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1. Introduction:Accountability is a mechanism designed to ensure that the affairs or the entities are conducted with due regard to the interests of those who are interested in the affairs of the entity. Accountability guarantees actions and decisions taken by public officials regarding government initiatives and respond to the needs of the community thereby contributing to better governance and poverty reduction. It also means their decisions and actions are subject to oversight so as to guarantee that their stated objectives are met. The Good governance recognizes accountability in terms of improving the delivery of public services, measuring performance and providing incentives to achieve targets and sanctions in case of non-performance. Accountability is not to be viewed only in terms of democratic control and integrity of operations but also in terms of performance. Through series of reform measures such as Financial Management Initiative, creation of Executive Agencies, Citizen’s Charter, and Public Service Agreement, complete transformation of bureaucratic structure and efficient public service, accountability is embedded.
2. Meaning of accountability: Accountability is to take complete responsibility by a person or an organisation for what he/she or the organisation did or failed to do (which was their duty) and must be able to give a satisfactory reason for it and the use of authority entrusted in them to carry out that responsibility. It is to check whether a work was done or not and Accountability as a process is performed after the work is completed or is supposed to have been completed. Civil servants though not directly accountable to the People or their representatives but they are Vigilance authorities and Ombudsman in all organisations to keep a tab on them and also they are indirectly accountable for their action/exercise of authority to the people through the political executive (who are answerable to the Houses of Parliament for their Ministries) and Courts of Law.If there is no accountability then the civil servants would turn in to despots (unfair/cruel rulers), arbitrary and corrupt.
3. Types of accountability:
I) Internal Control & Accountability: It is a part of the Administrative Machinery and works automatically and spontaneously with the movement of the machinery as self-regulating devices and act as brakes in an automobile.
It comprises of –
a) Budgetary control - Every department and official is given information about the amount of funds they have and they have to perform within it, if it goes overboard then they are accountable. These funds are passed by the Parliament/Legislature through voting and are not easy to get and once they are used they are audited by the CAG and the Finance Ministry sanctions funds to the departments and Ministries once Parliament passes it.
b) Personnel Management Control- Every official is made aware of his rank, grade and salary and there are rules and regulations that govern the work conditions and conduct of the personnel and if that is not followed and then a pre-prescribed punishment is meted out.
c) Organisational and Method/Management Control- Regular inspections are done and requisite training is provided to officials for efficient execution of their responsibilities.
d) Administrative Ethics and Professional standards - Moral and accepted beliefs of behavior are promoted amongst officials.
e) Leadership- Leadership acceptance increases with an increase in hierarchy and position and that is encouraged to keep the motivation and morale of officials going. It should not be seen only in the negative light of a control mechanism for irrational patterns of individual's employees' activities but as a positive mechanism of harmonizing individual's activities into rational patterns.
II) External Control & Accountability:The controls within the constitutional machinery e.g. Legislative control, executive control, Judicial control. Public control through media, interest groups, voluntary organizations, civil society, Citizen’s Charters, Right to Information, Social audit. Is also a form of external control?A thing to note is that external and internal controls are not exclusive categories but are interdependent and complement and supplement each other.
5.) Importance of Accountability:
· Accountability in business is critical, as the concept enhances the ethics of managers.
· Being accountable means standing by decisions, actions, and the overall well-being of projects.
· Accountability is also a management process that ensures employees answer to their superior for their actions and that supervisors behave responsibly as well.
· Accountability addresses both the organization's expectation of the employee and the employee's expectation of the organization.
· Accountable employees help to increase performance of business as a whole and to maintain a positive company culture, vision, and ethics.
· Accountability on a global scale, particularly in the case of NGOs, is complicated by the fact that different countries have varying legislative perspectives when it comes to accountability.
6.) Conclusion: Accountability is important in evaluating the on-going effectiveness of public officials or bodies ensures that they are performing to their full potential, providing value for money, instilling confidence in the government and being responsive to the community. Bureaucracy is a social institution, and its members, do not shrink from exercising this power in their own favor, unconcerned about, or to the detriment of, the people whom they profess to serve. No government, of whatever complexion, can evade the need for accountability.