The Department of Labor is updating its ERISA advisory council for 2015 with five new members representing advisers, employers, employees and other industry stakeholders.

The 15-member council provides advice on policies and regulations affecting employee benefit plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

See related story: DOL investigating outsourcing of employee benefit plan services

DOL Secretary Thomas Perez on Monday announced the appointment of five new members to the 2015 Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans. He also announced the incoming chair and vice chair of the council.

Current member Paul Secunda, a professor of law and director of the labor and employment program at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wis., will serve as the 2015 chair. Mark Schmidtke, a shareholder with the law firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart in Valparaiso, Ind., will assume the  vice chair position.

By law, members of the council serve for staggered three-year terms. Three members of the advisory council are representatives of employee organizations, at least one of whom represents an organization whose members are participants in a multiemployer plan. Three members are representatives of employers, at least one of whom represents employers maintaining or contributing to multiemployer plans. Three members are representatives of the general public and there is one representative each from the fields of insurance, corporate trust, actuarial counseling, investment counseling, investment management and accounting.

The newly appointed members and the expertise they represent are:

-      Elizabeth Ysla Leight is director of government relations and legal affairs at the Society of Professional Benefit Administrators in Chevy Chase, Md. She writes and conducts training workshops on employee benefits compliance and regulatory policy on employee benefits. She also serves in the leadership of the American Bar Association's Welfare Benefits Committee. She will represent the general republic.

 -      Jeffrey Stein is general counsel to 22 Taft-Hartley funds and related organizations serving over 400,000 members of 1199SEIU United Health Care Workers East, in New York City. The self-insured and self-administered funds include three multiemployer defined benefit pension funds, the largest of which has $9.5 billion in assets. He will represent employee organizations on the council.

-      Jennifer Kamp Tretheway of Chicago recently retired after 39 years as a trust company executive with Northern Trust. Most recently, she served as senior vice president and managing director of investment program solutions. Tretheway managed client service for institutional tax exempt clients and has experience with outsourcing, overseeing other managers, developing emerging/minority managers and supervising compliance with ERISA regulatory issues. She will serve as the corporate trust representative.

-      Deborah Tully is the senior director of compensation and benefits finance and accounting analysis at Raytheon Co. in Waltham, Mass. She manages the accounting funding and forward pricing for Raytheon's benefit plans, including pensions, medical, stock compensation, workers compensation, disability and life insurance. She will represent employers on the council.

-      Rennie Worsfold is a vice president at Financial Engines in Boston. He oversees distribution of participant advisory services for defined contribution plans to employers, plan providers and financial institutions. He will serve on the advisory council as the investment management representative.

"These new members bring invaluable skills and experiences to the council, and will provide guidance and support to further the council's critical mission,” says Perez.

Investigations

The advisory council is currently investigating the outsourcing of employee benefit plan services, including its legal framework under ERISA.

For both plan sponsors and outsourcing service providers, a key question the ERISA Advisory Council is investigating is the allocation of legal responsibilities and risk for activities of the service provider on behalf of the plan, including both responsibilities imposed by ERISA itself as well as responsibilities allocated and risks assumed by contract.

As part of its 2014 issue agenda, the ERISA Advisory Council has also been investigating issues and considerations around facilitating lifetime plan participation and pharmacy benefit manager compensation and fee disclosure.

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