Press Releases – 2013

SOA Forms Blue Ribbon Panel to Explore Causes of Underfunding in Public Pension Plans

To help further the dialogue on issues related to public pension plans, the Society of Actuaries has commissioned a multidisciplinary blue ribbon panel to consider the causes of underfunding in public pension plans and make recommendations as to how governments can more securely fund plans going forward.

The panel, which began its work this week, is charged to:

  • Determine the causes, at a high level, of plan underfunding by considering how past decisions about benefit design, funding and investing have led to widespread and persistent underfunding of public sector plans.
  • Develop recommendations for plan trustees, legislators and plan advisors on how to improve plan management and strengthen plan funding going forward. To do this, the panel will explore ways advisors can help trustees and others make better decisions about plan funding, benefit design, and investments. Additionally, the panel will consider what information is needed for unions, taxpayers, elected officials and other stakeholders to aid their understanding and decision making.

The panel is also asked to identify the best use of actuarial methods and assumptions in funding plans and address how the profession can best support actuaries (through education, research, and professional standards) in their work with public sector pension plans.

According to Tonya B. Manning, SOA President, the panel members bring a diverse set of backgrounds and expertise. “The panel includes actuaries, economists and government experts who, I am confident, will be able to provide thoughtful insight and recommendations,” she said. She said that the panel will seek input from public plan actuaries and other key constituencies over the course of its work. She noted that this effort only concerns U.S. public pension plans.

The panel has been asked to produce a draft report by the end of 2013.

Members of the panel are:

  • Chair: Bob Stein, FSA, MAAA, Retired, Ernst & Young
  • Co-Vice Chair: Andrew Biggs, American Enterprise Institute
  • Co-Vice Chair: Douglas Elliott, Brookings Institution
  • Bradley Belt, Palisades Capital Management, former executive director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
  • David Crane, Stanford University, former advisor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, CA
  • Malcolm Hamilton, FSA, FCIA, Retired, Mercer, senior Fellow, C. D. Howe Institute
  • Laurence Msall, The Civic Federation (Illinois)
  • Mike Musuraca, Blue Wolf Capital Partners, former trustee of the NYC Employees Retirement Systems-NYCERS and formerly of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
  • Bob North, FSA, EA, MAAA, FCA, FSPA, New York City Office of the Actuary
  • Richard Ravitch, Co-chair, State Budget Crisis Task Force, formerly Lt. Governor of New York
  • Larry Zimpleman, FSA, MAAA, Principal Financial Group