Accountability in Public Institutions

Topics: Accountability, Stock market, Stock exchange Pages: 8 (2338 words) Published: May 1, 2013
Incidents of a lack of accountability, often associated with an element of corruption, among public officials and institutions when rendering public services, is a worldwide occurrence. In an attempt to address this governance tendency, governments increasingly look towards more sophisticated managerial methods such as improved monitoring and evaluation systems, and performance management systems, to address accountability deficits in governance. One of the central concerns of contemporary governance is the reduced or complete lack of accountability among public officials and institutions when rendering public services. In the absence of accountability, incidents of corruption often occur. In order to show the relevance and the methods that would help in mitigating the effects related to lack of accountability in the system, the following definitions would help us pin point and understand the usefulness and relevance of accountability in the public sector and as such, they are given as follows; Meaning and Nature of Accountability:

Accountability is all about being answerable to those who have invested their trust, faith, and resources to you. Adegite (2010) defined accountability as the obligation to demonstrate that work has been conducted in accordance with agreed rules and standards and the officer reports fairly and accurately on performance results vis-à-vis mandated roles and or/plans. It means doing things transparently in line with due process and the provision of feedback. Johnson (2004) also stated that public accountability is an essential component for the functioning of our political system, as accountability means that those who are charged with drafting and/or carrying out policy should be obliged to give an explanation of their actions to their electorate.

Premchand (1999) observed that the capacity to achieve full accountability has been and continues to be inadequate, partly because of the design of accountability itself and partly because of the widening range of objectives and associated expectations attached to accountability. He further argues that if accountability is to be achieved in full, including its constructive aspects, then it must be designed with care. The objective of accountability should go beyond the naming and shaming of officials, or the pursuit of sleaze, to a search for durable improvements in economics management to reduce the incidence of institutional recidivism. The future of accountability consists in covering the macro aspects of economic and financial sustainability, as well as the micro aspects of service delivery. It should envisage a three-tier structure of accountability: that of official (both political and regular civil employees), that of intra governmental relationships and that between government and their respective legislatures.

Approaches to Accountability:
According to Coker (2010), the various approaches to accountability based on the language of account can be grouped into: (1) Process Based Accountability: This approach measures compliance with pre set standard and formally defined outcomes. This includes fiscal and managerial accountability with reliance on the use of accounting methodologies.

(2) Performance Based Accountability: This approach measures performance against broad objectives. This measure may be qualitative and the criteria against which performance is measured less precisely defined.

Pillars of Accountability:
Adegite (2010) also noted that there are three pillars of accountability, which the UNDP tagged ATI (Accountability, Transparency and Integrity). Accountability which is segmented into:
(1) Financial Accountability: The obligation of any one handling resources, public office or any other positions of trust, to report on the intended and actual use of the resources or of the designated...
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