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Publish Date: 8/31/2005

Auditors issue another PERA report


DENVER — The state’s largest public pension program took another broadside from state auditors Tuesday when lawmakers were told that fund managers spent about $12,000 on gifts and benefits for employees.

Auditors also reported staff members of the Public Employees Retirement Association violated rules by accepting tickets, a trip, a dinner and other gifts.

Last month, a state audit said PERA’s investments are improving but are still underperforming, and that it could take 84 years for the program to catch up to its obligations. State Treasurer Mike Coffman, who is on a leave, has warned that PERA could go bankrupt in 40 years unless the Legislature comes up with more money.

In Tuesday’s report, the State Auditor’s Office told the Legislative Audit Committee that nine PERA staff members had accepted tickets to sporting events, a fishing trip and an ice show dinner, along with gifts totaling $210.

“Each instance is a clear violation of PERA’s disclosure policy,” auditors said. The policy allows staffers to accept gifts, but anything worth more than $100 must be reported.

Auditors criticized PERA managers for spending an estimated $12,000 on gift cards for its employees as bonuses for years of service and a wellness program that allows employees to earn awards. The audit also found that PERA paid $1.1 million to departing employees from 2002 to 2004 because they had not taken all of the days off they were entitled to. The amounts ranged from $28 to $240,600. Auditors suggested a close review of leave policies.

Auditors also urged PERA to adopt a policy requiring investment consultants to disclose potential conflicts of interest, including relationships with PERA’s investment managers and any gifts, travel or entertainment they give PERA trustee or staff.

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