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FBO.gov is Moving to SAM.gov

September 26, 2019


Federal Business Opportunities (FBO.gov) will start transitioning to SAM.gov on November 8th. Before being decommissioned, FBO.gov functionalities will transition into beta.SAM.gov the first quarter of FY 2020. The new beta.Sam.gov is expected to have the same federal business opportunity capabilities that exist today as well as many additional improvements.

The process of building the beta.SAM.gov and developing the improvements was a collaborative effort between users and stakeholders. Enhancements to the new beta.SAM.gov include the ability to search for an opportunity that provides more precise results, ability to manage alerts and set up notices more efficiently, offering a more user-friendly design and offering options such as viewing previous versions with one click.

Many of the features and functions used in FBO.gov will have new names once they migrate to beta.SAM.gov.

These include:

  • Watchlist will become Follow
  • Search Agent will become Saved Search
  • Archived will become Inactive

For more information about the move to beta.SAM.gov, please visit the fact sheet at

https://www.gsa.gov/cdnstatic/FBO_Is_Transitioning_to_Beta_Factsheet_%281%29.pdfh

OFCCP Hires New Ombudsman and Launches Contractor Assistance Portal

August 28, 2019


The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced the appointment of Marcus Stergio to fill the Ombudsman roll in the agency’s national office. The same day, OFCCP also announced the launch of the Contractor Assistance Portal, an online help desk. OFCCP Director Craig Lean noted these two steps focused on OFCCP’s broader initiative to improve transparency and their compliance assistance activities.

Stergio brings a breadth of experience, having served as the primary administrator of the dispute resolution process for several multi-national organizations and institutes. His first order of business is to work to resolve disputes raised by contractors, in conjunction with regional and district OFCCP offices. As such, he will work to assure that OFCCP is treating stakeholders fairly and in a consistent manner, while providing an independent perspective and facilitating communication between external stakeholders and OFCCP.

The launch of the Contractor Assistance Portal is a move to provide contractors and stakeholders more access to compliance assistance resources. The portal is an online help desk that helps federal contractors with laws and regulations enforced by OFCCP. The Portal was created in coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Compliance Initiatives to allow users to ask questions freely and access valuable reference materials. 

OFCCP expects that contractors and stakeholders will find both the Ombudsman and the contractor assistance portal useful in assessing and implementing affirmative action compliance obligations.

Maryland Bill Takes Effect; Payment of Employee Healthcare Expenses

August 21, 2019


Contractors and subcontractors bidding on Maryland state construction projects should be aware of the new “Responsible Payment of Employee Health Care Expenses” law which took effect July 1, 2019.  The bill requires that all bidders, contractors, or subcontractors on a State-funded construction project to pay certain employee health care expenses.

“Employee health care expenses” are any costs for health care services, as defined by the bill unless the employee has coverage under another plan. State contractors will need to certify that they pay aggregate employee health care expenses of at least 5% of the wages; or that the employer pays 50% or more of the required premium necessary to obtain coverage by a credible health insurance plan. The certification process is less stringent before July 1, 2020.

The change does not apply to small businesses with fewer than 30 employees as well as minority business enterprises.

Employers Should Prepare for A Final Overtime Rule

August 1, 2019


Under the new leadership of Acting Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella, the Department of Labor (DOL) is expected to move quickly on the final overtime rule. Understanding that once 2020 arrives all focus will turn to the elections, Pizzella has spoken of his commitment to focusing on what the department can realistically achieve during the remainder of this term.

Earlier this year, the DOL published a proposed rule that would make nearly a million more workers eligible to receive overtime pay. According to a Labor Department official, the final overtime rule is anticipated sometime between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

Under the current rule, employees subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act with a salary of less than $23,660 per year ($455 per week) are entitled to overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. Employers should pay particular attention to the final overtime rule as the DOL had proposed raising the salary threshold to $35,308 per year ($679 per week).

The proposed rule is a compromise between the current $23,660 threshold and the $47,476 cutoff that was adopted by President Barack Obama’s administration in 2016 but which later was blocked.

Though there is still time before the proposed overtime rule is expected to go into effect, employers should review current policies.

U.S. DOL Announces SCA Fringe Rate Changes

July 18, 2019


The prevailing health & welfare fringe benefits issued under the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA) awarded before July 5, 2019 with Option Years on or after July 5, 2019 will utilize the new fringe rate of $4.54 per hour.

