The term "auditor" dates back to the original
colonial constitution adopted on March 1, 1669, where twelve positions were
authorized, but there is no evidence that they ever functioned in their capacity
to keep rent rolls, and other accounts. As the colony grew, however, the General
Assembly and comptrollers of the King of England appointed boards of auditors
to serve in various communities to handle matters as designated by the English
|Auditors of Public Accounts
|Samuel F. Phillips
|Richard H. Battle
|Samuel L. Love
|William P. Roberts
|George W. Sandlin
|Robert M. Furman
|Hal W. Ayer
|Benjamin F. Dixon
|Benjamin F. Dixon, Jr.
|William P. Wood
|George Ross Pou
|Henry L. Bridges
|Ralph Campbell, Jr.
|Leslie W. Merritt, Jr.
|Beth A. Wood, CPA
||2009 - present
|Source: North Carolina Manual
In 1782, the General Assembly appointed Richard Caswell as the first
Comptroller of the State of North Carolina. His duties were to direct the mode of stating,
checking, and controlling all public accounts and to keep these accounts for inspection by
the General Assembly. In addition, ten boards of auditors were to be located in various
parts of the State.
This system remained in place until 1862 when the General Assembly
established the Office of Auditor of Public Accounts. The 1868 Constitution provided that
the State Auditor should be elected by the people and was to "superintend the fiscal
affairs of the State; examine and settle accounts of persons indebted to the State;
liquidate claims by persons against the State; and to draw warrants on the State Treasurer
for moneys to be paid out of the treasury."
In 1872, the system of county taxes on property, polls, and income
was established with the local sheriff acting as the tax collector. The State Auditor was
to prepare the forms for listing taxes and provide them to each sheriff. He was to report
to the State Treasurer the amounts due to each fund and if any of the sheriffs defaulted
in their accounts. The Revenue Act of 1923 relieved the Auditor of his local tax duties.
The legislature in 1921 strengthened the power of the State Auditor
by giving the office the power to examine, audit and adjust accounts. However, it also
made the Auditor responsible for disbursements and the overall accounting system. This
dual role presented the Auditor with substantive issues of potential conflict and
certainly independence, in carrying out the assigned duties. It was 1955 before the
General Assembly separated the duties by transferring the purely accounting functions to a
new position in the executive branch. This change resulted in the State Auditor being in a
position of independence to review and comment on the operational and financial affairs of
North Carolina State Government.