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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

Photo: Alice Maroni

Earlier this month, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez visited PBGC to praise the agency for its good works and to acknowledge PBGC's 40th anniversary. At the same time, the agency officially ushered in a new era of leadership.

Alice Maroni was introduced as the Acting Director. Maroni is no stranger to the agency, serving as Chief Management Officer for the past three years. During his talk, Perez praised Maroni with a vote of confidence, saying the agency will be well-served by her leadership. "You are in very good hands with Alice." he said. "And we have all the confidence in the world, as I suspect you do as well, in her many talents."

Those talents were honed by a distinguished career in public service. Maroni spent a decade at the Smithsonian as Chief Financial Officer, before coming to PBGC in May 2011. Prior to that, she held leadership and management positions at the Department of Defense and on Capitol Hill.

"If you know me, then you know that I am committed to the mission of PBGC," Maroni said in her first agency wide address as Acting Director.


PBGC and Open Government

  |   September 15, 2014

We'd like to highlight some recent updates to PBGC's Open Government webpage. The page includes important PBGC data sets, underlying data that supports PBGC programs. Additionally, the page provides information about how the American public can provide input to help make PBGC's work and performance even better and more engaging.

In accordance with the President's Open Government Initiative, PBGC has posted an updated version of its Open Government Plan [PDF], version 3.0. Our Plan reflects input from senior policy, legal, and technology leadership in PBGC, as well as our customers and visitors.

We've posted two new data sets: Multiemployer Pension Plan Terminations, Mergers, and Insolvencies and Summary of Changes; both are updated annually. These data sets present machine accessible downloadable information that was previously unavailable online.

These data sets can be used to increase agency accountability, improve public knowledge of the agency and its operations, create economic opportunity and further the agency's mission.

PBGC welcomes stakeholder input on these data sets and other ways PBGC can promote the values of transparency, participation and collaboration in government.

To help us do a better job of serving you, please consider the following:

  • What PBGC data or content should we make more readily available?
  • Which PBGC online service or data would you like to be easier to use?
  • Which PBGC service would you like to use on your mobile device?

Please direct feedback to

This entry is part of a series of blog posts that looks back and commemorates the agency's work.

PBGC 40th Anniversary Logo

The big blows are landed

The fight to save pensions intensified, as financial crisis led to broken promises and end-runs on pension security. Iconic companies moved to end pension security and the number of people served by PBGC continued to rise.

We started the decade with annual benefit payments to participants surpassing the $1 billion mark for the first time.

As 2001 started, PBGC took over two Trans World Airlines' pension plans. These plans covered 36,500 former workers and retirees and were underfunded by about $700 million. By the end of the year annual benefit payments by PBGC to participants surpassed the $1 billion mark for the first time.

TWA was merely the first big blow of many that decade.


This entry is part of a series of blog posts that looks back and commemorates the agency's work.

Early Program Warning cartoon. A tailor with PBGC on his shirt tells his customer 'A nip here... a tuck there.. and we'll be all set!' His customer has a suit jacket with 'Early Warning Program' written on it.

The Landscapes Shift

The intensity of our work began to widen and deepen, calling upon us to use our creative, financial and legal skills to find new ways to alleviate a sudden rash of pension jettisoning. At the same time, we significantly improved protection for people with traditional pensions, and we expanded and strengthened our customer service platform.

The decade started with a pleasant, familiar result: The U.S. Supreme Court issues an 8-1 decision in the LTV case affirming PBGC's broad authority to address abuses of the federal pension insurance system.

It helped fortify us for a decade of determined destinations that improved our service and fortitude.

For example, as 1990 ended we established the "Early Warning Program" to work with plan sponsors to reduce risk and prevent losses to plan participants and the insurance program as a consequence of corporate transactions. That program paid off in May 1994 when we negotiated a $10 billion pension contribution from General Motors — the largest single contribution ever made to a PBGC-insured pension plan.

The next year, 1995, the John F. Kennedy School of Government and Ford Foundation presented us with the Innovations in Government Award for that Early Warning Program. This award recognizes innovative government solutions in response to social or economic problems.

It was not the only new, important idea we implemented and that succeeded.


This entry is part of a series of blog posts that looks back and commemorates the agency's work.

PBGC 40th Anniversary Logo

Setting the foundation

What a way to start a decade: Standing in front of the Supreme Court. Yet that is how we began the 1980s, seven days into the year, arguing — and winning — a major decision that upheld the constitutionality of employer liability.

We won a big decision in a battle that was part of a wider, tougher war — and a war where those seeking pensions were losing ground. It was the decade when pension plans sharply turned to become programs at risk.

The decade started with 35.9 million private-sector workers (46 percent of all private-sector workers) being covered by a pension plan. As of Sept. 30, 1980, we were responsible for about 50,000 people.

That decade saw our assets grow along with our responsibilities. We went from being responsible for about 50,000 people to more than 250,000 people. Our assets exceeded $1 billion for the first time.

And the firsts continued.


This entry is part of a series of blog posts that looks back and commemorates the agency's work.

Photo of President Ford signing ERISA bill

We hit the "Door" running

We had no time to hang photos, adjust chairs or figure out how to dial long distance. Visualize the rush on department store doors on Black Friday — well, that was much like what greeted us when we opened our doors for the first time in Silver Spring, Md., in 1974.

More than 200 urgent cases waited for us before the first pot of coffee was brewed.

Two days later our Board met for the first time and 21 days later we mailed our first premium forms. And it has not slowed since.

Initial annual premiums were $1 per plan participant in the single-employer program and 50 cents per participant in the multiemployer program. Thus began our march together with workers and employers seeking to preserve pension security for hard-working Americans.

When President Ford signed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) on Sept. 2, 1974, which included creation of PBGC, he gave us our charge: "Today, with great pleasure, I am signing into law a landmark measure that may finally give the American worker solid protection in his pension plan," Ford said.

"May" is the word we looked at hard and carefully. In a sense, we want to make the impact of that word as minimal as possible and — ideally — change "may" to "will."

We are not there yet.