The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is still hoping to redefine what constitutes a fiduciary and also set limits (or eliminate) compensation for those in different fiduciary advisory capacities.

The agency calls the redefinition of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) one of its "most important regulatory projects," which it hopes to conclude in "the first half of 2012."

In late 2011, under financial services industry pressure, EBSA withdrew its first effort at a new definition. Then, on Dec. 15, 2011, the administration sent out letters to industry trade groups seeking "voluntary assistance" in the task. Specifically, the letter sought input on applying a fiduciary standard to IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts).

“We are working to complete our cost-benefit analysis and re-issue the rule as soon as possible,” a spokesperson said. “We want to take the time to get this rule right, and we are working diligently to do exactly that.”

In the recent budget authorized by Congress for the Department of Labor (DOL), of which EBSA is part, language therein made it clear that DOL was not to spend any money on redefining fiduciary. What effect this will have on EBSA and its effort is not clear.