EBSA's Combs Says Farewell to Benefits Regulation

September 27, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - One of the better known figures in employee benefits regulation enforcement is set to leave government service at the end of October, according to an announcement Wednesday.

The Department of Labor (DoL) said Ann Combs, assistant secretary of labor and head of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is slated to return to the private sector as of October 27. Combs has been in the position since May 2001.

The DoL announcement listed Combs’ primary achievements as:

  • helping to shepherd the Pension Protection Act through the legislative process,
  • recovering more than $220 million for pension funds that had invested in Enron,
  • directing an enforcement effort that included a record $8.7 billion in monetary results and 536 criminal indictments, and
  • the expansion of voluntary compliance programs and issuance of guidance for fiduciaries and service providers on fees, trading practices, and fiduciary responsibilities.

“The enactment of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 has put in place a new system with better transparency, stronger funding for traditional pension plans, and enhancements to defined contribution plans that will help workers save more for retirement and receive much-needed investment advice,” said Combs, in the DoL statement. “I am extremely proud and grateful to have been able to contribute to that effort.”

As EBSA head, Combs worked to oversee the approximately six million pension, health and other benefit plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act that hold more than $4.5 trillion in assets.

Prior to joining the department, Combs was vice president and chief counsel for pensions and retirement at the American Council of Life Insurers and a principal of William M. Mercer, Inc. During the Reagan and prior Bush Administrations, Combs spent six years at the Department of Labor.