Government performance auditing

Government performance auditing

Government performance auditing was developed in the late 1960s and shepherded by the United States Government Accountability Office, (the chief audit arm of the US federal government). Government performance auditing has since spread to most state governments and many closely managed local governments. The main guideline for the field is provided by Government Auditing Standards (aka Yellow Book).

Some progressively managed local governments have also begun to employ continuous municipal performance audits, e.g. Baltimore CitiStat, consisting of weekly accountability sessions where senior politicians question staff closely on performance questions.

Other municipalities like Austin [1], Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, San Jose and others have an Office of the City Auditor within their structure. The goal of the office is to ensure government accountability and to improve economy, effectiveness and efficiency of government operations. The independence is achieved by the reporting structure where the City Auditor is reporting directly to elected council members and not City management. The examples of the work done would be: benchmarking to the other cities with the similar programs, comparing to the best practices entities or guidelines, assessing performance measures of the unit within the entity, checking the reliability of the IT systems of the municipalities, assessing the economic impact of programs or events, etc.

One of the gurus of government performance auditing is Steve Morgan [2]. He served as a City Auditor of Austin for many years and just recently retired. He wrote a book on performance measures [3] and taught multiple performance audit classes nationwide.

In Canada the Auditor General of Canada has strongly advocated a similar approach to improve government at all levels. This complements other efforts in that country such as the FCM InfraGuide for best practice exchange of all routine municipal infrastructure management problems.


International definition

INTOSAI - International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions has published[1] the following definition of Performance Audit:

Performance auditing is an independent examination of the efficiency and effectiveness of government undertakings, programs or organizations, with due regard to economy, and the aim of leading to improvements.

See also

Government financial reports


  1. ^ Implementation Guidelines for Performance Auditing, INTOSAI

External links