An Assessment: City Finance Director Characteristics and Monitoring Mechanisms in Relation to Fiscal Performance and Audit Timeliness for Small- and Medium-Sized Cities
Although the public sector represents a substantial portion of the U.S. economy, little is known about its managers. I investigate city finance director characteristics and monitoring mechanisms to determine whether they are associated with two city performance dimensions, fiscal performance and audit delay, in small- and medium-sized cities. I survey city finance directors in eleven states to obtain data on finance director and jurisdiction characteristics for analysis. Based upon participating individuals, I collect city specific financial data from financial statements for examination in conjunction with the survey results. I provide evidence that finance director characteristics are related to city performance. Specifically, education, title, non-CPA certification, gender, age, and salary are positively associated with fiscal performance. Conversely, I find that finance directors with more governmental experience or that possess a CPA license are associated with lower fiscal performance. I do not find evidence that finance director characteristics are related to city financial statement audit delay, but I document that finance director autonomy and job complexity are related to city performance while autonomy is associated with timelier audits. Results also suggest that in terms of improving fiscal performance, audit committees are less constraining for finance directors with high job autonomy while the level of direct supervision is more constraining. Finally, I find that under the mayor-council form of government, high autonomy finance directors complete audits on a more timely basis. This study lays the foundation for the examination of finance director expertise and individual characteristics, and expands the investigation of control mechanisms, in small- and medium-size city governments.