The Autonomous Powers

Chile Table of Contents

The Comptroller General

The Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic has been a highly visible institution since the adoption of the 1925 constitution. In 1943 it was upgraded to an autonomous government organ through an amendment to the constitution (Law 7,727) and was retained as such in the constitution of 1980. Charged with serving as the government's auditor, the agency has a large professional staff, which scrutinizes the collection and expenditure of government funds by the National Treasury, the municipalities, and other state services as determined by law. Over the years, the agency gained a reputation for insisting on strict conformity to the law, instilling respect in career officials and elected officials alike.

In addition to its preaudit and postaudit functions, the Office of the Comptroller General has significant juridical functions, as it is empowered to rule on the legality and constitutionality of decrees and laws. All supreme decrees and resolutions are routinely sent to the Office of the Comptroller General for a ruling prior to adoption. In this sense, the comptroller general's oversight functions are essentially preventive. The chief executive can overrule the comptroller general's objection to a presidential decrees by issuing a so-called decree of insistence requiring the signature of every cabinet minister. Overruling the comptroller general opens the ministers to the threat of censorship by the Chamber of Deputies. In order to guarantee the comptroller general's autonomy, the official is appointed by the president, with the consent of the Senate, to serve until age seventy-five. The comptroller general has complete control over the organization and staff of the office in conformity with Law 10,336 (Law of Organization and Powers of the Comptroller General of the Republic).

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress