A systematic examination of accounts or program activities, so as to ascertain their accuracy; a means of verifying the detailed transactions underlying any item in a record.
Dictionary definitions emphasize the auditor's roots in financial control. This is still a central feature of governmental audit. As will be noted below, however, audit has moved beyond financial records to a more general concern with program activities. The auditing that will be at the focus of this entry is external or independent auditing. This is distinguished from internal audit, typically conducted by personnel responsible to the head of an administrative unit. External audit is meant to be independent of the administrative or executive agencies whose activities are reviewed. In many countries, the external auditor is attached to the legislature. In order to bolster its independence, the budget of the audit body may escape the control of the executive budget unit, and its personnel may be outside the general civil service.
External audit has become a significant element in the processes of program evaluation, policy implementation, and political accountability. It has attracted more attention than internal audit from scholars concerned with public policy and administration.
The Book of Kings reports a financial problem with the construction of Solomon's temple. Solomon had to transfer a number of Galilean towns to Hiram of Tyre in order to settle his debts (1 Kings 9:11). The Israelite