EBSA Asks for Comments on ICR Extensions

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has requested comments on the proposed extension of three information collection requests (ICRs).

The first ICR is for Consent to Receive Employee Benefit Plan Disclosure Electronically. A notice in the May 24 Federal Register explains that EBSA established a safe harbor pursuant to which all pension and welfare benefit plans covered by Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) may use electronic media to satisfy disclosure obligations only if a participant who does not have access to the employer’s electronic information system in the normal course of his duties, or a beneficiary or other person entitled to documents, has affirmatively consented to receive disclosure documents.   

Prior to consenting, the participant or beneficiary must also be provided with certain information. The ICR is scheduled to expire on August 31, 2011.  

EBSA also is requesting comment on the ICR extension for Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption 86–128. This exemption permits persons who serve as fiduciaries for employee benefit plans to effect or execute securities transactions on behalf of employee benefit plans. The exemption also allows sponsors of pooled separate accounts and other pooled investment funds to use their affiliates to effect or execute securities transactions for such accounts in order to recapture brokerage commissions for the benefit of employee benefit plans whose assets are maintained in pooled separate accounts managed by insurance companies.  

In order to insure that the exemption is not abused, that the rights of participants and beneficiaries are protected, and that the exemption’s conditions are being complied with, the Department has included in the exemption five information collection requirements. The ICR is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2011. 

Finally, the notice requests comments on extending the ICR deadline for Furnishing Documents to the Secretary of Labor on Request under ERISA Section 104(a)(6). The notice explains that as a result of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (TRA 97), the plan administrators of ERISA-covered employee benefit plans no longer need to file copies of the summary plan descriptions and summaries of material modifications that are publicly available. The ICR relating to document requests is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2011.  

EBSA said it is particularly interested in comments that: 

  • Evaluate whether the collections of information are necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility
  • Evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the collections of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used
  • Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected
  • Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., by permitting electronic submissions of responses

Written comments must be submitted on or before July 25, 2011, to G. Christopher Cosby, Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., N–5718, Washington, DC 20210, (202) 693–8410, FAX (202) 693–4745.  

The Notice is here.