Rhode Island has received 12 proposals from vendors seeking to run the state’s new defined-contribution program, which pension overhaul legislation passed last fall created.

The program will be a core part of each employee’s retirement plan and is in addition to their pension benefit.

“The state remains committed to an open and transparent process as selection begins to hire a service provider,” said General Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

The following firms responded to a request for proposal: Variable Annuity Life Insurance Co., ACS, TIAA-Cref, Prudential Financial Inc., Fidelity Investments, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., ICMA-RC, Great-West Retirement Services, ING Groep and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.

MassMutual submitted two proposals with two advisor firms — Legacy Financial Group LLC and J.W. Thompson Investments — each offering separate education services.

According to Raimondo’s office, proposals should include detailed answers in the following areas: robust investment options and management, efficient plan administration and record keeping, effective member communication and education mechanisms, comprehensive retirement planning, and fees and expenses.

The State Investment Commission, Treasury staff and Segal Advisors, the consultant for the defined contribution request-for-proposal process, are reviewing the proposals. The commission is expected to approve a final choice by March 1, and the program will take effect July 1.

Rhode Island lawmakers this year expect to debate measures enabling cities and towns, many financially stressed, to overhaul locally administered pension plans, with the state-level changes serving as a model. Collectively, the 36 locally administered plans have a reported unfunded liability of about $2.1 billion, and a funding level of only 40%.

Unlike the state-administered system, many of these local plans are determined by collectively bargained contracts. Local plans vary widely.

Eight communities in the state received downgrades from Moody’s Investors Service in 2011, and Central Falls filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection on Aug. 1. East Providence is under the oversight of a budgetary commission, in the second of three state-level intervention steps.

Moody’s rates the state’s general obligation bonds Aa2, while Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s each assign an equivalent AA.

Raimondo on Wednesday hosted a pension plan workshop in Providence for municipalities. Twenty-one cities and towns heard presentations from the state’s actuary, Joseph Newton of Gabriel Roeder Smith & Co., and the state’s investment consultant, Allan Emkin of Pension Consulting Alliance.

Speakers included former New York Lieut. Gov. Richard Ravitch, who discussed his task-force work with former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, and his 1975 efforts to avoid New York City’s bankruptcy.

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