Much has been said recently about the “lack of transparency” at Kentucky Retirement Systems. In a recent Herald-Leader article, the wording “often secretive public pension systems” was employed to describe KRS and other Kentucky public pension systems. To describe KRS as “secretive” is not only untrue, but misleads and does a disservice to the public.
KRS is a quasi-independent state agency. It is subject to both the Kentucky Open Records and Open Meetings laws. All investment decisions are made by the KRS Investment Committee and the 13-member KRS Board of Trustees at open public meetings where all information regarding investment managers, including the maximum fees and commissions that KRS will have to pay, is made public as a part of the decision-making process. This open public process is also used for all other operational decisions made by the KRS committees and board.
On its website, KRS posts the names of all investment managers, the amount each manager invests and the maximum management and performance fees that each individual manager can charge. Information regarding external investment managers, including investment fees and commissions paid annually, is also contained in KRS’ Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and the annual audited financial statements.
Finally, all KRS investment returns are reported, net of fees and commissions, on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. The KRS board and staff are committed to full transparency of all information in KRS’ possession except when state or federal law makes the information confidential or it would have an adverse impact on KRS’ ability to best serve its membership.
There are only two categories of data at KRS that are not available to the public: specific member account information and investment contracts where KRS has negotiated advantageous terms or a lower fee than the fee publicly available. Investment contracts where KRS has negotiated advantageous terms or lower fees are not released pursuant to a state law specifically designed to preserve KRS’ ability to negotiate terms or fees that would likely not be available if publicly disclosed.
Member account information is not publicly available pursuant to both state and federal privacy laws.
In truth, KRS is not a “secretive public pension system,” but is a leader in terms of public pension plan transparency. I invite all members of the public to visit the KRS website at www.kyret.ky.gov and review the wealth of information on the site. The public is also welcome to attend all meetings of the KRS board and its committees.
This column has been approved by members of the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board of Trustees: Thomas K. Elliott (chair); Daniel Bauer; Mike Cherry; Ed Davis; J.T. Fulkerson; Joseph L. Hardesty; Vince Lang; Mary Helen Peter; Randy K. Stevens; and William E. Summers IV.
Related: March 14 Associated Press article, “In Kentucky, lawmakers’ pension information remains secret”