State Board of Accounts

In 1909, the legislature created the State Board of Accounts. At that time, the primary responsibilities of the Board of Accounts were to examine all accounts and all financial affairs of every public office and officer, state office, state institution and entity; to prescribe and approve forms; and to create a uniform system of accounting and financial reporting in Indiana for all units of government within Indiana.

The Board of Accounts was created 12 years before the federal government created the Government Accountability Office (GAO). It has long been documented that in the early 1900’s graft and corruption was prevalent throughout the United States in State and Local Governments. Indiana was not spared from this pervasive problem and an investigation by an Indianapolis newspaper revealed pervasive wrong-doing throughout the State of Indiana within local governmental offices. In 1908, the Merchants Association of Indianapolis began an active investigation of the graft and corruption, and later that year, they appointed a bi-partisan three member committee to formulate an accounting bill to help combat the problems their investigation uncovered. The outcome of this committee would eventually become the accounting act for the State of Indiana.

At the time the bill was introduced, Indiana’s Governor was the Honorable Thomas Marshall, who was, at first, opposed to the public accounting law as he felt that it would interfere with local self-government. Eventually he became a strong supporter and included the act in his message to the General Assembly in 1909. Under the original act, that was signed into law on March 4, 1909, the Board of Accounts consisted of the Governor, Auditor of State and State Examiner. The State Examiner and two deputy examiners were appointed by the Governor. A Department of Inspection and Supervision of Public Offices was created and placed under the State Board of Accounts. In 1943, the Board of Accounts became part of the division of Accounting and Statistics under the Executive branch. In 1945 the Department of Inspection and Supervision of Public Offices was abolished and its powers and duties transferred to the “State Board of Accounts”. At that time, the Board of Accounts composition changed to a board consisting of the State Examiner and two Deputy Examiners.