Considering the Klingon "Empire" is pretty much a plutocracy residing over a loose confederation of feudal fiefdoms, there's no simple answer to this question. Some Klingon houses probably run their territories quite smoothly, allocating resources on a need basis and giving everyone their fare share. Others--Duras' territories, for possible examples--are probably slipshod fascist mini-states subjugated only at gunpoint.
Political labels aside, there is probably a practical difference between "The Klingon Empire" and "Territory Controlled by Klingons." The Empire per se
is little more than those colony worlds and holdings that belong to a handful of High Council families and/or assorted friends and allies; the rest of the Empire is likely somewhat decentralized, with various listening posts and border stations monitoring traffic from one territory to the next for billing purposes.
Now, the ROMULAN Empire is exactly the military dictatorship Kirk was describing on Organia (on account of the Klingon-Romulan personality swap that culminated in TNG) so it's probably a vast fascist superstate with Romulus in the center of a collection of puppet governments ruled by military viceroys.