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Auditors: Public employee pension agency not doing enough to prevent double-dipping

by
University of Wisconsin System
University of Wisconsin System

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - State auditors say the agency that runs the public employee pension system is not doing enough to enforce the rules for those who retire, get rehired, and collect both a pension and a paycheck.

The Legislative Audit Bureau found that 2,800 UW employees retired, and were later rehired from 2007 through last year.

The audit said the Department of Employee Trust Funds does not have the ability to determine when and where the system’s being abused. And the auditors suggested written procedures to perform investigations when needed.

The law lets retirees return 30 days after they leave – but the rehiring must not be planned in advance. The idea is to make sure the work gets done, in situations where it takes longer than expected to replace a retiree. And indeed, the audit showed that most returnees worked fewer hours in their second stints, and were employed for less than a year.

The audit found four cases of abuse. The practice drew heavy criticism last year, when it was learned that a UW-Green Bay vice chancellor retired from a $131,000 a year job – and came back a month later and got both his salary and a large pension. It was all pre-arranged, and that led to allegations of double-dipping. It was also the case that triggered the audit and today’s findings.

The Green Bay incident happened during the controversy over the law which limits public union bargaining – and thousands of public employees retired for fear that Republicans would cut their pensions if they didn’t seize them first.

That never happened, just as Governor Walker promised it wouldn’t. And after the Green Bay incident, there were reports that many retirees had quietly returned, and got paid twice with their salaries and pensions. 

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