Updating the CIA’s public statements policy for greater clarity

By Bernard Morency, FCIA, Chair of the Public Affairs Council

In September 2016, in light of the work of the Blue Ribbon Task Force – which was created to accelerate the CIA’s strategic focus on influencing public policy – the Board approved the Policy on the Approval of Public Statements, expanding on the former Policy on the Approval of Public Positions. This task force explored various aspects of the CIA’s public affairs, including managing advocacy, engaging membership, and addressing single public policy topics within the Institute’s structure. The task force’s recommendations prompted the policy’s revision and the creation of Level 1 and Level 2 public statements, driving the CIA’s increased presence in public policy.

Since September 2016, the CIA successfully released multiple Level 1 statements, averaging two Level 1 statements a month in 2018 and 2019, and two Level 2 public statements in 2019: Retire Later for Greater Benefits – Updating today’s retirement programs for tomorrow’s retirement realities and Time to Act: Facing the Risks of a Changing Climate. We are currently working on two more Level 2 statements on pharmacare and risk classification. With this experience under our belt, the Public Affairs Council reviewed and refined the policy earlier this year. In collaboration with people involved in preparing prior Level 1 and Level 2 statements, we identified some improvements. The Board approved the revised version in June 2020.

The major change was restructuring the document by separating the processes in the two types of statements – as these steps were originally treated as one in the original. The new policy now follows each process individually. With this, the policy now better clarifies steps in the process, and offers clearer definitions of what falls under Level 1 or Level 2:

1. Level 1 – A public statement which requires only PAC approval (i.e., does not require member input or Board ratification).

Such a statement would be developed if/when:

i. An external request for comment is received, a response is requested of the CIA on a topic, or the CIA identifies an opportunity to proactively issue a statement on a topic; and

ii. The topic does not have a substantial element that goes beyond the scope and content of existing actuarial standards of practice, guidance, research, or public statements.

2. Level 2 – A public statement which requires PAC approval as well as member input and Board ratification.

Such a statement would be developed if/when:

i. The Board determines that the Institute should proactively draft a public statement on a topic that has a substantial element beyond the scope and content of existing actuarial standards of practice, guidance, research, or public statements; or

ii. An external request for comment is received or a response is requested of the CIA on a topic which has a substantial element that goes beyond the scope and content of existing actuarial standards of practice, guidance, research, or public statements.

Further changes were brought to what would be considered these types of statements, especially Level 1s, offering more example situations based on experience over the past few years. Importantly, the revised policy also emphasizes the link to CIA research, with a goal to maximize coordination of public statements with Research Council activities.

Looking ahead, this policy is an area that continues, even after these changes, to be under consideration. Although the PAC is currently extremely pleased with these policy updates, our review highlighted the need for some greater discussions and refinements to the types of outputs or goals that fall between the cracks of what might be considered a Level 1 or Level 2 statement. Sometimes a Level 1 is “not enough” and a Level 2 is “too much” for what the Institute might want to say or do on an issue. The PAC has launched a working group to explore this issue in more depth.

I offer my thanks to the members of the PAC, members of Single Topic Task Forces (charged with drafting our Level 2 statements), the numerous volunteers who drafted our many Level 1 statements and helped review and refine this document, and our peer reviewers from the membership who shared their input and ideas during the development of this version.

We hope to share drafts of the next Level 2 statements this fall and have a presence at the virtual act20 annual conference to discuss pharmacare and risk classification. Watch for these opportunities to engage in the process of influencing public policy and help actuaries’ voices be heard.

This article originally appeared in the CIA (e)Bulletin.

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