According to an announcement from the retirement system, uploading the pension database to the CalPERS website is being delayed “pending the outcome of legislation being introduced by various retiree organizations that would limit what retiree data is publicly releasable under law.”
CalPERS said since interest in public pensions has increased in recent years, it regularly receives and fills requests for information, including comprehensive inquiries from news outlets, organizations and individuals for information about every retiree in the system. CalPERS must provide this information pursuant to Government Code Section 20230, various provisions of the California Public Records Act and established case law.
The announcement added, “We take very seriously our responsibility to protect the privacy and security of our members and their data. We want to assure them that private information such as date of birth, health information, and address are always kept confidential and are not subject to release through a Public Records Act Request.”
Information CalPERS is required to release by law includes retiree name, gross monthly pension amount, base allowance, cost-of-living adjustment, years of service, retirement date, benefit formula, final compensation and last agency worked for.
CalPERS spokeswoman Amy Norris said that the retirement system would launch a searchable pension database with information that is deemed public, such as a retiree's name, monthly gross pension payment and some employment history, adding that the database was scheduled to go live next week, according to the news report.
The news report also detailed how CalPERS had recently sent a notice to retiree organizations saying the fund already fills many requests for public information and that an online database would allow it to meet legal requirements for public disclosure, while protecting the "integrity of our retirees' public pension data."
CalPERS acknowledged that such disclosure would stir privacy concerns from retirees, but believed its member data would remain better protected on its own website rather than on external databases kept by news or other organizations.
The $260-billion retirement system administers pension benefits for 1.6 million state and local government workers and their families. According to the news report, the release of information would not include beneficiaries or survivors who receive a monthly allowance.