NCPERS Expands List of Think Tanks that Undercut Pensions

28 Organizations Take Positions That Put Them At Odds with Defined-Benefit Plans

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The National Conference of Public Employee Retirement Systems has added four think tanks to its list of research and policy organizations that take biased and unreasonable positions that undercut the interests of public pension plan participants and beneficiaries.

The list of 28 policy and research organizations, known as Schedule A, is part of the NCPERS Code of Conduct for Public Pension Service Providers, which was unveiled in May 2015. The Code of Conduct was designed to help pension plan fiduciaries and managers to articulate strong, consistent ethical expectations for service providers.

The newest additions to Schedule A are the Independent Institute, Washington, D.C.; the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Midland, Mich.; the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Arlington, Va.; and the Nelson Rockefeller Institute on Government, Albany, N.Y. Under the Code of Conduct, NCPERS urges its corporate members to disclose whether they contribute to these or other Schedule A organizations.

“Public pension plan directors and trustees have a duty to act in the interest of participants and beneficiaries,” said Hank H. Kim, Esq., executive director and counsel of NCPERS.

“We have put together this list as an aid to transparency. Pension funds are naturally leery of paying fees to service providers that support organizations that intentionally undermine public pensions, and can use our list to identify potential conflicts.”

Screening for practices that could harm pension participants and beneficiaries is good governance and central to being a good fiduciary, Kim added. The goal is for public plans to use the list to open up a dialogue with their service providers.

Schedule A identifies research and policy organizations that:
    •    Advocate or advance the claim that public defined-benefit plans are unsustainable.
    •    Advocate for a defined-contribution plan to replace a public defined-benefit plan.
    •    Advocate for a poorly designed cash-balance plan to replace a defined-benefit plan.
    •    Advocate for a poorly designed combination plan to replace the public defined-benefit plan.
    •    Link school performance evaluations to whether a defined-benefit plan is available to teachers and school employees.