History of Auditing in Portland
Through the Portland City Charter, voters in Portland established an elected City Auditor in 1864. The first City Auditor was then elected in 1868. By City Charter at that time, the Auditor was the chief financial officer of the City, responsible for accounting, financial reporting, and accounts receivable and payable. The only major audit duty specified by the Charter at that time was a pre-audit of claims conducted as part of the accounts payable process.
In response to Portland's rapid growth and the increased complexity of the financial operations of City government, an ordinance was passed in 1972 delegating the Auditor’s accounting duties to the Bureau of Financial Affairs (now the Office of Management and Finance). In 1974, as part of a general reorganization, the Internal Audit Division was created within the Office of the City Auditor.
Between 1974 and 1983 the Internal Audit Division conducted limited scope audits to test financial compliance and accounting controls. In 1983 performance auditing was introduced.
In 1986, voters approved Charter amendments that clarified the duties of the City Auditor and authorized broad-scope (performance) auditing of City operations. Also in 1986 the Audit Services Division was formally created as an independent audit function reporting to the elected City Auditor. Audits conducted by the Audit Services Division are required to be performed in accordance with Government Auditing Standards (U.S. Government Accountability Office).
The City Auditor is the sixth elected officer of Portland City government, and is elected citywide to a four-year term. Because the City Auditor is directly accountable to the voters, the auditing function is independent of the rest of City government. This allows the City Auditor to objectively and independently evaluate City operations.