The office serves as "eyes and ears" for the Legislature to ensure that the executive branch is implementing legislative policy in a cost efficient and effective manner. The office carries out this legislative oversight function by reviewing and analyzing the operations and finances of state government.
Historically, one of the most important responsibilities of the LAO has been to analyze the annual Governor's budget and publish a detailed review at the end of February. In recent years, the office has presented a series of analyses from the beginning to the end of the budget process on overarching fiscal issues as well as specific departmental budget proposals and offered its recommendations for legislative action. In order to provide the Legislature with timely advice on these matters, the LAO has published its budget comments and advice in the form of separate written reports, handouts for hearings, and entries on a Web-based online list, all of which are available at its website, www.lao.ca.gov. These documents help set the agenda for the work of the Legislature's fiscal committees in developing a state budget. Staff of the office work with these committees throughout the budget process and provide public testimony on the office's recommendations.
More generally, the office is a staff resource to all legislators. The LAO also performs the following functions:
Budget "Control." The LAO reviews requests by the administration to make changes to the budget after it is enacted. These reviews are used primarily by members of the JLBC and the fiscal committees.
Special Reports. Throughout the year, the office prepares special reports on the state budget and topics of interest to the Legislature.
Initiatives and Ballot Measures. The office estimates the fiscal effect on state and local government of all proposed initiatives (prior to circulation) and prepares analyses of all measures that qualify for the statewide ballot.
Forecasting. The LAO forecasts the state revenues and expenditures.
For a specific program-related question, see our areas of responsibility on this site.
The office's publications are available in hard copy as well as on the LAO web site at www.lao.ca.gov.
Generally, reports are accessible on the office's home page the same day they
are released to the Legislature.