Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the California State Auditor?

The California State Auditor is the State's independent external auditor that provides independent, nonpartisan, accurate, and timely assessments of California government's financial and operational activities in compliance with generally accepted government auditing standards. The California State Auditor's Office reports its findings to the Legislature and recommends actions that lead to improving government operations, saving the State and taxpayers millions of dollars.

The California State Auditor's Office:

  • Is the only state entity that is given full access by law to all records of state and local agencies, special districts, and school districts.
  • 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.
  • Brings together a group of individuals with depth and breadth of experience and commitment to the highest standards of integrity and auditing 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.

What Is an Audit?

An audit is an assessment of information for an organization, project, individual, or entity. Audits are conducted to provide insight on internal structure and its effectiveness, evaluation of an entity's performance, pursue any misconduct or wrongdoing, determine the accuracy of information, and propose solutions to problems identified. The goal of the California State Auditor is to report its findings to the Legislature and recommend actions that lead to the improvement of government operations, which saves taxpayers millions of dollars.

The California State Auditor evaluates and assesses:

  • Contracting practices.
  • Management and administrative performance.
  • Financial viability.
  • Compliance with state and federal laws.
  • State agencies or issue areas that are considered high risk for waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement.
  • Traditional financial statements.
  • Government programs.
  • Strategic plans and business processes.
  • Information technology systems.
  • Fairness of state charges and fees.
  • Fulfillment of state departments mission statements and objectives.
  • Departmentwide operations.

The assessments, audits, and evaluations involve:

  • Measuring performance.
  • Assessing efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Testing key management and administrative controls.
  • Offering insights and solutions for value-added approaches, process improvements, and future strategies based on independent assessments.

What Is the Audit Process?

Any member of the Legislature can request the California State Auditor to conduct an audit using two venues—through a request to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC), a 14-member committee comprised of seven senators and seven assemblymembers or through legislation.

JLAC audits (discretionary audits), may evaluate any state agency, city, county, school district, or special district. Mandated audits are typically written into law creating or amending a program or entity or incorporated into the annual Budget Act.

How Do I Request an Audit?

Steps to request a discretionary audit:

  • Submit a letter to the chair of JLAC setting out the topic and potential scope of the requested audit.
  • Review the audit analysis prepared by the California State Auditor's Office to ensure concerns are addressed. The audit analysis is confidential until the public hearing and outlines the issues, scope of the audit, and the California State Auditor's estimated timeline and cost.
  • Present the audit request at the JLAC hearing as the committee deliberates the request.

What Happens Once an Audit Is Approved?

  • The California State Auditor will begin the auditing process when the resources become available.
  • State law precludes the California State Auditor from discussing or disclosing any aspect of the audit once the audit commences.

What Happens After the Audit Is Completed?

  • The California State Auditor will release a report to the public.
  • The California State Auditor is available to discuss the results of the audit with any member or its staff with priority given to the requestor.
  • The California State Auditor is available to the Legislature to testify on the results of a completed audit.
  • The California State Auditor requests auditees to report their progress implementing recommendations at 60 days, six months, and one year. The California State Auditor annually reports to the Legislature the auditee's progress in implementing recommendations

Whom Should I Contact About an Audit?

The Chief of Public Affairs is available for any inquiries and can be reached at (916) 445-0255.

How Do I Apply to Work for the California State Auditor?

The California State Auditor is seeking motivated candidates who already have or are within a year of graduating with a degree in accounting, business, finance, economics, or MPA/MPP/MBA/JD graduate degrees. Candidates must have strong analytical and writing skills—and a desire to be challenged—to apply to join our team in Sacramento. No experience is required; we will train you.

If you are interested in working with the California State Auditor, please click Join Our Team for more information.

What Is the California Whistleblower Protection Act?

Under the California Whistleblower Protection Act (the "Act"), the California State Auditor has broad authority to perform independent investigations into complaints about state agencies or employees engaging in an improper governmental activity. The term "improper governmental activity" is defined by the Act, and includes any violation of law or any conduct that is wasteful of state resources. For more information about what may constitute an improper governmental activity, please consult our Investigations page.

Individuals may submit complaints about improper governmental activities by calling the State Auditor's Whistleblower Hotline. Alternatively, they may submit complaints in writing by mail or facsimile, or through this Web site. For information about how to file a complaint, please consult our About Filing a Complaint page. The State Auditor's Office carefully reviews every complaint received to determine whether to conduct an investigation. At the completion of an investigation, when the State Auditor is able to substantiate that an improper governmental activity has occurred, the State Auditor reports the results of the investigation to the agency where the wrongdoing occurred and makes recommendations to address the wrongdoing. Approximately twice each year, the State Auditor issues a report summarizing the results of investigations that have substantiated an improper governmental activity and makes the report available to the Legislature, the governor, and the public. When appropriate, the State Auditor also refers information about substantiated improper governmental activities to appropriate law enforcement agencies. Although the State Auditor does not have enforcement authority under the Act, state agencies are required to report back to the State Auditor on the actions they have taken in response to the State Auditorís recommendations.

© 2013, California State Auditor | Privacy Policy | Conditions of Use | Download Adobe PDF Reader