Administrative History of the Wyoming Territorial and State Auditor’s OfficeFrom the Wyoming Blue Book Volume 5 Part 2
The office of the Wyoming Territorial Auditor was created with the passage of Chapter 23, Session Laws of the Territory of Wyoming, 1869, by the First Wyoming Territory Legislative Assembly. The law provided for the appointment of the auditor by the territorial governor for a term of two years. The duties of the office included keeping the accounts, vouchers, and papers pertinent to the finances and contracts of the territorial government. The auditor was also required by the act to make complete and detailed reports concerning revenues, public debt, and expenditures, to the legislative assembly.

Furthermore, Chapter 23 named the territorial auditor as ex-officio superintendent of public instruction, and for performing this service, the auditor received an additional $500 salary per annum. In 1873, the auditor lost this extra salary, with the enactment of Chapter 58, Session Laws of the Territory of Wyoming. Fifteen years later, Chapter 64, Session Laws of the Territory of Wyoming, 1888, made the auditor ex­-officio insurance commissioner. For performing this function, the auditor received the fees, for issuing certificates of licenses and statements (as a commission).

The Wyoming State Constitution, written and approved in 1889, and put in force with the coming of statehood in 1890, established the Office of the Wyoming State Auditor. Article 4, Section 11 of the constitution required that the auditor be: elected by the qualified voters of the state for a term of four years; at least twenty-five years of age; a citizen of the United States, and a qualified voter of the state. Section 12 declared that the powers and duties of the state auditor, as well as those of the secretary of state, the state treasurer, and the superintendent of instruction, would be prescribed by law. Two additional constitutional provisions affected the state auditor. Article 16, Section 8 required the auditor to approve any bonded indebtedness of the state, and Article 10, Section 13 required railroad corporations operating in Wyoming to make an annual report to the auditor.

There was one more constitutional provision, which in effect, prescribed the powers and duties of the state auditor when Wyoming became a state in 1890. Article 21, Section 3 mandated that territorial laws would remain in force unless altered or repealed by the state legislature. The First State Legislature passed six laws, Chapters 33, 37, 60, 85, 86, and 99, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1890-1891, relating to the state auditor, but left in effect Chapter 64, 1888, cited above. The 1888 law defined the duties of the auditor as "the general accountant of the territory, and the keeper of the public account books, accounts, vouchers, and all papers relating to the accounts and contracts of the territory, and its revenue, debt, and fiscal affairs not required by law to be kept in some other office, or kept by some other person."

The first state laws, 1890-1891, named specific functions which the state auditor was to perform, Chapter 33 directed the auditor to issue warrants for the expenses of the Wyoming Livestock Commission; Chapter 37 named the auditor as a member of the Board of Charities and Reform; Chapter 60 directed the auditor as to how certificates of indebtedness should be redeemed; Chapter 85 instructed the auditor on how to pay the legislature; Chapter 86 provided for the licensing of Building and Loan Associations; and Chapter 99 required the auditor to procure annually, certain information about property owned by railroad and telegraph companies.

After one hundred years of statehood, the general duties and functions of the state auditor remain much as they were in 1890, except for the application of technology to the functions. But one area of responsibility has changed drastically for the state auditor the auditor's involvement with various state boards and commissions. The last territorial legislative assembly designated the territorial auditor as a member of the Capitol Building Commission, Chapter 62, Session Laws of the Territory of Wyoming, 1890, and the assignment carried over into statehood. Article #7, Section 18 of the Wyoming State Constitution created the State Board of Charities and Reform to provide overall supervision of all state institutions. The state auditor, the state treasurer, and the state superintendent of public instruction, with the enactment by the First State Legislature of Chapter 37, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1890-1891, were to constitute the board.

This pattern of involving statewide elected officials in government responsibilities not specifically related to their offices, continued during the first fifty years of statehood. In 1897, the secretary of state, the state auditor, and the state treasurer were named by Chapter 53, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1897, to comprise the State Canvassing Board. In 1911, the legislature created the State Commission on Prison Labor, Chapter 61, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1911, and named the State Board of Charities and Reform as the commission. Eight years later, the auditor, with the state treasurer and the state engineer, was appointed to the State Board of Supplies, Chapter 96, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1919. Then on November 7, 1922, a constitutional amendment establishing the State Board of Land Commissioners, and naming the five state elected officials to the commission, was approved by Wyoming voters. With membership on the State Board of Land Commissioners, the five elected officials became members of the State Farm Loan Board, which had been established in 1921 with the enactment of Chapter 118, Session Laws of Wyoming. Finally, the trend to include the auditor and the other elected officials on every state board and commission culminated in 1937, with the passage of Chapter 63, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1937. The act provided membership for the state elected officials on all state boards and commissions, on which at least two of the officials already were serving.

During the past two decades, the 1970s and 1980s, there has been a trend by the legislature to reduce the number of boards and commissions on which the state auditor and the other elected officials serve. The reorganization plan of the executive branch of state government being implemented in 1990, when fully in place, will further reduce the involvement of the five elected officials with boards and commissions. Offsetting this reduction in responsibilities for the state auditor, the growth of Wyoming, and state government correspondingly, have dramatically increased the workload relating to the traditional duties of the office, and additional functions have been assigned to the auditor by law.

Beginning in 1958, there was an effort, first made by State Auditor Minnie Mitchell, to administratively consolidate the ever increasing number of separate state fund accounts, but it wasn't until 1973 that the state legislature addressed the problem. That year, Chapter 245, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1973, was enacted, to be followed a year later by the passage of Chapter 16, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1974. The two acts, in concert, combined approximately 200 separate state fund accounts into eleven fund accounts, and established administrative guidelines for the management of the state's fiscal affairs that have contributed substantially toward increased efficiency in the auditor's office.

Furthermore, the two acts required the state auditor to establish "general control accounts for each fund appropriation included in legislative appropriation acts,'' and to assist with the development and maintenance of a centralized uniform accounting system, applicable to all branches of state government. To accommodate this effort, a Financial Advisory Council, including the state auditor in its membership, was created by the acts. The final result was the development and implementation of the Wyoming Uniform Accounting System (WUAS); the auditor's office provided training for affected state employees in the use of the system.

The funds consolidation and the WUAS created a need for reorganization of the auditor's office and for additional personnel. Staff was transferred from the personnel and budget divisions of the Department of Administration and Fiscal Control, and the reorganization of the auditor's office was completed in 1975. Legislative enactment of Chapter 34, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1981, assigning minerals auditing duties to the state auditor, brought about a need for further reorganization. The purpose of the act was to "ensure that the state is receiving all of the state and federal mineral royalties it is lawfully entitled."

State Auditor James B. Griffith and James Watt, Secretary of the Interior, worked together to develop a joint state/federal minerals audit program, which became a model for minerals royalty audit programs in other states. In 1989, because of the reorganization of the executive branch of state government, the minerals auditing duties, including personnel, were transferred from the state auditor's office to the newly formed Department of Audit.

As the Office of the Wyoming State Auditor begins its second century of service to the people of the state, and as State Auditor Jack Sidi stated in his 1989 annual report to the legislature, the office's major responsibility in the years ahead will be to "account for and record all financial transactions of state agencies."

Additional Information

History of State Auditors, Wyoming State Auditor's Office. This PDF document contains biographies compiled from the Blue Book with notations and updates from the Auditor's Office.