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Responsibility and Accountability

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A Teaching Topic in Ethics and Accountability 

Responsibility and Accountability

This topic examines the importance of putting in place a strong accountability framework – a clear yet flexible set of roles and responsibilities – so that the overall delivery network can function well. Good accountability mechanisms involve more than good structures and processes; innovative organizations increasingly use outcomes and measures to drive execution and performance.

Topic Learning Outcome: Students will be able to clearly explain the uses of accountability frameworks, and the key characteristics of useful accountability frameworks.

Core Concepts associated with this Topic: Accountability; Accountability Framework; Procedural Fairness; Thompson’s Three Models of Public Sector Accountability.

Recommended Readings:

University of Toronto: PPG-1007 (Putting Policy Into Action: Strategic Implementation of Public Objectives)

Paul G. Thomas, “Why is Performance-Based Accountability So Popular in Theory and So Difficult in Practice?”, in KPMG Holy Grail or Achievable Quest: International Perspectives on Public Sector Performance Management. 169-187. 2008.

Edgar, Laura, Claire Marshall and Michael Bassett, ‘Partnerships: Putting Good Governance Principles in Practice’, Institute on Governance, 2006.

Tuohy, Carolyn, ‘Partnering for Public Purpose – New Modes of Accountability for New Modes of Governance’, a paper prepared for the Symposium on Partnering for Public Purpose, School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto, November 22, 2006. In The Report of the Independent Blue Ribbon Panel on Grant and Contribution Programs, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, 81-90. At (accessed 21 February 2013) and downloaded pdf.

Posner, Paul, ‘Accountability Challenges of Third Party Government’ in Salamon, Lester M., ed., Ibid., Chapter 18, 523-548.

Eliadis, Pearl, Margaret M. Hill and Michael Howlett, eds. Designing Government: From Instruments to Governance. (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005). Introduction, 6-14.

Laurin, C., and Wagner, S., ‘Implementing “new public management”: the case of employment services in Quebec’, Canadian Public Administration, March 2011, pp.23-39.  

American University: PUAD-608 (Comparative Administrative Systems)

Chan, Hon S. and David H. Rosenbloom. 2010. Four Challenges to Accountability in Contemporary Public Administration: Lessons from the United States and China. Administration & Society 42(1S): 11S-33S.

Considine, Mark. 2001. The End of the Line? Accountable Governance in the Age of Networks, Partnerships and Joined up Government. Governance 15: 21-40.

Devas, N. and U. Grant. 2003. Local Government Decision-Making: Citizen Participation and Local Accountability: Some Evidence for Kenya and Uganda. Public Administration and Development 23(4): 307–16.

Rutgers SPAA Newark: 20:834:515 (Administrative Ethics)

Geuras, D. and Garofalo, C., 2011. Practical Ethics in Public Administration. 3ed. Vienna, VA: Management Concepts: Chapter 12 (Perspectives on Contemporary Reform) - Chapters 13 (Ethics, Quality & Performance).

Sources: Toronto PPG-1007 Syllabus, 2014; American University PUAD-608 Syllabus, 2012; Rutgers 20:834:515 Syllabus, 2013;

Sample Assessment Questions:

1.) What is a management accountability framework? What are the key characteristics of a strong accountability framework?

2.) What are Thompson's three models of public sector accountability?

3.) The increasing reliance on partnerships between governments and extra-governmental actors to execute policy has implications for democratic responsibility. Discuss the challenges, and possible strategies to mange those challenges in a two page response.

Page created by Ian Clark and Ben Eisen, updated by James Ban 17 August, 2015 

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School of Public Policy and Governance