Information on our campaign on accountability, transparency and involvement
What is Accountability Works?
At the Centre for Public Scrutiny, we have been interested in issues of accountability since our inception in 2003. Those who make a decision should not be the only ones to review or challenge it and that independent scrutiny can improve both the quality of that decision and the outcomes sought by the decision-maker. Scrutiny is a key element of accountability.
Our 2010 research "Accountability Works" calls for more joined-up systems of accountability at local level, to reduce duplication and costs and to improve transparency for the public. If there are to be fewer central inspectors and regulators and more devolution and decentralisation, we will still need a way to provide public assurance over service quality and the spending of public money, and this needs to be done efficiently and effectively.
We believe that accountability is more complex than is sometimes assumed, that there are many different kinds of accountabilities exerted on public organisations and that organisations need to understand all the ways in which they are held to account and how these can help them enhance their legitimacy and credibility and improve the services that they deliver. We have developed the concept of a “web of accountability” to encapsulate our thinking that all the different forms of accountability need to work more closely together and complement each other, rather than being seen in some sort of hierarchy.
We also believe that accountability both supports and is supported by greater transparency and involvement, and that together these are all important for supporting a healthy democracy. The policy reforms and financial reductions facing the public sector pose great challenges to institutions and also to good governance, not least because a number of forms of external challenge and reassurance about the corporate health of public organisations are also going at the same time. These changes may see services delivered in different ways, such as commissioning, outsourcing, asset transfer to community groups, joint ventures, through pooled budgets and under shared management, all require different forms of governance and additional thinking about how accountability will work under these new arrangements.
Accountability Works For You
In June 2012 we launched the final version of our "Accountability Works For You" framework, which uses our research to set out a method for improving both the way that organisations make decisions (their governance arrangements) but also their responsiveness to change, and how they use accountability to learn lessons for the future.
Click for more information on "Accountability Works For You".