About the Office of the Auditor General
The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) performs a variety of auditing functions for the State of Rhode Island's departments and agencies. Our financial and performance audits provide objective and timely information to General Assembly members on the operations of State government. Additionally, our audit reports provide valuable information to auditees, Rhode Island citizens and other interested parties.
Value of Audit Reports to the Legislature:
OAG audit reports provide timely and independently gathered information that can be relied upon and be used to support legislative deliberations regarding program objectives, accomplishments and funding. The OAG responds directly to requests from the General Assembly's Joint Committee on Legislative Services to audit activities, programs, or funds not included within the scope of audits required by statute.
Value of Audit Reports to Auditees:
OAG audit reports provide objective assessments of program operations and specific and practical recommendations to help departments and agencies of the State improve their operations with the overall goal of ensuring that units of government are operating efficiently and effectively. Our audits often identify areas of potential cost savings for the State. We continue to be encouraged by the widespread acceptance and implementation of the overwhelming majority of our recommendations.
Value of Audit Reports to Citizens of the State of Rhode Island and Other Interested Parties:
Our audit reports are important to ensure that Rhode Island State government is accountable and that its citizens have independent information regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of State government. Other users include the federal government which relies on our annual Single Audit of the State to ensure that more than $1.5 billion of federal assistance is expended in compliance with federal laws and program regulations. Investors, creditors and bond rating agencies rely on our annual audit of the State's financial statements to assess the State's financial condition.
The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) was established in 1974 to independently evaluate state government programs and financial operations for the General Assembly. The duties and responsibilities of the Auditor General are outlined at Chapter 22-13 of the General Laws. Audits are conducted as required by statute or as directed by the Joint Committee on Legislative Services, a bipartisan committee comprised of the Speaker of the House and the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate. Our audits are conducted in accordance with the following professional standards:
Types of Audits Performed
Written reports are prepared at the conclusion of each audit. Audit reports are provided to the auditee, General Assembly members, and other State officials. An audit summary is also prepared for most reports which provides an overview of significant findings and recommendations. All audit reports are available to the public. Our recommendations are intended to improve the financial operation of the State and/or enhance the operational efficiency and effectiveness of programs. The Office of the Auditor General cannot compel agencies to implement recommendations; auditees and the General Assembly must be influenced by the facts and arguments presented in our reports. We continue to be encouraged by the widespread acceptance and implementation of the overwhelming majority of our recommendations.
Agencies are required to provide a written response as to the acceptance and plan of implementation, or nonacceptance of each recommendation. As part of concluding the audit, an exit conference is held with the auditee to discuss all aspects of the draft report and the agency's response. Great care is taken to assure that the findings presented in our reports are accurate and fair and that we have considered all relevant information in preparing our report. A synopsis of the auditee's views is included following each recommendation. This allows interested users to quickly assess an auditee's position on the issues raised in the audit report.
Each time we perform a repeat audit of an agency or program, we determine the agency's progress in implementing prior recommendations. Audit follow-up is an important and final step in concluding the audit process, and increases the likelihood that the intended positive results of an audit are realized.
We employ a skilled, experienced and diverse staff of 41 individuals who are the greatest resource of the Office of the Auditor General. Currently, the OAG staff includes 13 certified public accountants. A number of individuals have advanced degrees and other professional certifications or possess specific expertise in areas such as information technology. Strong emphasis is placed on encouraging all professional staff to obtain professional certification.
Continuing Professional Education
All auditors must participate in continuing professional education programs to obtain at least 40 continuing professional education credits each year. The OAG regularly retains professional instructors to conduct training sessions that are tailored to the specific types of audits we perform. Membership in professional organizations is encouraged as a means to allow professional staff to keep current with rapid changes in the industry and related technologies.
Other OAG Responsibilities
The OAG also serves as a liaison between the State and municipalities on financial and accounting matters. It is responsible for (1) reviewing the annual audited financial statements of the cities and towns, (2) prescribing and supervising their application of uniform accounting principles, procedures and reporting standards, and (3) making determinations of whether emergency situations permit a municipality to exceed the statutory cap on annual property tax levy increases.
We also serve in an oversight capacity for quasi-public corporations of the State such as Rhode Island Housing, the Convention Center Authority, the Rhode Island Airport Corporation and many others. Our oversight includes review of audit specifications and audit reports for each entity, review of agendas and minutes of board meetings, and consultation on various issues.
As the State's independent auditors, we also participate in the sale of the State's general obligation bonds and any other bonds to be repaid in whole or in part with state revenues. This includes coordination with the State's fiscal advisors and bond counsel and technical review of the State's Official Statement which includes detailed financial information and the State's financial statements and our opinion thereon.
Other activities include issuance of accounting opinions, attending meetings and hearings relevant to on-going or completed audit assignments, serving on legislative study and review commissions, and performing specific research pursuant to a legislative request.
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