Dear NAGDCA Members,
If you had asked me at the beginning of this year what a letter to members would look like on December 1, 2020, I would have guessed it would focus on a few things: a successful conference, the joy of seeing you all again in person, and maybe newly passed legislation containing NAGDCA’s priorities. None of those came to pass, though new retirement legislation is still possible in 2020.
However, to dwell on what we missed this year would be a mistake. The transition for many of you to virtual work has created an opportunity for us to increase the value of your membership by delivering better online products and interactive opportunities throughout the year. In 2021 you will see the beginning of a new NAGDCA, built on two pillars of our recently updated strategic plan – interactive member forums and in-depth research focused on public sector retirement plans.
In October, many of you participated in NAGDCA Connect, our online learning and engagement series. This was not a one-time “conference replacement”, but a new format for you to interact with each other through our platform. In the future, you will see Connect sessions with content ranging from small group conversations to topic-focused interactive discussions to full panel presentations. We will experiment with different formats and groupings based on geographic region, plan asset size, topic interest, and many others. Your feedback will drive our work, and we encourage you to let us know what you want to learn and who you want to meet.
Next year will also mark our first step in presenting to you a more comprehensive picture of public sector retirement. Our data and research partnership with the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI), which we are calling the Public Retirement Research Lab (PRRL), will present its first set of findings in January. This “State of Public DC Plans” will represent data from hundreds of public plans, thousands of employers, and millions of participants, all distilled and analyzed by EBRI’s nationally acclaimed researchers. Presentations later in the year will combine data from participant outside assets (401(k) and IRA accounts), along with precise estimates of DB benefits. It will truly begin a new era in understanding your plans and your participants’ ability to retire securely.
NAGDCA’s staff and Executive Board has focused on 2020 not as a year of loss, but of opportunity and new thinking. We have challenged ourselves to orient our work toward providing you with more and better content despite the limitations of the current environment. Make no mistake, we missed seeing you in person in Seattle, and cannot wait to welcome you to Phoenix in September of 2021. Until then, expect to see a new NAGDCA that is more nimble, timely, and impactful – one built specifically for you. To that end, we are conducting a short membership satisfaction survey to collect feedback that will help guide our future activities. I encourage you to take five minutes to let us know how we can better serve you as we move into the new year. Click here to complete the survey.
We sincerely appreciate your membership, your support, and your feedback. You are doing incredibly important work for your employees, and we will continue to do everything we can to help you do it better. Have a wonderful holiday season and stay safe and healthy!
NAGDCA Executive Director
Divided Government, NAGDCA Achievements and Additional Opportunities
Along with the calendar year, the final lame duck session of the 116th Congress is grinding inexorably toward adjournment sine die – with significant work yet to do. At the top of the list is must-pass legislation to keep the federal government operating after short-term funding runs out at midnight on Dec. 11. Meanwhile, calls are also intensifying for top party leaders to reach an agreement on new coronavirus relief and economic stimulus legislation, though additional fiscal aid for state and local governments remains a stubborn sticking point.
Despite the inevitable pre-election legislative slowdown and the dominant news narratives highlighting tension and gridlock in Washington, NAGDCA’s advocacy over the past year paid off with some notable successes. On Oct. 1 the U.S. Senate unanimously approved S. Res. 743, endorsing the month of October 2020 as the first ever National Retirement Security Month. On Oct. 27, U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Ranking Republican Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) introduced the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2020 (H.R. 8996), also known informally as SECURE 2.0. The legislation includes three provisions which are NAGDCA legislative priorities. The bill would enable use of collective investment trusts (CITs) by 403(b) plans, eliminate the “first day of the month” rule for 457(b) plans, and permit 457(b), 401(a), 401(k), and 403(b) plan participants to make qualifying charitable distributions (QCDs) up to $130,000, beginning at age 70 ½. The bill also contains other provisions of interest to governmental defined contribution plans. Click here to learn more.
The Neal-Brady bill could, along with the Retirement Security and Savings Act (S. 1431) introduced last year by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Ben Cardin (D. Md.), form the basis of a new bipartisan retirement package that could move next year. In fact, despite how narrowly divided both the House and the Senate will be in the 117th Congress, Sens. Portman and Cardin and Chairman Neal and Ranking Member Brady are all on the record expressing confidence that retirement policy can be one area for productive bipartisan collaboration next year.
NAGDCA has also begun staff-level conversations with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to explore NAGDCA’s proposal for the SEC and IRS clarify that deemed IRAs can invest in CITs. While the initial conversations were promising, NAGDCA will need to develop additional information for the SEC to see if they would be amenable to providing “no action” relief. It would be helpful for us to connect with NAGDCA government members who have already set up deemed IRAs programs and would be interested in investing in CITs; or are seriously considering setting up deemed IRAs and favorable SEC guidance in this regard would support the deemed IRA initiative. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more about how you might be able to support this effort.
Thank you to all NAGDCA members who have submitted federal policy proposals to the Legislative Committee and supported our efforts this year to see NAGDCA priorities included in the Securing a Strong Retirement Act. Please watch out for NAGDCA Legislative Alerts with opportunities for you to lend your voice in support of these measures as they move through the legislative process.
Finally, I hope you will join me and our expert panel for the NAGDCA Connect webinar on Dec. 9, for a deeper dive into the outlook for retirement policy with a new Congress and Administration in Washington, DC.
2020 Membership Satisfaction Survey
How are we doing? NAGDCA is looking for feedback from members to help guide our activities over the next year. Please let us know how we’re doing and how we can improve by completing our short (5 minute) 2020 satisfaction survey by Friday, December 18. Click here to complete the survey.
Thank you to all those who joined us in October for the NAGDCA Connect learning and engagement series! Over 600 plan sponsors and industry professionals joined us for the month-long series as we learned and networked during general sessions, learning labs, and small group exchanges. We missed seeing everyone in-person, but we are thankful for the opportunity to bring together the NAGDCA community virtually.
As we look ahead, we are excited to continue to bring you NAGDCA Connect sessions year-round. We are going to build on our experiences to develop valuable online programming for our members that provides opportunities to convene the NAGDCA community outside of our annual conference. Click here to learn about the upcoming NAGDCA Connect webinar that will feature an expert panel discussing the outlook for retirement policy in 2021 with a new Congress and Administration in Washington, D.C.
2021 Conference Update
We know many of you are in the midst of 2021 budget planning, so we wanted to provide you with an update on the status of our 2021 annual conference scheduled for September 12-15 in Phoenix, AZ. Currently, we are planning for our typical in-person experience at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown while also developing a virtual option for those who are unable or unwilling to travel. We will provide updates as the conference committee finalizes the new logistics for the hybrid approach.
In addition to planning the hybrid experience, we are also considering the possibility of again having to shift to an all-virtual event. As we have always said, our number one priority is the health and safety of our attendees. That continues to be the case as we look ahead to 2021. We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to focus on doing what is in the best interest of the organization and our members. We will continue to provide you with updates as details are finalized.