US - The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has suspended the chairman of its Investment Policy Sub-committee following complaints by colleagues.
The plan's Board of Administration publicly censured board member JJ Jelincic and also suspended him as vice chairman of its Health Benefits Committee for his involvement in a personnel action based on complaints filed by co-workers.
CalPERS management had reprimanded Jelincic last year, and the decision was upheld last week by the State Personnel Board and administrative law judge Teri Block following an appeal by Jelincic.
The Board also voted to suspend Jelincic's board travel privileges for the same time period and has ordered Jelincic to attend sensitivity training.
Jelincic was elected to the CalPERS Board in December 2009 as a "member-at-large" representing all CalPERS members. He has been employed with CalPERS for 25 years as an investment officer.
"The CalPERS Board does not condone harassment or similar conduct of any kind and all our Board Members are expected to meet this standard," said Rob Feckner, president of the CalPERS Board.
"Our employees are one of our greatest assets and we are committed to ensuring that their work environment is professional, safe and free from all forms of discrimination and harassment."
The Board has also adopted ten governance reforms in an effort to strengthen accountability, transparency and ethics at the fund. The reforms are the result of a six month review of its governance policies and practices.
"When we released our special review report on placement agents in the spring, it was a clear reminder that the stewards of CalPERS have to protect a sacred trust, one that should never be allowed to be compromised," said Feckner.
"We dedicated ourselves to pursuing all of the appropriate policy changes to strengthen transparency, accountability and integrity of this fund. Today, those changes are in place."
The CalPERS Board adopted six "Principles for Effective Public Pension Fund Governance" that reflect each Board Member's commitment to be: effective and capable fiduciaries; ethical leaders; open and accountable to CalPERS stakeholders; risk intelligent and insightful in their decisions; focused on a long-term view for the needs of our members, retirees and their families; and committed to continuous learning, while being flexible for changing environmental, political and economic conditions.
The governance reforms also call for: each Board Member to sign a statement acknowledging their fiduciary responsibilities in conjunction with fiduciary training and self-assessment processes; an independent third party to assess Board performance once every two years; new roles and responsibilities for the Board president, vice president, committee chairs and vice-chairs; a new "Powers Reserved" structure for the Board and its committees that outlines responsible parties for approvals, standards of conduct, strategy, policy and performance; certification of a "no undue influence" document to be signed by all senior executives and investment officers; and adoption of a new confidentiality policy that will assist in guiding Board conduct.
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