New York State Deferred Compensation Plan, Albany, is the first winner of the Art Caple President's Award, offered by the National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators.
The award honors the late Mr. Caple, a former NAGDCA president and a leader in public-sector retirement income security, said Tracy Tucker, NAGDCA's association director, in an email. The award was presented Sept. 11 at the association's annual meeting in New Orleans.
The New York plan was recognized for its digital enrollment strategy, which was implemented in September 2018. The plan had accepted only paper applications since its creation in 1985, said David Fischer, executive director, in an email.
However, plan officials found that the old way was getting in the way of new applications. "All too often, we heard from new participants that they had wanted to join the plan earlier but just didn't get around to it or didn't know how to access the appropriate forms," Mr. Fischer wrote.
Plan officials also found that by using online enrollment, "we can reduce errors since the program checks to make sure certain required identification data is correct prior to submission," Mr. Fischer wrote.
It took about 18 months to develop and test the system before going live, Mr. Fischer said, adding that the plan worked with its record keeper, Nationwide Retirement Solutions, on the project.
A major challenge for the $24 billion plan — with nearly 240,000 participants — was to devise a system customized to meet the needs of 1,900 participating employers.
"The New York plan exemplifies Art Caple's passion and commitment to building financial security for government employees throughout their retirement," Ms. Tucker wrote. "The average monthly enrollments did not simply shift paper enrollments to digital but resulted in a near 20% increase in total enrollments September through February over the prior year." — Robert Steyer