Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System, Harrisburg, hired NEPC as the $26 billion pension fund's real estate consultant, spokeswoman Pamela Hile said in an email.
The decision was made at Wednesday's board meeting.
Ms. Hile confirmed that Townsend had submitted a bid. Joe Olszak, Townsend's chief operating officer, did not return a phone call by press time.
Separately, PennSERS announced it returned a net 6.5% on investments in 2016, compared to net returns of 8.1% and 8.6% for the 25 and 30 years ended Dec. 31, respectively.
Returns by asset class for the year ended Dec. 31 were global equities, 8.4%; private equity, 6.8%; fixed income, 5.6%; hedge funds, 4.2%; real estate, 3.2%; and cash, 0.6%.