April 18, 2012
External Affairs Branch
Robert Udall Glazier, Deputy Executive Officer
Brad Pacheco, Chief, Office of Public Affairs
CalPERS Board Adopts New Policy on GiftsSACRAMENTO, CA – The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Board of Administration today approved a new policy that limits gifts that its Board Members can accept from individuals and firms doing business with the pension fund or seeking to do business with the fund.
The policy marks another step by the Board to enhance its accountability and decision-making.
“This policy reaffirms our ongoing commitment to be a more accountable, transparent and ethical Board,” said Rob Feckner, President of the CalPERS Board of Administration. “It is an important step to ensure the trust of our members, employers and the public.”
The new CalPERS policy limits gifts to Board members to a total of $50 per calendar year from any one person or entity that does business with CalPERS or is seeking to do business with the pension fund. This includes financial and other service providers, but does not include, for example, non-profit trade associations, governmental advisory committees, or companies that issue publicly traded securities when the only “business” that CalPERS conducts with these companies is the purchase, sale or holding of its securities.
CalPERS Chief Executive Officer Anne Stausboll plans to adjust the current gift policy for the pension fund’s staff to be consistent with the Board’s policy adopted today.
The policy is consistent with Senate Bill 439 sponsored last year by California’s State Controller, and member of the pension fund Board, John Chiang. The bill was vetoed by the Governor.
“Holding ourselves to higher ethical standards is the strongest way to ensure CalPERS never again is tarnished with allegations of wining, dining and bribing,” said Chiang. “I commend the Board for a strict gift limit policy that aligns us with our members and taxpayers, and demonstrates that the culture of privilege has no business at CalPERS.”
In the last year, the CalPERS Board undertook a comprehensive review of its governance policies and practices. The Board adopted a number of governance reforms, including six Principles for Effective Public Pension Fund Governance that reflect each Board Member’s commitment to be effective and capable fiduciaries, ethical leaders, and open and accountable to CalPERS stakeholders. The reforms also call for a third party to assess Board performance every two years, and include new roles and responsibilities for the Board President, Vice President, Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs and a new structure for the Board and its committees that outlines responsible parties for approvals, standards of conduct, strategy, policy and performance.
“Our recent reforms and this policy are aimed at avoiding even the slightest appearance of impropriety by our Board,” said Feckner.
CalPERS Special Review on placement agents released last year also recommended that the Board adopt an explicit policy governing the receipt of gifts, indicating that gifts can have a negative impact on the reputation of CalPERS.
View the full gift policy (PDF, 77 KB).
CalPERS, with assets of approximately $235 billion, is the largest public pension fund in the U.S. It administers retirement benefits for more than 1.6 million California state, local government, and public school employees, retirees, and their families on behalf of more than 3,000 public employers, and health benefits for more than 1.3 million enrollees. The average CalPERS pension benefit is $2,332 per month. The average benefit for those who retired in the most recent fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011, is $3,065 per month. More information about CalPERS is available at www.calpers.ca.gov.