The current Secretary of Labor, R. Alexander Acosta, issued a message laying out the DOL's Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2018-2022. As part of the strategic plan, an objective of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) will be to “improve the security of retirement, health, and other workplace-related benefits for America's workers and their families.”
The EBSA enforces ERISA regulations and carries out civil and criminal investigations, including fiduciary duty violation investigations. According to the DOL plan, “EBSA accomplishes its mission by developing effective regulations; assisting and educating workers, plan sponsors, fiduciaries, and service providers; and vigorously enforcing the law.”
The current EBSA strategy will involve three areas of focus:
- Leverage strategic enforcement;
- Strengthen compliance assistance, consumer outreach, and education; and
- Promote high-quality regulatory and research activities.
Leverage Strategic Enforcement
Strategic enforcement involves improving ERISA compliance by going after unjust profits and recovering losses from plan fiduciary violations and plan provider misconduct. The financial penalties of these investigations and compliance enforcement is intended to have a deterrent effect. Because of the limited resources of the EBSA, investigations are to be targeted.
Some of the noted aspects of the enforcement program include:
- Targeting and data analysis;
- Prompt detection and pursuit of violations;
- Pursuit of monetary recoveries; and
- Pursuit of participant tips and complaints.
The DOL also intends to expand the EBSA's “analytical capabilities” and continue to develop advances targeting methods that include the use of external data to identify targets for investigation.
Strengthen Compliance Assistance, Consumer Outreach, and Education
The next aspect of the EBSA's plans include outreach and education for vulnerable workers facing job losses and their need to save for retirement. EBSA education also extends to plan officials and service providers about regulations, best practices, guidance, and fiduciary responsibilities under ERISA.
Promote High-Quality Regulatory and Research Activities
Research activity will be aimed at reducing the costs of regulations while minimizing the most serious harm. According to the DOL, data analysis and research will help the department improve health benefits and retirement security.
Performance Targets for Fiscal Years 2018 to 2022
The EBSA also set out 3 performance measures with targets through fiscal year 2022. The three performance measures include:
- Major case monetary recoveries per major case staff day;
- Monetary recoveries on major cases closed per staff day; and
- Percent of delinquent employee contribution, abandoned plan, and other reporting and disclosure breach cases closed or referred within 18 months of case opening.
It is unclear what this strategic plan will mean for fiduciaries and plan providers. However, the EBSA appears to be planning to continue targeting fiduciary breaches and investigating ERISA violations into the future. It is important to regularly review policies and plans to ensure any issues are resolved before they end up under investigation by the DOL.
San Diego ERISA Attorneys
If you have any questions about ERISA fiduciary requirements or DOL/EBSA investigation, the law firm of Butterfield Schechter LLP is here to help. We are San Diego County's largest law firm with a focus on employee benefits law. Contact our office today with any questions on how we can help you and your company succeed.