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PBGC makes mediation program permanent, including fiduciary breach cases

A pilot PBGC mediation program was made permanent and expanded to include fiduciary breach cases, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. said Thursday.

PBGC officials launched the pilot mediation program in October 2017 as part of efforts to encourage plan sponsors to keep their pension plans, and to save resources for all stakeholders.

Since then, "it has been very well received," said PBGC General Counsel Judith Starr in an interview. "People like to know it's there even if they don't use it."

PBGC officials have mediated one termination liability case that "could have dragged on, or gone to court," Ms. Starr said. They are also involved in several fiduciary breach cases with terminated plans involving plan sponsors, administrators or advisers. Ms. Starr said she expects that mediation will be used in early warning program cases soon.

"We are going to be adjusting our process on our regular basis, to make sure it is doing what it is supposed to accomplish. I hope that it really becomes embedded in the processes where we interact with plan sponsors and others, so people will know that, where we can come to an agreement, there is another way to work it out," Ms. Starr said.