The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has told public sector schemes to improve their governance standards after research found just 28% had a plan to comply with recent reforms.
The watchdog, which took on responsibility for regulating public sector schemes in April, said 97% of those surveyed had a high awareness of the changes, and 87% reported a good understanding of them.
Nine out of ten schemes had established a pensions board, a key requirement of the Public Service Pensions Act 2013.
TPR executive director Andrew Warwick-Thompson said: "While there has been some encouraging progress, our research reveals a concerning picture of some public service schemes failing to engage fully with the requirements on governance and administration.
"We recognise that the reforms are significant and those involved with public service schemes face complex and challenging conditions. However, schemes must comply with the law to ensure that the right benefits are paid to the right person at the right time."
The regulator surveyed half of public sector schemes covering 85% of scheme members in the summer.
It found that, on the whole, public service schemes were progressing well in terms of understanding the new requirements and setting up processes.
Some 78% had developed policies to help pension board members fully understand
their duties, 87% had a conflicts policy, and 87% had procedures in place to ensure
information about the board was published and kept up to date.
Approximately three quarters had processes for risk management and data monitoring in place and almost all had a procedure for monitoring contributions.
But schemes scored less well on taking action in key governance and administration areas and are still in the early stages of assessing themselves against the requirements in TPR's code.
Just 28% had a plan in place and were addressing key issues to ensure compliance with the new requirements, and only 44% had reviewed their scheme against the code.
Only 45% of schemes had measured themselves against the regulator's record-keeping regulations, and just 27% had undertaken a data cleanse.
While 76% of schemes had procedures in place to manage risk, and 82% reported having a risk register, only 56% said they assessed risks either quarterly or monthly.
Warwick-Thompson said: "We expect all schemes to assess themselves against the legal requirements and the standards set out in our code, and to take action to address any gaps.
"We are supporting schemes to help them understand and embed the code. We have produced specific guidance through online education tools and e-learning modules, and we'll also be launching a self-assessment tool in the new year."
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