"There seems to be no limit on the amount of document requests, interviews and questions an investigator may ask," the lawmakers wrote. "The result is increased compliance costs, which harm those participating in employer-sponsored retirement programs."
The Republicans requested a host of information, including a list of EBSA's open investigations and an explanation of the specific steps taken to close all persisting investigations.
In October, Liz Watson, assistance secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs, responded and said EBSA's balanced approach to enforcement focuses not only on speed, but also on effectiveness in detecting and correcting violations.
"While we agree it is important to move cases as swiftly as possible within existing resource constraints, it is also important to avoid closing cases before documents have been received, violations have been properly investigated, and any issues uncovered have been resolved," Watson said. "EBSA works to strike the right balance."
Foxx and Good in a follow-up letter sent Nov. 2 were displeased with the response. "We provided DOL an opportunity to assuage (our) concerns, but its response provided only general explanations for our inquiries without any of the requested materials."
To that end, the lawmakers requested the same information once more and set a Nov. 9 deadline. The request includes:
- 1. A list of all open investigations by the initial date the investigation opened (grouped by calendar quarter), the duration of the investigation and the specific purpose of the investigation. The name of the plan sponsor does not need to be disclosed, but the regional office responsible for the investigation should be listed.
- 2. An explanation of any time frames or internal guidance imposed on the timeliness of conducting and closing out investigations, as well as procedures that are taken to ensure those time frames are honored.
- 3. A sample copy of personnel appraisal criteria for ensuring investigations are timely and efficiently carried out and closed.
- 4. An explanation of the specific steps taken to close all persisting investigations and the consequences to investigators, their supervisors, and EBSA management if investigations are allowed to languish beyond efficient time frames.
Fox and Good also said they will be calling on three EBSA employees to appear in person in the committee's offices to take part in transcribed interviews.
A department spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.