How an Auditor Shortage Could Hurt Local Governments



It’s no surprise to anyone at this point that local governments are struggling to find workers. But finance departments are especially hard-hit when it comes to brain drain. A National Association of State Treasurers study found that 60% of public finance workers are over 45 while less than 20% are younger than 35.

The private sector is facing similar issues. According to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the accounting profession has an acute shortage of workers as the population of graduates with accounting degrees has declined over the years. 


ACFRs, unlike quarterly or other interim reports, are the official account of a government’s finances for the previous year and show how those numbers compare with previous years. It takes some time for finance departments to gather the year-end data, but getting those numbers audited is the last and generally the most time-consuming step before publishing the annual financial report. In some cases, like in Indiana and Ohio, the audit is conducted or signed off by the state auditor’s office. In other instances, localities hire a firm to audit their financial statements.

According to new data published by the University of Illinois Chicago and Merritt Research Services, the last decade has seen a 13% increase in the median amount of time for local government audits to be completed. That means most governments are posting their ACFRs at least three weeks later in the year compared with a decade ago. Nearly half of the increase has occurred over the last two years. The research focuses on the median—rather than the average—because some governments are extreme outliers and take a year and a half or even more than two years to file their annual report. 

Author(s): Liz Farmer

Publication Date: 18 Apr 2023

Publication Site: Route Fifty