The Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General is the chief fiscal watchdog of the commonwealth. It is responsible for using audits to ensure that all state money is spent legally and properly.
The auditor general was created by an act of the General Assembly in 1809. The auditor general was appointed by the governor until 1850, when it became an elected office. The auditor general can serve a maximum of two, four-year terms. Timothy L. DeFoor is Pennsylvania’s 52nd elected auditor general.
The mission of the Department of the Auditor General is to serve the people of Pennsylvania by improving government accountability, transparency, and the effective use of taxpayer dollars.
What we audit
The department is responsible for three types of audits:
- Financial Audits – Help ensure the reliability of financial information on which much of the state government operates.
- Performance Audits - Gauge whether or not government programs and activities are meeting stated goals and objectives, and if tax dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively.
- Attestation Engagements : Provide users of financial or nonfinancial information with assurance to the reliability of the related subject matter or assertion, which includes examinations, reviews, or agreed-upon procedures (compliance) audits
Audits of state tax dollars by the Department of Auditor General include:
- Children and Youth Agencies Review cost reports for 67 county Children and Youth agencies to determine the proper use of state funds. The money is used to administer social services and to protect children and youth from abuse and neglect.
- Corporate tax returns Review corporate tax returns after being processed by the Department of Revenue. This includes identifying corporate tax return errors that can result in unpaid taxes owed to the commonwealth.
- Commonwealth basic financial statementsJointly audited with an independent public accounting firm, the commonwealth’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR), which includes the basic financial statements, is prepared by the Office of the Budget in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). The basic financial statements are presented to fairly report the commonwealth’s financial position, results of operations, and changes in net position/fund balances.
- District courts and county row offices Ensure that commonwealth fines, costs, fees, taxes, restitution, and surcharges are properly assessed, collected, receipted, and remitted to the appropriate state agency.
- Federal funds spent by the commonwealthJointly audited with an independent public accounting firm, the Single Audit is performed in accordance with Government Auditing Standards, and satisfies the requirements of the Single Audit Act Amendments of 1996 and the provisions of OMB Circular A-133, Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations. The Single Audit reports the commonwealth’s spending for approximately 300 federal programs, compliance with laws and regulations, internal controls over financial reporting, and compliance with requirements related to federal award programs.
- Liquid fuels tax funds Ensure that liquid fuels tax funds received by all 67 counties were expended in accordance with various laws and Department of Transportation regulations. A liquid fuels tax is a 12 cent tax imposed on each gallon of liquid fuels, primarily gasoline, and fuels used or sold and delivered by distributors in Pennsylvania.
- Municipal pension plans Ensure that pension plans established by municipalities for their police officers, paid firefighters and non-uniformed employees are properly funded and are administered in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, contracts, procedures and policies. The Department of the Auditor General is required to audit every municipality which received general municipal pension system state aid.
- Performance of state programs Focus on whether a state program is working the way it should and as its management assured the public it would.
Their impetus arises from several places:
-A tip from a watchdog citizen
-Abuse of public funds exposed in the media
-An audit finding in the field
- School districts, including charter schools and cyber charter schools Examine the records of school districts, intermediate units, charter and cyber schools and area vocational technical schools. Auditors assess whether the public school entities received the correct state subsidies and reimbursements and complied with applicable laws and regulations. They also evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of certain operational areas and determine whether teachers and administrators are properly certified for their positions.
- State-owned facilities Provide independent and objective assessments of programs, activities and functions. These performance audits include:
-State-related and state-owned universities
-State veterans centers
-State correctional institutions
-State mental health facilities
-State youth development centers
- Volunteer Firefighters’ Relief Associations Ensure that Volunteer Firefighters’ Relief Associations (VFRFAs) funds are spent according to state law. VFRAs are non-profit organizations established to afford financial protection to volunteer firefighters who suffer misfortune as a result of their efforts. VFRAs receive state aid from a two-percent state tax on fire insurance purchased by Pennsylvania residents from insurance companies outside the state. These funds are used to pay for insurance to protect firefighters, purchase fire equipment and to cover volunteer training expenses. VFRAs are distinctly separate legal entities from fire companies.