A comptroller is a management-level position responsible for supervising the quality of accounting and financial reporting of an organization. A financial comptroller is a senior-level executive who acts as the head of accounting, and oversees the preparation of financial reports, such as balance sheets and income statements.

In most Commonwealth countries, the comptroller general, auditor general, or comptroller and auditor general is the external auditor of the budget execution of the government and of government-owned companies. Typically, the independent institution headed by the comptroller general is a member of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI). In American government, the comptroller is effectively the chief financial officer of a public body.

In business management, the comptroller is closer to a chief audit executive, holding a senior role in internal audit functions. Generally, the title encompasses a variety of responsibilities, from overseeing accounting and monitoring internal controls to countersigning on expenses and commitments.


The term comptroller evolved in the 15th century through a blend of the French compte ("an account") and the Middle English countreroller (someone who checks a copy of a scroll, from the French contreroule "counter-roll, scroll copy"), thus creating a title for a compteroller who specializes in checking financial ledgers.[1][2] This etymology explains why the name is often pronounced identically to "controller" despite the distinct spelling. However, comptroller is sometimes pronounced phonetically by those unaware of the word's origins or who wish specifically to avoid confusion with "controller."[3]

Business role

A comptroller is a person in the business who oversees accounting and the implementation and monitoring of internal controls, independently from the chief financial officer (or CFO). In the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Israel and Canada, a comptroller or financial comptroller is a senior position, reporting to the CFO in companies that have one.

In business, the title is typically spelled controller,[4] with government organizations only using the spelling comptroller.[5]

Government role

United Kingdom

The title of comptroller is used in the Royal Household for various offices, including:

  • the Comptroller of the Household (nowadays a sinecure, invariably held by a government whip in the House of Commons). The office was established as part of the Wardrobe (a powerful department of household and state) in the 13th century, in order to maintain a check on the accounts of the Treasurer of the Household. Today, the Comptroller's duties outside of government are minimal and mainly ceremonial.
  • the Comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain's Office, who is a full-time member of the Royal Household; his duties are concerned with the arrangement of ceremonial affairs rather than financial affairs.

The Comptroller of the Navy is a post in the Royal Navy responsible for procurement and matériel.

The Comptroller and City Solicitor is one of the High Officers of the City of London Corporation, responsible for provision of all legal services. The post of comptroller dates from 1311, and that of City Solicitor from 1544; the two were amalgamated in 1945.

The Comptroller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks is the head of the UK Intellectual Property Office or Patent Office.

The Comptroller and Auditor General is head of the National Audit Office, and is the successor of the former Comptroller General of the Exchequer and the former Commissioners of Audit.

United States

The title of comptroller is held by various government officials.

See also

  • Wikisource "Comptroller" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). 1911.
  • Comptroller of the Household
  • Auditor general
  • Inspector general
  • Chief audit executive
  • Director of Audit of Hong Kong
  • Treasurer
  • Corporate title
  • Executive director


  1. ^ Etymology of comptroller at etymology online, Accessed 2007-07-01.
  2. ^ Etymology of comptroller at Merriam-Webster online, Accessed 2007-07-01.
  3. ^ "the definition of comptroller".
  4. ^ "Controller Vs Comptroller". The Strategic CFO. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  5. ^ "What is the Difference Between a Controller and a Comptroller?". Top Accounting Degrees. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  6. ^ "Home Page". U.S. office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
2002 New York Comptroller election

The 2002 election was held on November 5. New York City Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi defeated former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso.

2006 New York Comptroller election

The 2006 New York Comptroller Election took place on November 7, 2006 with the incumbent, Alan Hevesi winning against Republican challenger Chris Callaghan. Hevesi was plagued by scandals during the campaign involving misuse of state funds. Hevesi won the election, resigning a few days before his second term would have begun.

2009 New York City Comptroller election

The 2009 election for New York City Comptroller was held on November 3, 2009 to coincide with the 2009 mayoral election to determine who would serve as New York City Comptroller. The Democratic and Republican primaries were held on September 15, 2009. There was a run-off election for the Democratic Party nomination on September 29, 2009.

