Terrell Blodgett

STATE AUDITOR. A general provision of the Constitutional of 1876 requiring fiscal accountability by state agencies and institutions was given statutory amplification for the first time in 1929, when the state legislature enacted a law providing for the appointment by the governor of a state auditor and efficiency expert. No major amendments to this law were passed between 1929 and 1943, when, dissatisfied by the implementation of the 1929 statute, the legislature rewrote the basic law to provide for an auditor appointed by the legislative rather than the executive branch of state government. That law established the Legislative Audit Committee, which was charged with the responsibility of appointing the state auditor. That same law also stipulated the qualifications, powers, and duties of the office. The law remained essentially unchanged until 1987, when it was amended by the legislature to reflect the changing responsibilities of modern audit organizations. In addition to financial and compliance audits, the auditor was given authority to perform economy and efficiency audits and effectiveness audits, and investigations as specified in an audit plan approved by the Legislative Audit Committee. Authority and responsibility for audits of state-agency effectiveness and performance have also been placed by the legislature in the Legislative Budget Board, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, and the state comptroller of public accounts. This seeming overlapping of responsibility received some criticism, but as of 1994 the legislature had not specifically addressed the matter. The general enabling legislation for the auditor is now codified in Chapter 321 of the Texas Government Code. It provides that the auditor is appointed by, and serves at the pleasure of, the Legislative Audit Committee. To be eligible for appointment, the auditor must have had at least five years' experience as a certified public accountant and in a professional or administrative position involving fiscal management or the review of fiscal management operational efficiency or program performance. The auditor is authorized to conduct audits of all state departments, including institutions of higher education, as specified in the audit plan. At the direction of the Legislative Audit Committee, the auditor may conduct an audit or investigation of any entity receiving funds from the state. The position of state auditor was subject to frequent turnover when it was in the executive branch, and several of the officials served less than one year. After 1943 terms of office became much longer. C. H. Cavness held the position from 1943 to 1968 and was succeeded by George McNiel, who served until 1985, when Lawrence F. Alwin assumed the office.


Terrell Blodgett, Management Study of the Texas State Auditor's Office (Special Project Report, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, 1984).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Terrell Blodgett, "STATE AUDITOR," accessed January 22, 2020,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on April 12, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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