Government agencies and private companies employ people to fill cost controller jobs. Typically, these individuals are tasked with reducing operating costs and finding ways to cut overhead. In many instances, cost controllers are in-house personnel but in other instances, cost controllers are employed by outside entities that are assigned to audit and cut costs at a particular firm or government agency. Some controllers are responsible for reducing expenses in a particular department of a company while high-ranking controllers are responsible for reducing expenses across an entire organization or even a national government.
Large companies often become inefficient as a result of mergers and acquisitions because the acquired firms have employees whose responsibilities overlap with duties performed by existing staff. Consequently, many larger firms hire management level personnel to review the company's accounts and structure, and find ways to eliminate expenses. Many firms require cost controllers to have a degree in finance or accounting and some companies only hire certified accountants to take on these roles. Controllers are usually hired as senior level employees because they need to have sufficient authority to conduct audits and make decisions that could have an impact on junior employees.
In many instances, large firms employ individuals in regional cost controller jobs but these managers must report to a director or executive who assumes responsibility for eliminating expenses across the firm as the whole. A director may have the authority to initiate programs to eliminate jobs or close unprofitable offices or plants. The director may sit on the board of directors and in many instances the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or chairperson will instruct the director to formulate a plan to reduce company expenses by a specific amount of money within a particular time frame.
Government agencies normally have to produce annual financial reports that are made publicly available to the electorate. Many conservative political parties enact policies to cut taxes but in many instances, tax cuts are only possible if government spending can be reduced. Consequently, some government agencies appoint politically neutral accountants in cost controller jobs and task these individuals with auditing government accounts and eliminating costs by eliminating programs or by reducing the government workforce. In other instances, committees of politicians are tasked with finding cost cutting solutions and the members of these committees take on these cost controller jobs alongside their other basic responsibilities.
Courts and government regulators in some nations have the authority to audit and reorganize firms that are close to insolvency. Regulatory agencies often employ accountants in full-time cost controller jobs and these accountants are assigned to audit struggling firms and to help the firms avoid bankruptcy. These accountants can make recommendations to sell the firm's assets, lay off employees, change pricing practices and implement any other policy changes that will improve the financial standing of the company.