A city auditor is a city employee whose job it is to keep city government transparent and accountable, demonstrating to citizens that their government is acting responsibly and wisely with their money. Some city auditors, in addition to performing audits, also manage the financial accounts of the cities for which they work, acting as the city’s chief financial officers. City auditors are usually separate from other city officials and report directly to the city council and the public.
A city auditor’s responsibilities can be quite diverse. He or she has full access to everything at City Hall and can order an audit at any time. City auditors are usually aided a diverse team of employees, including accountants who examine bookkeeping records, lawyers who ensure that laws are properly enforced, environmental experts who oversee environmental projects, and so on. If no one on staff is qualified for a particular auditing job, a city auditor may be able to hire outside experts.
City auditors are responsible for responding to citizen complaints as well as conducting independent investigations into areas of city government that they believe are questionable. Members of the public who want to see the results of city audits can see the records of their audits, and audits are also presented at city council meetings. The city auditor’s job is to keep the city honest, so he or she does not present findings in closed-door meetings or keep audit results hidden.
Depending on regional laws, the city auditor may be appointed the city council or elected the mayor. Because the auditor is a city resident, he or she may be subjected to a background check to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest. Because they may be involved in disputes in which people are attempting to conceal or manipulate information, city auditors must have excellent personal integrity and strong personalities.
From the water officials who bill citizens for using the municipal water supply to legal consultants who advise city council, auditors are interested in financial accounts, performance on city projects, city staffers, and anything else related to the city’s work. A person interested in becoming a city auditor should pursue a degree in a field of interest, such as accounting, and work in a city auditor’s office to gain experience with the nature of the job and the situations that auditors face. Someone with work experience in a city auditor’s office can apply for the position of city auditor.