California State Controller's seal

Government Accountability and Open Records

Unlike an individual person or business, the State of California does not maintain one checkbook for its hundreds of agencies and departments. Over the years, records of state disbursements have been maintained in various locations, formats, and files. However, by 2022 all state agencies are expected to be participating in a fully implemented Financial Information System for California (FI$Cal), which will centralize cash management, accounting, procurement, vendor data, and more.

The Controller’s transparency team also has developed tools for Californians to do their own analyses of government spending. The Government Compensation in California database includes pay information for public employee positions in cities, counties, special districts, state agencies, Superior Courts, First 5 Commissions, Fairs and Expositions, K-12 education providers, University of California, California State University, California Community Colleges, as well as legislators and state elected officials. The Government Financial Reports database includes detailed financial data from 58 California counties and more than 450 cities, as well as pension-related information for state and local government.

The Controller’s audit authority, unique in its independence from both the Governor and the Legislature, is provided for in the state constitution. Audits ensure government spending at the state and local levels is free of waste and abuse. Audits may result in denial of payments and/or return of funds that were spent incorrectly.

The Controller also is responsible for prescribing uniform accounting and reporting guidelines for local governments.  Financial Transactions and Compensation Reports are reviewed for reasonableness.