In 2010, The Oregonian and Statesman Journal newspapers requested information from PERS that included the names and benefit amounts for all PERS benefit recipients. PERS denied the requests based on previous legal advice from the Oregon Attorney General that the newspapers failed to adequately show that the public's interest in individually-identified information outweighed those individual's reasonable expectations of privacy.
Both newspapers asked the Attorney General to review that standard, and he issued public records orders directing disclosure of the requested information and concluding that PERS benefit recipients do not, by law, have an expectation of privacy as to that information. Under the public records law, PERS went to court to have those orders reviewed.
Those court cases have been resolved with judgments that direct PERS to disclose certain information related to service and disability retirement benefits. The court judgments require PERS to disclose, on November 21, 2011, the names of every retired member receiving a PERS retirement benefit and the benefit amount.
On March 9, 2012, PERS is also required to disclose, for every retired member, the retirement plan and calculation method used to derive that benefit, as well as the member's years of service and final salary. PERS is also required to disclose, on that date, the dollar amounts of benefits paid to survivor beneficiaries and alternate payees of members (former spouses), but not the names of those recipients.
This resolution establishes reasonable time frames and parameters for PERS to disclose the information. The initial records requests were overly broad and impossible to administer; complying with the subsequent public records orders would have required PERS staff to spend years, at substantial cost, culling through decades of records on microfilm, paper, and electronic media. Instead, the court judgments clearly establish which records will be provided, and allow that process to be accurate and efficient.
Read the Attorney General's public records order involving The Oregonian
Read the Attorney General's public records order involving the Statesman Journal
Read the Settlement Agreement
Read The Oregonian General Judgment
Read the Statesman Journal General Judgment
Read the FAQs: Release of Retiree Information to the Statesman Journal and Oregonian