Joe Mendola was nominated as the Republican candidate. John Liu was nominated the candidate of the Democratic Party; he was also on the Working Families Party line in November. Liu won the race and was elected Comptroller, becoming the first Asian American to be elected to a citywide office.

2010 New York Comptroller election

The New York comptroller election of 2010 involved the first election campaign of Democrat Thomas DiNapoli to the Office of State Comptroller. DiNapoli was appointed as Comptroller by a joint session of the New York State Legislature on February 7, 2007. In the general election on November 2, 2010, DiNapoli defeated Republican nominee Harry Wilson.

2013 New York City Comptroller election

The 2013 election for New York City Comptroller was held on November 5, 2013, along with elections for Mayor, Public Advocate, Borough Presidents, and members of the New York City Council.

The first-term incumbent Comptroller, John Liu, did not run for re-election, as he decided to run in the 2013 election for Mayor of New York City. The Democratic Party nomination was won by Scott Stringer, who defeated Eliot Spitzer in the Democratic Primary. John Burnett was the Republican nominee.

2014 New York Comptroller election

The 2014 New York Comptroller election took place on November 4, 2014, to elect the New York State Comptroller. Incumbent Democratic Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli was re-elected to a second full term in office.

2018 New York Comptroller election

The 2018 New York Comptroller election was held on November 6, 2018. Incumbent Democrat Thomas DiNapoli easily won a third term, defeating Republican candidate Jonathan Trichter and minor party candidates.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller)

The Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller) (abbreviated ASN FM) is a civilian office of the United States Department of the Navy. The Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller) is responsible for managing and directing all of the financial matters, including the annual budgets, of the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps. The Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller) is also the Comptroller of the Department of the Navy. The Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller) reports to the Under Secretary of the Navy.

The office was established in 1954; disestablished in 1958; and then re-established in 1961. In June 1981, the office was re-designated as Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller), but in March 1984, the name switched back to Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller).

California State Controller

The State Controller of California is the Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. state of California. The post has broader responsibilities and authority than the California State Treasurer. Responsibilities include investigative authority for every dollar spent by the state, and being an ex-officio member of the state's Board of Equalization.

The State Controller is elected to a four-year term but is limited to two terms. The current state controller is Betty Yee (D).

Comptroller General of the United States

The Comptroller General of the United States is the director of the Government Accountability Office (GAO, formerly known as the General Accounting Office), a legislative branch agency established by Congress in 1921 to ensure the fiscal and managerial accountability of the federal government. The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 "created an establishment of the Government to be known as the General Accounting Office, which shall be independent of the executive departments and under the control and direction of the Comptroller General of the United States". The act also provided that the "Comptroller General shall investigate, at the seat of government or elsewhere, all matters relating to the receipt, disbursement, and application of public funds, and shall make to the President when requested by him, and to Congress... recommendations looking to greater economy or efficiency in public expenditures."

The Comptroller General is appointed for fifteen years by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the Senate per 31 U.S.C. § 703. Also per 31 U.S.C. § 703 when the office of Comptroller General is to become vacant the current Comptroller General must appoint an executive or employee of the GAO to serve as the Acting Comptroller General until such time as a new Comptroller General is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

The Comptroller General has the responsibility to audit the financial statements that the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget present to the Congress and the President. For every fiscal year since 1996, when consolidated financial statements began, the Comptroller General has refused to endorse the accuracy of the consolidated figures for the federal budget, citing "(1) serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense, (2) the federal government’s inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies, and (3) the federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements."The current Comptroller General is Eugene Louis Dodaro, who became Comptroller General on December 22, 2010. He was preceded by David M. Walker. On February 15, 2008, David Walker, then Comptroller General announced that he was resigning from GAO to head The Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Eugene Louis Dodaro became Acting Comptroller General of the United States on March 13, 2008, and was subsequently appointed by the President on September 22, 2010, and confirmed by the Senate on December 22, 2010, as the Comptroller General. Dodaro was sworn in as Comptroller General at a ceremony at the GAO on December 30, 2010.

