Types of Audit Services

The Auditor’s Office provides a variety of audit services including performance audits, financial audits, revenue audits, and special studies at the direction of the City Council.

Performance Audits: Performance audits assess the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of specific programs and activities. This may include determining whether a program is operating in the most economical and efficient manner possible; assessing whether the program is meeting its stated goals and objectives; and testing for compliance with laws and regulations. Performance audits vary dramatically in both size and scope.

Financial Audits: In accordance with the City Charter, an independent certified public accounting firm conducts the annual audit of the City’s financial statements. The Office of the City Auditor coordinates the work of the independent accounting firm. The auditor’s report on the financial statements provides the auditor’s opinion on whether the financial statements fairly present the financial position in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles. The Auditor’s Office also conducts other financial-related audits.

Revenue Audits: The City Auditor’s Office conducts periodic audits of City revenues including property tax, documentary transfer fees, transient occupancy tax, and utility users tax. The quarterly sales tax review is designed to identify misallocations of Palo Alto’s share of sales tax revenue, and to identify Palo Alto retail businesses that are not filing local sales tax returns.

Special Studies: The Office of the City Auditor is occasionally requested to provide independent data collection, analysis, and reporting. Special studies are intended to provide timely and objective information to the City Council, City management, and the public. Special studies and reports are subject to the same rigorous audit methodology regarding data collection and quality control reviews as our other audit products.