The PERS Board of Directors is expected to formally hire Cleary at its May 11 meeting, PERS Board Chairman Mike Pittman told the Salem Statesman Journal. Cleary will formal assume the post about June 1, taking over for interim director Laurie Warner, who stepped in when Jim Voytko resigned last year.
PERS plucked Cleary from his former position as director of Oregon’s Water Resources Department. In a 25-year career in state government, Cleary has worked chiefly in natural-resources jobs.
Responding to Cleary’s lack of pension experience, Pittman told the Statesman Journal “The reality is that a person can learn the pension issues.”
“What we really needed was an extremely strong manager/leader, someone who understands how state government works and how we can move things forward,” Pittman continued. Backing up this contention, Cleary sees many similarities in his new and old jobs – dealing with government procedures, overseeing transactions, providing information, trying to reduce conflict and litigation, and improving customer service.
Looking ahead to the PERS position, Cleary said one of his early goals will be improving an archaic computer system so that workers and retirees get accurate retirement estimates. He also must sort out wrinkles in a new retirement plan approved by the 2003 Legislature.
Cleary earns $101,844 in his current job. Pittman will recommend that the PERS Board offer him $123,756.