At the Labor Departments request, the Investment Company Institute, the American Bankers Association and American Council of Life Insurance have jointly created a standardized form for small businesses that asks 401(k) plan vendors to show the total cost and costs of various elements of their programs. The Labor Department opted for this cooperative approach over regulation. "What we are trying to do here is take the mystery out of the process, Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman said in a news conference announcing the effort. The form, Ms. Herman said, would "make the information more user friendly so employers can fulfill their fiduciary obligation and compare apples to apples. The form requires vendors to summarize investment fees, administrative fees, start-up and service provider termination-related charges, along with fees for separate portfolios and other services.