The federal government has published its semiannual “things to do” lists.[@@]

The lists, which appear in the Federal Register, show how thousands of issues, including many issues of interest to the insurance industry, are moving through the regulatory process.

Agencies that published lists today include the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Office of Personnel Management (which manages benefits for federal employees), the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Treasury Department. Because the Internal Revenue Service is part of the Treasury Department, its list is part of the Treasury Department list.

Most agencies have some “long-term action” items that are creeping their way from one desk to another.

The agencies also have regulations at the “prerule” stage, the “proposed rule” stage, and the “final rule” stage, along with a number of recently completed regulations.

Each regulatory item has its own sequence number. At the U.S. Department of Labor, for example, the sequence numbers range from 1972 to 2059. A reader who opens the PDF file for the Labor Department and wants to see item Number 2008, “Mental Health Benefits Parity,” can use the numbers to find the item somewhere near the middle of the file.

Here is a rundown of the list links along with a description of some of the items dealing with life insurance issues, variable annuity issues and employee benefits issues:

Federal Trade Commission: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/13dec20040800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/ua041213/pdf/ua041057.pdf

Industry items at the FTC include Number 4079, “Privacy of Consumer Information,” which is at the prerule stage, and Number 4088, “Telemarketing Sales Rule,” a complete rule that will take effect Jan. 1, 2005.

U.S. Department of Labor: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/13dec20040800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/ua041213/pdf/ua041014.pdf

Industry items at the Employee Benefits Security Administration, the Labor Department agency that deals most directly with benefits issues, at the prerule and proposed rule stage are Number 2000, “Prohibited Transaction Exemption Procedures”; Number 2001, “Statutory Exemption for Loans to Plan Participants”; and Number 2003, “Rulemaking Relating to Termination of Abandoned Individual Account Plans.”

Some of the items at the final rule stage include Number 2007, “Regulations Implementing the Health Care Access, Portability and Renewability Provisions of HIPAA; Number 2008, “Mental Health Benefits Parity”; and Number 2010, “Prohibiting Discrimination Against Participants and Beneficiaries Based on Health Status.”

Office of Personnel Management: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/13dec20040800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/ua041213/pdf/ua041040.pdf

Some of the industry items at the final rule stage are Number 3598, “Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Regulations”; Number 3604, “Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Federal Acquisition Regulation”; and Number 3621, which will implement flexible spending accounts for federal executive branch employees.

Securities and Exchange Commission: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/13dec20040800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/ua041213/pdf/ua041061.pdf

Industry items at the final rule stage include Number 4209, “Privacy of Consumer Information,” and Number 4212, “Books and Records To Be Maintained by Investment Advisers.”

U.S. Treasury Department (including the Internal Revenue Service): http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/13dec20040800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/ua041213/pdf/ua041016.pdf

The IRS is considering many insurance and annuity issues.

Items at the proposed rule stage include Number 2571, “Foreign Insurance Companies; Number 2618, “Contributions to Purchase Certain Retirement Annuities or Custodial Accounts Under Section 403(b)”; and Number 2649, “Attained Age of the Insured.”

Some of the items at the final rule stage are Number 2751, “Guidance on Life Insurance and Annuity Contracts,” and Number 2763, “Value of Life Insurance When Distributed from a Qualified Retirement Plan.”

Long-term actions include Number 2818, “The Treatment of Accelerated Death Benefits”; Number 2833, “Normal Retirement Age for Pension Plans”; and Number 2847, which covers the performance of actuarial services under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.