Accountability in the context of ethics refers to responsibility, enforcement, blameworthiness, liability, and the expectation of accountability. Accountability exists when an individual or body, as well as the performance of tasks or functions by that individual or body, is subject to another's oversight in such a way that the individual or body provides information or justification for their actions to the overseeing entity.
•    The obligation of the government, its agencies, and public officials to provide information about their decisions and actions, as well as to justify them to the public and the accountability institutions tasked with providing oversight, is defined as accountability.
•    The public or the institution responsible for accountability can sanction the offending party or remedy the breaching behaviour, according to enforcement. As a result, different accountability institutions may be in charge of one or both of these stages.
•    In simple terms, accountability means that a person or an organisation accepts full responsibility for what he or she did or did not do (which was their duty) and must be able to provide satisfactory answers or provide proper justifications.
•    Accountability is a process that is carried out after the work has been completed or should have been completed. As a result, accountability entails checking the work's completion and quality.
•    It has been at the centre of discussions about problems in the public sector, non-profit, corporate, and individual contexts as a component of governance. 
•    Accountability in leadership roles refers to the acceptance and assumption of full responsibility for one's actions, decisions, policies, and the consequences of those actions, decisions, and policies. 
•    Civil servants, while not directly accountable to the people or their representatives, are always under the watchful eye of vigilance authorities and ombudsman officials, who are now present in almost every organisation, and who keep a close eye on public servants and hold them indirectly accountable to the people, through the political executive and courts of law, for their acts of commission or omission while exercising their authority.
•    If there is no accountability, civil servants will become despots with no checks and balances in place. In the administration, a lack of accountability will breed arbitrariness and corruption.


1.    The primary distinction between responsibility and accountability is that responsibility can be shared but accountability cannot. Being accountable entails not only being responsible for something, but also being held accountable for your actions.
2.    Accountability is also something you hold someone to only after a task is completed or not completed. Responsibilities can be assigned before or after a task is completed.
3.    Accountability is defined as answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and the expectation of account-giving in ethics and governance. Being in charge, or being the owner of a task or event, are examples of responsibility.
Example: Let's look at an example to help you understand the difference between responsibility and accountability. Assume Mr. Gupta is currently serving as a District Magistrate and has been tasked with disbursing benefits under a government programme aimed at helping people living in poverty. He will then be in charge of ensuring that the scheme is properly implemented. Mr. Gupta cannot be held responsible for completing this task at this time. Mr. Gupta will be held accountable, i.e., he will be required to give an explanation for his actions, only if the task is not completed on time or is not properly implemented.
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Accountability can be classified based on the type of accountability used and/or the person, group, or institution to whom the public official is accountable.


•    The ability of state institutions to check abuses by other institutions or branches of government, or the requirement for agencies to report sideways, is known as horizontal accountability. 
•    Horizontal accountability is demonstrated by the legislature's accountability to the judiciary or the executive's accountability to the legislature. The goal is to establish a system of checks and balances that eliminates the possibility of abuse of power by any similarly situated institution or official.
•    Vertical accountability is the process by which citizens seek to impose performance standards on officials. Vertical forms of accountability, in other words, are those in which citizens and their organisations play direct roles in holding the powerful accountable.
•    The formal institutional channel of vertical accountability is elections. However, citizens can organise themselves into informal associations capable of lobbying governments and private service providers, demanding explanations, and imposing or threatening to impose less formal sanctions such as negative publicity.


•    The legislature and the judiciary serve as horizontal constitutional checks on the executive's power. The role of these two institutions can be summarised as follows: parliament holds the executive accountable politically, while the judiciary holds the executive accountable legally.
•    Parliament is a political body, whereas the judiciary can only rule on legal matters. They work together to provide ongoing oversight so that the government can be held accountable throughout its term in office. 
•    Other institutions, such as supreme audit institutions, anti-corruption commissions, regulatory offices, and human rights institutes, may also assist them. These secondary 'autonomous institutions of accountability' are usually designed to be independent of the executive; supreme audit institutions, anti-corruption commissions, and regulatory offices frequently report to parliament, while supreme audit institutions and human rights institutes may be part of the judiciary. 
•    The concept of individual ministerial responsibility, which is the foundation of the concept of responsible government, usually establishes political accountability.


•    Public officials, politicians, and service providers are held accountable to the public and service users for their actions and performance through social accountability.
•    Citizens have the right to demand a governance system that ensures accountability of power holders and public actors, according to a fundamental principle of democracy. Public actors, such as elected officials and civil servants, must be held accountable for their actions and performance in a democratic society.
•    Officials who respect the public and follow social accountability principles provide better service to citizens. 
•    As a result, the relationship between democracy and social accountability is critical in ensuring that government officials and community representatives respect the greater community.
•    The concept of social accountability entails involving citizens and communities in governance processes so that the decisions and actions of those in positions of power are made public and can be questioned. This not only improves governance, but it also improves service delivery and empowers communities.


•    Diagonal accountability is a type of accountability that operates in the space between the vertical and horizontal dimensions. 
•    It refers to the phenomenon of direct citizen engagement with horizontal accountability institutions in the hopes of eliciting better state oversight. 
•    Citizens bypass inefficient or compromised formal accountability systems in order to participate in policy-making, budgeting, expense tracking, and other similar activities, and thus seek authoritative information as well as a better understanding of the task at hand.


1.    Be a part of the horizontal accountability system. Mechanisms – Rather than creating distinct and separate institutions of accountability, community supporters participate in horizontal accountability institutions. Vertical accountability agents seek to insert themselves more directly into the horizontal axis in this way.
2.    Information flow– Community promoters have access to information about government agencies that would otherwise be restricted to the horizontal axis, such as internal performance reviews. They also have access to the deliberations and reasons behind the decisions made by horizontal accountability institutions. Meanwhile, community advocates bring first-hand knowledge of the government agency's performance to the accountability process.
Only when the general public has a basic understanding of public policy or when institutions are established to raise awareness about the art of public administration is diagonal accountability preferable.


•    Within an organisation, ethical accountability principles and practises aim to improve both internal and external standards of individual and group conduct, such as promoting sustainable economic and ecological strategies.


•    Internal rules and norms, as well as independent commissions, are mechanisms for holding civil servants in government administration accountable. Within a department or ministry, civil servants are first and foremost bound by rules and regulations; second, they are subordinates in a hierarchy and answer to superiors. 
•    Nonetheless, independent "watchdog" units (such as the CAG) are in place to scrutinise and hold departments accountable; the legitimacy of these commissions is based on their independence, which eliminates any potential conflicts of interest.


•    Because many different people in large organisations contribute in various ways to decisions and policies, it is difficult to determine who should be held accountable for the outcomes even in principle. This is referred to as the "many hands problem." It creates a quandary in terms of accountability.
•    Individuals who could not have prevented the outcomes are either unfairly punished or "take responsibility" in a symbolic ritual without suffering any consequences if they are held accountable or responsible.
•    If only organisations are held accountable, then all members of the organisation are equally responsible or excused.
•    Several options have been suggested. One option is to broaden the definition of individual responsibility so that people are held accountable for not anticipating organisational failures.

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