Question: What is meant by accountability in public service? Discuss various types of accountability mechanism.
Answer: Accountability is the obligation to justify, explain, and take responsibility for one’s actions. Accountability is considered a core value for public service as it enhances delivery of services as well as reduces chances for administrative corruption.
Types of accountability mechanism
- Vertical accountability
Vertical accountability involves being answerable and responsible for higher officials in the organisation. In a hierarchical organization, accountability provides a better mechanism for efficient working.
Ex: Employee answerable to his manager.
- Horizontal accountability
Horizontal accountability involves accountability of an employee to another employee of the same level. In this form there is no hierarchy involved but instead it deals with same level.
Ex: Teammates responsible to each other.
- Social accountability
Accountability of an individual towards the society for his actions and decisions. Social accountability is an informal mechanism as there are no written rules for its conduct.
Ex: Individual responsible to the colony.
- Legal accountability
Legal accountability deals with individual’s responsibility towards law and judicial system. It mainly deals with formal rules and regulations that are constituted by the authorities. They are binding and liable to be punished.
Ex: Citizens accountable for violating traffic rules.
- Parliamentary accountability
It deals with accountability of an elected representative towards their electors. The representative may not get selected if he/she does not respect public opinion and decisions.
Ex: MP being accountable for spending their MPLAD funds.
Thus, accountability mechanism holds significant importance in a democratic functioning. It helps in creating responsible citizens and government.