The auditor is a little-known actor with great importance in the American political system. To journalists and political scientists—and thus to much of the population—the auditor arouses far less interest than members of the legislature, heads of administrative agencies, the chief executive and his staff, candidates for public office, and functionaries of the major political parties. Only a small handfull of political science scholarship or auditing has appeared since 1939.1 Among the great functions in the political process, auditing is the least well-known among the scholars who specialize in government and politics. Senator William Proxmire has written about the principal audit unit of the United States government: ‘Few people have heard of the General Accounting Office. Few know what it does. Fewer still know that it is an arm of the United States Congress.’2


Political Economy Comptroller General Executive Branch Labor Department System Analyst 
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  1. 1.
    See Harvey C. Mansfield, The Comptroller General: A Study in the Law and Practice of Financial Administration ( Yale University Press, New Haven, 1939 );Google Scholar
  2. F. L. Normanton, Accountability and Audit of Governments: A Comparative Study ( Praeger, New York, 1966 );Google Scholar
  3. Robert E. Brown, The GAO: Untapped Source of Congressional Power ( University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, 1970 ).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Elmer B. Staats, ‘New Problem of Accountability for Federal Programs,’ in Improving Management for More Effective Government: 50th Anniversary Lectures of the United States General Accounting Office (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1971 ).Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    The Comptroller General of the United States, Annual Report 1971 (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1972 ) p. 18.Google Scholar
  6. 18.
    Woodrow Wilson, Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics ( Meridan Edition, New York, 1956 ).Google Scholar
  7. 19.
    See Brown, p. vi, and Ralph K. Hvitt, ‘The Outsider in the Senate: An Alternative Role,’ American Political Science Review, lv (Sept. 1961) pp. 566–76.Google Scholar
  8. 31.
    For a discussion of the development of numerous equal opportunity employment programs leading up to the Philadelphia Plan, written from the perspective of a participant in the Plan’s development see James E. Jones., Jr., ‘The Bugaboo of Employment Quotas,’ Wisconsin Law Review (1970) pp. 341–403.Google Scholar

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© Carnegie Corporation of New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ira Sharkansky

There are no affiliations available

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