Public Pension Reporting and Disclosure: The Dark Side

In a continuing effort to forestall having public pension plans file 5500 forms that would allow for relevant disclosures and honest comparisons the CSLGE and NASRA jointly released a paper on how well the current patchwork system of governments reporting on themselves is working by cherry-picking examples from five systems:

  • California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)
  • Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI)
  • Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MainePERS)
  • South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA)
  • Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS)

New Jersey (with that 37.5% funded ratio) was not one of the systems picked and, when comparing the commendable features listed for those five systems to what New Jersey does, for good reason.

The CalSTRS board seeks to be as transparent as possible to establish trust and accountability. All board meetings are webcast and can be viewed live or later on the CalSTRS’ website video archive. Likewise, board agendas, supporting materials, and minutes are available on the website. (page 7)

New Jersey gives you propaganda (mostly about how great alternative investments are).

Though board members are appointed and confirmed by elected officials, proud hallmarks of the board are its nonpartisan nature and the dedication and expertise of its members. For example, PERSI’s board chairman is a Democrat and has been appointed by multiple Republican governors. The chairman leads from the philosophy that high levels of financial transparency build trust with stakeholders and from that trust comes greater autonomy and acceptance of decisions. Thus, the board sets a correspondingly high standard for staff regarding the system’s financial reporting practices. In fact, one of his first goals when appointed as chairman of the board was for PERSI to become the “the most audited agency in state government.” (page 11)

In New Jersey the governor lets his high school friend run the investments for Wall Street’s benefit.

The media regularly contacts and follows PEBA and the SCRS, and should be considered a stakeholder in regards to communication. PEBA recognizes the importance of being forthright with the media when it comes to the policies and financial condition of SCRS and would much rather be the source of information, to better ensure accuracy, than have reporters go elsewhere. To that end, staff have produced resources specifically to assist the media in their reporting. (page 20).

In New Jersey we have:


PEBA demonstrates that leaders can shape organizational culture through training, standards, and example (page 20).

See above.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by NY on April 25, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    What a fusion…both depressing and entertaining…thank you John


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