PBGC Suggests Forcing Uniform 4010 Plan Filings via Computer

December 28, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The nation's insurer of private-sector pension plans has proposed requiring that pension programs filing financial and actuarial information do so in a standard electronic format so it can better analyze and act on the data.

>The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) said in a Tuesday news release that getting the financial data in a standard format and transmitted directly via computer should help it do a better job of spotting significantly underfunded plans and helping to minimize the impact of those problems on workers. The filings are required under Section 4010 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

“Computer-assisted analysis of this information helps the PBGC to anticipate possible major demands on the pension insurance system and to focus PBGC resources on situations that pose the greatest risks to that system,” the PBGC said in  its proposal .  “The PBGC’s experience with section 4010 filings has led the PBGC to conclude that its ability to protect participant and premium-payer interests would increase and that the filing process would work better if filers provided information electronically and in a standardized format, and is therefore proposing to require electronic filing of section 4010 information in a standardized format.”

>The pension agency said the proposed rule would also require the filing of additional items of “readily available” supporting information. Finally, the proposed rule would require a filer for the previous year who does not believe a filing is required for the current year to demonstrate why there is no current filing requirement. The agency asserted: “The proposed rule would benefit filers by streamlining the filing process and would enhance the PBGC’s ability to effectively administer the pension insurance program.”

>The PBGC is seeking public opinion on the proposal. An electronic link to submit such feedback is on the agency’s Web site about the Section 4010 rule (See link above).