About Us

In 1991 Seattle voters created the Office of City Auditor by amending the City Charter as described in Article 8 Section 2. In turn, the City Council passed legislation, Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 3.40, that provided further details about the Office of City Auditor's authority and responsibilities. The City Auditor has a term of four years and is appointed by a majority of the City Council.

We conduct independent, in-depth analyses and develop recommendations to improve City programs and services. We submit our reports to the City Council, Mayor, City departments, and the public via presentations to City Council committees and through our website. The City Auditor is authorized to audit the records of any City of Seattle department, including the Seattle Public Library, the Seattle City Employees Retirement System, the Firefighters' Pension Fund, and the Police Pension Fund and, to the extent authorized by law, the Seattle Municipal Court. The City Auditor also has the power to audit the activities of public development authorities established by the City of Seattle.

The mission of the City of Seattle's Office of City Auditor is to help the City of Seattle achieve honest, efficient management, full accountability, transparency, and advancement of equity throughout City government.

We're housed in the legislative branch of City government and we primarily conduct performance audits on the activities of executive branch departments; this structure helps maintain our independence.

We serve the public interest by providing the City Council, the Mayor, City departments, and the public with accurate information, objective analysis, and useful recommendations on how best to use public resources in support of the well-being of the residents of Seattle. We follow up annually on the status of our recommendations that have not yet been implemented here using our Recommendations Dashboard.

Many of our audits are made in response to specific concerns or requests from City Councilmembers. If resources are available, we will respond to specific requests from the Mayor, department heads, and residents. We will also independently initiate audits to fulfill our mission.

Performance Audits

Much of our work is devoted to conducting performance audits, which evaluate how well government programs are operating and, when warranted, offer recommendations for improvements. We follow strict Government Auditing Standards when doing performance audits.  

Non-Audit Projects

Our office also conducts special projects, which we refer to as non-audit projects, when we believe a topic is best handled by something other than a performance audit. Non-audit projects are not done in strict accordance with Government Auditing Standards, providing the option of completing them more quickly than our performance audits. Our non-audit work also consists of selecting consultants and overseeing their work on program evaluations requested by the City Council.  

Recommendation Follow Up Reports

Each year we identify and verify the status of recommendations by following up with the appropriate City departments and/or responsible individuals and obtaining testimonial or documentary evidence. We compile this information and report the results to the Seattle City Council. This process provides an opportunity for our office, the City Council, and audited City departments to review the results of our past audit work. 

At times the Office of City Auditor must contract with external entities (e.g., universities, private consultants) to conduct social science research on topics related to the City of Seattle. It is the policy of the Office of City Auditor to pay no more than fifteen percent (15%) for reimbursement of indirect costs for contracts with external entities involving social science research. (Effective October 1, 2016)