Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.

News Release

Pension Agency Announces New Enforcement Strategy

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

The U. S. Department of Labor’s Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration today announced the new Strategic Enforcement Plan (StEP), which establishes direction and methods for efficiently carrying out its enforcement responsibilities in the face of a changing and growing employee benefit universe. The enforcement strategy represents a framework for setting enforcement priorities that focus on major areas of potential abuse.

Alan Lebowitz, deputy assistant secretary of PWBA, said, "’Our revised strategy focuses our resources on areas that pose real and serious abuse to plans, participants and beneficiaries. It also prioritizes enforcement initiatives to address our new jurisdiction over health benefits laws.’"

PWBA’s enforcement strategy emphasizes improved targeting of investigations, protecting at-risk populations, and deterring and correcting violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and related statutes. The enforcement strategy sets national priorities which are critical to the operation of employee benefits plans. Current priorities involve investigations into:

  • Plan service providers in which the agency will examine abusive practices affecting many plans;

  • Health benefit issues involving such areas as multiple employer welfare arrangements, hidden discounts to insurers and providers, and authority over new health laws which affect 2.6 million health plans; and

  • Defined contribution plans to assure the safety of this growing universe of employee benefit plans, particularly 401(k) plans.

Under StEP, PWBA places emphasis on two categories of civil investigations: national projects relating to long-range national priorities and regional projects relating to local issues investigated by regional offices nationwide.

The strategy also describes the criteria under which PWBA will conduct national and regional enforcement initiatives as well as criminal investigations. In addition, the strategy discusses the goals adopted by the agency in order to meet Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA). This act requires all federal agencies to develop strategic plans, prepare annual performance plans implementing strategic plans and annually report on their progress in meeting their goals.

The latest strategic plan for PWBA is available on its website at or by calling 202.219.8771. PWBA’s strategy is scheduled to be published today in the Federal Register.

U.S. Department of Labor news releases are accessible on the Internet. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the Central Office for Assistive Services and Technology. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call 202.693.7773 or TTY 202.693.7775.

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

Employee Benefits Security Administration
April 6, 2000
Release Number