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Special audit of Ohio teachers' pension fund says no fraud, but calls for more transparency

 The State Teachers Retirement System board meets for its monthly session in March 2022.
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
The State Teachers Retirement System board meets for its monthly session in March 2022.

Fourteen months after his office announced it, Auditor Keith Faber’s special audit of the $90+ billion State Teachers Retirement System is finally out. It shows no fraud but suggesting lawmakers need to make more the fund’s investment strategy and the performance incentive process more transparent.

The special audit is here.

Retired teachers concerned about a lack of cost of living raises for five years hired forensic investigator Ted Siedle to look into STRS. His report blasting the fund for a lack of transparency and oversight led to the state’s special audit.

Siedle is pleased with the report, but noted lawmakers would need to make the changes suggested to improve transparency and public scrutiny.

Siedle had criticized the auditor's office for not releasing the report sooner, after Auditor Keith Faber was asked about the audit in an interview for "The State of Ohio". Faber said in September: "We've got some concerns. I will just tell you that audit's going to hav some concerns. We don't talk about audits while they're pending, but we have some concerns and things that we're identifying. But we are on it. We are working aggressively.”

When the report hadn't been released before the election, Siedle said of Faber: “He's alarming the pensioners, government workers and retirees as well as taxpayers by saying there's some concerns, some worrisome issues, some troublesome things that he's identified. But he's not saying what they are."

With the special audit now out and backing up some of the concerns Siedle had raised in his report, Siedle said, “It was worth the wait. But again, I don't think the public should have had to wait, and I think the delay was typical elected official politics.”

In a statement, STRS executive director Bill Neville said the thoroughness of the audit refutes much inaccurate information, and that STRS “remains steadfast in our dedication to ensuring the sustainability of the pension fund”.

This year, the STRS board voted to five teachers got their first cost-of-living increases since 2017. The fund lost $5 billion this year but paid $10 million in performance incentives.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.
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