Accountability vs. Efficiency
The Struggle to Find a Balance Between Responsibility and Effectiveness
Accountability is the essence of our democratic form of government. It is the liability assumed by all those who exercise authority to account for the manner in which they have fulfilled responsibilities entrusted to them, a liability ultimately to the American people owed by the government and thus, every governmental department and agency. Without it, power in the hands of the wrong individual or group could be abused to the extent where laws and policies could be formulated which would undermine the integrity of the American population. As discussed thoroughly within this course, power is an integral and legitimate theme, but political power must be properly controlled and regulated through accountable measures. This accountability tends to disrupt the efficiency of the government as well as the bureaucracy. As history shows, neither of these two institutions can afford to suffer more inefficiency. In this brief essay, I will discuss how accountability and efficiency tend to have a negative impact on each other, but are a necessary evil in regards to the ideals of democracy. Furthermore, I will explain why ensuring accountability, while striving to maintain efficiency, are the most difficult themes to overcome as a government official. Accountability has always been a central concern of both the study and the practice of public management. The concept has also been elusive and controversial. Critics have seldom been hard pressed to find fault with existing accountability arrangements and procedures. When something has gone seriously wrong within government, the tendency has been to adopt wider definitions of accountability and to add new layers of accountability requirements. An ironic consequence of the expansion of the meaning of accountability has been to create even greater confusion about who is accountable for what in government. With all the...
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