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DOL, AICPA partner on national education campaign on fiduciary responsibilities.

The Department of Labor and the AICPA recently announced they have partnered in a national campaign to educate employers and service providers about their fiduciary responsibilities under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. ERISA is a fundamental element of ensuring the protection of health and retirement benefits for the nation's employees. As part of the campaign, the AICPA will participate in a series of DOL seminars designed to educate small business plan sponsors and other fiduciaries about their obligations. Other partners involved in this effort include the National Federation of Independent Business, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Society for Human Resource Management, and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

"Nothing can be more important than educating fiduciaries in their critical responsibility in the protection of employee benefit plans," said AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon. "We're pleased with DOL Secretary Elaine L. Chao's efforts to raise awareness of this important small business issue. Many of our CPA members, including CPA/PFS (Personal Financial Specialist) credential holders, serve as trusted advisers to the small business owner and provide advice to investment committees of public and private companies."

The DOL program, called "Getting It Right--Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities," will provide employers and plan officials with an understanding of the law and the responsibilities which focus on steps to avoid the most common problems encountered in enforcement activities. Educational materials from the campaign will be featured on the fiduciary education Web site. The publications and information on the upcoming seminars are available by visiting www.dol.gov/ebsa or calling 866/444-EBSA (3272).

For the first seminar, the DOL, the AICPA and the Arizona Society of CPAs will present a seminar in Phoenix on Sept. 28 that will be open to the small business community. The seminar program will emphasize the obligation of plan sponsors and other fiduciaries to understand the terms of their plans, select and monitor service providers carefully, make timely contributions to fund benefits, avoid prohibited transactions, and make timely disclosures to workers, their beneficiaries and the government.

In a previous related effort, the AICPA partnered with the Foundation for Fiduciary Studies in the development of a handbook titled, Prudent Investment Practices: A Handbook for Investment Fiduciaries. It is designed to ensure prudent investment practices for the more than five million fiduciaries in the U.S. The handbook covers practices from federal and state legislation, regulatory opinion letters and relevant case law targeted to trustees and/or members of investment committees (visit www.ffstudies.org).

Also of note, the AICPA recently received a 2004 Award of Excellence from the American Society of Association Executives for another publication designed to help people with their finances, Disaster Recovery: A Guide to Financial Issues, and the corresponding pro bono program it developed. The guide was produced jointly by the AICPA, the AICPA Foundation and the National Endowment for Financial Education. More than 100.000 guides have been distributed by American Red Cross chapters around the country as a public service to people affected by disasters. In addition to the guide, the AICPA mobilized CPA volunteers across the U.S. to help educate the public about recovery steps to take following a disaster.
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Title Annotation:Department of Labor; American institute of certified public accountants
Publication:CPA Letter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Words:531
Previous Article:Chair's corner.
Next Article:DOL issues guidance on reporting delinquent participant contributions.
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