Committee on Public Accounts of Spain

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

The Spanish Committee on Public Accounts functions much like the Internal Revenue Service in the United States. Explore this important oversight organization and discover its history, functions, and responsibilities in today's world. Updated: 10/25/2021

Committee on Public Accounts

In math class, the teacher probably told you time and time again to check your work. While you can often catch a few mistakes, sometimes it's better to let a friend or classmate check your work so that they may catch something you've missed. Well, in Spain, the Committee on Public Accounts is charged with checking the financial work of all companies, organizations, and people in Spain. Think of it like the Spanish IRS. In this lesson, we'll explore the Committee on Public Accounts, its history, and its functions today.

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  • 0:02 Committee on Public Accounts
  • 0:35 History
  • 1:43 Functions
  • 3:03 Lesson Summary
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History

Centralized financial watchdog organizations are a relatively recent phenomenon in most western countries, including Spain. It was not until the 19th century that something resembling today's Committee on Public Accounts was first formalized. The short-lived 1812 constitution created the accounting office, which was charged with scrutinizing all accounts containing or using public funds.

Though the government created by the 1812 constitution was soon overthrown, the central government's commitment to financial oversight sustained and later in the century, the Spanish government created the High Court of Auditors. This organization sustained in various forms, through the 19th and into the 20th century. It was often changed and manipulated according to the political regime in control of Spain at the time.

For example, during the short-lived republic of the 1930s, the Court of Auditors was an independent auditing organization, while during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, it was reformed to report directly to the head of state. The Committee on Public Accounts reached its current manifestation after Spain was declared a constitutional monarchy and a new constitution was written in 1978.

Functions

The Committee on Public Accounts is the supreme audit body of all economic activity in Spain's public sector. The Committee is entirely independent from Spain's executive and it reports directly to the Spanish Parliament, the Cortes. The Committee's most important function is ensuring that public funds are spent wisely and prudently by all government organizations and those organizations and companies with which the Spanish government has contracts.

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