NPRI Takes Legal Action Against State Over Public Records

Joseph Becker, NPRI

LAS VEGAS — The Nevada Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) is once again being taken to court over public records. The Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) announced yesterday that it is petitioning the Nevada Supreme Court to intervene in what they are saying is the state intentionally evading Nevada’s public records act.

According to NPRI, “following a 2013 Nevada Supreme Court opinion, Nevada’s Public Employee Retirement System intentionally altered the way it maintained key documents in an effort to render them largely useless to the general public.”

The Institute’s Joseph Becker added that “by replacing names with ‘non-disclosable’ security numbers in its actuarial record-keeping documents, PERS has attempted to circumvent the 2013 ruling of the Nevada Supreme Court requiring disclosure.”

The group said that in 2015 it requested retirement documents to include on its website, which maintains the salary information of Nevada public employees.

NPRI claimed that it was requesting the same information it had previously made to the agency, but PERS changed how it maintains records, “rendering them virtually useless for transparency purposes. No retiree names were part of the newly engineered report,” Becker explained.

The new report replaces names with social security numbers, which by law cannot be made public, Becker added. “PERS then asserts it is therefore ‘required’ to redact the very social security numbers they inserted instead of names. This leaves nothing more than a list of payments to unknown individuals. It’s a clear attempt to keep the actual payments from public view. Despite having the clear ability to provide the public with useful and complete records, PERS has deliberately subverted transparency by altering its record keeping, and refusing repeated requests for full disclosure.”

PERS did not respond for comment by the time of publication.

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Bob Conrad is co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company (disclosure: he has two part-time contracts working for the University of Nevada, Reno). He is an adjunct faculty member at Truckee Meadows Community College and is a regular contributor to Reno Public Radio.