August 1999


This month's special feature, "Three Generations of Comptrollers General," explores the impact the U.S. General Accounting Office has had on the accounting profession from the perspectives of the three living comptrollers general, the chief executives of that agency for the past 33 years.

Elmer B. Staats, now in retirement, was appointed comptroller general in 1966 and brought the GAO into full contact with the accounting profession through the first yellow book of government auditing standards. Charles A. Bowsher followed in 1981 and, given his background as a partner of Arthur Andersen & Co., was fully engrossed in the performance of independent public accountants. The Single Audit Act, designed by the GAO under his leadership, was passed in 1984. Bowsher was also at the helm for the GAO report on audit quality of failed savings and loan institutions. David M. Walker took office in 1998 and was the first comptroller general to sign the audit report on the U.S. government's consolidated financial statements.

CPA Journal Editor-in-Chief James L. Craig, Jr., questioned the three living comptrollers general about their role in shaping the accounting profession for this Millennium Series article. The GAO, with its powerful role as the audit arm of Congress, has had a significant impact on the profession and will continue to do so. Under the leadership of Walker, a CPA, its message and challenge will be accountability. *

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