Definition of Accountability

The concept of accountability in the public sector primarily evolves from the stewardship functions for public resources entrusted to the executives. In discharge of fiduciary roles, the executives charged with governance are required to act in the best interest of the public and be accountable for their own actions. The principal-agent relationship between the public and executives provides basic framework for accountability.

Public Accountability may be understood as obligations of public sector organisations and enterprises, which are entrusted with public resources, for fiscal and social responsibilities to those who have assigned such responsibilities to them. In other words, the accountability denotes duty to report by those entrusted with the resources and responsibility to implement assigned activities. It is usual for a lower level of authority to report to higher level of authority on the uses of resources and discharging of responsibilities assigned to them.

There are different levels and types of accountability viz.:

• Fiscal and macroeconomic accountability;
• Administrative and supervisory accountability;
• Accountability for achieving programme results;
• Financial and Budgetary accountability; and
• Accountability for compliance of laws, rules and regulations.