New PBGC Director Discusses Initiatives

The agency is looking for ways to simplify DB plan calculations.

Asked what issue he’s gotten the sense is the most urgent from his first four days on the job, W. Thomas Reeder, the newly confirmed director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), jokingly told PLANADVISER he is most surprised by what his roles and responsibilities with the agency actually are.

On a more serious note, he shared with attendees of the American Retirement Association’s 2015 ASPPA Annual Conference that the agency is very focused on multiemployer plans right now. “We need to do what we can with plans that cannot pay benefits,” he said. “We want to make sure the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA) legislation is administered as fairly as possible.”

Aside from that, according to Reeder, the PBGC is looking for ways to simplify defined benefit (DB) plan calculations. He encouraged suggestions from the industry.

The agency is also close to making a proposal for a missing participants program, and “we are considering extending it to other plans,” Reeder said. “The program will be an alternative to setting up individual retirement accounts for missing participants.”

The PBGC issued a request for information in 2013 concerning a missing participants program. According to Reeder, its proposal is “pretty far along.”

Reeder concluded, “The agency is still looking to expand coverage and improve adequacy of DB plans, but at the very least, we must ensure the payment of benefits that are already promised.”