Although its organisation and powers have changed over time, the Court of Audit dates back to the early years of the Italian state. It was instituted by Law no.800 of 14 August 1862, in order to monitor the administration of the state, and was inaugurated at Turin on 10 October 1862.
The Court is the heir of institutions which monitored public finances before the Unification of Italy, such as the Chamber of Audit (Camera dei conti) of the Duchy of Savoy and then the kingdom of Sardinia, established in 1351 and replaced in 1859 by the Court of Audit (Corte dei conti) on which the Italian institution of 1862 was closely modelled. Other precursors include the Chamber of Audit (Camera dei conti) of the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia, established in 1771; the Regia Camera della Sommaria of the Kingdom of Naples, founded in 1444 and replaced by the Royal Court of Audit (Regia Corte dei Conti) in 1807. Auditing of accounts is also attested in Apostolic Camera of the Papal States as far back as the thirteenth century. In 1828 the Papal States instituted the Congregation for the Revision of Accounts and Affairs of Public Administration (Congregazione di revisione dei conti e degli affari di pubblica amministrazione) within the Apostolic Camera (which was subsequently replaced by the Council of State for Finance (Consulta di Stato per le Finanze) from 1850 until 1870), with the role of examining and reviewing the prospective and actual budgets of the state and providing opinions on financial matters.
The regulations governing the Court of Audit are complex. Particularly important is the testo unico of royal decree no.1214 of 12 July 1934, which was integrated into decree law no.452 of 15 November 1993 (converted, with revisions, into Law no.19 of 14 January 1994), Law no.20 of 14 January 1994, and Law no.639 of 20 December 1996. Revisions were also made by Law no.205 of 2000.
The Court of Audit has central and regional officies. The court as a whole is headed by the President of the Court of Audit. The President chairs the Council of the President of the Court of Audit, which has little power, but is the equivalent for magistrates of the Court of Audit to the High Council of the Judiciary for the regular judiciary. The Council of the President of the Court of Audit is based in Rome. It consists of:
The court is divided into jurisdictional and review divisions, both at the central and territorial levels. The divisions are not distributed uniformly over the national territory.