New York's comptroller says 675 local authorities provide public services, employ thousands and spend billions of dollars with limited oversight.
Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says his office's audits have shown an increase risk of waste and abuse, sometimes leaving taxpayers facing millions in "inappropriate costs."
He has proposed legislation to give his office direct audit authority.
The comptroller's report says the 639 authorities operating outside of New York City employ more than 4,300, spend about $1.5 billion a year and have $18 billion in debt.
Services range from facilitating economic development to maintaining water and sewer systems, landfills, parking and public housing. They can be public or private nonprofits.
The state Authorities Budget Office, established in 2009, collects, analyzes and reports data on their finances and legal compliance.