Lisa Gomez, the assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, addressed the National Institute on Retirement Security’s Retirement Policy Conference on Tuesday. She highlighted some of the items on EBSA’s short-term agenda: standardizing disclosure language and issuing guidance on the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022.
Gomez emphasized the importance of “effective” disclosure and said it will be a “theme” for EBSA going forward. EBSA intends to issue standardized language on unspecified disclosures to make them easier to read for participants both so that disclosure documents are more likely to be read and understood and so that participants changing employers do not have to adjust as much to new formatting or jargon. Gomez did not lay out a timeline or provide specific examples.
SECURE 2.0, passed on December 29, 2022, contains many provisions for which EBSA will have to issue or amend regulatory guidance. In particular, Gomez named employee stock ownership plans, auto-portability, various reporting and disclosure changes and the qualified personal asset manager exemption.
She also noted that EBSA had to reopen the comment period for the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program proposal, first issued in November 2022, after Section 305 of SECURE 2.0 required EBSA to accept certain plan loan errors corrected under the IRS’ Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System as also satisfying the VFCP requirements.
Lastly, Gomez quipped that EBSA has been “spending a lot of time on ESG.” She explained that she is not able to comment at length, since EBSA’s proposed ESG rule, which would permit ESG considerations in retirement plans, is the subject of ongoing litigation, a reference to two separate lawsuits challenging the legality of the rule.