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Authority & Responsibility

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The current Home Rule Charter, approved by the voters in 1951, established the Auditing Department, with the City Controller as head, and assigned it traditional financial auditing duties, as well as the powers to audit payment requisitions before payment, and to conduct management audits and make recommendations.

The Office of the City Controller pre-existed the 1951 Charter, and some of its responsibilities are defined by the state First Class Cities Act, often called the “1919 Charter”, and other state legislation. While the City’s internal budget process refers to the “Auditing Department,” for all other purposes the department is known as the Office of the Controller.

In addition to auditing municipal government, under the Home Rule Charter, City Council ordinance and state legislation, the City Controller has the following duties:

  • Trustee of the nine-member Board of Pensions and Retirement, which oversees the management of investments and the payment of benefits.
  • Commissioner of the five-member Philadelphia Gas Commission, which approves the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) operating budget and short-term financing and reviews and recommends to City Council PGW’s capital budget.
  • Member of the Sinking Fund Commission, which oversees investment of revenues paid into a sinking fund for payment of bond principal and interest and investment of the PGW Retirement Reserve.
  • Member of the Bond Committee, which approves bond issues. The City Controller certifies the City of Philadelphia’s debt capacity and the capital nature and useful life of projects built with bond proceeds. 
  • Post-auditor of the School District of Philadelphia. Auditor for PICA in evaluating the reasonableness of the assumptions and estimates in the City of Philadelphia’s five-year financial plans.
  • Consultant to the Finance Director on features of the accounting system.
  • Investigate and determine bona fide residency of civil service employees.

Auditors in the City Controller’s Office must adhere to high professional standards. The Home Rule Charter requires that the Post-Audit Deputy be a Certified Public Accountant and that auditors be college graduates with a major in accounting.

Under generally accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS) promulgated by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, auditors must complete 80 hours of continuing professional education every two years, and the Pennsylvania CPA Law imposes this same requirement on the Controller’s Office CPAs.

Under the Charter provision allowing the City Controller to consult with outside CPAs for technical assistance, the Office has an accounting “maven” in place to provide guidance at any time it is required.

Under GAGAS, the activities of the Office involving audits of federal funds must undergo a peer review every three years. The Office voluntarily extends the scope of the peer review to all Post-Audit activities.

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