PWBA Recrafts EXPRO Exemption Process

July 3, 2002 ( - Plan sponsors and providers may now find it easier to gain approval for an exception from prohibited transaction rules under new guidelines.

The US Department of Labor’s (DoL) Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA) has streamlined the process to request an exemption to engage in prohibited transactions. The changes affect prohibited transaction exemption 96-62, known as EXPRO.
The amendment is effective July 3, the date scheduled for publication of the amendment in the Federal Register

The latest PWBA changes are designed to reduce regulatory burdens associated with processing individual exemptions from ERISA’s prohibited transaction provisions, the DoL said.

Effective July 31, 1996, PTE 96-62 provided a mechanism for expediting consideration of routine transactions involving terms, conditions, and circumstances which are substantially similar to those described in previously granted individual exemptions, without sacrificing the interests of the plan participants and beneficiaries.

The agency proposed on March 20 to expand PTE 96-62 to permit parties to either base their submission on substantially similar transactions described in two individual exemptions granted within the past 60 months, as already provided for, or on one individual exemption granted within the past 120 months and one transaction which received final authorization by the agency under PTE 96-62 within the past 60 months, DoL officials said.

Prior Exemptions as Precedent

The success of the EXPRO program to date has resulted in fewer granted exemptions that may be cited by applicants who want to take advantage of the expedited process under EXPRO, a department news release said. Therefore, the department amended EXPRO to provide applicants with more cases on which to base their transactions.

Over 180 EXPRO transactions have been authorized as of June 2002, the news release said.

EXPRO has significantly reduced the number of individual exemptions relating to routine transactions, allowing applicants to receive exemptions in a more timely fashion and often saving them the cost of going through the more formal process for exemptions, the DoL said.