Audit: Indiana Fund Still Beset With Problems

May 31, 2005 ( - The Indiana Public Employees Retirement Fund (PERF), rocked several years ago by a series of scandals that put three former workers in jail, still has more than its share of operational problems, according to a new report.

All in all, Indiana state auditors found 30 major accountability problems in the $12-billion fund, including the fact that some disabled state workers have been underpaid by the fund, other retirees are getting incorrect monthly pension checks, and some of the pension fund’s checking accounts aren’t balanced, the Indianapolis Star reported.

According to the Star, many of the issues have been flagged for the seventh year in a row (See  Audit Finds 23 ‘Significant’ Problems at PERF ). New executive director David Adams said he can’t promise to fix all 30 problems right away, but pledged to make progress in tightening accountability and improving customer service.

“I view these as very serious,” Adams told the newspaper; “Until now, we’ve been trying to treat the symptoms. Now we’re going to go after the root cause.”   Adams was hired by Governor Mitch Daniels in March to oversee a pension fund that serves more than 200,000 public employees and retirees (See Indiana Taps New Pension Fund Chief ).

To help deal with the problems, Adams has hired someone who knows of the fund’s earlier difficulties. Charles Johnson, who served for 12 years as state examiner of the State Board of Accounts, which audits the pension fund and hundreds of other public agencies, started as the fund’s chief financial officer Tuesday, according to the Star.

Leading this pension fund hasn’t been an easy job. Three ex-pension workers are in federal prison for separate crimes involving the fund (See  Former PERF Worker Sentenced for Theft ), which unknowingly hired a convicted identity thief in 2001 for a top job.

The fund is working to fix a flawed computer system that is full of inaccurate data on pensioners. Adams replaces Craig Hartzer, who was hired by the late Governor Frank O’Bannon, a Democrat, in the wake of the scandals.