PBGC Head Steps Down to Spend More Family Time

January 7, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The head of the nation's private pension insurer, who has led the agency through an immensely trying period when it had to absorb enormous liabilities from failed pension plans from airlines, steel companies and others, is stepping down.

Steven Kandarian announced Wednesday that he plans to leave the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) in February, after two years as the agency’s executive director. Kandarian said he is departing to spend more time with wife Stephanie and three young children who have stayed in Boston where the pension executive has commuted on weekends.

Kandarian was appointed to head the PBGC in December 2001 by Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, who serves as Chairman of the agency’s Board of Directors. In a statement announcing Kandarian’s departure, Chao labeled the PBGC head “a prudent manager” who Chao said skillfully promoted the Bush Administration’s efforts to strengthen the nation’s pension system.

The official announcement listed as Kandarian’s accomplishments as:

  • becoming an effective public advocate for reform of the pension funding rules to put the defined benefit system and the PBGC on a sound financial footing
  • overseeing an agency reorganization to ensure better accountability and service to participants
  • creating the position of Chief Technology Officer to conduct an agencywide upgrade of the PBGC’s information technology.

Before joining the PBGC, Kandarian had more than 20 years of experience in the private sector as an investment banker and as the founder and managing director of a private equity partnership. He plans to return to the private sector.

Created by ERISA, the PBGC is charged with stepping in to assume pension liabilities from ailing or bankrupt companies. A pension-funding crisis during Kandarian’s tenure produced a stream of failed plans – many in the steel and airline industries – that have had a punishing effect on the PBGC’s budget (See PBGC: Deficit Now Stands at $5.7 Billion ).