About the Single Audit

Audit of Federal Programs

The California State Auditor's Office conducts all audits in accordance with audit standards issued by the U.S. Comptroller General's Government Accountability Office (GAO), including standards that we must follow as an independent auditor. To preserve the independence of our office and to ensure the receipt of federal funds, state law requires the State Auditor to follow those standards that explicitly free the auditor from control by the executive branch.

Congress created the Single Audit Act of 1984 (Act) to improve auditing and management of federal funds provided to state and local governments. The Act requires a single organization-wide financial and compliance audit for state and local governments. The Act is intended to promote sound financial management, including effective internal controls, with respect to federal awards administered by state and local governments and nonprofits. Internal controls encompass a system of accounting and administrative controls. Such controls include management and program policies, procedures, and guidance that help ensure effective and efficient use of resources; prevention and detection of fraud, waste, and abuse; and the reliability of financial reporting. State law requires each state agency to establish and maintain a system of internal accounting and administrative controls.

In addition to internal controls, the Act focuses on compliance with laws and regulations governing federal awards. Compliance refers to how well the respective agency receiving federal funds complies with the requirements in federal law, regulations, contracts, and grants applicable to each of its federal programs.

As required by the Act, the State Auditor complies with Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards when conducting the financial and federal compliance audit. The GAO issues these standards. In addition, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issues guidance for auditors to follow when conducting the Single Audit. This guidance is intended to provide for consistency and uniformity for the audit of the expenditure of federal awards by states, local governments, and nonprofit organizations.

You can learn more about OMB at its Web site www.whitehouse.gov.

The OMB's Initial Implementing Guidance recognizes the importance of the Single Audit in two key ways: first, in assessing risk, agencies should consider prior audit findings involving federal programs through which Recovery Act funds will be disbursed; and second, Single Audits are specifically identified in the OMB guidance as an audit tool integral to promoting accountability over Recovery Act funds. Clearly, the importance of the Single Audit process is magnified by the Recovery Act's emphasis on accountability.

The OMB also reported that Single Audits will be made public through the federal Web site www.Recovery.gov.

The California State Auditor will continue her practice of making all audit reports, including the Single Audit, easily accessible to the public via the California State Auditor's Web site. Use the link below to view the summaries of the State of California's most recent Single Audits.