Revitalising accountability in public management reform : issues and challenges for developing countries

15 Feb 2008

As the public sector character and attributes continue to evolve globally, the notion of accountability is identified as the pivot, around which effective public management and good governance revolve. This has followed the wave of neo-liberal reforms in Africa and elsewhere in the developing countries, where the re-invention of government in recent years has earmarked accountability as part of the governance and development imperatives. This article critically analysis the dynamics of accountability in public sector reforms and evaluates its significance in improving efficiency and effectiveness in the public sector. A thorough examination on the practicality of the different accountability mechanisms and relationships is made to provide a case, as to whether the prescribed patterns of accountability under the new managerialism rekindle better hope for developing countries. The theoretical foundations and issues that underpin public sector accountability are provided, before engaging its unfolding dynamics and challenges. It is then argued that, whereas the need exists to transform public accountability mechanisms to foster continuous improvement. Those who inspect, audit and review public service management should be able to appreciate the constraints under which public servants operate, and the circumstances in which they have little or no control. The businesslike performance measures are important in spearheading output and outcome orientations. However, the traditional public service values such as impartiality, representation, integrity, fairness, welfare and justice, should not be abandoned since they represent the basic requirement eliciting public interest.