This two-year-long investigation by AP reporter Mike Baker focuses on a Washington state retirement system for law enforcement officers and firefighters, exploring how some retirees managed to spike their pension values with late raises, how exorbitant medical expenses in the system are hampering local governments, how extreme numbers of disability retirements are costing the government tax revenue, and how some have been able to secure retire-rehire deals despite state efforts to stop such arrangements. The series is based on more than 100 public records requests, many dozens of interviews, the analysis of more than 30 government datasets and the review of thousands of pages of government emails, meeting notes, contracts and actuarial reports. Lawmakers, state officials and a pension oversight board have all taken action in response to the AP series, and the state Legislature is expected to consider alterations to the system during the 2014 session. Leaders in the state retirement system have conducted a variety of audits targeting the cases identified in AP's stories and are now seeking to collect overpayments and recalculate benefits for some of those former workers. State officials believe they can collect or save nearly $1 million as a result of investigations completed so far, and the state expects to announce additional enforcement actions in the coming months.
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