DOL Takes Next Step on ‘Road to Retirement Savings’

The Labor Department is planning to undertake a long-term research study that will track U.S. households over several years “in order to collect data and answer important research questions on how retirement planning strategies and decisions evolve over time.”

The Labor Department has submitted for Office of Management and Budget review an information collection request titled, “On the Road to Retirement Savings.” It’s the next step in the initiative unveiled more than a year ago. In last week’s filing in the Federal Register, the project involves an investigation to “…explore a set of research questions on retirement savings, investment, and drawdown behavior by conducting a study that tracks retirees and future retirees over an extended period.”

The Labor Department notes that “relatively little is known about how people make planning and financial decisions before and during retirement,” and that “a major hurdle to retirement research is the lack of data on how people make these decisions related to retirement.” Gaining insight into Americans’ decision-making processes and experiences will provide policy-makers and the research community with valuable information that can be used to guide future policy and research.

Response Requests

In its request, the Labor Department says that responses to survey questions on retirement planning and financial advising will be compared to data extracted from submitted documents to assess how well observed financial outcomes match up to household reports of such items as contributions and investment allocations. It notes that the data on observed outcomes will be combined with survey responses on planning methods and strategies to perform a cross-sectional analysis, conditional on other respondent attributes, and that multiple waves of data drawn from various surveys will be utilized to analyze how behavior evolves over time.

The ICR seeks approval for pre-test surveys, a screening survey, an initial participant survey, an advice interaction survey, and an annual participant survey. Household reports on behavior and outcomes will be combined with survey responses on planning methods, strategies and financial information received to perform a cross-sectional analysis, conditional on other respondent attributes.

Interested parties are encouraged to send comments to the OMB, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the address shown in the ADDRESSES section within 30 days of publication of the notice in the Federal Register. In order to help ensure appropriate consideration, comments should mention OMB ICR Reference Number 201412-1210-007.

The OMB says it will consider all written comments that agency receives on or before May 30, 2017, and that it is “particularly interested” in comments that:

  • evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;
  • evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  • enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

Add Your Comments


  1. Posted May 1, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Perhaps we should go straight to the real issues behind inadequate retirement savings:
    1. A bifurcated economy which massively rewards being rewarded, i.e. where every advantage is granted to the already advantaged, from civil law to tax regulations.
    2. Complete disconnect of income from production of value in the economy; productivity has skyrocketed, compensation is flat.
    3. Meritless amassing of power and wealth
    These trends are so pervasive, powerful and gigantic that the average American has no recourse against them.

  2. David J. Kupstas
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I’d ask if this should be within the purview of the DOL. When I think of a country needing a “Department of Labor,” I’d think they’d be more interested in preventing sweatshops, promoting workplace safety, maybe preventing employer theft from qualified plans. Why on earth are they horning in on people’s private financial lives?

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