The Comptroller’s role is the chief accountability officer for the City who helps ensure that government delivers the results people want, including clean and safe streets, good schools, a fair and growing economy, and well-functioning infrastructure.

The position of Comptroller serves one main purpose: to provide a check on the power of the Mayor and the growing bureaucracy, centrally-controlled by the Mayor.

Today, the main functions provided by Baltimore’s Office of the Comptroller are:

  • City Auditor. Through its Department of Audits, the Comptroller’s Office provides regular financial and performance audits of City agencies. The Comptroller is responsible for checking the books and they also determine the efficiency of the City offices and programs delivering results to the public.
  • Oversight via the Board of Estimates. The Comptroller has a vote on the Board of Estimates, which oversees the City’s budgeting, spending, and procurement contracts.
  • Independent Accountant. The Comptroller’s office prepares the Consolidated Annual Financial Report (CAFR) and other key accounting documents as the City’s independent accountant.
  • Managing Real Estate. The Comptroller is the head of the Department of Real Estate which manages the City’s real estate holdings.
  • Finance and Pensions. The Comptroller sits on the Board of Finance and the boards that oversee the City’s pension funds. The Board of Finance issues City bonds and loans, reviews the City’s capital budget, and oversees all City trusts and investments.
  • The Comptroller is the head of the Department of Communications Services, which is comprised of the Municipal Telephone Exchange and the Municipal Post Office. 

As we move into the third decade of the 21st century, it is time for the Comptroller’s Office to refocus on its role as the watchdog of the City’s affairs. Furthermore, this must be done in a way that uses the tools and techniques of a data-driven society and an information-based economy. In order to provide real accountability on behalf of the public, the Comptroller must take the lead in providing not only transparent data, but also useful analysis of City functions. By virtue of being independently elected, the Comptroller is insulated from the politics of the Mayor and City Council. The Comptroller is best situated to answer the question “Is the City government is producing the results residents deserve?”


Bill’s Plan to be Baltimore’s Strongest Advocate for the Public Interest

Baltimore needs more than just change in who holds elected office: we need to completely rethink how City government is run. City government must be able to protect basic human rights and human dignity. Services like police, sanitation, water/wastewater, or transportation should work efficiently and effectively.

As your Comptroller, BIll Henry will be the City’s most powerful advocate for the public. It’s the Comptroller that has both the independence, access, and staff resources to provide real oversight.

  • Advocating for Better Policy. As Comptroller, Bill Henry will work with a broad array of partners to identify key areas of analysis that can be furthered by work performed by the Department of Audits. The focus will be on empowering Baltimore’s decision-makers at all levels to enable choices that better reflect the results desired by the people of Baltimore City. Areas of analysis would include:
    • Affordable Housing
    • Fair, Equitable Development
    • Better Public Transit
    • Homeownership
    • Waste Disposal Issues
  • Restructuring the Board of Estimates. Bill Henry knows that restructuring the Board of Estimates would effectively end the strong mayor system. We need a government that is accountable, but not gridlocked. Bill supports a formal study of options to restructure the BOE, curbing the power of the Mayor’s office without ending the strong Mayor system.
  • Participatory Budgeting. It’s time to let communities have more direct say over the budget. Bill would partner with the City Council to bring participatory budgeting to Baltimore City.
  • Annual surveys and town halls. Bill will reinstate the Baltimore community survey to continuously engage residents on what needs to be improved at City government.

Providing Reports and Issue Briefs to Guide Decision-Making. When the public, the press, and city government consider major issues, including crime reduction and housing affordability, the Comptroller’s office must be able to provide key data and analysis from an independent perspective. For example, the Allegheny County Comptroller produces periodic updates to taxpayers on relevant issues.


Bill’s Plan to Transform City Government Through Smarter Auditing

We could be doing more audits, but it’s not just the quantity that matters, it’s the quality, too. Better auditing is the key to finally making real progress in transforming Baltimore City government that has eluded us for so long. As Comptroller Bill will pursue an audit plan with the power to transform government, and he’ll complete certain priority audits in year one.

