Led by California State Auditor Elaine M. Howle, the California State Auditor's Office was established by the Legislature with the belief that governmental audits are an important cornerstone in the system of checks and balances expected by the people of California. The California State Auditor reports its findings to the Legislature, recommending actions that lead to improvement of government operations, saving the state and taxpayers millions of dollars.
The California State Auditor serves the Legislature, governor, and public in distinctive ways that differentiates it from other state agencies and offices. The California State Auditor:
- Is independent, nonpartisan, and is viewed as the State's external auditor.
- Is the only state entity that is given full access to all records of state and local agencies, special districts, and school districts.
- Complies with generally accepted government auditing standards.
- Possesses the authority to perform financial, compliance, performance and contract audits as directed by statute or as approved by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.
- Administers the California Whistleblower Protection Act, which has broad authority to perform independent investigations into complaints that state employees have engaged in improper conduct.
- May identify, audit, and report on state issues that the California State Auditor recognizes as being at high risk for waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement, or that have major challenges related to efficiency or effectiveness.
- Brings together a group of individuals with depth and breadth of experience and commitment to the highest standards of integrity and principles toward the creation of positive reform.
- Makes audits and reviews available as resources.
- Issues a high risk list every two years that identifies, audits, and issues reports with recommendations for improvement in areas detected.
- Follows up on recent audits and reports of any corrective action taken.
Additionally, state statute requires agencies that have not implemented the California State Auditor's recommendations within one year to either report why they have not implemented them or to state when they will implement the recommendations.