“EBSA regional offices conduct investigations of retirement and health plans to detect and correct violations of Title I of ERISA and related criminal laws. EBSA investigators identified 4,273 violations in the 1,411 investigations closed in fiscal year 2020. This included 3,776 retirement plan violations from 1,056 closed investigations and 377 health plan violations from 288 closed investigations.”

 Enforcement Efforts to Protect Participants’ Rights in Employer-Sponsored Retirement and Health Benefit Plans (May 2021)

How are benefit plans selected for investigation? In a recent GAO report on EBSA activities, it appears that investigations typically originate with plan participant contact with the agency, review of Form 5500’s and monitoring of media, including judicial case filings.

“EBSA officials said investigators in the regional offices may identify compliance issues by reviewing Form 5500 data. Examples of potential compliance issues described in EBSA’s enforcement manual include inadequate diversification of investments or contributions to retirement plans not made in a timely fashion. Investigators also track sources, such as bankruptcy filings, media reports, private litigation, and information from industry data compilers to identify potential violations for investigation.”