ERISA gurus Fred Reish, Bruce Ashton and Brad Campbell of Drinker Biddle are asking the Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration to create a "corrections program" for service providers complying with DOL's fee disclosure rules under 408(b)(2).

Why do service providers need a correction program? Reish, along with Ashton and Campbell, former head of EBSA, told current EBSA head Phyllis Borzi in a letter Tuesday that even "well-intentioned service providers can easily make compliance mistakes, and some service providers likely have failed to make the required disclosures on time."

The new 408(b)(2) service provider disclosure rules affect about 750,000 retirement plans covering more than 125 million Americans, the Drinker Biddle team says, and "violations, even if technical failures of little practical significance, result in a prohibited transaction, an outcome that can subject the service provider to returning some or all of its fees, paying an excise tax, and possibly other penalties." While the rule has a narrow error correction provision for service providers, the three lawyers say that their "experience is that it likely will not cover many common errors, even ones that could be minor technicalities."

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Melanie Waddell

Melanie is senior editor and Washington bureau chief of ThinkAdvisor. Her ThinkAdvisor coverage zeros in on how politics, policy, legislation and regulations affect the investment advisory space. Melanie’s coverage has been cited in various lawmakers’ reports, letters and bills, and in the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule in 2023. In 2019, Melanie received an Honorable Mention, Range of Work by a Single Author award from @Folio. Melanie joined Investment Advisor magazine as New York bureau chief in 2000. She has been a columnist since 2002. She started her career in Washington in 1994, covering financial issues at American Banker. Since 1997, Melanie has been covering investment-related issues, holding senior editorial positions at American Banker publications in both Washington and New York. Briefly, she was content chief for Internet Capital Group’s EFinancialWorld in New York and wrote freelance articles for Institutional Investor. Melanie holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Towson University. She interned at The Baltimore Sun and its suburban edition.