Performance Audit : About Performance Audits

​What is a performance audit?

Performance audits typically examine the effectiveness, economy or efficiency of a government program. Our auditors might analyze the services of an entire agency or division, compare actual agency practices against the practices called for in law or policy, seek possible cost savings, or identify the outcomes achieved by a program or service.

Our objective is to improve public services. We do this by recommending specific actions that will address the issues we raise, and by providing valuable information to the public, program leadership and elected officials.

  • View a searchable list of all Performance Audit division reports here

Other Performance Audit division publications

We also make public some of the tools and other information we have developed in the course of our work, such as the Business Regulation Inventory (you may need to scroll down the page).

Performance audits are independent and rigorous

To ensure our results are credible and valuable, we work to meet high standards of independence and objectivity. Each of our performance audits is conducted according to U.S. Government Accountability Office auditing standards, known as Yellow Book standards.

Performance auditors come from a variety of backgrounds. We have certified public accountants on our staff, and we employ specialists from other fields, including public policy analysis, statistical analysis, and information technology auditing.

What programs are subject to performance audits?

Washington voters gave the State Auditor's Office the authority and funding to conduct independent performance audits of state and local government programs through Initiative 900 (pdf, 24kb).

Most of our performance audits have focused on large, state-level programs. To help local governments solve problems, reduce costs and improve the value of their services to citizens, we created the Local Government Performance Center. It brings the lessons of performance management to local government by offering training, tools and technical assistance, and complements the Performance Audit division's other work to make government better.

How are performance audits published?

We share our work with the public by broadly publishing our audits to the public, government leaders and news media. You can sign up to receive an email when new performance audits are released.

We report our findings to the Legislature in public hearings, typically held by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee. Check the schedule on the JLARC website to find an upcoming I-900 meeting that features a report on a performance audit. You can watch live or archived JLARC hearings on TVW.

How to prepare for a performance audit

This page in the Auditing Resources section of the website includes a link to a guide for agencies being audited.

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