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A comptroller is a management level position responsible for supervising the quality of accounting and financial reporting of an organization.

The Comptroller General, Auditor General, or Comptroller and Auditor General is in most commonwealth countries 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 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 correctly pronounced identically to "controller" despite the distinct spelling. However, comptroller is sometimes pronounced phonetically by those unaware of the word's origins.[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.

Government role


The Auditor-General of Canada audits federal government spending in Canada; each province and territory has an Auditor-General to audit both its own and its cities' spending.

United Kingdom

The title of comptroller is used in the Royal Household for various offices. The senior post of Comptroller of the Household is nowadays a sinecure, invariably held by a Government Whip in the House of Commons. His royal duties are minimal, and mostly ceremonial. The comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain's Office, however, is a full-time member of the Royal Household. His duties are concerned with the arrangement of ceremonial affairs rather than financial affairs.

The National Audit Office is headed by the Comptroller and Auditor General. Similarly, the Patent Office, sometimes unofficially known as the UK Intellectual Property Office, is headed by the Comptroller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks.

For Comptroller General and Comptroller and Auditor General, which are typically titles of even higher level government officials, see the lists in Comptroller and Auditor General or in INTOSAI.

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.

United States

The title of comptroller is held by various government officials.

See also

Notes and references