GLOBAL – The Government Accountability Office, the US Congress’s investigative arm, is putting together a plan on how to look at potential conflicts of interest in the pension consulting industry.

The move is in response to a request from Democratic representatives Ed Markey and George Miller.

“We have talked with your staff concerning your request for a GAO study on how pension consultant conflicts of interest and undisclosed financial arrangement may have adversely affect the solvency of some pension plans,” said GAO director of income security issues Barbara Bovbjerg in a letter dated February 17 and seen by IPE.

The overall objective will be to provide “information on the potential conflicts of interest that may exist in pension fund asset management” and how it may affect solvency.

It would also determine which agencies are responsible for overseeing and investigating potential conflicts and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.’s role.

The design phase of the work has begun and is expected to be completed by the end of May. A projected completion date for the entire project should be provided at the same time.

Earlier this month the Department of Labor said it was investigating pension consultants following an earlier probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission.