What entities comprise the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, in addition to the three constitutional branches of state government — legislative, executive and judiciary — the legislature has established 56 independent authorities and agencies.  These authorities and agencies have varying degrees of financial integration with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts itself.

The following entitities are so integrated (according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) as to be blended in with the three branches as “governmental activities” of the Commonwealth  in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports of the Commonwealth (“CAFR”, available online from the State Controller’s office at www.mass.gov/osc; see note 1 to the Basic Financial Statements for discussion of the entities in the report):

  •          School Building Authority
  •          Pension Reserves Investment Trust Fund (teachers and state employees; also some fiduciary funds for municipalities)
  •          Municipal Depository Trust (fiduciary funds for municipalities)
  •          State Lottery Commission
  •          Health Care Security Trust Account (recipient of tobacco settlement remittances)
  •          Owner Controlled Workers Compensation and General Liability Insurance Program (Big Dig workers)

 The following entities are also sufficiently integrated to be blended with the above entities as “primary government”, but they are distinguished as “business activities”:

  •          University of Massachusetts
  •          State and Community Colleges
  •          Unemployment Compensation

The following entities are sufficiently related to the Commonwealth that they merit mention in the CAFR, but are discretely presented as “Component Units”:

  •          MBTA
  •          Turnpike Authority
  •          Water Pollution Abatement Trust
  •          Convention Center Authority
  •          Development Finance Agency
  •          Technology Park Conector
  •          Economic Development Agencies
    •           (Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the Zoo, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, 4 others)
  •          Regional Transit Authorities (14)


The following entities are sufficiently isolated financially from the Commonwealth that they are not presented in the Commonwealth’s financial report.  The Commonwealth has only appointing authority with respect to these entities:

  •          Massachusetts Port Authority
  •          Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency
  •          Massachusetts Health and Education Facilities Authority
  •          Massachusetts Technology Development Corporation

 In addition to the above entities, of course, there are 351 cities and towns and 7 remaining county governments within the state of Massachusetts; these are legally seperate from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.