An innovative forensic investigation of the nearly $80 billion Ohio State Teachers Retirement System crowdfunded by the Ohio Retired Teachers Association will invite public participation by posting all documents obtained from OSTRS online for public scrutiny; encouraging whistleblowers to come forward with information about the pension and its hundreds of investment managers; welcoming knowledgeable experts to offer their insights and opinions; and by distributing educational material about pension management to the public. The goal is to improve management of the massive teachers pension system and the retirement security of its participants.
A campaign collecting nearly 1,000 donations to fund a forensic investigation of the $80 billion Ohio State Teachers Retirement System (OSTRS) sponsored by the Ohio Retired Teachers Association recently reached its goal and I have begun the review.
This Ohio crowdfunded investigation will incorporate four new features designed to maximize public and expert input, as well as broadly promote knowledge of the management of pension investments.
Since the investigation will focus upon one of the largest state pensions in the country impacting all Ohio taxpayers, including 500,000 active, inactive and retired Ohio public educators, this is a truly ambitious financial literacy project.
By way of background, over the past 35 years since leaving the SEC in 1985, I have pioneered the field of forensic investigations of the money management industry. I have conducted over $1 trillion in investigations, primarily involving retirement plans. Often, the findings of my forensic investigations have been made public.
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At times, I have been engaged by municipalities sponsoring pensions and public pension boards, such as in the cities of Nashville, Jacksonville and Chattanooga. My investigations of the Rhode Island and North Carolina state pensions were funded by state and municipal employee associations or unions. Some of my most notable investigations (which are non-public) have been paid for by federal and state regulators and law enforcement. For example, I recently received record-setting whistleblower awards from the State of Indiana, SEC and CFTC.
In order to improve the management of pensions, in my bestselling book Who Stole My Pension? I encourage readers to consider crowdfunding a forensic investigation of any pension they (as taxpayers) contribute to, or rely upon (as participants) for their future retirement security. I have conducted three successful crowdfunded forensic investigations, including a review of the New York State Teamsters Pension Fund.
For this Ohio State Teachers Retirement System crowdfunded investigation, we are incorporating four innovations. Whether these innovations will prove workable and useful remains to be seen.
First, we will invite public participation by posting all pension documents we obtain from OSTRS online for public scrutiny. In my opinion, there is never a need for secrecy when it comes to the investment of public monies. That’s why we have state access to public records statutes, often referred to Freedom of Information Act laws. Any Wall Street money manager that wants to be paid to manage public pension assets should be required to agree to full—100%—transparency.
Second, we will encourage whistleblowers with information about the pension and/or its investments to come forward. We will also invite pension experts to provide their insights and opinions about management of the state pension’s investments—either for attribution in the final report or confidentially. There are some really fine minds out there who, in retirement, finally have the freedom to speak without regard for their prior employers. I’m looking forward to hearing from them especially.
Finally, by distributing copies of Who Stole My Pension? to individuals who contributed to the crowdfunding effort, we hope that over the next few months they will take the opportunity to learn more about pension management, in preparation for the release of our final report. By the time the findings are released hopefully Buckeyes will be ready to have serious discussions about what—if anything—needs to be done to improve performance of the state teachers pension.