PWBA Publishes Field Assistance

October 17, 2002 ( - Plan sponsors and practitioners alike can expect to benefit from the publication of new compliance guidelines from the Department of Labor's Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA).

The PWBA has unveiled its first “Field Assistance Bulletin” to publicize technical guidance provided to its field enforcement staff in an effort to help ensure that its various regional offices apply laws consistently – and to help plan sponsors and providers better understand the rules.  

The PWBA notes that, in the course of audits and investigations by PWBA field enforcement staff, difficult legal issues often arise. The Field Assistance Bulletins will provide an important source of information about the agency’s views on technical applications of ERISA.   All FABs will be posted on PWBA’s website and be available to the public.

“The vast majority of plan sponsors and service providers want to satisfy their ERISA obligations, and we want to provide compliance assistance to make it easy,” said Ann L. Combs, Assistant Secretary for Pension and Welfare Benefits. “Our enforcement program will be enhanced if employers, unions and service providers understand the rules.”

The first FAB, Field Assistance Bulletin 2002-1, addresses the fiduciary considerations involved with the refinancing of an ESOP loan under section 408(b)(3) of ERISA, and is available at .

Future bulletins will be available at under Compliance Assistance and Laws and Regulations.