State Controller’s Functions
Overview of the State Controller’s Office
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As the chief fiscal officer of California, the fifth largest economy in the world, Controller Malia M. Cohen is responsible for accountability and disbursement of the state’s financial resources. Controller Cohen also safeguards many types of property until claimed by the rightful owners, independently audits government agencies that spend state funds, and administers the payroll system for state government employees and California State University employees. She serves on 70 boards and commissions with authority ranging from state public land management to crime victim compensation. The Controller is a member of numerous financing authorities, and fiscal and financial oversight entities including the Franchise Tax Board and Board of Equalization. She also serves on the boards of the nation's two largest public pension funds. The Controller is one of eight statewide constitutional officials who are elected every four years in California. (In some states, this government official is called a Comptroller.) The Controller’s Office includes the following divisions:
Provides the policy and operational priorities for the State Controller's Office (SCO). SCO functions are coordinated by the Chief of Staff with support from the Chief Operating Officer and the Chief Administrative Officer. Further leadership and policy advice is provided by the Chief Legal Counsel and deputy controllers responsible for legislative affairs, public affairs, external affairs, pension funds/investments, environmental policy, health policy, and taxation policy. The Executive Office also includes Human Resources, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Management Audit and Review Services (internal audits).
Administration and Disbursements Division
Produces the warrants (checks) and electronic fund transfers from the State Treasury, annually issuing about 49 million payments including state payroll, retirement rolls, Medi-Cal, personal income tax refunds, and payments to vendors. Provides staff support services to SCO including budgeting, accounting, contracting, training, procurement, and facilities management.
Division of Audits
Responsible for auditing all funds disbursed by the state and all claims presented for payment to SCO. Performs independent audits of government agencies that spend state funds. Assures the accuracy of local government claims and financial statements submitted to the state and federal government by annually reviewing and revising audit guidelines, reviewing audits performed by independent local auditors under these guidelines, and performing field audits of state and federal programs. Assists and advises local government officials in effective and uniform tax collecting procedures and internal fiscal controls. Audits highway users’ tax funds at local levels, and the allocation and apportionment of local property taxes.
Information Systems Division
Ensures the integrity and security of SCO technology, employees, and facilities. Supports SCO mainframe, public website, and payroll systems with services including application development, desktop support, and project management oversight.
Local Government Programs and Services Division
Issues payments to local governments and schools. Works with local governments, prescribing budgeting and accounting guidelines for California’s 58 counties and more than 4,900 special districts. Allocates funding to local governments and schools for state-mandated costs and apportionment funding. Manages the Property Tax Postponement Program. Refunds gas tax on motor fuel not used on highways. Collects taxes owed to the state and provides property tax and reference manuals for county tax collectors. Approves county cost allocation plans.
Personnel and Payroll Services Division
Processes payroll and leave accounting for all state civil service and exempt employees, state court, and California State University employees. Provides information required to manage the personnel resources of the state and to properly account for salary and wage expenditures. Provides data to the retirement systems necessary for calculation of employee retirement benefits. Manages the state’s automated travel expense claim system.
State Accounting and Reporting Division
Performs statewide accounting and reporting functions, issuing reports on the financial condition of government entities. Reports the financial condition of the state on a monthly basis, and publishes the California Annual Comprehensive Financial Report and the Budgetary/Legal Basis Annual Report. Accounts for receipts, payments, balances, and bonded indebtedness of all state funds.
Unclaimed Property Division
Safeguards lost and forgotten property turned over to the state (e.g., bank accounts, uncashed checks, insurance benefits, wages, stocks, bonds, and safe deposit box contents) until claimed by the rightful owners. Operates an online search tool and toll-free telephone service, processes claims, and provides written notices to property owners and property holders.