Report Suggests Fla. Pension Could Use More Governance

September 16, 2009 ( - A new staff report about plan governance at U.S. public pension programs recommended Florida get an annual independent auditor to examine its state pension fund.

A Miami Herald news account said the staff report, presented to the state Cabinet this week, asserted that the Sunshine State’s program has fewer people overseeing it than most other states, and that annual independent audits may improve public confidence in investment decisions.

The document was the result of a study of governance at the State Board of Administration (SBA), which oversees more than $110 billion in assets for the pension fund and other state accounts.

The SBA reports to three trustees: Governor Charlie Crist, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum. Sink suggested at the meeting in Tallahassee that the trustees act on the report at their next meeting September 29, including the possibility of an annual independent audit of the fund.

“Because the three of us have so many other duties and responsibilities, we do have limited time to spend” on overseeing the fund, said Sink, according to the newspaper.

She also suggested that Florida’s existing Investment Advisory Council, a six-member board, which makes recommendation on investment strategy, report directly to the trustees, “unfiltered from any staff.”   The report recommended more training for pension fund trustees and for advisory board members.

The report compared Florida’s pension fund governance to 15 other retirement systems, including those of the states of New York, Texas, and California. Some states, such as New York and North Carolina, have a single trustee, but most states have more than Florida’s three trustees.

To view the report, go here and click on “Governance Research Project.”