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News Release

EBSA Press Release: DOL Team Receives Vice President's Hammer Award For Helping Government Work Better, Cost Less [06/17/1996]

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

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The Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration's ERISA Enforcement Outreach Program team has received Vice President Gore's prestigious Hammer Award for reinventing government.

The team's efforts have improved pension plan administrators' compliance with the reporting and disclosure requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Its efforts also have resulted in reduced penalties paid by businesses, saving millions of dollars in compliance costs.

"This is the way government should work--preventing problems before they occur," said PWBA Assistant Secretary Olena Berg, thanking the team for its efforts and Vice President Gore's National Performance Review (NPR) for the honor. "This outstanding educational effort has been well received by plan sponsors and exemplifies government willingness to help its customers."

The PWBA Chief Accountant's Office created the innovative program to educate the employee benefit plan community, especially professionals servicing small benefit plans, about ERISA requirements. In partnership with the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, the team designed and delivered a series of outreach conferences around the country that gave pension plan administrators the information they needed to more readily comply with the law. To date they have participated in 15 conferences, and all educational sessions have been widely attended.

The team's efforts have resulted in the following specific improvements and savings to the government:

  • a decrease of 50 percent in the rate of deficient filings, at a time when the number of filings has increased by 10 percent;
  • a decrease in the number of filings resulting in monetary civil penalties; and
  • creation of a permanent delinquent filer Voluntary Compliance Program to replace PWBA's grace period program.

In the past, the agency used its resources to target, identify and penalize plan administrators who failed to comply with ERISA's annual reporting and disclosure requirements. Given its limited resources and the large number of plans, the Chief Accountant's Office aimed its education and awareness program at small benefit and pension plan professionals, the group that most often filed deficient reports. The team has encouraged early and accurate compliance with the law through outreach efforts at the grassroots level and the two programs to encourage voluntary compliance. The Hammer Award, a framed $6 hammer with a red, white and blue ribbon, is the Vice President's answer to the $600 hammer that once symbolized government bloat. "This one represents what's right with government," said Mike Urquhart, acting director of reinvention in the Department of Labor. He added: "PWBA's efforts have made a major contribution toward creating common sense government that works better and costs less." It is the second Hammer Award received by the agency. PWBA is an agency of 600 employees and is responsible for enforcement of Title I of ERISA, which protects the integrity of benefit plans for over 200 million Americans.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employee Benefits Security Administration
June 17, 1996
Release Number