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GAO: Worker IRAs May Need Oversight

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The U.S. Government Accountability Office says Congress should consider holding a federal agency responsible for overseeing employer-funded individual retirement accounts.

The U.S. Department of Labor says it has no jurisdiction over “payroll-deduction IRAs,” Barbara Bovbjerg, a GAO director, writes in a report sent to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Bovbjerg is recommending that the Labor Department try to overcome a lack of access to traditional pension plans and 401(k) plans at many small employers by encouraging small employers to offer IRAs.

But the Labor Department also should make an effort to monitor the employers that offer IRA programs, Bovbjerg says.

The Internal Revenue Service could help by giving the Labor Department annual IRA statistics, Bovbjerg writes.

High IRA program administration costs may be one factor discouraging employers from offering IRA, and federal officials have little information about the administration costs, Bovbjerg writes.

Bradford Campbell, assistant secretary at the Labor Department, wrote the Labor Department’s response to the GAO report.

Campbell is recommending that the department examine the cost of establishing payroll-deduction IRA programs and attempt to defray the startup costs.

Campbell also is recommending that the department consider improving the Labor Department’s payroll-deduction IRA sales pitch, to encourage more employers to sponsor payroll-deduction IRA programs


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