Additional SCA Health & Welfare Fringe Benefit Rate Information

All service contracts that contain paid sick leave (EO 13706) will utilize the lower fringe rate of $4.22 SCA health & welfare benefit rate.

For more information: Click Here To Read The Full Memo

DOL Secretary Acosta Resigns; Pizzella To Serve As Acting Secretary

July 12, 2019


After much scrutiny for his handling of a plea deal for the New York financier Jeffrey E. Epstein, Labor Secretary Acosta is stepping down. With pressure from both pollical parties to resign, Acosta announced his resignation which will take effect in one week; leaving the current labor Deputy Secretary Patrick Pizzella as acting secretary until the President names a permanent replacement. 

Trouble arose for Acosta when Federal prosecutors recently unveiled new charges of sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy against Epstein. Acosta was a U.S. prosecutor in Florida when Epstein received a plea deal to avoid significant jail time.

Considered by many as being more aggressively pro-business than Acosta, Pizzella is anticipated to move more quickly than his predecessor to reverse Obama-era regulations that trouble businesses. President Trump nominated Pizzella and was sworn into office by Acosta in April 2018, before which Pizzella served as a Member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), after being nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to that post in 2013.

Pizzella has a long history of federal service holding positions at the Federal Housing Finance Board, Department of Education, Office of Personnel Management, Small Business Administration, and the General Services Administration.

Employer’s Fiduciary Responsibility Relating to Group Health Plans

July 12, 2019


The Employee Retirement and Income Security Act (ERISA) sets out specific employer responsibilities (fiduciary responsibilities) relating to the establishment and operation of a Group Health Plan. These fiduciary responsibilities include:

  • Acting solely in the interests of the plan participants and their beneficiaries
  • Carrying out duties prudently
  • Following plan documents unless contradicted by ERISA
  • Holding plan assets (if the plan has any) in trust
  • Paying only reasonable plan expenses

Employers may want to hire a firm, such as a 3rd Party Administrator, who is experienced in ERISA legislation and Plan operation, to help them comply with their responsibilities. The process of hiring an outside firm to help employers with their fiduciary responsibilities is not a process to be taken lightly. Employers must utilize diligence when hiring a firm to partner with regarding fiduciary oversight.

First off, the employer must ensure fees relating to the plan are reasonable. Next, the employer must verify that the partnering firm is capable of performing the services which it was engaged to perform and is knowledgeable in ERISA and other legislation which may impact Plan operation.

When choosing an outside firm, employers need to thoroughly document every step in the engagement process. Documenting the process helps ensure that it was fair, open, and honest. An employer’s diligence and documentation of the hiring process, including rationale for decision making, could be key if later challenged by individuals or entities such as the Department of Labor.

During the interview process, provide prospective firms with the same Scope of Work and ask them the same questions. This process should provide you with enough information to make an informed decision as to who would be the best firm for the employer to partner with.

FBG Statement Regarding Recent Litigation With FCE Benefits

May 3, 2018


Fringe Benefit Group, Inc. (“FBG”), an industry leader in the design, implementation, and administration of health and retirement plans for government contractors, has provided working Americans with valuable benefits for more than 30 years. As a result of FBG’s business success, competitors will occasionally make false claims against FBG in an attempt to discredit the company or steal FBG’s customers.

In 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas ordered a competitor to stop deceptive marketing and copyright infringement against FBG. The judge found that the competitor violated the Lanham Act, Copyright Act, and engaged in unfair competition against FBG.

Recently, FBG became aware that another competitor has engaged in a campaign to mislead FBG customers by distributing untruthful information about FBG. In response to this competitor’s repeated attempts to discredit FBG and the services it provides to its customers, FBG has filed suit against FCE Benefits Administrators, Inc. (“FCE Benefits”) and Chris Porter, the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for FCE Benefits.

FBG’s CEO Travis West stated, “From time to time, a competitor will cross the line and attempt to malign our corporate reputation. We have been made aware that FCE Benefits is spreading untruthful information about us in the marketplace. We cannot and will not tolerate these unscrupulous business practices, which is why we have filed suit against them. We will aggressively defend our business against FCE Benefits’ false claims and have taken legal action against FCE Benefits to protect our reputation and to comfort our customers, who have received untruthful information from FCE Benefits. We are very proud of the services we provide to government contractors and the working Americans they employ. Thousands of working Americans are now able to access health insurance for themselves and their families – and build retirement savings accounts – as a result of the plans we offer. We believe that that the court will compel FCE Benefits to stop its deceptive marketing practices, just as the court previously stopped another competitor.”