  • Priority Audits and Reports
    • Baltimore’s 311 System
    • Water Billing
    • Housing Code Enforcement
    • Lead Abatement Response
    • Baltimore City’s PILOT Agreements
    • Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice
    • Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success
    • Salesforce Implementation
    • Illegal Dumping Response
    • Private Policing Impact


  • Audit Key Agencies Every Year. Together, the following five agencies account for ⅔ of City spending and more than 50% of City spending. They also are responsible for many of the most critical outcomes that affect our lives every day. Bill Henry will move these offices to annual audits because this is where the Department of Audits can have the most impact.
    • Public Works
    • Police
    • Transportation
    • City Schools
    • Fire


  • Audit Focus Areas. As your Comptroller, Bill will direct the Department of Audits to get answers to the most pressing questions for City government. This means aggressively auditing plans, programs, and outcomes that matter. In addition to his emergency audit plan, Bill will routinely look for opportunities to audit in the following areas.
    • City subsidies and tax incentives.
    • Public safety.
    • Information technology.
    • Municipal services.

Implementation of Major New Legislation (for example, Complete Streets and the Equity Assessment Program).


Bill’s Plan to Make Baltimore a Leader in Government Transparency

Baltimore City is one of only two major cities run by a Board of Estimates. Though we think of our City as a “Strong Mayor” city, the Mayor gets their power from their control over the Board of Estimates.

The Comptroller’s office is responsible for preparing Board’s weekly agendas and minutes. This role gives the Comptroller an insider view of the day-to-day business of the City. Right now the public’s access to this important information is extremely limited, but the Comptroller has the power to fix that.

As an independent watchdog, the Comptroller’s office should be one of the most visible and communicative offices in City government. Its job is to make information available, not keep it a secret. As Comptroller, Bill Henry will use technology and open data practices to remove the veil of secrecy from the Board of Estimates, so that everyone has access to the same information.

  • Online Access to the Board of Estimates. This simple change would allow for much easier analysis and tracking of important City agreements or contracts, and it’s been done in many places, take for example the Open Book Pittsburgh database or the Open Data NYC program run by the NYC Comptroller’s office.
  • A Departmental Audit Dashboard. Bill Henry will create a public, online dashboard for audits and other relevant studies and reports that makes it easy for the public to track ongoing audit activity.
  • Regular Meetings with the Inspector General. Now that the Inspector General’s office is truly independent, a much closer partnership between the Comptroller and the Inspector General will root out corruption and waste at City Hall.
  • Subpoena Power for the Department of Audits. Bill Henry will propose a charter amendment granting subpoena power to the Department of Audits. Many Comptroller’s, Auditors, and similar officials across the country can issue subpoenas for information related to a performance audit and Baltimore should have this tool as well.

Open Data. The Comptroller’s office also has the access and bandwidth to develop and release important data sets, to better inform the public. For example, in New York City, the Comptroller’s office runs the City’s open data program.



Restoring the Comptroller’s Role As Baltimore’s Most Important Advocate and Watchdog

As your next Baltimore City Comptroller, Bill Henry will change how our City is run and who it is run for.

Bill was elected Councilman in District 4 three times because voters know that he’s an independent voice who is accountable to the public. As Councilman, Bill built trust among District 4 community leaders that their interests would be honestly and persistently represented at City Hall. As Comptroller, Bill will fearlessly pursue the public interest and rebuild trust in Baltimore City government. That’s what real accountability requires.

To do this, Councilman Henry has developed a four-point approach to changing Baltimore from the ground up, not the top down. 

  1. Letting the Sunshine In. As Comptroller, Bill will provide an independent perspective on City government, crucial for true transparency and accountability. No other elected official reviews as much information about City government as the Comptroller, and it’s long past time that this information be made accessible to the public.
  1. Auditing with Impact. We need an audit plan that drives transformative change at City government. Just completing audits is not enough; they must have real impact. Bill has developed a list of 10 priority audits he will pursue in his first year in office, and he will also audit certain departments annually. He will also refocus performance auditing on the outcomes that matter to the public.
  1. An Independent Voice in City Hall. The Comptroller can be the most powerful advocate in the City, with access to information, staff resources, and potential for a working relationship with the City Council and the Inspector General. Bill will lead by transforming the office into one that is forward looking.
  1. A Fair Economy. We know our economy in Baltimore doesn’t work for everyone, and the Comptroller’s office should provide the independent analysis that tells us where we must improve. Bill Henry will provide an annual review of key areas of our City’s economy until it works for all of us.