A city auditor is a city employee who is responsible for keeping city government transparent and accountable, showing citizens that their government is behaving responsibly and using their funds wisely. In addition to performing audits, some city auditors also handle the financial accounts for the cities they work for, acting as the chief financial officers of the city. City auditors are usually independent of other city officials, and they report directly to city council and the citizens.
The responsibilities of a city auditor can be quite varied. He or she has access to everything in City Hall, and the authority to order an audit at any time. City auditors are usually assisted by a diverse team of staffers which can include accountants to examine bookkeeping records, lawyers to see whether or not laws are being enforced properly, environmental experts who monitor environmental projects, and so forth. A city auditor may also be empowered to bring in outside experts if no one on the staff is suitable for a particular auditing job.
City auditors respond to citizen complaints, and they also work independently, investigating areas of city government which they feel may be questionable. The records of their audits are available to members of the public who want to see the outcome of city audits, and audits are also presented at city council meetings. Because the city auditor is designed to keep the city honest, he or she does not present findings in closed-door meetings or conceal the outcome of audits.
City council or the mayor may appoint the city auditor, or the auditor may be elected, depending on regional laws. The auditor is a resident of the city, and may be expected to pass a background check to confirm that there will be no conflicts of interest. City auditors must have excellent personal integrity and strong personalities, because they may be involved in disputes in which people are trying to cover up or manipulate information.
Auditors are interested in financial accounts, performance on city projects, city staffers, and anything which pertains to the work of the city, from the water officials who bill citizens for using the municipal water supply to legal consultants who advise city council. Someone who is interested in becoming a city auditor may want to pursue a degree in a field of interest such as accounting, and work in a city auditor's office to get a feel for the nature of the work and the kind of situations auditors encounter. With work experience in a city auditor's office, someone can ask to be considered for the position of city auditor.