GERS Officials Found in Contempt Over Employee Contributions List

The GERS office on St. Thomas.
The GERS office on St. Thomas.

The Government Employees’ Retirement System did not do enough to follow a judge’s order to provide information about employee contributions to the pension system, District Court Judge Curtis Gomez declared Wednesday. Gomez declared GERS in contempt of court and gave them a week to turn over data as directed in early October.

By order of the court the pension system was told to turn over records of employee contributions to the fund between Jan. 2, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2018. The information is to be used to compare data coming from the central government about employer contributions owed to the pension system.

According to court documents, GERS says the government owes more than $104 million to the pension system. At Wednesday’s hearing an information technology specialist for the pension system took the witness stand to explain why the sample time data had not been produced as ordered.

Witness Terrence Thomas said due to the way the software is programmed, individual employee contributions can only be obtained by drawing information from the start to finish of any contributor’s career in government. Producing a smaller sample requires a modification of the software, he said.

Assistant Attorney General Carol Thomas Jacobs said pension officials were defiant. GERS’ position is that they don’t have to provide any information. With a modification priced around $16,000, Jacobs said, pension managers say it’s too expensive.

But Gomez insisted it be done. “This is an endeavor to search for the truth. This is not meant to be one side against the other,” he said.

GERS outside counsel Robert Klausner apologized to the court. He said it’s not certain his client understood what the court wanted them to do. In response, Gomez displayed a copy of an Oct. 11 email from RSM US, LLP, the firm put in charge of doing the analysis.

RSM is a global network of audit, tax and consulting experts.

The message said that although all parties took part in a conference call the day before, pension system officials told RSM “they were confused and misunderstood what RSM was asking for.”

By hearing’s end Gomez said he was more interested in moving to the next step towards figuring out the government’s obligation towards unpaid contributions.

The time sample information is expected to be provided within a week. “I would expect GERS, GVI and (RSM US) to manipulate the data so they can have some sort of reference to produce the data that the court requested,” Gomez said.