GOP Reps. Demand Pension Disclosures

November 23, 2009 ( – Two U.S. House members demanded that Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis give workers immediate access to information about the health of their pension plan from the annual Form 5500 reports.

The demand came in a letter from U.S. Representatives John Kline (R-Minnesota) and Tom Price (R-Georgia) who charged that the Form 5500 is currently largely inaccessible to working Americans.

“Filed annually with the Department, Form 5500 provides the most comprehensive accounting of a private pension plan’s status. We understand that Form 5500 is electronically available in the Public Disclosure Room in the Department’s Washington, D.C. office; but outside of Washington, it is only available via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request,” Kline and Price wrote. “Limiting the public to two options – a trip to Washington, D.C., or a cumbersome FOIA request – hardly seems an effective means of ensuring transparency and encouraging access to these important documents.”

Kline and Price argued that such disclosures are especially vital in a tumultuous economy in which many pension plans remain underfunded.

“When it comes to retirement savings and security, virtually everyone agrees that information is power,” said Kline, the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee’s senior Republican member. “Unfortunately, congressional Democrats are focused on adding layers of new red tape and federal mandates even as workers are denied access to the most basic information about their retirement plans. It’s time for the administration to get serious about the transparency it promised.”

Last week, Kline introduced the Sensible Transparency for Retirement Plans Act (H.R. 4146).

The lawmakers’ letter to Solis is available here .