Operating Principles

Few people like to be audited and reasonable people disagree on how to measure the effectiveness of City programs. That is why independence, objectivity, and technical accuracy are the cornerstones of the audit profession-together they add up to credibility. Credibility means that the Council, City staff, and Palo Alto taxpayers can rely on the Auditor’s Office to be honest, and can have confidence in the accuracy of the information that we produce -- even when there’s disagreement about how to use that information. 

Independence: Independence allows auditors to carry out our work freely and objectively. Auditor independence is critical to ensuring that audit findings, opinions, conclusions, judgments, and recommendations are impartial, and are viewed as impartial by others. The City Auditor's Office and individual auditors must be free from personal and organizational impairments and strive to maintain an independent attitude and appearance.

Objectivity: Objectivity is an independent mental attitude. Objectivity requires auditors to honestly assess operations and not to subordinate our judgment on audit matters to that of others. Auditors base findings and recommendations on facts rather than impressions, and continually strive to be balanced and fair in carrying our responsibilities.

Technical Accuracy: A stringent quality assurance program ensures that staff exercises due professional care, adequately plans audits, and has working papers that contain sufficient evidence to support the statements of fact in our audit reports.

Management’s Responsibility for Internal Controls: The very nature of internal auditing, the relationship established between auditor and auditee, and the type of information frequently provided or uncovered make it imperative that the audit team continually consider the confidentiality of such information and limit dissemination to a "need-to-know" basis. One indiscretion could compromise the credibility of the City Auditor’s Office and undermine its overall effectiveness.

Access to Information: The Auditor’s Office has full, free and unrestricted access to all operations, records, property and personnel within the City. Documents and information will be handled with the same prudence exercised by those normally accountable for them.