September 12, 2006 – The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has published in the Federal Register a request for public comment on the issue of the independence of employee benefit plan, including retirement plan, accountants. The EBSA is considering amending the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) guidelines regarding the independence of accounts retained by employee benefit plans.
EBSA indicates in its request that it generally considers accountant independence to be of equal importance to the professional competence they bring to rendering opinions and issuing reports on financial statements of employee benefit plans. EBSA asks for comments on such questions as whether the guidelines on accountant independence issued by other agencies like the Securities Exchange Commission should be adopted by EBSA, whether EBSA should modify its earlier guidance on accountant independence, the extent to which providing non-audit services to a plan might impair accountant judgment, etc.
The EBSA request for comments document may be accessed as follows.