LAS VEGAS — A conservative think tank wants a judge to force Nevada’s Public Employees’ Retirement System to release the names of pension recipients, saying the agency changed its record-keeping policies recently so it’s impossible to tell who’s receiving how much from the system.
The Nevada Policy Research Institute filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in Carson City court this week. No court date has been set, but a judge could choose to compel the system to release the data requested in a format that’s more usable for NPRI, which maintains a searchable online database of public employee salary and benefit information.
“It’s a clear attempt to keep the actual payments from public view,” said Joseph Becker, the director of NPRI’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation. “PERS is also violating both the letter and spirit of the Nevada Public Records Act.”
Officials from the PERS executive office declined to comment.
NPRI said it requested data about pension payouts last year to add to a website it maintains called Transparent Nevada. The organization received a report that listed pension payouts not by retiree name but by Social Security number, which by law must be redacted.
“This leaves nothing more than a list of payments to unknown individuals,” Becker said.
NPRI said PERS has a list of names that match the Social Security numbers and could create a usable report, but has declined to do so.
The think tank said a 2015 Nevada Supreme Court decision indicates that agencies aren’t excused from their disclosure duties if they have a computer program that could compile the information.