Accountability requires being professional and moral at the same time

“The Buck Stops Here”
Sign on President Harry S. Truman’s desk

 

People want to know who is responsible for certain actions and who is accountable for the consequences of those actions. Accountability refers to “being accountable to”  or “render an account for” so the term accountability requires a legal obligation towards one’s actions and authority.

Though the traditional concept of accountability is concerned with internal accountability towards one’s superior and internal department hierarchy, the concept of accountability has undergone some drastic changes. The notion of good governance makes accountability both external (professional) and internal (moral).

External accountability requires a direct accountability towards people and popular institutions.  Considering the Friedrich-Finer debate, there is a need to balance internal as well as external accountability, where hierarchical discipline is matched with better responsiveness towards citizens.

The RTI is a good example for accountability and the introduction of a Rights based approach also ensures both.

Friedrich-Finer Debate:

Friedrich was in favor of internal checks and balances (moral responsibility) while Finer advocated external accountability to political representatives. It can be thought to extend deeper into responsibility and functions, apart from fixing accountability (who performs the functions and how). The complexity of public administration requires professionals to deal with ethical decisions because they are the only ones who have the ability and the experience to enclose the proper understanding of how to deal with ethical issues.