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Why Isn't NYCHA within the Purview of NYS Public Authorities Budget Office?

 Reinvent Albany, a NY nonpartisan organization advocating open government, has called upon the NYS legislature to allow the State's Public Authorities Budget Office (ABO) oversight over the NYC's Public Housing Authority. Who knew that the ABO did not? Most people did not know that NYCHA had been conveniently left out of the authorities for which the ABO had oversight. Only the serious policy wonks knew about this slight quirk that all municipal housing authorities had been left out of ABO's jurisdiction.

How many public authorities are there in the State of New York? In December 2019, the State Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations led by Senator James Skoufis issued a critique of the current laws governing public authorities. "As of July 2019, there are 583 active public authorities, an increase of 298, or by 126 percent, since July 2008, when the ABO issued its first annual report."

"The current inventory of covered public authorities includes:48 state authorities,535 local authorities,109 IDAs,294 LDCs,41 urban renewal or community development agencies,28 water, water finance, and water and sewer authorities,9 solid waste and resource recovery authorities,5 parking authorities,3 airport authorities,25 land banks, and 21 miscellaneous authorities."

If a public authority is not part of ABO's jurisdiction, then that public authority is not part of PARIS (Public Authorities Reporting Information System) for ABO. Although citizens cannot use PARIS, the State Comptroller has created a Comptroller's Authorities' Database for citizens, but that database is limited to ABO's jurisdiction which does not include municipal housing authorities. So, the decision not to include municipal housing authorities within ABO's jurisdiction has the consequence of NYCHA's data being denied its citizens.

The 2019 report recommended far more oversight and more power to ABO to do something more than make recommendations to individual authorities concerning their financial management.  "The ABO is limited to publicly warning and censuring authorities for non-compliance and issuing recommendations for corrective action. However, the ABO does not have the authority to compel compliance."

 ABO is toothless. 

Note: For those who know nothing about public authorities, I recommend you read Elizabeth Marcello dissertation, a PhD student at Columbia University, who examined NYS's public authorities. "Public authorities are special purpose governments that supplement routine government services by, for example, building infrastructure, maintaining bridges,8managing public housing, and running mass transit systems. Public authorities use revenue bond financing (i.e., a bond in which revenue generated from the operation of a project or facilities is used to service the debt) and are free from the conventional rules and procedures that apply to traditional government agencies (Leigland, 1994)。 Of critical importance, public authority debt is not included in state and local debt. This allows governments to “get work done” without exceeding debt ceilings or subjecting capital projects and other public services to budgetary and legislative processes (Henriques,1986, 5)。"