Accountability and Democratic governance.

Topics: Governance, Public administration, Accountability Pages: 6 (1495 words) Published: February 23, 2014

1.1 Background of the study
The duty of any government in a democracy to the people that elected it, is to be accountable for its actions. Accountability is answerability, blame worthiness, liability and the expectation of account giving in relation to governance. (Dyxtra, Clarence, 1939) “As an aspect of governance, accountability has been central to discussions related to problems in the public sector, nonprofit and private (corporate) worlds. In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences” (Williams, 2006).

In governance, accountability has expanded beyond the basic definition of "being called to account for one's actions". (Richard 2000) “The concept of accountability involves two distinct stages: answerability and enforcement. Answerability refers to the obligation of the government, its agencies and public officials to provide information about their decisions and actions and to justify them to the public and those institutions of accountability tasked with providing oversight cement suggests that the public or the institution responsible for accountability can sanction the offending party or remedy the contravening behavior. As such, different institutions of accountability might be responsible for either or both of these stages.” (R. Stapenhurst, 2008)

It is frequently described as an account-giving relationship between individuals, for instance "A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A’s (p ast or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case of eventual misconduct" (Amanda, 1995). Accountability cannot exist without proper accounting practices; in other words, an absence of accounting means an absence of accountability. Accountability ensures actions and decisions taken by public officials are subject to oversight so as to guarantee that government initiatives meet their stated objectives and respond to the needs of the community they are meant to be benefiting, thereby contributing to better governance and poverty reduction (Bovens, 2005).

The duty of the government of any nation is to be responsive enough for the needs of the people and this is what is termed good governance. Government on the other hand refers to a political organization comprised of individuals and institutions authorized to formulate policies and control the affairs of a state. (Beynon-Davies, 2007)

Good governance is defined in the oxford concise dictionary of politics by Mclean and McMillan (2003) as government that is responsive to public opinion. There are however some features of good governance of which accountability is a part of. They include participation, consensus oriented, transparency, responsiveness amongst others. The roles the government perform show if said government is responsive to the people or not. The functions of government include to maintain law and order within the state and protect life and property of the citizens by ensuring security in and out of the country to protect the citizens from external aggression. Provision of basic amenities is also a function of the government.

Democratic governance represents the exercise of state power with the consent of the people either directly or indirectly through their elected representatives. (Obadan, Bello-Imam 2004) With democratic governance the state institutions can express the will of the state. Accountability is important to good governance because, Evaluating the ongoing effectiveness of public officials or public bodies ensures that they are performing to their full potential, providing value for money in the provision of public services, instilling...

References: Dare, L. and Oyewole, “A Textbook of Government for Senior Secondary Schools”. Ibadan, Onibonoje Press and Book Industries (Nig.) Limited.
Magstadt, M. and Schotten M. Understanding politics; Ideas institutions and issues, New York, St. Martins press.
Bovens, M. 2005. “Public Accountability.” In Ferlie, Ewan. Laurence E. Lynn, Jr. & Christopher Pollitt (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Public Management. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mitchell O 'Brien, Frederick Stapenhurst, (2008) “Parliaments as Peacebuilders in Conflict-Affected Countries” World bank publications.
Dykstra, Clarence A. (1939). "The Quest for Responsibility". American Political Science Review (The American Political Science Review, Vol. 33, No. 1)
Williams, Reyes(2006) Leadership accountability in a globalizing world. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Mulgan, Richard (2000). " 'Accountability ': An Ever-Expanding Concept?" Public Administration 73
Sinclair, Amanda (1995). "The Chameleon of Accountability: Forms and Discourses". Accounting, Organizations and Society 20
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