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General Auditing Principles

The Comptroller General’s Office (GCO) governs and administers the internal operating procedures and general policies of public funds. It is the position of the Comptroller General, to supervise and administer the functions of internal auditors and internal control officers of publicly funded programs. The General Accounting Office (GAO) is an independent board that reports to the U.S. Congress. The Comptroller General oversees the management and policies of the U.S. Examiners Service (USE) and U.S. Auditing Service (USAS) that regulate the examination practices of accountants in the U.S. on behalf of the U.S. government. They also provide evaluations and recommendations to the Secretary of State, the U.S. Secretary of Education, the Attorney General, the President and other Cabinet level officials.

In the role of an examiner, the General Accountant is responsible for identifying, reviewing and correcting public funds management problems that may arise as a result of mismanagement or fraud within the U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Mint, U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, U.S. Federal Reserve, U.S. Board of Trustees, and the Corporation for National Security Management. The examiners examine whether internal controls are adequate for the assurance of fair and timely payment to the government programs for which they have responsibility. They also examine whether internal auditors are knowledgeable and experienced in performing their responsibilities in accordance with the law. The examination helps ensure that U.S. citizens properly administer public funds.

For the purposes of carrying out their responsibility as assigned under the law, the examiners must be registered with the GAO, which is administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. A current list of approved members is available from the Comptroller’s Office. They also maintain a directory that contains names of commissioned examiners and their offices of registration, and names of those who have failed the examination and asked for retesting. The failure of an applicant to comply with the statutory requirements for registration and to provide the required documents within a specific time period automatically disqualifies him or her.

The U.S. comptroller general has specific statutory responsibilities regarding federal agencies. For example, she is responsible for ensuring that the transfer of monies from one agency to another conforms to the procedures and policies established by the federal agencies to accomplish such transfers. She also ensures that the procedures are properly implemented to minimize risks of fraud and wasteful spending. General accounting systems and internal control measures, including audits, should be in place to detect wrongdoing and to deterring it.

In addition, the comptroller general is responsible for ensuring that the executive branch is aware of its responsibilities and its obligations to the American people, both in the performance of its duties and its financial management. The purpose of this title is to establish a framework for the examination and review of agency performance. It includes sections on federal tax policy and the application of the Internal Revenue Code. Other sections address management of Medicare and Medicaid and regulatory burdens imposed on brokers and issuers of Medicare insurance. Other sections address postal policies affecting the Medicare Advantage Plans and other private sector Medicare Advantage Plans.

General auditors must coordinate and perform effective coordination with the boards of directors of internal revenue agencies as well as the heads of other related agencies. They also coordinate and supervise the internal auditing personnel in making sure that they are following the guidelines and laws established by the Comptroller General. The Comptroller General is the U.S. internal watchdog and regulator of public funds. Their main objectives are to ensure that the laws regulating the use of public funds are effective and are not being abused by government programs and agencies. Auditors are responsible for examining the accuracy and validity of the financial records that show how public funds were used, the understated or overstated costs, and whether all public money was spent appropriately. Auditors also review the audit reports that contain the results of such reviews.

General auditors compile and prepare a final report that is forwarded to the U.S. House or Senate Joint Committee on Finance or the Congressional Budget Office. Submitted reports are given to U.S. Congress, U.S. President, Members of U.S. Congress and various governmental agencies and independent organizations who may be interested parties. The general functionaries of the Comptroller General include the executive director, chief accountant, and certified public accountant. Many state Attorneys General and other legislative liaison persons are also members of Comptroller General’s audit committees.

Generally, the auditor prepares and submits an audit report to be used for a hearing of the U.S. Congress, either before the Joint Select Committee on Accounting or the General Accountability Office. Auditors generally communicate their findings to Congress by writing an article or letters. The U.S. Congress generally requires that the general accounting principles governing audited financial statements be publicly released. However, some states may not require public release of general audit reports if they do not consider such reports as being part of the public’s right to receive them.

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