to take ownership of the outcomes of an action and address the issues arising out of it fairly and promptly. Accountability is one of the cornerstones of good governance. Evaluating the effectiveness of public officials/bodies ensures that they are performing to their full potential, providing value for money in the provision of public services, instilling confidence in the government and being responsive to the community they are meant to be serving.
An office which is accountable demonstrates commitment and sincerity to duty and is focused on achieving outcomes despite setbacks. It maintains a strong focus on the priorities and swiftly responds to changing requirements.
Difference between and Accountability and Responsibility:
- In administrative parlance, responsibility refers to being in-charge of certain duties which are expected to be performed by virtue of being in a certain post/position. Accountability is one step ahead. It includes answerability, i.e. being liable for the outcomes achieved due to performance of the duty. Therefore, accountability can be held on to a person only after the task is done.
- For e.g. – A judge is responsible for delivering a judgment, but is not accountable if the outcomes are not as expected. A DM is both responsible as well as accountable for ensuring compliance with RTE in her district.
- In individualistic terms, responsibility can also refer to what one expects of oneself or the others. To be morally responsible for something, is to be worthy of particular kind of reaction, such as praise or blame in pursuance of the act.
- For e.g. helping a destitute is a responsibility of the affluent and empathetic. However, they cannot be held accountable for not helping them. They can be condemned, if one wishes so.
Also, responsibility can be delegated but accountability cannot be.