DOL outreach by email


The U.S. Department of Labor is expanding efforts to use technology to reach plan sponsors and other constituents to get its message out.  On November 19th, the Department did an educational email blast to many sponsors of employee benefit plans that require audits, on the hot topic of audit quality and picking a qualified CPA firm to perform this vital service.  In their email, they referred to their study on audit quality, released in May of this year, as well as providing links to resources sponsors can use to assist them in hiring qualified firms.  Their clear goal is to improve audit quality by getting sponsors to focus on hiring auditors with expertise in this specialized area.


This broad-based email follows targeted emails to plan sponsors that filed Form 5500 this year without an audit report attached.  These messages were sent out in the week following the October 15th filing deadline for calendar year end plans to those filers that omitted the audit report.  Although they did not start the “45-day period” for rejection of the 5500, they did contain case numbers, indicating a case has been opened, and are the promptest response the Department has ever made on deficient filings.  We believe they are hoping this early contact will inspire sponsors to complete (amend and attach an acceptable audit report with opinion) their 5500 filings in an expedited manner, which of course we strongly advise to avoid potential penalty exposure.


Both of these emails are new this year, but early indicators are that we can expect to see the DOL increase its use of email communication to reach out to constituents.   Formal notices (for example those that start the tolling of a statutory time period) will continue to be in writing and delivered by snail mail.

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