Public Sector Pension Governance in the United States: Up to the Task?
9 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2008
Date Written: October 1, 2008
Growing interest in public sector pension plans is rooted in the common stake all citizens have in the cost, operation, performance and viability of these plans. In addition to these public finance issues, the management and oversight of public pension plans provides an interesting study in the effectiveness of Board structures in guiding and monitoring plan operations because of the representative and open nature of these plans. This article reviews Board of Trustee structures prevalent in public sector pension plans in the United States, and investigates whether the type of Board structure impacts investment and funding policy decisions. The sample includes plans that range in size, scope and type of public sponsor, and does not rely upon preexisting databases or voluntary participation in surveys. As such, this article presents a broad view of plan Trustees, avoiding the problems of self-selection inherent in survey studies. The results point to two important conclusions. First, no direct relationship could be established between Board composition and characteristics, and investment returns. Second, some Board characteristics appear to affect funding levels, a broader measure of plan performance.
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