Richard D. Johnson
2022 Hall of Fame Inductee
Richard D. Johnson spent his life embodying honor and integrity, with distinguished careers in both government and the private sector.
He was a true believer in public service. While working in Des Moines for one of the nation’s largest accounting firms, he also served his small community of Sheldahl as city clerk and as mayor. He moved on to become director of audits for the Iowa State Auditor’s Office and was also director of finance with the Iowa Highway Commission. In 1974, when the state’s Department of Transportation was organized, he played a key role in establishing the financial and administrative structure of the new agency and was selected to be its first director of administration.
He was appointed to be state auditor in 1979 by Iowa’s governor and went on to become a six-time winner of the office, never losing an election. He was the first CPA to serve in the role, and he made it a priority to professionalize the office and make it less political. He became known for calling it like he saw it, no matter which political party was in power.
As state auditor between 1979 and 2003, Johnson played a key role in the development of standards and procedures for government accounting during some very formative years for state government. He was president of both NSAA and NASACT and was recognized by his peers with awards from each association, including NSAA’s William R. Snodgrass Distinguished Leadership Award and NASACT’s Special Recognition Award.
He believed in setting a good example and sharing knowledge to foster better government practices not only in the United States, but also abroad. He was active in NASACT’s early international efforts in the early 2000’s. He was later commissioned by the U.S. Department of State to help develop accounting and financial systems in new democracies in the former Soviet Union, including Slovakia, Bosnia and Kyrgyzstan.
Johnson served on a number of committees for the AICPA, including a three-year term as a member of the Auditing Standards Board. While on the ASB, he chaired the subcommittee that developed the first compliance standards for government auditing ever issued by the AICPA.
He was also a trustee of the Financial Accounting Foundation between 2001 and 2006.
While Johnson’s technical prowess and political savvy saw him reaching the highest levels of service in state government, he was also dedicated to community. He was a member of the U.S. National Guard for 34 years, ending his military career at the rank of colonel. He was a farm owner and operator, and he was a volunteer for civic organizations in his community throughout his life.
Known in each circle in which he operated as a friendly and caring individual, Johnson was dedicated to public service. His unwavering integrity garnered general respect and admiration from all those with whom, and for whom, he worked, and he leaves behind a lasting legacy of respect and admiration.