Vangent to upgrade Labor pension-filing system

Originally posted at 10:11AM March 28; updated at 1:10PM April 7

(UPDATED) For the past 10 years, Vangent has been collecting information on employee benefits for more than 600,000 companies, albeit under a few different names.

The Arlington company recently won the next version of the Labor Department contract: a 12-year, $94 million deal to design and build an electronic filing system.

Vangent expects to have the secure Web site operational in about two years. The goal is to help the Labor Department process information on about $6 trillion in benefits plans for 150 million employees and their dependents more efficiently than it could with paper-based filings.

As part of its work, the company will continue to operate the department's help line to answer employers' questions about the filings, which are required under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, designed to protect workers' pensions and benefit plans.

Vangent will continue to scan the paper-based reports into digital format for government auditing until the secure portal is activated, said Vangent chief executive Mac Curtis.

For now, Vangent employees have to go through the filings to make sure companies fill in all the proper information. "A lot of what we do now is data verification and validation for each submission. It's a time-consuming and costly operation," Curtis said.

Under the law, all companies with at least 50 employees must file annual reports on the status of their pension and benefits plans, including the number of participants, retirees and beneficiaries. They must also report their fund balances each January and December so government auditors can see whether the funds are managed properly, Curtis said.

The Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which insures the pensions of 44 million Americans, also review companies' submissions. After a satisfactory review, companies can report the audit findings to their employees.

Labor awarded the first contract for the ERISA Filing Acceptance System, or EFAST, to Vangent's predecessor, National Computer Systems, in 1998.

The next-generation system that Vangent is building, EFAST 2, will save the government money by reducing manual operations and speeding delivery of the data to the various agencies, Curtis said.

With $15 million as a development installment, Vangent has assigned as many as 60 employees to design the secure Web portal. "It's a 21-month development cycle, and then we'll help run the system over the next 10 years," Curtis said.

Vangent's predecessor, NCS, later became Pearson Government Solutions. Veritas Capital, a private-equity firm in New York, purchased Pearson last year for $600 million and renamed the company Vangent.

The private company has 6,100 employees worldwide and reported revenue of more than $500 million in 2007.

Vangent ranks No. 39 on Washington Technology's 2007 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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