An Update from the DOL Regarding Employee Benefit Plan Audits

On January 22, 2016, the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center (EBPAQC) held its annual Designated Partner 2016 Audit Planning webinar.  The webinar included speakers from the DOL and the EBPAQC Executive Committee, who presented a variety of topics to be considered for the upcoming plan audits.

Ian Dingwall, Chief Accountant DOL Employee Benefits Security Administration, gave an update from the DOL, which centered on audit quality, cybersecurity and upcoming 5500 reform. 

Audit quality continues to be an extremely important initiative of the DOL. Mr. Dingwall outlined the plan for the review of 2014 employee benefit plan audits. The review will include approximately 200-300 plans done by firms with fewer than 100 employee benefit plan audits, 53 firms that audit between 100-200 plans and 4-6 firms performing more than 200 plan audits. In connection with improving audit quality, the DOL requested that the AICPA Auditing Standards Board enhance the transparency of the employee benefit plan audit report, which would include emphasis of matter paragraphs to communicate key audit matters, emphasize management’s responsibilities, provide information on compliance and internal control material weaknesses and significant deficiencies as well as identify the audit engagement partner and peer reviewer firm. 

The DOL is concerned about the vulnerability of electronic plan records to cyber-attacks.  The DOL suggested that plan administrators evaluate a plan’s cybersecurity governance as a part of their risk assessment, including their service providers and vendors.  Plan administrators should consider written information security policies, periodic audits to detect threats, period testing of backup and recovery plans as well as training policies to reinforce data security.

Lastly, the DOL is expected to release DOL regulatory agenda #1210-AB63 in early February 2016.  This initiative is anticipated to modernize and improve Form 5500 and enhance agencies’ (DOL, IRS and PBBC) ability to collect plan data.  If you have questions about your Form 5500 preparation, contact Schneider Downs for assistance and visit our Employee Benefit Plan services page to learn about the services that we offer.

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