Complaint Filed

Information Regarding Recent Litigation Involving Fringe Benefit Group

March 20, 2018


In July of 2017, Fringe Benefit Group, Inc. was sued alleging that The Contractors Retirement Trust and The Contractors Plan Trust charge excessive fees for the administrative services it provides to our valued customers. The lawsuit has no merit and was dismissed by the court on November 7, 2017. The court gave the plaintiffs a short window to re-file their lawsuit, which they did on December 4, 2017. After review of this amended filing, we continue to believe the lawsuit is without merit and filed a motion to dismiss this amended complaint on January 15, 2018.

The suit was filed by three employees of one of our clients. Our client, their employer, is not a party to the litigation. The allegations in the lawsuit reflect a lack of understanding of the administrative services we provide and the compliance assistance that we offer our employers. The language in the complaint is not supported by any market data. We deny these allegations and are vigorously defending this matter.

Plaintiff class action lawsuits alleging excessive fees have become common in the ERISA litigation landscape. Most of these actions have not been successful. Many have been settled for a small fraction of the demanded amount to make the lawsuit go away and not because the defendant companies or financial institutions believed the lawsuits had any merit.

Since 1983, Fringe Benefit Group, Inc. has provided a turnkey arrangement to assist employers subject to prevailing wage laws. We believe that we offer the highest quality services to close to 2,000 employers that have sponsored plans through The Contractors Plan. The allegations in the recent complaint distort the fees, services and value we provide and are baseless.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions. If you would like to review the related documents and filings, please feel free to click on the links below.

Complaint Filed

Motion to Dismiss

Order Granting Motion to Dismiss

Amended Complaint

Motion to Dismiss- Amended Complaint

Top-Rated Funds Added To Fringe Benefit Group’s Retirement Program, The Contractors Plan

November 1, 2017


AUSTIN, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Fringe Benefit Group, Inc., an industry leader in the design, implementation and administration of benefit plans for hourly workers, today announced the expansion of the retirement plan investment options available to The Contractors Plan customers. In addition to Vanguard, the target-date fund investment options now include American Funds, BlackRock, Inc., and T. Rowe Price. The inclusion of these additional top-rated target date funds provides more investment choices to The Contractors Plan participants as they prepare for retirement.

Offering retirement and health plan products from the nation’s leading carriers, Fringe Benefit Group is known for its full-service suite of tools and services that greatly reduce the administrative burden for contractor employers. The Contractors Plan is Fringe Benefit Group’s prevailing wage benefit program, which helps government contractors bid more effectively on public projects while complying with government regulations.

Numerous studies have shown that Americans are at risk for having inadequate retirement savings. The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)’s 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey found that only 18% of workers felt very confident they will be able to afford a comfortable retirement. Companies performing prevailing wage work, such as jobs subject to the Davis-Bacon Act and Service Contract Act, state prevailing wage laws, and living and responsible wage ordinances, are able to help their workers save for retirement by using the fringe portion of the prevailing wage as it was intended, to provide bona fide benefits such as retirement plans.

“We are continually looking to evaluate, evolve, and expand the products and services offered by The Contractors Plan. We know the value we can provide by helping employees save towards their retirement, and the addition of these highly rated and strong performing investments to the portfolio has been very well received by our customers,” said Jenny Pagano, vice president of Retirement Products and Services at Fringe Benefit Group.

Pentegra Trust Company, the discretionary trustee for The Contractors Plan Master Trust, provides ERISA Section 403(a) investment fiduciary services for the plans that participate in the Master Trust, including selection and monitoring of the investment funds made available to The Contractors Plan retirement plan participants.

Working with a Third-Party Administrator (TPA) experienced in prevailing wage administration not only benefits prevailing wage workers, but can also help employers identify opportunities to increase the amounts that owners, key employees, and non-prevailing wage workers can contribute to their retirement accounts.

About Fringe Benefit Group

Fringe Benefit Group has designed and administered programs that simplify the benefits process for employers with hourly workers since 1983. Through its nationwide network of more than 600 independent brokers and agents, Fringe Benefit Group offers products from the industry’s leading carriers and is recognized for its full-service suite of tools and services designed specifically for employers with hourly and part-time workers. For more information, visit www.fbg.comwww.thecontractorsplan.com or www.theamericanworker.com.