Local Government

​State law (Chapter 43.09 RCW) requires the State Auditor's Office to examine the financial affairs of local governments. The State Auditor's Office audits more than 3,000 local governments ranging from the largest counties to the smallest special-purpose districts. The timing and scope of audits are based on risk analyses that consider such factors as size, analytical procedures and prior audit history.

Local government audits we perform

We conduct a range of audits that include accountability, financial audits, single audits of federal grant spending and performance audits – as well as energy audits that examine municipal and public utility districts as required by Initiative 937 and school audits that examine programs, school districts and educational service districts.

We also periodically produce special reports on local government issues. In January 2016, we published a follow up to our 2015 report on Local Governments: Promoting Transparency and Accountability (pdf, 458kb). In addition to the new report, Local Governments: Improving Transparency and Accountability (pdf, 450 kb), we have prepared a data visualization that allows users to explore the data in much greater depth. View the Tableau on our website here

Other local government services

The State Auditor's Office is also required by state law (RCW 43.09.200) to issue accounting and reporting requirements for local governments and to collect and report their revenues and expenditures. We do this through the Budget, Accounting, and Reporting System (BARS), which requires interpretation of governmental accounting and reporting standards and financial related statutes. This webpage has additional information on BARS for new users. 

This financial information is available on our website for public use through the Local Government Financial Reporting System. The system provides reporting options in multiple formats, options and years for analysis purposes. This data allows for trend analysis, identifying red flags in financial areas or identifying compliance areas for local governments.

You have a role in supporting local government accountability

As a citizen of Washington or an employee of a local government office, you can play a part in improving the way government does business. Please visit Investigations to learn how to report a problem or suggest improvements.

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