DoL Asks For Advice on 401(k) Fee Disclosures

April 24, 2007 ( - The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration is asking for suggestions on how to best approach 401(k) fee disclosures by retirement plans to their participants.

Specifically, the department wants to know what administrative and investment-related fee and expense information participants should consider when investing their retirement savings, the manner in which the information should be furnished to participants and who should provide that information, according to a DoL press release.

Written comments on the fee disclosure issue should be submitted electronically by e-mail to or through the federal e-rulemaking portal at .  

Paper-based comments 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.

The information request by the DoL comes on the heels of Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox’s announcement last week that the regulator would be turning its sights toward 401(k) plan fees. “With an emphasis on both the disclosures by the constituent investments in the 401(k), and the aggregate disclosures by the plan, we aim to make it far easier for busy Americans to understand the expenses they’re being charged in connection with their investments,” Cox said at the Mutual Fund Directors Forum (See  SEC Turning its Attention to 12b-1, 401(k) Disclosures).

The DoL cites a recent recommendations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) about changes to improve disclosure of fees and expenses to plan fiduciaries and participants (See  GAO Urges Congress to Consider 401(k) Plan Fee Disclosure ).   

The issue has also moved into the legal arena as well. Last week, a federal judge for the U.S. District for the Southern District of Illinois refused Boeing Co’s request to throw out a lawsuit by three employees of the company who claimed it breached its fiduciary obligations by paying 401(k) providers excessive fees (See Boeing Excessive 401(k) Fee Suit Moves Beyond First Legal Round ).