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“People trust what we say because our reports are unbiased and originate from an objective evaluation of the evidence we collect,” says California’s Elaine Howle, who plans to retire at the end of the year.

California State Auditor Elaine Howle Set to Retire

By Brenda Erickson | Dec. 27, 2021 | State Legislatures News | Print

California State Auditor Elaine Howle plans to retire at the end of this year after a 38-year career that included serving under four governors from both political parties.

A certified public accountant and certified government financial manager, Howle began her career with the California State Auditor’s Office 38 years ago as an entry-level auditor. She became a supervisor in 1987, a principal auditor in 1994 and deputy state auditor in 1999. Governor Gray Davis appointed Howle auditor in 2000, and she has been reappointed ever since.

“It’s time for the next generation of leaders to take over the office,” Howle says.

It’s time for the next generation of leaders to take over the office. —Elaine Howle

The independent, nonpartisan auditor’s office conducts the annual financial audit of California’s large, complex financial system, and its performance audits have earned national attention by ensuring efficient and effective service by state and local government entities.

“(No) one wants to get audited,” but “administrations consistently were receptive to the results of the work … and committed to trying to improve government in California,” Howle says.

“Californians rely on high-quality government services,” she says. “And we are here to ensure that state and local agencies deliver. People trust what we say because our reports are unbiased and originate from an objective evaluation of the evidence we collect.”

Under Howle’s leadership, the office has received many awards, including the Excellence in Evaluation award from the National Legislative Program Evaluation Society in 2017.

Howle has received individual honors from the National State Auditors Association (2016), the Institute of Internal Auditors’ American Center for Government Auditing (2014), the National Intergovernmental Audit Forum (2012) and Governing Magazine (2012). Howle most recently served as president of National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers.

Howle’s successor will be appointed by the governor from a list of three individuals nominated by the California Legislature.

Brenda Erickson is a program principal in NCSL’s Legislative Staff Services Program. She serves as NCSL’s liaison to the National Legislative Program Evaluation Society.

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