Federal law requires the Commission to audit every political committee established by a candidate who received public funds. In addition, the Commission audits a committee when it appears not to have met the threshold requirements for substantial compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act. The audit examines whether the committee complied with the limitations and prohibitions on contributions and disclosure requirements.
Audits of political committees
Authorized committees are committees authorized by candidates to receive contributions or make expenditures on their behalf. They include principal campaign committees as well as any other political committees authorized by:
- Candidates for nomination or election to the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate
- Candidates for President who are not financed by public funds (also read publicly financed committees for more information) 
Unauthorized committees are committees that are not authorized by a candidate. They include party committees, nonconnected political action committees (PACs), separate segregated funds (PACs connected to labor organizations, corporations, trade/membership associations, or cooperatives) and delegate committees.
Publicly financed committees
Publicly financed committees are authorized committees of presidential candidates who receive public funds from the U.S. Treasury for use in connection with the candidate's primary election campaign, the general election campaign, or both.
Until 2014 legislation terminated public funding for the national conventions of any major or minor party, this category also included committees established by a major or minor political party for the purpose of receiving contributions or making expenditures in connection with the party's national nominating convention. Because of the termination of public funding, the Commission has not audited presidential nominating convention committees or host committees since the 2012 election cycle, when such committees last received public funding.
 Candidates for President who are financed by public funds are authorized candidate committees under the Commission's general definition of "authorized committee." 11 CFR 100.5(f)(1). Nevertheless, they are not included in this audit category, because publicly financed committees are subject to mandatory audit under different authorities.