The first thing Craig E. Hartzer wants to do in his new job as executive director of the $8.4 billion Indiana Public Employees' Retirement Fund is to talk with Patricia J. Gerrick, its chief investment officer.
"I haven't even met Patricia yet," he said.
Mr. Hartzer, to whom Ms. Gerrick will report, will start work at the Indianapolis-based fund Feb. 10, after he's appointed by the fund's board of trustees and confirmed by Gov. Frank O'Bannon. Since 1997, Mr. Hartzer has been the commissioner of the state Department of Workforce Development, which provides unemployment benefits.
Mr. Hartzer concedes that he doesn't have investing experience. He plans to conduct a review of the fund's investments and policies and industry standards; he can't say yet whether it will be with the fund's staff and existing advisers or a consultant.
While inexperienced on the investment side of IPERF, Mr. Hartzer is well versed in benefits administration. As work force commissioner, he said the department he oversaw issued 75,000 unemployment checks a week and payed out $700 million a year.
Those outlays far surpass the pension benefit payments of Indiana PERF, which issues 55,000 checks a month and pays out $340 million a year, according to Mr. Hartzer. The unemployment fund, which totals $1.1 billion, is managed by the federal government, he added.
Mr. Hartzer will replace Fred Biesecker, who had been interim executive director since Oct. 2, following the resignation of E. William Butler. Mr. Biesecker plans to return to his private law practice at the Ice Miller law firm in Indianapolis.
Mr. Hartzer said he doesn't know if the fund will soon add to its internal investment staff, which now consists of Ms. Gerrick and two analysts. "I'll have to look into that more carefully," he said.