OregonSaves Pilot Launch ‘Successful,’ State Board Says

By John Iekel • July 21, 2017 • 0 Comments
The July 1 launch of the Oregon Retirement Savings Program (ORSP, or OregonSaves) pilot has been a success, according to a report by the Oregon Retirement Savings Board that looks at the program’s first few weeks, as well as what lies ahead.

Status Report

The minutes of the board’s June 20 meeting report that by then, 11 employers had registered with OregonSaves and 21 employees had taken action, 14 of whom had stated that they wanted to participate and seven of whom opted out. They also say that employers were reporting that the process of using OregonSaves was very easy.

Project Manager Alex Nelson reported to the board, according to the meeting minutes, that:

  • the budget had 90% of committed funds, of which 84% had been spent;

  • the OregonSaves staff is working with supplemental counsel to prepare a strategy for potential litigation;

  • the developmental phase was 95% complete; and

  • the implementation phase, which consists of two pilots, was 51% complete.

There is steadily growing interest in OregonSaves, the board reports. The number of stakeholders engaged, particularly in the private/non-profit sector and among employers, has been increasing steadily all year. In addition, the number of emails and phone calls OregonSaves staff have received and handled jumped from May to June.

As part of the lead-up to the July 1 launch of the first pilot, OregonSaves held 30 events in the period from April to June, hosting nearly 3,000 people.

The board reports that the budget for the program for 2017-2019 is $2,150,000, and that 60% of requested funds have been achieved. It also says that all major milestones have been met so far and that future enhancements to the program are on track.

The program began processing contributions on July 3, the first business day following the July 1 launch. On July 3 it also began nightly cycle processing, funding and reconciliation via ACH processing systems, and participant withdrawals and exchanges.

Management of the Program

Ascensus is playing a key role in managing OregonSaves. The TPA has hired two institutional relationship managers who will assist the board and the program staff in increasing awareness of OregonSaves by conducting regional information sessions for employers and employees, as well as working with employer groups, trade associations and non-profit organizations to provide information and training about the program.

The minutes of the board’s June 20 meeting report that the board approved two motions that Ascensus had requested. In one, Ascensus requested an amendment to the rules that clarify that authority under which accounts for auto-enrolled participants will be established; the other modifies language related to enrollment in the program. This change, which is temporary and is effective through Dec. 18, 2017, inserts language to clarify that if an employee has not established an IRA after being notified and having been given an opportunity to opt out of the program, an IRA will be established for that employee under directives and procedures the board establishes.

The board reports in the OregonSaves Statement of Investment Policy that SSGA Funds Management, Inc. serves as the investment adviser to the OregonSaves underlying fund, which invests in a combination of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

Looking Ahead

The second pilot of OregonSaves is waiting in the wings. Registration for it will begin on Aug. 15, and contributions to it will start on Jan. 1, 2018. It will incorporate improvements made since the development and launch of the first pilot: payroll provider enhancements, streamlined email communication, updated forms, additional web content and Spanish and Russian translations.

Starting Nov. 15, 2017, Oregon employers with 100 or more employees must begin to register with the program, either certifying that they already offer their workers access to a qualified retirement plan or automatically enrolling them into OregonSaves. The program will then be further phased-in based upon employer size over a 2½-year period so that by May 15, 2020, all employers that either employ one or more individuals 18 years or older for 18 separate weeks during the year or whose quarterly payroll is $1,000 or more will have to register with the program.