Accountability is a public or private agency, such as a state education agency, that enters into a contractual agreement to perform a service, such as administer 21st century community learning center programs will be held answerable for performing according to agreed on terms, within a specified time period. The word Accountability at present is a very popular word. Traditionally it is something which arises in a principal and agent situation. The principal, the funder, taxpayers, electorate, government etc…relies on the agent to do something.
The agent local authority, police chief, district health authority, hospital etc…is held to be responsible for getting the task done. The principal has a need to control the agent, or to make the agent accountable to the principal. The agent of course usually knows more about the task. They have to speak inside the information. It is difficult for most principals to know what is going on. In the following paragraphs questions like to whom and for what is the Public Service accountable to?
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How well are accountabilities understood by Ministers, Political Staff and Public Servants? And what changes are needed to strengthen the accountability of Ministers and/or Public Servants? This all will be answered. When it comes to what for and to who whom is the Public Service accountable to is plain and simple, it’s to the Canadian society of majorities and minorities. But Minorities in almost every government do not really get the attention they deserve.
An issue the Public Service managers must be held accountable for is the failing to hire minorities. Unlike the United States where racial discrimination is generally accepted as a reality that must be addressed, in Canada we often believe that we don’t have any significant problem in regards to racial discrimination. However, repeated studies have established that racism in Canada is experienced differently by some communities where blacks and aboriginals feel very discriminated against. Whites perceive significantly less discrimination.
Recently the president of the federal public service commission of Canada, Maria Barrados identified a very serious issue of workplace discrimination on the basis of race within the Public Service which is unfortunately getting worse. This matter must no longer be ignored and by doing so the government started and is beginning to clear away layers of complex rules and burdensome process in human resources. This introduced the Public Service Modernization Act in 2003, the first significant change to human resource legislation in four decades.
While the minorities feel there in need of help, the Public Service feels that there is a need to develop local accountability and to make the data which is at available actually accessible to non-specialists. It seems to them that no single number or set of numbers will capture all of the essentials of service provision. Surely when evaluating any service a hierarchy of assessments will always be needed. This could range from watching for single events which should never occur. (i. e.
Sentinel events) through assessment of satisfaction with services, up to global measurements like immunization rates, death rates and so on. The amount of accountabilities known and understood by the Ministers, Political Staff and Public Servants are very well understood. The accountability regime in Canada has evolved and is now at the point where noted political scientist Peter Aucoin has said, “Canada has a number of accountability mechanisms that are as good as, if not better than, those found in the jurisdictions against which Canada is usually compared. As indicated, this evolution has occurred both in relation to political accountability to Parliament and managerial accountability to the Treasury Board. In general terms, over the course of many decades, the accountability regime has been refined so that there is now more clarity in the assignment of responsibilities, more transparency in the operations of the government, more focus on results than on inputs, more effective oversight of and sanctions for mismanagement and a stronger reflection of public service values.
However, those consulted also stressed that there is room for improvement. They indicated that the practice of accountability is inadequate in key areas because of the complexity of modern government, the lack of capacity in some of the core institutions (such as Parliament and the Treasury Board), the lack of clarity or understanding in key areas of responsibilities, and, in a few areas, insufficient commitment or leadership.
Accountability must be strengthened. Practices must improve continuously. As stated in the latter part of the previous paragraph, Accountability in our government must be strengthened. And to do so, the Canadian government created a framework for reform set. It takes into account the current challenges facing parliament, ministers, and the Treasury Board as they execute their roles in the accountability regime.
The framework will do the following: support parliament in its role in holding the government to account by encouraging parliament to enhance its capacity for scrutiny and by working with parliament to improve the quality of information on government plans and performance and how they are reported, Support ministers and deputy ministers in carrying out their responsibilities and improve management performance by reinforcing the assignment of responsibility and accountability, particularly in areas of financial administration, ensuring that those who are responsible have the capacity to fulfill their duties, and strengthening the accountability reflex through reinforced public service values, greater transparency, and decisive action when things go wrong; and by clarifying managerial responsibilities set out in the policies of the Treasury Board; by enhancing the availability, quality and use of expenditure; also by advancing the management Accountability framework as the basis of accountability within departments and across the government. With an ambitious set of measures the government has acted to strengthen the accountability.
This will take a responsible, measured approach, minimizing the risks of destabilizing the whole operation of government and maximizing the opportunities to tackle the real challenges confronting the accountability regime. In conclusion, we Canadians want good governance. We want to know that government programs are well managed. We want greater openness and transparency. We also want to be able to hold parliament, their government and public sector officials to account for results, good and /or bad. For accountability to be effective authority and responsibility must be clearly assigned with an appropriate rendering of account corrective action as required and consequences as appropriate.
Accountability in government is meant to promote democratic control, compliance with policies and continuous improvement in management performance; it should not be reduced with blame. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Gordon Osbaldeston. Keeping duty ministers accountable. Toronto: Mcgraw-Hill Ryerson, 19389 p. 67-68. 2. Peter Aucoin and Mark . D Jarvis. Modernizing government accountability: A Framework for Reform. Canada School of Public Service 2005 p. 64. 3. Canada. Royal Commission on Financial Management and Accountability. Final Report. 1979 pp 51-52. 4. Report of the special committee on Reform of the House of Commons. Ottawa. Queens printers, 1985 p. 13.