PUBLIC INFORMATION — A bill aimed at reform of pension spiking and other abuses in the state's retirement compensation systems would, as recently amended, require that any individual benefit or other information provided to retirement boards by participating local agencies for audit purposes remain confidential. The bill is to be heard today, May 12 in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

The County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 provides, in Government Code Section 31532, "Sworn statements and individual records of members (of a county retirement system) shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed to anyone except insofar as may be necessary for the administration of this chapter or upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction, or upon written authorization by the member."

Most superior courts around the state faced with the issue—but not all—have concluded that this rule does not preclude county retirement boards from disclosing, under the California Public Records Act, the pension amounts of named public employees.

AB 1987 as amended April 29 would reinforce Section 31532 by adding that individual pension information supplied to any county or state retirement board by the county administration or by a participating school or special district in the course of an audit would remain confidential.

31541. (a) The board, during the course of an audit, may require a county or district to provide information or make available for examination or copying at a specified time and place, or both, books, papers, any data, or records, including, but not limited to, personnel and payroll records, as deemed necessary by the board to determine the correctness of retirement benefits, reportable compensation, and enrollment in and reinstatement to this system.

(b) Data filed with the board by the county or district or any member or beneficiary is confidential, and no individual record shall be divulged by any official or employee having access to it to any person other than the member to whom the information relates or his or her authorized representative or the county or district by which he or she is employed. The information shall be used by the board for the sole purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of this part. Any information that is requested for retirement purposes byany public agency shall be treated as confidential by the agency.

The  ongoing audit process mandated by the bill would be to ensure that a change in an employee’s salary, compensation, or remuneration is not made principally for the purpose of enhancing his or her retirement benefits.