Baruch College, City University of New York
An organization owned by the government, but independently managed and financed like a private business. Most government corporations are governed by a board of directors, administered by a professional executive, and financed through the issuance of tax-exempt bonds and the marketing of a service.
Government corporations exist at every level of U.S. government, but are perhaps most prominent at the federal and state levels. Other names for such organizations include public authority, public corporation, special purpose government, public enterprise, and public benefit corporation.
Quasi-public organizations have long been a part of U.S. government. In the 1800s and early 1900s, most corporations were considered to be performing functions of a public character. Consider, for example, the Erie Canal Commission, established in 1816 to manage New York's canal system ; the Panama Railroad Company, purchased by Congress in 1903 to assist in building the Panama Canal; and the Emergency Fleet Corporation, formed in 1917 to supply vehicles during World War I. These early government corporations were designed to be free of the uniform guidelines applied to other traditional government departments so that they could act efficiently in building public works or in financing projects.