Public Policy Students Tackle Pension Problems in 2012 Case Competition

Six teams of graduate students from universities across Georgia competed to provide policy recommendations for a real world case: the underfunded state pension system of Illinois. The second annual School of Public Policy Case Competition was hosted August 31 by the Public Policy Graduate Student Association (PPGSA) at Georgia Tech.

"The importance of using the Illinois case was for the teams to not only think about the policy implications, but also make informed recommendations given the current political, economic, and financial factors we are faced with right now," said Jenna Howard, lead organizer of the event and a graduate student in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts School of Public Policy. "Our goal for the competition is for it to simulate a real-world problem, and we felt like this case was perfect for teams to have to balance these factors in their recommendations."

Each team - comprised of three to five graduate students from Kennesaw State University, Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, and the University of Georgia - were given 24 hours to develop and present a policy proposal during the two-day competition. A panel of six judges ranked team's presentations on factors that included quality of statistical analysis, presentation logic, and professionalism.

"All six teams did a stellar job trying to balance the interests of various parties while keeping in mind the current political and economic environment," said Howard.

The University of Georgia's MPA team took first place for recommending a hybrid model for pension contributions and increased education for state employees in making wise investments for their future. Second place went to Georgia State University's Economics team, which recommended raising the retirement age and suggested a tiered model approach for employee contributions. Georgia Tech's team, the only team comprised solely of first-year graduate students, argued for an optional employee pension plan and a five-year review by an impartial party.

PPGSA and other School of Public Policy students and faculty were responsible for coordinating the event, raising funds for prizes, and seeking permission to use the case, titled "Tough Choices for the Illinois Pension System" and distributed by the Harvard Business School.

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  • 2012 SPP Case Competition

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  • 2012 SPP Case Competition

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Rebecca Keane