Comptroller and Auditor General of India

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is an authority, established by Article 148 of the Constitution of India, which audits all receipts and expenditure of the Government of India and the state governments, including those of bodies and authorities substantially financed by the government. The CAG is also the external auditor of Government-owned corporations and conducts supplementary audit of government companies, i.e., any non-banking/ non-insurance company in which Union Government has an equity share of at least 51 per cent or subsidiary companies of existing government companies. The reports of the CAG are taken into consideration by the Public Accounts Committees (PACs) and Committees on Public Undertakings (COPUs), which are special committees in the Parliament of India and the state legislatures. The CAG is also the head of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department, the affairs of which are managed by officers of Indian Audit and Accounts Service, and has over 58,000 employees across the country.

The CAG is mentioned in the Constitution of India under Article 148 – 151.

The CAG is ranked 9th and enjoys the same status as a judge of Supreme Court of India in Indian order of precedence. The current CAG of India is Rajiv Mehrishi, who assumed office on 25 September 2017. He is the 13th CAG of India.

Comptroller of Maryland

The Comptroller of the State of Maryland is Maryland's chief financial officer, elected by the people to a four-year term. The Comptroller is not term-limited. The Office was established by the second Maryland Constitution of 1851 due to concern about the potential for fraud and corruption in the administration of the Public Treasury. The constitutional duties of the Office begin with the broad mandate to exercise "general superintendence of the fiscal affairs of the State", which includes collecting taxes and maintaining the general ledger. The Comptroller (or a deputy) countersigns all checks drawn by the State Treasurer upon the deposits of the State. The Comptroller also prescribes the formalities for transfer of other evidence of State debt and countersigns such papers.

In addition, the Comptroller's Office audits taxpayers for compliance, handles delinquent tax collection, and enforces license and unclaimed property laws. The agency publicizes forgotten bank accounts, insurance benefits and other unclaimed assets of taxpayers. Acting as Maryland's chief accountant, the Comptroller pays the state's bills, maintains its books, prepares financial reports, and pays its state employees.

Comptroller of the Household

The Comptroller of the Household is an ancient position in the British royal household, nominally the second-ranking member of the Lord Steward's department after the Treasurer of the Household. The Comptroller was an ex officio member of the Board of Green Cloth, until that body was abolished in the reform of the local government licensing in 2004. In recent times, a senior government whip has invariably occupied the office. On state occasions the Comptroller (in common with certain other senior officers of the Household) carries a white staff of office, as often seen in portraits.

New York City Comptroller

The Office of Comptroller of New York City is the chief fiscal officer and chief auditing officer of the city. The comptroller is elected, citywide, to a four-year term and can hold office for three consecutive terms. The current comptroller is Democrat Scott Stringer, the former Borough President of Manhattan. Stringer was elected on November 5, 2013.

New York Comptroller elections

The Elections for New York State Comptroller are held every four years. The next scheduled election is due to be held in 2018. The current New York State Comptroller is Thomas DiNapoli.

The Comptroller is directly elected by First Past the Post.

New York State Comptroller

The New York State Comptroller is a state cabinet officer of the U.S. state of New York and head of the New York state government's Department of Audit and Control. The duties of the comptroller include auditing government operations and operating the state's retirement system, the New York State Common Retirement Fund.

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is an independent bureau within the United States Department of the Treasury that was established by the National Currency Act of 1863 and serves to charter, regulate, and supervise all national banks and thrift institutions and the federally licensed branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States. The Comptroller of the Currency is Joseph Otting.

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts is an executive branch position created by the Texas Constitution. As with nearly every other executive branch head in Texas, the Comptroller is popularly elected every four years concurrently with the governor and the other elected executive branch positions (elections take place in even number years not divisible by four; e.g., 2006, 2010, and so on). The current Comptroller is Glenn Hegar, who took office on January 2, 2015.

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