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DOL seeks input on 401(k) fee disclosures


WASHINGTON-The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration published a request for information in Wednesday's Federal Register that seeks input on how to improve information provided to 401(k) participants about the administrative and investment fees and expenses charged to their plans.

Respondents have been asked to address what administrative and investment-related fee and expense information participants should consider, how the information should be provided to participants and who should be responsible for providing the information.

The RFI said the responses received will be used to help the Labor Department determine the extent to which rules should be developed or modified in this area, "recognizing that in many instances participants may have to bear the cost of disclosing such information."

The issue of hidden or excessive 401(k) plan fees and expenses has received significant attention of late. A number of recent lawsuits charge plan sponsors with inadequately monitoring and disclosing fees.

In addition, the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on 401(k) plan fees last month, and at least one additional hearing is expected. Observers expect legislation in this area to be introduced.

Furthermore, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox said recently that the SEC is examining the adequacy of investor disclosures by mutual funds and other investment vehicles in 401(k) plans.

In addition to the RFI, the Labor Department has two other projects that are under way to enhance reporting of fees and expenses to the government and increase disclosure by service providers to plan fiduciaries.

Comments on the RIF can be sent by e-mail to or by using the Federal e-Rulemaking portal at Written responses should be sent to the Office of Regulations and Interpretations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Room N-5669, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, Attention: Fee Disclosure RFI.