Labor seeks input on electronic filing upgrade

The Labor Department plans to upgrade its electronic filing system for annual reports on employee benefit plans and is asking for comments. The department receives about 1.4 million annual reports each year.

The department's Employee Benefits Security Administration wants to upgrade its ERISA Filing Acceptance System (EFAST) with Web-based technologies that were not available when the five-year-old system was built. The improvements will make the filing process more cost effective and efficient, according to a department statement.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act requires employee benefit plans to report annually on their financial condition and operations.

The upgraded system will be called EFAST2, according to the department.

The department has published a request for comment seeking public input on issues related to:

? Completing and filing annual reports electronically via a departmental Web site:

? If electronic filing should be mandatory

? If filing fees should be charged

? Simplifying the electronic signature and authentication procedure

? Developing data specifications for accepting filings via the Internet

? Improving the handling of third-party attachments

? Consistency in treatment of paper and electronic filings

? Requiring each plan filing annual reports to obtain a unique Employer Identification Number

? Web-based distribution of annual reports.

The request for comment is available at www.dol.gov/ebsa and www.efast.dol.gov. Written comments are due by April 5 at EFAST2@dol.gov or can be addressed to the EFAST Program Office at the Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Room N 5459, Washington, DC, 20210.

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