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Re-Imagining Pensions

 Covington & Burling Pension Rights Center  Urban Institute

Re-Imagining Pensions: Using Innovative Pension Plan Design to Reduce Risk and Increase Retirement Income

In an unusual alliance, Covington & Burling, the Pension Rights Center, and the Urban Institute sponsored a conference on February 22, 2012, to discuss new pension plan designs to improve retirement security.

Re-Imagining Pensions: Using Innovative Pension Plan Design to Reduce Risk and Increase Retirement Income featured three panel discussions, each addressing different aspects of the problem:  risk-sharing, coverage and adequacy, and annuitization. Panelists included Phyllis Borzi of the Labor Department, Mark Iwry of the Treasury Department, Josh Gotbaum of the P.B.G.C., and experts from government, the business community, labor groups, academia, and advocacy organizations.

The standing-room-only event was held in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing Room in Washington, D.C. Read the press release.

For more information on the event and to watch videos of all the presentations and discussions, click on the links in the program below. There is also a YouTube playlist of all of the videos in chronological order. News articles about the conference are listed at the bottom of this page.


 (All photos by Liz Lynch)


February 22, 2012
Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee Hearing Room
430 Dirksen Senate Office Building
(Constitution Avenue and 1st Street, N.E.)
Washington, D.C.

  • Breakfast    8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Examples of specific proposals
POPP (Plain Old Pension Plan)Judith F. Mazo, Senior Vice President and Director of Research (retired), The Segal Company  (video)
The Adjustable Pension PlanRichard Hudson, Principal Consulting Actuary, Cheiron (video)
Portfolio Cash Balance PlanRobert Newman, Partner, Covington & Burling (video)
Retirement Security FundsKaren W. Ferguson, Director, Pension Rights Center (video)

Panel discussion (introductory video)
Michael P. Kreps, Pensions Counsel (Sen. Harkin), U.S. Senate HELP Committee (video)
Mark J. Ugoretz, President and CEO, ERISA Industry Committee (video)
Damon A. Silvers, Director of Policy and Special Counsel, AFL-CIO  (video)
Joshua Gotbaum, Director, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (video)
Judy Mazo responds to comments from Josh Gotbaum -- video

Audience discussion (video)

  • Break    10:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Examples of specific proposals
The Secure Choice PensionHank K. Kim, Executive Director and Counsel, NCPERS (video)
The Super Simple PlanPamela Perun, Retirement Income Policy Consultant (video)

Panel discussion
Phyllis C. Borzi, Assistant Secretary of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), U.S. Department of Labor (video)
Donald Fuerst, Senior Pension Fellow, American Academy of Actuaries (video)
John Adler, Retirement Security Campaign Director, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) (video)
Gregory Dean, Chief Counsel (Sen. Enzi), U.S. Senate HELP Committee (video)

Audience discussion (video)

  • Lunch    12:00 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Examples of specific proposals
Social Security as a Source of AnnuitiesC. Eugene Steuerle, Institute Fellow and Richard B. Fisher Chair, Urban Institute (video)
Defined Benefit Permutations on Income+Seth Safra, Partner, Covington & Burling (video), and Jeffrey N. Maggioncalda, President and CEO, Financial Engines (video)

Panel discussion
Stephen C. Goss, Chief Actuary, Social Security Administration (video)
Melissa Kahn, Vice President, MetLife (video)
Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel, National Women’s Law Center (video -- includes remarks by Mark Iwry)
J. Mark Iwry, Deputy Assistant Secretary (Tax Policy) for Retirement and Health Policy, U.S. Department of the Treasury (see video above)

Audience discussion (video)

Panel discussion
Norman Stein, Professor of Law, Earle Mack School of Law, Drexel University (video)
C. Eugene Steuerle, Institute Fellow and Richard B. Fisher Chair, Urban Institute (video)
Richard C. Shea, Partner, Covington & Burling (video)
Karen D. Friedman, Executive Vice President and Policy Director, Pension Rights Center (video, includes audience discussion)

  • Adjourn    2:00 p.m.


Media coverage of "Re-Imagining Pensions":

  1. "Feds fret over underfunded corporate pensions," Politico, February 21, 2012.
  2. "Private pensions in crisis: Where do we go from here?" Employee Benefit News, February 23, 2012.
  3. "The $6 trillion sleeper issue," Investment News, February 23, 2012.
  4. "Innovative Defined Benefit Plans Could Be Key to Retirement Security, Speakers Say," Bloomberg BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter, February 28, 2012.
  5. "Pension Reformers Should Not Promise Freedom From Fiduciary Duties, Borzi Says," Bloomberg BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter, February 28, 2012.
  6. "Stern Advice: The last 401(k) generation?," Reuters, March 1, 2012.
  7. "Defined benefits are being re-imagined," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 28, 2012.