Article 33(1) of the Constitution requires the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) to control all disbursements on behalf of the State: “There shall be a Comptroller and Auditor General to control on behalf of the State all disbursements and to audit all accounts of moneys administered by or under the authority of the Oireachtas.”
Pursuant to Article 33(4) of the Constitution the C&AG is obliged to report to Dáil Éireann at stated periods as determined by law. Thus, the principal duties of the C&AG are to control, audit and report.
While duties are imposed by the Constitution on the C&AG, further and additional duties have been imposed on him by statute in particular as set out under the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act 1993 (“the 1993 Act”).
The core duties of the C&AG, in conducting an audit of central Government financial statements are to ensure the financial statements properly present the transactions and balances, and that transactions have been “regular”. The latter essentially means establishing that the State’s money was properly used or handled in accordance with lawful authority.
Section 8 of the 1993 Act permits the C&AG, at his discretion, to inspect the accounts of non-public bodies, including recipients of grant funding, but only where 50% or more of their gross receipts come from public sources. Such an inspection of accounts, books and records can only be undertaken in respect of a year (or period of account) where the “50% condition” is satisfied, and only for the purposes of ascertaining that the public money was spent for the purposes authorised by the Oireachtas and in accordance with any conditions specified by the Department through which the funds were allocated.