When the first Commonwealth Parliament assembled in Melbourne in May 1901, its immediate task was to begin building the necessary institutions of national government. The fourth Act passed by this Parliament was the Audit Act 1901, which created the office of the Auditor-General.  John William Israel was appointed Auditor-General on 1 December 1901 and he held the position for 25 years. 

The Auditor-General Act 1997 (which replaced the Audit Act) was enacted in October 1997 and marked a new era for the ANAO. The Office's audit independence and mandate were strengthened and the Auditor-General became an ‘Officer of the Parliament'. Throughout its history the Office has variously been known as:

  • Federal Audit Office (1902)
  • Auditor-General's Department (1911)
  • Commonwealth Audit Office (Late 1950s)
  • Australian Audit Office (1984)
  • Australian National Audit Office (1990)

The mandate of the ANAO has expanded over time to encompass the audits of the financial statements of all Australian Government entities and performance audits of public sector programs and agencies. Today, the Auditor-General Act 1997 recognises the Auditor-General as an independent officer of the Parliament. In addition to its audit services, the ANAO plays an important part in the improvement of public administration through the publication of better practice guides, client newsletters and the sharing of knowledge and expertise.

In 2001 the ANAO celebrated 100 years as a Commonwealth institution. To commemorate this milestone the ANAO commissioned a documented history, which was published as From Accounting to Accountability: A Centenary History of the Australian National Audit Office. In 2011 the ANAO celebrated 110 years as a Commonwealth institution.

Commonwealth Auditors-General from Israel to Hehir

  • John William Israel  (1902–1926)
  • Charles John Cerutty  (19261935)
  • Herbert Charles Brown  (19351938)
  • Ralph Abercrombie  (19381946)
  • Albert Charles Joyce  (19461951)
  • James Brophy  (19511955)
  • Harold Clive Newman  (19551961)
  • Victor John William Skermer  (19611973)
  • Duncan Robert Steele Craik  (19731981)
  • Keith Frederick Brigden  (19811985)
  • John Vincent Monaghan  (19851987)
  • John Casey Taylor  (19881995)
  • Patrick Joseph Barrett  (19952005)
  • Ian McPhee  (20052015)
  • Grant Hehir  (2015Present)