State and local pension fund governance and the process of contracting for investment services: The scope of diversity and the problem of embeddedness

Gordon L. Clark, Ashby H B Monk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


US state and local public employee retirement systems (PERS) utilise various models of contract with distinctive features in their form and substantive content in relation to industry norms. These models differ between states, within states, and even between PERS within major metropolitan areas. Diversity goes against expectations to the effect that the sector relies upon commonly accepted investment management agreements (IMAs), given the similarities between state and local PERS as to the nature of pension benefits. One goal of this paper is to account for apparent commonalities and differences. Another goal of the paper is to explain the nature and significance of the pre-contract screening of potential suppliers to the sector, suggesting that requests for proposals tend to ‘sterilise’ contracts for investment management services. We provide a comparison of the categories and items evident in model IMAs with reference to selected states, in particular Illinois and the Chicago-area PERS. We also briefly note relevant provisions of pending legislation establishing the Oregon Investment Corporation, emphasising provisions which would enable the fund to make contracts like its private sector peers. The paper concludes that it is important to focus on the process of contracting in the US state and local PERS as well as the form of contract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-172
Number of pages23
JournalTerritory, Politics, Governance
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Contract
  • Governance
  • Requests for proposals
  • State and local pension plans

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