EO Almanac: A New Tool for Exploring the World of Employee Ownership

By Damien Vira

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I am pleased to announce the launch of the EO Almanac (www.eoalmanac.org) on Monday, June 19. The EO Almanac (EOA) is a free web-based visualization tool and research database shedding light on the data behind retirement plans—with just a few mouse clicks, anyone can explore and find insights from more than 3 million defined contribution plans. The primary source of our data is the Private Pension Plan (PPP) Research Files published by the Department of Labor and originally reported on IRS Form 5500.

However, the EOA is much more than a traditional database project. The application was designed from the ground up with visualizations in mind. Unlike traditional statistical reports, visualizations are intuitive and they resonate, which makes them more memorable. The more than 400 variables in the DOL PPP files along with the over 3 million rows of plan data represent an information ocean. With an additional release of data for nearly 700,000 plans every year, even a Herculean effort to digest it all would fall short. The exponential rise in the quality and value of data increase the importance of ways to efficiently understand it.

The data available is not only incredibly rich, but also just as nuanced. It needs to be made available to everyone, shared, and explored. Any user can create their own visualizations, download the data, graphs, and charts. There also is a special ESOP and ESOP-like plan search page. The transparency of the data afforded by the EOA will only enhance the promotion of ESOPs and the value of employee ownership. The ability to find and visualize insights is incredibly useful for non-profits, policy makers, industry professionals, ESOP companies, researchers and educators, and many others.

A sample of some of the variables that can be explored or grouped include:

  • Plan type
  • Year
  • Participant buckets
  • Industry
  • State
  • Percent of assets invested in employer securities

And a few of the calculations the tool affords include:

  • Number of plans
  • Active participants
  • Net assets
  • Account balances
  • Distributions
  • Contributions

The EO Almanac would not have been possible without the support from various members within the EO community. Foremost, our team would like to give special thanks to the ESOP Foundation for recognizing the potential of the tool and providing the initial funding for launching it into the world. We hope you visit our site on Monday June 19!

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