AWS ControlTower is a powerful tool for centrally managing multiple AWS accounts. However, troubleshooting ControlTower issues can be challenging due to the complex architecture it relies on. This article provides some tips for resolving common ControlTower problems.

Firstly, it’s important to stay calm if something goes wrong. ControlTower errors usually do not affect production systems, and resources and settings are typically still deployed in member accounts despite any errors.

This article is not the ultimate source of truth, but reflects my current understanding. I’ll update it accordingly.

What you need to understand

To understand what ControlTower is, check out the official product page.

Essentially, ControlTower is built on top of CloudFormation Stacks, StackSets, and ServiceCatalog Products. The Account Factory in ControlTower is just an interface for ServiceCatalog. When the ServiceCatalog Product “AWS ControlTower Account Factory” is created, a member account is launched, and the account is added to the StackSets deployed by ControlTower.

ControlTower and dependend services (Note, that this diagram focus only on a part of ControlTower)

General Troubleshooting

When troubleshooting ControlTower issues, look for more detailed error messages in the following places:

  • Service Catalog Product
    Check the Provisioned Products for error details.
  • StackSets
    Check the status of StackSet stack instances for any problems. This helps also to identify which account makes the trouble.
  • AWS (Member) Account
    For issues with specific accounts, check CloudFormation Stacks within the account (usually starting with “StackSet-AWSControlTowerBP-BASELINE”). Change the filter also to Deleted to see if the creation of the Stack has failed.

Changes to an organizational unit (OU), like re-registering, will affect all accounts and if one fails all accounts will be shown as tainted.

Protect CloudFormation Stacks

Although ControlTower protects its resources by Service Control Policies (SCP), it does not protect CloudFormation stacks. You can delete them, but as the resources can’t be deleted it ends up in a DELETE_FAILED state which makes it impossible for ControlTower to fix it.

To protect CloudFormation Stacks add the following SCP to your OUs:

    "sid": "DenyModifyControlTowerStacks",
    "effect": "DENY",
    "actions": ["cloudformation:Delete*", "cloudformation:Update*", "cloudformation:Create*"],
    "resources": ["arn:aws:cloudformation:*:*:stack/StackSet-AWSControlTower*"],
    "conditions": {
        "ArnNotLike": {
            "aws:PrincipalARN": "arn:aws:iam::*:role/AWSControlTowerExecution",

Fix Tainted Accounts

If the account enrollment failed, you might need to clean up the resources of the StackSet stacks manually to be able to delete the stack completely and let ControlTower re-create it. As the resources are protected you need to assume the AWSControlTowerExecution role from a role (or user) in the main account. Use the following command to assume the role:

# To assume the AWSControlTowerExecution role you need to log in to your main account first
    $(aws sts assume-role \
        --role-arn arn:aws:iam::123456789012:role/AWSControlTowerExecution \
        --role-session-name MySessionName \
        --query "Credentials.[AccessKeyId,SecretAccessKey,SessionToken]" \
        --output text))

Here are a few scripts that can help:


aws iam delete-role --role-name aws-controltower-AdministratorExecutionRole
aws iam delete-role --role-name aws-controltower-ReadOnlyExecutionRole


aws iam delete-role --role-name aws-controltower-ConfigRecorderRole
aws iam delete-role --role-name aws-controltower-ForwardSnsNotificationRole


aws configservice delete-configuration-recorder --configuration-recorder-name aws-controltower-BaselineConfigRecorder
aws configservice delete-delivery-channel --delivery-channel-name aws-controltower-BaselineConfigDeliveryChannel


aws events remove-targets --rule aws-controltower-ConfigComplianceChangeEventRule --ids Compliance-Change-Topic
aws events delete-rule --name aws-controltower-ConfigComplianceChangeEventRule

aws sns delete-topic --topic-arn arn:aws:sns:eu-central-1:123456789012:aws-controltower-SecurityNotifications

aws lambda delete-function --function-name aws-controltower-NotificationForwarder
aws logs delete-log-group --log-group-name "/aws/lambda/aws-controltower-NotificationForwarder"