PENSION AND WELFARE BENEFITS ADMINISTRATION
(Dollars in Millions)
|FY 2000||FY 2001||Change|
|Enforcement and Compliance||$78.3||$83.7||$5.4|
|Policy, Regulations, and Public Service||16.8||20.2||3.4|
|Total, Budget Authority||$98.9||$107.8||$8.9|
|Full Time Equivalents||823||850||27|
The Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the Federal Employees' Retirement System Act of 1986 (FERSA). The primary mission of PWBA is to protect the pension, health and other benefits of participants in private sector employee benefit plans. PWBA directly affects the livelihood of over 150 million people who participate in ERISA-covered plans, and protects the U.S. economy's single largest source of capital for investment--pension funds. Currently, there are over 91 million participants, including workers and retirees, in private pension plans which hold more than $4.3 trillion in assets.
Enforcement and Compliance
This activity conducts criminal and civil investigations, performs reviews to ensure compliance with the fiduciary provisions of ERISA and FERSA, and assures compliance with applicable reporting requirements, as well as accounting, auditing and actuarial standards.
In FY 2001 the budget request for this activity is $83.7 million and 683 FTE and includes program enhancements for: 1) implementing a new program (the Rapid ERISA Action Compliance Team initiative) to protect the rights and benefits of plan participants when the plan sponsor faces severe financial hardship or bankruptcy and the assets of an employee benefit plan are in jeopardy; 2) enhancing PWBA's information technology capabilities in support of its enforcement, compliance, customer service, research, and education and outreach activities; 3) expanding PWBA's reporting compliance "help desk" function related to Form 5500 Report filings; 4) enhancing customer service, including the installation of an interactive toll-free line, to provide plan participants with maximum direct access to PWBA's technical assistance staff); 5) enhancing pension enforcement capabilities in response to the increased number of defined contribution pension plans, workers covered by the pension plans, and the increase in the pension plan assets; 6) conducting audits of the new Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) recordkeeping system as part of PWBA's oversight responsibility of the nearly $100 billion TSP, involving 2.4 million Federal workers; and 7) developing an Internet site to disclose the Form 5500 Annual Reports on employee benefit plans, essentially turning every computer with Internet access into a public disclosure room. Currently, PWBA is limited to disclosing the annual reports via mail and to individuals who come into its public disclosure office in Washington, D.C.
Policy, Regulation and Public Services
This activity conducts policy, research and legislative analyses on pension, health and other employee benefit issues; promulgates regulations and interpretations regarding reporting and disclosure, fiduciary, and coverage provisions; issues individual and class exemptions from ERISA's and FERSA's prohibited transactions provisions; discloses legally-required reports; provides technical assistance to plan officials, employee benefits practitioners, and the public; provides direct assistance to plan participants and beneficiaries in enforcing their rights under ERISA and in obtaining benefits under employee benefit plans; and provides assistance in response to requests from members of Congress (including constituent requests), as well as technical assistance to about a dozen legislative committees with jurisdiction affecting ERISA and FERSA.
In FY 2001, the budget request for this activity totals $20.2 million and 145 FTE and includes program enhancements for: 1) expanding compliance guidance, interpretations and analyses capabilities related to the recent health laws; 2) developing new sources of data on ERISA-covered employee benefit plans and conducting research and policy analysis required to address emerging policy, legislative and operational issues; 4) expanding the Health Benefits Education Campaign to include new publications and multimedia educational products; 5) conducting the 2001 National Summit on Retirement Savings, as mandated by the SAVER Act of 1997; 6) developing and disseminating critical information to dislocated workers regarding their pension and health benefits when plants and businesses close, downsize or reduce hours; and, 7) printing educational material on pension and health issues as part of the Department's pilot project involving the use of the Employment and Training Administrations's State Partnership One-Stop locations.
This activity provides leadership, policy direction, strategic planning, and management of the pension and welfare benefits program. Oversight and operational guidance is provided in the areas of financial management, budget formulation and execution, debt management, human resource management, labor and employee relations, employee development and other administrative activities. In addition, this activity conducts a comprehensive technical training program in support of enforcement, policy, legislative, and regulatory functions. In FY 2001, the budget request for this activity totals $4 million and 22 FTE.
|FY 2000||FY 2001||Change|
|Plan reviews and investigations conducted||7,158||7,227||69|
|Investigations closed restoring or protecting assets||1,120||1,148||28|
|Exemptions, variances, determinations, interpretations and regulations issued||
|Inquiries received: *
* Represents total number of inquiries received by customer service staff. Excludes calls handled by automated telephone systems that provide responses to frequently asked ERISA questions.