Accountability Essay 27

Topics: Core issues in ethics, Morality, Governance Pages: 6 (2044 words) Published: November 11, 2006
DOD) 1. The obligation to carry forward an assigned task to a successful conclusion. With responsibility goes authority to direct and take the necessary action to ensure success. 2. The obligation for the proper custody, care, and safekeeping of property or funds entrusted to the possession or supervision of an individual. See also accountability.

(DOD) The obligation imposed by law or lawful order or regulation on an officer or other person for keeping accurate record of property, documents, or funds. The person having this obligation may or may not have actual possession of the property, documents, or funds. Accountability is concerned primarily with records, while responsibility is concerned primarily with custody, care, and safekeeping. See also responsibility.

Accountability is a concept in ethics with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as answerability, responsibility, blameworthiness, liability and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving. As an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in both the public and private (corporation) worlds. At its root, accountability involves either the expectation or assumption of account-giving behavior. The study of account giving as a sociological act was first explicitly articulated in a 1968 article on "Accounts" by Marvin Scott and Stanford Lyman, [1] although it can be traced as well to J.L. Austin's 1956 essay "A Plea for Excuses," [2] in which he used excuse-making as an example of speech acts. Communications scholars have extended this work through the examination of strategic uses of excuses, justifications, rationalizations, apologies and other forms of account giving behavior by individuals and corporations, and Philip Tetlock and his colleagues have applied experimental design techniques to explore how individuals behave under various scenarios and situations that demand accountability. In politics, and particularly in representative democracies, accountability is an important factor in securing good governance and, thus, the legitimacy of public power. Accountability differs from transparency in that it only enables negative feedback after a decision or action, while transparency also enables negative feedback before or during a decision or action. Accountability constrains the extent to which elected representatives and other office-holders can willfully deviate from their theoretical responsibilities, thus reducing corruption. The relationship of the concept of accountability to related concepts like the rule of law or democracy, however, still awaits further elucidation. In Britain, accountability has been formally identified by Government since 1995 as one of the Seven Principles of Public Life[3]: "Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office." The goal of accountability is at times in tension with the goal of leadership. A constituency may have short-term desires which are at odds with long-term interests. It has also been argued that accountability provides in certain situations an escape route for ministers to avoid the consequences of ministerial responsibility, which would require resignation.[4] In other states, in particular outside the Anglo-American world, the concept of accountability is less familiar. Recently, accountability has become an important topos in the discussion about the legitimacy of international institutions.[5] In another view, accountability is a simple word that, at its root, means: "the willingness to stand up and be counted -- as part of a process, activity or game." In this sense, then, accountability is less something I'm held to, or something done to me; rather, it is a word reflecting personal choice and willingness to contribute to an expressed or implied outcome.

When a person performs or fails to perform a...
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