About Performance Audits

The importance of performance audits

Performance audits evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs with the goal of making them work better.

These audits compare what an agency is currently doing against what's required by law and recommended by leading practices to look for improved outcomes that could include money saving methods or better processes for service delivery. By detailing problems and offering solutions, performance audits improve public services and provide valuable information to the public, program leadership and elected officials.

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Created by Voters

The authority and funding for performance audits was granted by Washington voters with the 2005 passage of Initiative 900. Performance audits are one more way that the State Auditor's Office helps build trust in state and local government.

Learn more about Initiative 900.

Download a copy of Initiative 900 (PDF) »

What programs are subject to performance audits?

Any state agency or local government could be the subject of a performance audit. To maximize the potential of performance audits to improve public services, most focus on large, state-level programs. Past audits have included how to improve the Department of Corrections' Correctional Industries program, how to reduce state costs through faster Medicaid income verification, and assessments of the state's implementation of the Regulatory Fairness Act.

Cybersecurity audits are a special type of performance audit conducted by our office. These audits examine information technology systems used in government operations. They look for weaknesses in that technology and propose solutions to help strengthen those systems.

Read more about Cybersecurity performance audits.

What about local governments?

Local governments can be the subject of a performance audit, but there are more local governments in Washington than our Performance Audit team can review.

To help local governments become more efficient and effective, we created the Center for Government Innovation to share with local governments what we learn from performance audits. There you'll find training, tools, technical assistance and resources to help governments function more smoothly.

Go to the Center for Government Innovation.

Who are the auditors, and how does the process work?

Our performance auditors come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are certified public accountants. Some are specialists in fields that include policy analysis, statistical analysis and information technology. Each audit is conducted according U.S. Government of Accountability standards known as Yellow Book standards.

Go to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Website.

View the Yellow Book Standards

Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee

We report our findings to the Legislature through the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee (JLARC). The calendar on the JLARC website will show any upcoming I-900 reports. Those presentations are streamed live and archived on TVW.

Sign up to receive an email when new performance audits are released.

Go to the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee (JLARC) website.

View archived presentations at TVW.