CalPERS Adopts New Policy on Gifts

April 20, 2012 ( - The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Board approved a policy that limits the gifts that board members can accept.
The new CalPERS policy limits gifts to board members to a total of $50 per calendar year from any one person or entity that does business with CalPERS or is seeking to do business with the pension fund. This includes financial and other service providers, but does not include, for example, nonprofit trade associations, government advisory committees or companies that issue publicly traded securities when the only business that CalPERS conducts with these companies is the purchase, sale or holding of its securities.

“This policy reaffirms our ongoing commitment to be a more accountable, transparent and ethical Board,” said Rob Feckner, president of the CalPERS Board of Administration. “It is an important step to ensure the trust of our members, employers and the public.”

The policy is consistent with Senate Bill 439 sponsored last year by California’s State Controller, and member of the pension fund Board, John Chiang. The bill was vetoed by the governor.

“Holding ourselves to higher ethical standards is the strongest way to ensure CalPERS never again is tarnished with allegations of wining, dining and bribing,” said Chiang. “I commend the Board for a strict gift limit policy that aligns us with our members and taxpayers, and demonstrates that the culture of privilege has no business at CalPERS.”

In 2011, the CalPERS Board comprehensively reviewed its governance policies and practices. The Board adopted a number of governance reforms, including six Principles for Effective Public Pension Fund Governance that reflect each board member’s commitment to be effective and capable fiduciaries, ethical leaders, and open and accountable to CalPERS stakeholders (see “CalPERS Board Adopts Governance Reforms”).