Re: File S7-10-03
I am writing to commend the SEC for its initiative in reviewing the rules for proxy voting. My name is Olena Berg Lacy and I served as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration from 1993 to 1998. The PWBA is responsible for the enforcement of ERISA, the law that governs private, employer-provided pension plans. One of the most important initiatives undertaken by the agency during my tenure was an interpretive bulletin that laid out the responsibilities of pension plan fiduciaries with respect to proxy voting, The bulletin holds that the proxy is an asset of the plan and must be managed for the long term interest of the plan's participants. Plan fiduciaries have the legal obligation to manage (vote) proxies accordingly.
Clearly, it is vitally important that the process for proxy voting facilitate rather than impede the ability of plan fiduciaries to meet this legal obligation. The SEC review of proxy voting rules should have as its goal the enhancement of the ability of all shareholders-including pension plan fiduciaries-to fully exercise their rights and responsibilities as owners of corporate equities.