Research carried out for the Financial Times found huge disparities in the amount councils are paying investment managers to run their staff pension funds.
The largest contrast was between Devon and Staffordshire councils which both have around £2.6 billion under management, but pay an average difference of more than £3.9 million per year in fees.
Investor Data Services, who carried out the analysis, also found that the quarter of funds with the most expensive investment management paid more than four times as much as the quarter of funds with the cheapest.
The research comes after local government minister Brandon Lewis launched a review into whether the 89 separate bodies across England and Wales are looking after their portfolios effectively, the newspaper said.
The London Pensions Fund Authority is urging ministers to move to pooled funds, which could make major savings in fees and administration.
It found that while some pension fund charges rose sharply, others fell, including by 39% in Cambridgeshire and by 37% in Richmond-upon-Thames.