Government auditing can look back on a history of about 300 years: In 1714 King Frederick William I established the first government audit institution
In 1714, the Prussian King Frederick William I founded a “General Chamber of Accounts”, which was later renamed the “Superior Chamber of Accounts”. This independent, collegiate external audit body, autonomous within the Prussian administration, originally had its headquarters in Berlin and moved to Potsdam in 1818. It was to audit the state accounts, report on its findings in an annual report and submit expert opinions on administrative reforms.
Building of the former Audit Court of the German Reich, today’s branch office of the Bundesrechnungshof in Potsdam
In 1868, the Prussian Superior Chamber of Accounts was additionally entrusted with auditing the accounts of the North German Federation. In 1871, when it was renamed “Audit Court of the German Reich”, it was also commissioned to audit the accounts of the German Reich. Thus, the President of the Reich Court of Audit was ex officio President of the Prussian Superior Chamber of Accounts. The Superior Chamber of Accounts continued to exist as a Prussian audit institution until 1945. After the end of World War II, the Hamburg Branch Office of the former Reich Court of Audit resumed its activities and continued its work under the name of “Audit Court for Special Tasks”.
Office building of the Bundesrechnungshof in Frankfurt on the Main
In 1948, the “Audit Court of the Combined Economic Area” was established in Frankfurt. This was the immediate predecessor of the Bundesrechnungshof. It was assigned the responsibilities and powers of the Audit Court for Special Tasks. After the Basic Law had come into force, it temporarily carried out the responsibilities of the audit office for the Federation. In 1950, the Bundesrechnungshof was set up in Frankfurt on the Main.
At the beginning of 1998, nine Regional Audit Offices were set up that were designed to optimise and enhance government audit work. At the same time, the former pre-audit offices were abolished. Since 1 July 2000, the Bundesrechnungshof’s headquarters have been located in Bonn. The Bundesrechnungshof has a branch office in Potsdam which has occupied the building of the former Reich Court of Audit since 1 December 1998.
In 2015 and 2016, the Bundesrechnungshof restructured its organisational set-up and the assignment of responsibilities to enhance its functional and operational capabilities. In early 2017, the Bundesrechnungshof implemented the new structure and thus realigned its audit divisions and audit units to respond to the challenges of an ever changing government landscape. Moreover, the remaining seven regional audit offices were restructured to become dependent field offices of the Bundesrechnungshof.