What is the District of Columbia Retirement Board hiding? Why is it conducting its business behind closed doors, and then, in open session, covering its tracks by obfuscation?
For example, on June 18, the board discussed how to divide up the fund's assets between the retirement board and the U.S. Treasury, but when it emerged from executive session, it voted "to approve scenario 2 for the division of assets," giving the public absolutely no clue as to what the board was voting on. And on July 16 it emerged from executive session and voted to "ratify what we said in executive session."
This secrecy in a government agency is suspicious and deeply troubling. This secrecy could harbor corruption, just what sunshine laws were designed to prevent. This secrecy is in violation of at least the spirit of the District of Columbia's own freedom of information law. This secrecy is improper and must end.
The DC's Freedom of Information Act declares: It "favors the disclosure of information about governmental affairs and the acts of public officials, and includes a narrow reading of exemptions from disclosure." Also, the act says, it was "designed to promote the disclosure of information, not to inhibit it; it was designed to pierce the veil of secrecy and to open agency action to the light of public scrutiny."(italics added).
The DC Retirement Board, fearful of embarrassing itself with its decision-making process and the quality of its decisions, got the DC Council to pass an exemption from the Freedom of Information Act, which basically gutted it. That is, it got the council to give it a rock to hide under.
Hiding under this rock, the members of the board apparently have decided that disclosure of virtually every decision they make could affect implementation and the achievement of objectives, and therefore must remain secret, hence the code spoken in the open meetings to hide the decisions. This is hardly a narrow reading of the exemption.
That the rationale for this decision is baloney is shown by the fact that far larger funds such as the neighboring Virginia Retirement System and the California Public Employees' Retirement System disclose their policies, strategies and hiring and firing decisions without harming their ability to implement them or achieve investment objectives.