1997 The new PSERS Business System (PBS) continued to be a priority as a service to our membership. A new reception area was created on the ground floor. Assets fell just shy of $40 billion; active members numbered 210,000, and retirees numbered 119,000.
1998 Act 41 was signed into law on April 2, 1998, providing a 30 & Out retirement window for school employees. The act provides school employees with two distinct 30 & Out windows - the first from April 2, 1998 through July 10, 1998, and the second from April 1, 1999 through June 30, 1999.
Act 88 was signed into law in June 1998 providing the following:
- one year opportunity for the purchase of certain maternity leaves
- cost-of-living adjustments for retirees who retired before July 1, 1997
- PSERS Board of Trustees with the flexibility to waive benefit adjustments in cases of hardship
Regulation 43-6 provides members who are retiring, a limited opportunity to change the terms of their retirement plan.
PSERS began initial construction and launch of the PSERS Internet website.
PSERS implemented toll-free telephone service and extended Member Service Center hours.
PSERS successfully renovated all mission critical application systems to meet with the Year 2000 compliancy regulations.
1999 Dale Everhart was selected as the new Director of PSERS and began work with the agency in January.
PSERS developed a new way to pay for the cost of purchasing additional service. Members may now place a debt against their retirement account to pay for the service upon retirement.
The introduction of the PSERS Internet website in August 1998 allowed for communication with members using the Internet via e-mail with a total of 613 inquiries received and 596 responses sent. During the early months of the website, PSERS received an average of 2,000 visits per month; as of July 1999 the website was visited on the average of 20,000 times per month with each visit lasting approximately 10-15 minutes.
An eighth Regional field office opened in early June in Johnstown, PA, to better serve our membership in Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Indiana, Somerset and Westmoreland Counties.
In keeping with the Commonwealth directives on this issue, preparing the Agency for the Year 2000 change over was one of the Agency's top priorities for this fiscal year. In preparation for the Year 2000, PSERS tested all computer systems and made contingency plans for both mainframe and personal computer hardware and software programs, backed-up all critical member records, and arranged for the early payment of the December 31, 1999 benefit payments and planned an early year-end accounting closing. Finally, PSERS developed contingency plans to cover all aspects of the Agency's operations.
2000 The Wilkes-Barre Regional Office relocated to downtown Wilkes-Barre in late February and the Williamsport Regional Office relocated to Lock Haven in early June. These moves enabled both offices to better serve the membership within their respective regions.
PSERS contracted with an independent auditing firm to examine the design and operating effectiveness of PSERS' internal financial controls. The auditor stated that PSERS has an effective system of internal control and is in accordance with the Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 2.
The Executive Office completed the Membership Survey Project. PSERS surveyed recently retired members, retirees, and active members to measure their satisfaction with PSERS services and future needs for services. This information was used during the planning process to guide agency direction.
In keeping with the Commonwealth directives on this issue, preparing the Agency for the Year 2000 change was a success. There were no interruptions in work or in service to the members. The early payment of the December 31, 1999 benefit check occurred successfully to avoid any disruption in cash flow to the members that may have occurred if Y2K problems had arisen.