NY State Retirement Fund Moves Forward on Compliance Review

March 10, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli accepted and released the report of the Pension Fund Task Force, an independent advisory panel created in December 2007 to review the practices and policies of the New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF).

DiNapoli also announced in a news release that Mercer Investment Consulting, Inc. will conduct a compliance review of every transaction approved by DiNapoli since he took office in February 2007, including those covered under the new regulations and procedures instituted by DiNapoli and the State Insurance Department.

According to the news release, Task Force report recommendations included:

  • Quarterly reporting of CRF’s investment results;
  • Publication of CRF policies, procedures and guidelines on the Comptroller’s Web site;
  • Make permanent DiNapoli’s placement agent and intermediary disclosure policy to ensure transparency in future administrations;
  • Expand and strengthen external advisory committees to enhance external review of investment procedures and decisions;
  • Appoint CRF compliance officer with independent reporting powers to ensure policies and procedures are followed; and
  • Review and evaluate all existing consultant relationships.

In addition, the Task Force reviewed and endorsed reforms DiNapoli had previously implemented, including:

  • The issuance of an Executive Order on Ethics to clearly define appropriate behavior by Comptroller staff;
  • The creation of the position of Inspector General;
  • The appointment of a Special Counsel for Ethics;
  • Mandatory ethics training for all staff, including the Comptroller. Investment staff received specifically designed training;
  • Implementation of a new placement agent review process to prevent conflicts of interest by placement agents and other paid intermediaries in investment transactions;
  • Review of all investment transactions by the Inspector General and the Special Counsel for Ethics;
  • Monthly reporting on investment transactions completed by the CRF since February 2007, including placement agent and intermediary information where applicable;
  • Initiated a comprehensive review of all CRF external consultants and the development of a more comprehensive pool on external consultants; and
  • Partnered with the State Insurance Department to develop new regulations governing the operation of the CRF.

Last September DiNapoli established a new Retirement Compliance Unit to police compliance with eligibility requirements for the New York State and Local Retirement System after a major 2008 investigation that started in February turned up evidence of potential wrongdoing from 319 participating employers about their employment relationships with New York state-registered attorneys (see NY Unveils Pension System Watchdog).

The report is here .