implemented
Please call 202/512-6100 for information.
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation The Secretaries of Labor and the Treasury and the Executive Director of the PBGC should reassess the need for each annual report information item and eliminate the reporting requirement for those not needed to carry out the overall participation protection goals of ERISA.
Closed - Implemented
Please call 202/512-6100 for information.
Internal Revenue Service The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should implement procedures to ensure that information items needed for the annual report are obtained, including invoking penalties when plans fail to provide the information.
Closed - Implemented
Please call 202/512-6100 for information.
Internal Revenue Service The Executive Director of PBGC and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should establish and carry out a timetable for IRS to assume responsibility for receipt and processing of both premium collection and annual report information and, while these steps are being taken, undertake a cooperative effort to reconcile the differences between the annual report and premium files. The Executive Director should take action to collect unpaid premiums identified by this effort.
Closed - Not Implemented
PBGC and IRS have determined that it would not be cost-effective for IRS to assume responsibility for both receiving and processing premium collections and annual report information. PBGC and IRS also plan to reconcile differences between the annual report and premium files. Therefore, this recommendation should be dropped.
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation The Executive Director of PBGC and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should establish and carry out a timetable for IRS to assume responsibility for receipt and processing of both premium collection and annual report information and, while these steps are being taken, undertake a cooperative effort to reconcile the differences between the annual report and premium files. The Executive Director should take action to collect unpaid premiums identified by this effort.
Closed - Not Implemented
PBGC and IRS have determined that it would not be cost-effective for IRS to assume responsibility for both receiving and processing premium collection and annual report information. PBGC and IRS also plan to reconcile differences between the annual report and premium files. Therefore, this recommendation should be dropped.

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