Plans to create “retirement bonds” to encourage savings by risk-averse Americans not enrolled in company-sponsored pension programs are on the front burner of the Treasury Department, Treasury Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary (Tax Policy) for Retirement and Health Policy Mark Iwry said.

They would have the tax characteristics of an IRA and be eligible to be rolled over into an IRA once the savings reach a now-unspecified threshold.

Iwry said last week that the bonds would be aimed at workers at companies that don’t sponsor retirement programs of any kind, part-time employees not eligible for plans their companies sponsor, and the self-employed or not employed.

With the bonds, an employee could have an automatic payroll deduction to make contributions.

These bonds would not be designed to compete with company savings plans.

The Treasury official said the bond program would not require Congressional authorization to begin.

Iwry spoke at the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement annual symposium in Washington, D.C.

While not mentioning the bonds, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told the symposium that the lack of savings in one of the target groups, part-time workers, for bonds is a major retirement problem in this country.