The paper "Accountability and Its Importance to the Public Administration" is a great example of management coursework. Accountability has been of great concern in all civilizations and societies. However, there are always variations in the means, criteria and agents of accountability according to the nature of polity from conservative to liberal, traditional to modern, capitalist to socialist. The connotations of accountability also differ among different societies based on their ideological inclinations, socio-historical formations, and cultural beliefs. Accountability is essential to any public sector. This paper explores accountability and its importance to public administration.
It also seeks to assess the impacts of the recent market or managerially oriented reforms in the public service on public accountability. Accountability is ensuring that the officials in private, public and voluntary organizations are answerable and responsible for any action they make, and there is also redress when their duties and the commitments are not fulfilled. Accountability can also be seen as an institutionalized system that is accepted, established and has a regular relationship between actors. One group of the organization or people is held to account (accounts) while the other group does the holding (accounters) (Lebow and Spitzer, 2002). An accountability relationship can take four different stages.
The first step is setting standards. This involves setting out the behavior that is expected from the ‘ accountee’ and various procedures by which the ‘ accountee’ may validly be judged. The standards will give direction to the accounters on how to conduct the accounting process. This is the first and the main stage of the process of accounting. The next step is conducting an investigation. This is determining whether the accounts have fulfilled the set standards.
The accounters will investigate and explore the activities of the accountees and judge if their work was correctly done. The third stage is answerability; the accountees are supposed to explain themselves, defend their actions and face sceptical questions. This step applies to negative and positive feedback. The final stage is sanctioning the accoutees. In this stage, the accountees are to some extent punished for not meeting the set standards or rewarded for responding to standards (Lebow and Spitzer, 2002). Accountability can be categorized in terms of vertical, horizontal and diagonal mechanisms.
Success in accountability cannot just be found in one approach but the interaction between different methods. Horizontal accountability entails the formal relationships in the state in that one actor within the state has the legal authority to seek for explanations or impose any punishment on another. This stage often focuses on the oversight process and internal checks (Pelizzo and Stapenhurst, 2013). Vertical accountability is where the citizens and different associations play a direct role in holding power to account. An example of the formal channel of vertical accountability in elections.
However, there are various informal processes the citizens use to organize themselves into different associations. These organizations are capable of making the private sectors and the government service providers accountable by seeking explanations and threatening formal sanctions such as adverse publicity. The civil society and the citizens can find the support of the elected leaders to address their grievances and help in the event of inadequate or inappropriate action of the government (Pelizzo and Stapenhurst, 2013).
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O’Donnell, Guillermo, 2000, ‘Horizontal Accountability in New Democracies’ London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Retreived from: pp.78. https://kellogg.nd.edu/publications/workingpapers/WPS/253.pdf
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Road E, Carroll W, Tunde C, and Leo W, 2014, Corruption, Ethics, and Accountability. Pp.1 Retrieved from http://patimes.org/corruption-ethics-accountability-normative-approach- control/
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