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Treasurer Cowell Announces Independent Investment Fiduciary Governance Commission 

Expert Group to Weigh Reforms of Pension Fund Investing

Raleigh, NC—Today, State Treasurer Janet Cowell announced the establishment of an independent, bipartisan commission to examine and consider governance reforms of the North Carolina pension fund’s investment program.

The Commission, which is composed of industry experts, legislators, and members of the consolidated North Carolina Retirement Systems, will be chaired by Michael Kennedy, Chair of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, the largest U.S. pension. The Commission will make recommendations by April 30, 2014, to be considered by the Treasurer and the General Assembly.

“As Treasurer, I am charged with taking the long view on financial stability,” Cowell said. “North Carolina’s pension fund is strong and one of the best-funded in the country. That’s why we need to look at reforming it from a position of strength. I’ve asked the Investment Fiduciary Governance Commission to take a comprehensive look at our investment governance structure and consider reforms that will benefit retirees for decades into the future. I’m pleased we’ve assembled a cross-section of experts and thoughtful leaders and I look forward to their report and recommendations.”

The independent Commission is charged with examining best practices from the public, private, and nonprofit investment sectors, and recommending improvements for North Carolina’s pension investment structure. The goal is to ensure that the pension fund’s investment program is efficient, cost-effective, transparent, and conducive for long-term growth. 

Specifically, the Commission will:

  • Evaluate the sole investment trustee and investment advisory committee model versus an investment board of trustees or other model
  • Evaluate investment fiduciary independence (including state laws applicable to personnel, procurement, and budget decisions)
  • Evaluate enhancements to external investment oversight, reporting, and monitoring

“I applaud Treasurer Cowell’s leadership and foresight in establishing this study,” said Chair Michael Kennedy. “North Carolina has a solid pension system and the Investment Fiduciary Governance Commission will work to make it stronger.”

As of September 30, 2013, the Department of State Treasurer oversees $83 billion in investments for the North Carolina Retirement Systems. The pension fund was recently named the third strongest in the country by Morningstar. The first meeting will be held on Thursday, January 23, 2014. Hewitt EnnisKnupp, a leading global investment consulting firm, will help advise the Commission.

The Commission members are:

  • Michael Kennedy, Chair, Senior Client Partner of Korn/Ferry International, Chair of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (2011-present)
  • Rhoda Billings, former Associate Justice and Chief Justice of North Carolina Supreme Court (member of Consolidated Judicial Retirement System)
  • Dr. Linda Combs, former Controller of the United States (2005-2007)
  • Representative Nelson Dollar, R-Wake (member of the Legislative Retirement System)
  • Greg Gaskins, Chief Financial Officer, City of Charlotte (member of Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System)
  • Representative Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland (member of the Legislative Retirement System)
  • Senator Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell (member of the Legislative Retirement System)
  • Mark Jewell, Vice President of North Carolina Association of Educators (member of Teachers and State Employees’ Retirement System)
  • Senator Floyd McKissick, D-Durham (member of the Legislative Retirement System)
  • Charles Perusse, Chief Operating Officer, University of North Carolina (member of Teachers and State Employees’ Retirement System)
  • Neal Triplett, President and CEO of DUMAC Inc., Duke University’s endowment and pension fund

View more information including Commission member bios​


The North Carolina Retirement Systems, the formal name for the pension fund, is now the eleventh largest public pension fund in the country. It provides retirement benefits and savings for more than 875,000 North Carolinians, including teachers, state employees, firefighters, police officers and other public workers. For more information, visit