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The wealth of information available from the U.S. government is quite astonishing — and growing every day. The problem often is how to make the data available to people who want and need it. For example, under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service collect information annually from companies about their pension plans on Form 5500. These forms can be invaluable to employees or retirees who want to check on the provisions of a plan or its soundness; to benefits administrators who want to set up or change a plan; and to lawyers who need to use information in litigation or to help clients with pension issues. Now the Form 5500 data is easy to obtain on a fairly basic, user-friendly Web site, www.freeERISA.com, run by Judy Diamond Associates, a D.C.-based publishing company that specializes in pensions. It’s free to the user, requiring only a simple login and password; the site plans to rely on advertising to make a profit.

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