Awards for Excellence: San Diego County, CA

Best Practice Strategic Management of Liabilities--Pension, OPEB, and Renewal of Aged Infrastructure

For over a decade, the County of San Diego has worked to strategically align assets and liabilities to mitigate both short- and long-term risks and needs. This has engrained a discipline within county leadership throughout the organization to be consistently mindful of long-term risks when evaluating immediate needs and opportunities. Specifically, the County has taken a long-term approach to align and match assets to growing liabilities, which has resulted in a strategic increase in fund balance done in conjunction with managing growing liabilities in pensions and capital infrastructure renewal. The County leveraged unanticipated property tax growth during the housing bubble to fund these liabilities.

Implementation of this strategy led to an execution model with fundamentals from a number  of GFOA Best Practices. 

The execution model included:

  • A comprehensive review and codification of financial policies
  • Review and evaluation of short-term needs through the assessment of discretionary services while also considering alternate service delivery models
  • Reducing and avoiding new liabilities in the pension and capital areas through the  use of recurring and nonrecurring revenues

As a result, the County was able to:

  • Prepay $422.1 million towards retirement-related costs since 2006
  • Avoid $1.2 billion in costs related to OPEB and implement lower retirement benefit tiers
  • Avoid $1.0 billion in financing costs by paying cash for capital improvements over a  ten year period

 About San Diego County, CA  

 Tools and Resources: San Diego County, CA

For more information, please visit San Diego County's Website


GFOA Best Practices Utilized: