A Primer on Public Sector Automatic Enrollment

Automatically enrolling participants is one of the most effective methods for increasing participation in defined contribution retirement plans. However, while automatic enrollment was universally authorized in the private sector more than a decade ago through the Pension Protection Act of 2006, public sector defined contribution plans were not included in the legislation. For public sector plans, each state is responsible for determining whether or not they will allow automatic enrollment, and many states have laws preventing its establishment. This has created a muddled landscape that is highly localized with little consistency across states.

The NAGDCA Automatic Enrollment Map

The purpose of the NAGDCA Automatic Enrollment Map is to cut through the fog and present the full national picture of state laws affecting public sector automatic enrollment. This tool describes who is allowed to implement automatic enrollment, who is not, and also shows the relevant laws in each state. The result is the clearest, most comprehensive resource available on the topic. Click on any state to learn more.

Automatic Enrollment by the Numbers

States Allowing Auto Enrollment States Preventing Auto Enrollment States Allowing Some Auto Enrollment
9 25 16

Yes – Automatic Enrollment Allowed for All Public Sector Plans

No – Automatic Enrollment Legally Prohibited for All Public Sector Plans

No – Automatic Enrollment Legally Prohibited Unless it is Collectively Bargained

Partial – Automatic Enrollment Legally Allowed for Some Public Sector Plans

Recently Proposed Laws Affecting Public Sector Automatic Enrollment

Recently Passed Laws Affecting Public Sector Automatic Enrollment


The State of Ohio recently passed legislation to add automatic enrollment for all State employees. Read the bill here.

To see a list of NAGDCA member plans with automatic enrollment, click the button below and select the “Plan Features Search” tab at the top of the link.

View Members

NAGDCA extends a special thank you to Hrishikesh Shah, Megan Murphy, and Marla Kreindler from NAGDCA-member law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP for their outstanding help interpreting legislation in each state.  

NAGDCA also thanks John Saeli, Angela Montez, and Greg Muha from NAGDCA-member organization ICMA-RC for their assistance with the project.

NAGDCA also thanks Marilyn Collister from NAGDCA-member organization Empower Retirement for her contributions and guidance.

For questions related to this page, or if you are a plan administrator with information for your state, please contact us here.