Pension Crisis

Public Pension Fund Managers Cash in Despite Poor Performance

States offering the highest salaries aren't getting the best returns

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Britt Harris arrived at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas in 2006 from the world's biggest hedge fund with a mandate to improve the pension's performance. He also brought a Wall Street attitude about pay.

Harris, the Texas fund's chief investment officer, made $1 million last year in salary and bonuses, the most of any public pension employee in the 12 most populous U.S. states, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Four other employees made at least $500,000, and the fund paid $9.7 million in bonuses in 2011, more than any in those states.

Funds where executives made far less posted better investment results than those produced by Harris and his staff over three and five years. They included, respectively, the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund, where the top-paid executive last year was William J. Estabrook, at $231,614, and the New Jersey Division of Investment, where director Timothy Walsh made $185,000 plus $7,500 for moving expenses, data show.