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kent conrad jim lockhart

The Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings was launched in 2014 to examine the U.S. retirement system and offer public policy recommendations that could facilitate increased savings and improve the financial security of Americans in retirement.

Significant change has swept through the American retirement system. Defined benefit pensions are being replaced with defined contribution savings arrangements. Many individuals, however, do not have access to workplace retirement savings plans. Of those who do have access, many are not contributing enough and are at risk for outliving their savings. As a result, millions of Americans may be approaching retirement with inadequate savings to maintain their standards of living.

Areas of focus included:

  • Improving federal policies for private savings. Federal law, including the tax code, contains dozens of provisions designed to encourage saving for retirement and other purposes, as well as others that provide a disincentive to save. Policy changes are needed to increase savings and retirement security, improve consumer protection, and reduce administrative burden for employers.
  • Expanding access to retirement savings vehicles. Evidence shows that Americans who have access to workplace plans are much more likely to save and be prepared for retirement. Today, only about half of U.S. workers have this opportunity.
  • Preserving Social Security for future generations. It is the bedrock of financial security for nearly all retired Americans, and thus, ensuring that Social Security continues to provide a base of income in retirement is imperative. One particularly important aspect is considering how its structure complements private savings.
  • Increasing financial literacy and fostering a culture of personal savings. Too few Americans understand the basics of personal finance or the importance of retirement savings. A strong foundation in financial literacy is vital to empower individuals to address their own savings and financial security needs.

Leaders and Commission

The commission is led by co-chairs Senator Kent Conrad and James B. Lockhart III.

Conrad represented North Dakota in the United States Senate for 26 years and served as the chairman or ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee for 12 years. Lockhart was appointed by President George W. Bush as deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the Social Security Administration and later as director and chairman of the Oversight Board of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. He previously served as the executive director of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation.

The co-chairs are joined on the commission by a mix of former public officials and nationally recognized experts in savings and retirement policy.

View all commission members


During 2014 and 2015, the commission held public events and private roundtables to inform their deliberations with a wide array of perspectives. BPC staff has published a series of white papers and analyses highlighting challenges related to the commission’s work, including short-term and retirement savings, defined contribution accounts, lifetime income, Social Security, and the intersection between homeownership and savings. The commission developed a set of policy recommendations and modeled their impact on personal savings, retirement readiness, and the federal budget.

Final Recommendations

Securing Our Financial Future
June 9, 2016

Retirement challenges dominate media headlines and present policymakers with a tremendous opportunity for action. Tectonic shifts in demographics, policy, and the marketplace have transformed the U.S. retirement landscape. The most profound change has been an ongoing shift by many employers from defined benefit pensions to defined contribution plans. As a result, 401(k)previously an obscure section of the tax codehas become a household name.

White Paper

A Diversity of Risks: The Challenge of Retirement Preparedness in America
October 7, 2014

Many Americans are anxious about their retirement prospects. In fact, a recent Gallup poll found that not having enough money for retirement is the number one financial worry among Americans. For some, this concern is justified, as they face the daunting prospect of running short of money in their later years. But there is considerable variation in preparedness for retirement, and the challenges are more complicated than many realize.


Securing Our Financial Future: Recommendations for Retirement Security and Personal Savings
June 9, 2016

Rethinking Retirement Plans
October 21, 2015

Starting to Save: Innovations for Working America
July 14, 2015

Champions, Critics and Consequences of a New Fiduciary Standard
May 27, 2015

A Bipartisan Opportunity: Improving Retirement Security
May 12, 2015

Making Your 401(k) Last: The Challenge of Lifetime Income in Defined Contribution Retirement Plans
April 1, 2015

Threats to Retirement Security: Longevity, Long-Term Care and Leakage
November 20, 2014

Retirement Security: What’s Working and What’s Not?
July 30, 2014

Launch of the Personal Savings Initiative
April 23, 2014

Staff Analyses

Millennials in Retirement: What Will Happen to Social Security?
April 9, 2016

How Does Social Security Redistribute Earnings?
March 29, 2016

Rising Home Equity But Declining Homeownership
February 17, 2016

Declining Poverty, but Persistent Disparities
February 9, 2016

Workers Move Around, So Should Their 401(k)
January 15, 2016

Will Millennials Save More Than Their Parents?
January 14, 2016

Prize-Linked Savings: Powerball’s Responsible Younger Sibling
January 13, 2016

Treasury Offers New “myRA” Option for Retirement Savings
November 9, 2015

Encouraging Retirement Savings in the Tax Code
October 19, 2015

Social Security at 80: Celebrating the Past and Securing the Future
August 14, 2015

Social Security Trustees Warn of Short- and Long-Term Crises
July 23, 2015

Home Equity: Savings for Retirement?
July 7, 2015

The $1.2 Trillion Problem Hurting Americans’ Savings
June 10, 2015

Retirement Boost: How Waiting for Social Security Can Help Increase Your Benefits
April 6, 2015

Four Tips to Help Make Your Savings Last Throughout Retirement
March 31, 2015

Making Your 401(k) Last a Lifetime
March 25, 2015

Barriers to Savings: Asset Tests
March 13, 2015

Disability Insurance Trust Fund Solvency: Act Now and Later
February 27, 2015

Social Security Disability Insurance in Obama’s 2016 Budget
February 3, 2015

Understanding Proposed Reforms to Military Retirement
February 3, 2015

Obama’s Budget Highlights Retirement Security
February 2, 2015

Is MyRA the Only Way
January 26, 2015

Do You Know How Much Your 401(k) Plan Costs the U.S. Government? (They Don’t!)
January 14, 2015

Illinois Enacts Major Retirement Security Legislation
January 7, 2015

Congress to New Federal Employees: Diversify Your Portfolios!
December 22, 2014

Kline-Miller: Making Tough Choices to Improve Solvency for Retiree Plans
December 15, 2014

Lotteries with No Losers Have the Green Light
December 15, 2014

The ABLE Act Would Create New Opportunities to Save for Americans with Disabilities
December 8, 2014

Multiemployer Plans in Trouble
November 24, 2014

Recent Treasury/IRS Regs Encourage Use of Annuities by DC Account Holders
November 17, 2014

Private-sector Defined Benefit Plans and the PBGC
November 10, 2014

Defined Benefit Plans: Where’d They Go?
October 28, 2014

Needing Help: Long-Term Care Risk
October 14, 2014

New Staff Paper Focuses on Diversity in Retirement Preparedness
October 7, 2014

Outliving Your Savings: Longevity Risk
September 29, 2014

U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Holds Hearing on Retirement Savings Reform
September 24, 2014

Leakage: Taking the Money Too Early
September 19, 2014

The Impact of Automatic Features in Defined Contribution Plans
September 11, 2014

Defined Contribution Retirement Accounts: The New Normal
August 20, 2014

Households near retirement don’t have enough savings
June 17, 2014

A Shift to Defined Contribution Retirement Plans
June 10, 2014

Americans are not prepared for financial emergencies
June 3, 2014

Americans are saving less than we used to
May 27, 2014

Prize-Linked Savings Accounts Are Lotteries with No Losers
May 14, 2014

Why is BPC Launching a Personal Savings Initiative?
April 22, 2014

U.K. Budget Proposes Pension and Savings Changes
April 10, 2014