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GS Paper IV Probity in Governance

Does accountability always lead to better and more efficient governance?

 accountability always lead to better and more efficient governance?

In ethics and governance, accountability is answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and the expectation of account-giving. Accountability involves both horizontal and vertical dimensions. The horizontal dimension is the system of checks and balances among the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches. Example: Judicial reviews, Parliamentary Committees, question hour etc . Vertical accountability entails the relationships between citizens and decision-makers, including the ability of citizens to influence political decision-making processes. Example: RTI, Social Audits. The ability of citizens to demand accountability and more open government is fundamental to better and more efficient governance. 

Accountability always leads to better and more efficient governance 

  • Accountability ensures rule of law. It ensures decisions and actions of public officials are subject to oversight. 
  • It guarantees actions and decisions taken by public officials regarding government initiatives and respond to the needs of the community.
  • It helps in improving the delivery of public services, measuring performance and providing incentives to achieve targets and sanctions in case of non­-performance.
  • It empowers citizens and aids their development through citizen-centric policies.
  • Accountability is important in good governance to keep the public servants tuned to the right perspective. It ensures judicious use of public funds and resources and hence, infuses the efficiency in governance.
  • It reduces corruption and builds trust among the governors and the governed.
  • Ensures that the grass roots level problems are effectively addressed.
  • Improves last mile outreach and helps bring in a change in attitude of bureaucracy. 

Accountability always leads to better and more efficient governance 

  • In the recent past, a few instances have surfaced wherein civil servants have been implicated for bonafide mistakes, through instruments like accountability like RTI. They have often been prosecuted and even imprisoned. The instances have greatly rattled the moral fibre of the civil servants.
  • These have led to underutilization of funds shelving of many projects. 
  • Accountability also allegedly impacts the independence of institutions. Supreme Court, for instance, for a long time was not willing to divulge information under the RTI act.  

As per 2nd ARC open, transparent and accountable government is an imperative pre-requisite for community-oriented citizen-centric public service delivery. Because without it covert unethical behaviour will result.  Through series of reform measures such as Financial Management Initiative, creation of Executive Agencies, Citizen’s Charter, and Public Service Agreement, the complete transformation of bureaucratic structure and efficient public service, accountability is embedded. Max Weber observed that the power position of a fully developed bureaucracy is everywhere overpowering. Without accountability, bureaucracy will become like Frankenstein’s monster that divorced his own master. 

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