No RFP’s for Kentucky Pensions- all back room deals.
by Chris Tobe, CFA

I estimate that over $65 million to as high as $85 million a year is paid out in fees in non-bid contracts by the pension systems in Kentucky.

While the 2012 placement agent bill was an extremely watered down version from that of 2011, it is currently unenforceable because there is no documentation from an RFP to check.

Because of total lack of oversight the $13 billion Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) have been able to bypass many of the competitive bidding practices typically used by other parts of state government. The Government Finance Officers Association officially recommends a RFP process for public pension managers to hire investment managers. While KRS does issue RFP’s for relatively minor expenditures like the investment consultant and headhunters, well over 95% of expenditures bypass the RFP process.

According to the Report of Independent Counsel to SEC: Placement Agent Abuses at Kentucky Retirement System “… contrary to prudent investment practices for public pensions, KRS does not utilize RFPs seeking competitive bids from prospective money managers. Failure to solicit bids undermines the integrity of public pension contracting. RFPs ensure that contracts for investment management services are competitively bid and that requirements related to such contracts are clearly and publicly stated.” KRS pays 66 Money Managers over $56 million a year in fees and not one has ever filled out an RFP. pg.98-100.

Kentucky Judicial and Legislative Retirement System to my knowledge has never issued an RFP and uses just one Kentucky money manager and one Kentucky broker to manage that plan. While I am not as familiar, I believe the Kentucky Teachers Retirement Systems uses RFP’s very sparingly for Investment consultants etc.

Legislation should require all the Retirement systems to use RFP’s for all major purchases or services over $25,000 a year .

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