Choosing a CPA Career Path in Government


Working within the government is a CPA career path that few might initially consider. Although the work differs from the type of work found in public accounting, government work for CPAs can be attractive for those looking for consistent hours and room for growth. Currently, there is an overabundance of older workers in the public sector who will likely be retiring in the next few years, with some estimates putting that number at 20-30% of the workforce. As such, there are accounting jobs at every level of the government, from federal to state and local.

Federal Job Expectations

Federal government jobs include accounting positions at the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the General Accounting Office, and the Department of the Treasury. Although the exact tasks within a position might vary, accountants in these institutions can typically expect to manage the audits of financial statements for government agencies and research and analyze issues with financial management. In many cases, they will also be responsible for investigating “white-collar” crime and testifying when necessary before legislative committees regarding audits or pending legislation.

State and Local Job Expectations

State and local government jobs often have similar responsibilities, though the number of people under their jurisdiction will vary. These positions deal more with the running of institutions that make up communities including schools, prisons, and other local organizations. The responsibilities of a CPA working for a state or local government might include analyzing the expenditures of a school district or checking the compliance of government-run programs.

Audits at All Levels

Regardless of whether accountants are working for local, state, or federal government, the need for audits will remain the same. An accountant at any level will likely have performance auditing as part of their responsibilities. These audits deal with ensuring the operation of organizations is optimal, following guidelines, and fulfilling commitments to taxpayers through meeting intended objectives.

Traditionally, a financial statement audit examines and verifies the information that an organization or institution provides through its financial statements. Accountants will have to determine the fairness of the reports presented and see how well the entity has adhered to the guidelines established for it. These audits typically culminate in a letter to management which shares information about errors or vulnerabilities that were found during the audit and offers suggestions for how these might be improved.

Compliance audits analyze an organization to ensure it is in compliance with laws and regulations and to recognize and report instances where there is a significant deviation from those requirements. State compliance audits are concerned with laws and regulations at the state level, while federal compliance audits are responsible for checking that federal laws and regulations are being followed.

Investigative audits, unlike the aforementioned audits, are irregular in that they occur when allegations of improper adherence to laws or regulations have been reported. In these cases, accountants will be brought in to audit the institution or individual to verify the veracity of the claims.

Each CPA’s career path is different. Regardless of what you envision yours to be, let UWorld Roger CPA Review set you up for career path success!

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