California State Auditor

Frequently Asked Questions

Who may file complaints with the State Auditor?

  • State employees
  • Internal auditors of state agencies
  • Anyone else, including contractors who do business with the state, job applicants, and persons obtaining services from the State

Who can the State Auditor investigate?

  • Every office, department, division, bureau, board, and commission in the executive and judicial branches of state government, including the courts
  • Any employee of the executive and judicial branches of state government, including elected constitutional officers, appointed state officials, and state civil service employees

Who can the State Auditor not investigate?

  • Members of the legislative branch of government, including state senators, assembly members, and legislative staff
  • Local government agencies and employees, including county, city, and school district employees and officials
  • Federal government agencies and employees, including federal officials
  • Private entities such as businesses and nonprofit organizations, or their employees

What can the State Auditor investigate?

  • Any violation of state or federal law (including regulations) by a state agency or employee
  • Noncompliance with an executive order of the Governor, a Rule of Court, the State Administrative Manual, or the State Contracting Manual
  • Significant waste or misuse of state resources, including funds, property, and employee time
  • Gross misconduct, incompetency, or inefficiency by a state employee

What are some examples of improper conduct recently investigated by the State Auditor?

  • Embezzlement
  • Improper contracting
  • Misuse of state property
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Improper overtime
  • Improper expense reimbursements
  • False time and attendance reporting by state employees

May I file a complaint anonymously?

You have a right to file a complaint without providing us with your name or any other information about who you are and how we may contact you. However, we may not be able to investigate your complaint if we cannot talk to you to confirm the information you are providing or obtain additional information. Please remember that if you identify yourself to us we will not reveal your identity to anyone else without your permission, except to appropriate law enforcement personnel who are conducting a criminal investigation.

What should I include in my complaint?

We will not undertake an investigation unless we have a basis for believing that your complaint has sufficient merit to warrant the expenditure of resources on an investigation. You should therefore include a clear statement of what you believe the improper activity to be, why you believe the activity is improper, who is involved, and what evidence we may examine to confirm that what you are alleging is true. Your complaint should therefore include:

  • A clear and concise statement of what you are alleging to be improper activity and why you believe it is improper
  • The name or other information that clearly identifies the person you are alleging has acted improperly and the department where that person works
  • The names and contact information for any witnesses who can confirm the truth of what you are saying
  • Copies of any documents that will support what you are saying. Please do not submit original documents, as they cannot be returned.

What happens after I file a complaint?

We will evaluate your complaint to determine whether it has sufficient merit to warrant an investigation. If we launch an investigation in response to your complaint, we will perform the investigation confidentially. This means that we will not report to you or anyone else about the progress of the investigation or what the investigation has found. The investigation will remain confidential unless the State Auditor issues a report on the investigation. If we need additional information from you, we will contact you.

What can the State Auditor do if the improper activity is substantiated?

  • Issue a confidential report to the head of the agency that is involved
  • Confidentially report the matter to the Attorney General, the Legislature, or any other entity having jurisdiction over the matter
  • Issue a public report on the matter, keeping confidential the identities of the individuals involved
  • The State Auditor does not have enforcement powers and cannot order a department or official to take any action
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