Public Authorities in New York State.
Citizens Budget Commission, April
Brecher, C. & Brill, J.
Public authorities play a major role in delivering public services. They supplement direct government agencies in three ways:
• Provide a business-like organizational structure for public services that are financed primarily by user fees and whose capital investments are self-financed through bonds supported by user fees.
• Provide a stewardship for major capital assets and make long-run investment decisions with some isolation from pressures of the electoral cycle.
• Provide a mechanism for taking advantage of federal tax benefits for economic development and other purposes that otherwise would be treated as private activities.
Authorities are intended to strike a balance between political accountability and political independence. Unlike heads of direct government agencies, governing boards of authorities are expected to be more independent of those who appoint them, to make difficult and unpopular decisions outside the arena of elected politics, and to be accountable to the public indirectly through reporting, transparency in decision-making and long-run performance. New York State makes extensive use of public authorities.