Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Patrick von Maravic
If accountability is the hallmark of democratic governance, public auditing is a means to achieve it. Auditing is a form of oversight, or examination from some point external to the system or individual in question. Technically, auditing is a form of verification by an independent body, which compares actual transactions with standard practices. Because it evaluates the relationship of what is against what ought to be , auditing is a normative operation. Public auditing is the traditional instrument to hold actors entrusted with managing public funds accountable by providing information to supervising agents, elected officials, and (sometimes) constituents about compliance with or deviations from accepted standards. Although accountability as a general aim of auditing is undisputed, unavoidable tensions with other principles of good governance arise, such as the exercise of informed discretion by elected decision makers or individual privacy rights when the corset of control is taken to an extreme. ...