Commonwealth of Massachusetts | Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission
Five Middlesex Avenue, Suite 304, Somerville, MA 02145
Ph 617 666 4446 | Fax 617 628 4002 | TTY 617 591 8917 | www.mass.gov/perac
Domenic J. F. Russo, Chairman
Auditor Suzanne M. Bump | Alan Macdonald | James M. Machado | Donald R. Marquis | Robert B. McCarthy | Gregory R. Mennis
Joseph E. Connarton, Executive Director
M E M O R A N D U M
TO: All Retirement Boards
FROM: Joseph E. Connarton, Executive Director
RE: Mandatory Retirement Board Member Training-1st Quarter 2013
DATE: December 28, 2012
Chapter 32 mandates that retirement board members complete training during each year of service on the retirement board. Failure to meet this mandatory requirement will prohibit the member from serving beyond the conclusion of the term for which the training requirement was not met.
Our records indicate that nearly 500 of retirement board members have attained at least three (3) credits in 2012 thereby meeting the statutory requirement.
It should be noted that in awarding the number of credits for individual courses the Commission does not necessarily base that number on the length of the program but also considers the nature of the topic involved.
Pre – Approval
The Commission is willing to approve educational credits for a variety of events sponsored by “…local, state, regional and national organizations recognized by the Commission as having expertise in retirement issues of importance to retirement board members or other entities…” This provision of the statute has been interpreted to encompass particular programs offered by such entities. For example, an ethics class or open meeting law class offered as part of a broader conference may be eligible for education credit. However, as far as practicable, approval for such credit must take place well in advance of the date of the event. This will enable the Commission to analyze the program and to provide a general notice to retirement board members to maximize participation.
In 2012 credit was awarded for State Ethics Commission Training provided at a meeting of the Town Clerks Association and at sessions coordinated by the Town of North Attleboro and the Town of Lexington. Also in 2012 credit was granted for Open Meeting Law Training held by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees in Melrose and North Adams. Credit was also granted for attendance at a MGFOA review of GASB Pension Accounting. We anticipate awarding credit for similar programs in 2013 provided that pre-approval is obtained.
State Ethics Commission Seminars (Three Hours Credit):
The Commission will grant three (3) hours of credit to retirement board members who complete a Public Education Seminar on the Conflict of Interest Law conducted by the State Ethics Commission. As noted above, these sessions are sometimes held in conjunction with meetings of certain organizations. Credit will be granted upon receipt by the Commission of a copy of the Certificate of Attendance issued to the retirement board member by the State Ethics Commission.
Please be advised that this does not refer to the online program that consists of multiple choice questions and must be taken once every two years by retirement board members. That requirement is an initiative of the Ethics Commission and no PERAC educational credit is available for compliance.
The State Ethics Commission will be conducting educational seminars throughout 2013 at its offices in Boston at One Ashburton Place, Room 619:
(a) January 24, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
(b) February 28, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
(c) March 28, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
(d) April 25, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
(e) May 23, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
(f) June 27, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
(g) July 25, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
(h) August 22, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
(i) September 26, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
(j) October 24, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
(k) December 5, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
Seating at these sessions is limited. Please contact 617-371-9500 to enroll.
Non-PERAC; Non-MACRS Events
PERAC will award credit for attendance at the following educational events sponsored by entities other than the Commission and MACRS:
Please be advised that educational credit will not be awarded for participation in the 2013 NCPERS Legislative Conference in Washington D.C.
The number of credits available to members’ attending these programs will be determined after the Commission has reviewed the Agenda for each event.
January, February and March Educational Events
Financial Controls for Retirement Systems (Three Hours Credit):
This is a three-part financial accounting course. The first topic will emphasize emerging trends in risk management and staff oversight for retirement board members including a discussion on best practices in the wake of audit trends and fraud discovery. Relevant revisions in PERAC’s approach in the next triennial audit cycle will be discussed. The second part is a review of PERAC Annual Statement Preparation with an emphasis on the upcoming 2012 filing requirement. Finally, there will be a session detailing how to understand a PERAC Audit Report.
Anti-Spiking/Calculations (Three Hours Credit)
This program consists of a review of the aspects of Chapter 176 of the Acts of 2011 which sought to prevent so-called “spiking” of regular compensation in the years preceding retirement. The law now requires retirement boards to complete a series of calculations to determine if the limits set forth in the statute are to be imposed. In addition, PERAC’s Actuarial Unit will review a series of standard retirement calculations.
How to Review Vendor Disclosures/Competitive Process (Three Hours Credit)
This program will focus on the implementation of the sections of Chapter 32 that mandate a retirement board employ a competitive process when selecting vendors. In addition, the various disclosures that must be made by vendors and prospective vendors will be discussed. Please note these sessions are limited to retirement board members (and staff) in order to enable members to meet the statutory education requirements.
Office of the Inspector General – Bidding Basics (Three Hours Credit)
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has developed an introductory online course that covers the legal requirements for the procurement of contracts by local government bodies for supplies and services under M.G.L. c. 30B. Although that statute does not apply to “a contract for retirement board services”, recently enacted law sets forth similar requirements for retirement boards to follow when seeking certain services. In addition, retirement board members, under their fiduciary duty to act as a prudent expert would act, should employ best practices in this area.
Bidding Basics takes two to three hours to complete. It has been designed to be completed through PACE, the Commonwealth’s Web-based Learning Management System, or at your standalone computer using a Compact Disc (CD). PACE should be accessible to any entity with an Internet connection. Upon registering with the Office of the Inspector General, you will be issued a PACE Login ID and Password so that you may access PACE for free. For further information about Bidding Basics, access http://www.mass.gov/ig/mcppo/seminars-and-courses/bidding-bascis.html. In the right-hand column of that page you may access a link to the Bidding Basics FAQs and a link to the Bidding Basics Online Registration Form, or you may obtain the form directly by selecting http://www.mass.gov/ig/publications/forms/bb-online-regform.doc
Office of the Attorney General – Open Meeting Law (Three Hours Credit)
The Office of the Attorney General (AG) offers an on line web training seminar on the Open Meeting Law. That program is accessible at http://www.youtube.com/user/MassAttorneyGeneral It can also be accessed through the AG’s Web Page by clicking on “Government Resources” and then clicking on “Open Meeting Law” and on that page clicking on “Web Training”.
Retirement board members can confirm participation by filing an affidavit with the Commission.
In 2012 the Commission approved education credit for participating in a Webinar that, among other topics, addressed the issue of GASB Accounting for Pensions. In 2013 we will entertain requests for credit in relation to relevant Webinars, again, provided that such a request is made well in advance of the session. The Commission is also engaged in discussion with appropriate state approved vendor relations to the possibility of running webinars.
The Commission would be remiss if we did not also thank all the rank and file members of the retirement boards who, in spite of other pressing duties, are making a good faith effort to fulfill their duties and responsibilities under the new law.