The rendering of accounts by the head of government is a traditional instrument of accountability in Brazil’s public administration. The Constitution prescribes that governments, at the federal, state and municipal levels, have two months into each year to produce a report encompassing the global state of the respective public finances in the previous year. Then, an independent audit court is charged with the submission to the legislature of an ample review of the accounts, including the court’s non-binding opinion regarding the regularity of the yearly accounts.The Court bases its report on rules and legislation in effect such as the Constitution, budgetary laws and the Fiscal Responsibility Law, as well as its own regulations and bylaws.The respective legislature then proceeds to issue a final decision on the accounts rendered.
In the case of the federal government, it is incumbent upon the TCU to submit to Congress a review of the President’s yearly accounts. This is highly valued as an instance for the Court to exert independent control of the government, assist the Congress in its oversight role and foster public accountability, transparency and social control of government activity, since its review of yearly accounts constitutes a key input for officials, scholars, the media and advocacy groups nationwide.
In addition to its function as an independent and public review of government action, the process of government accounts may take on a more critical aspect for heads of government, as existing legislation mandates that having accounts ruled as “irregular” by the legislarure carries implications such as rendering office-holders temporarily ineligible. The audit court’s independent report per se, though non-binding for parliamentary decision, may also subsidize investigations or legal cases brought by prosecutors, or serve as a foundation for impeachment proceedings.