The survey collects and publishes data on the financial holdings and activities of the 100 largest defined benefit public employee retirement systems based on total cash and security holdings as identified in the most recent Census of Governments: Finance Component. These systems comprise 89.4 percent of financial activity among such entities, based on the 2007 Census of Governments. Financial holdings data show assets in various types of securities such as stocks, bonds, federal notes, and mortgages. Revenue data consist of earnings, as well as contributions from governments and employees. Expenditure data consist primarily of payments to beneficiaries and withdrawals.
Public-employee retirement systems must meet two criteria: (1) they are sponsored by a recognized unit of state or local government as defined by the Census Bureau; and (2) their membership must be comprised of public employees compensated with public funds. These retirement systems consist of defined benefit plans not defined contribution or post-employment healthcare plans.