Accountability in the Public Sector

, although more governments are including citizen satisfaction survey results to address the lack-of-quality-indicators criticism. Ultimately, the articles key findings can be summarized in the four lessons learned from the states that the authors provide: (1) the importance of working proactively to identify roles and responsibilities; (2) the importance of committed leadership; (3) the importance of balancing political, managerial and performance measurement accountability; and (4) The importance of clarity and simplicity.

The article also brings to light the legitimacy of other readings in this unit; most notably, Wamsley and colleagues (1987) Public Administration and the Governance Process. Although this essay was written almost a quarter of a century ago, the statements expressed about accountability and transparency are as relevant today as they were at the time of the writing. Wamsley et al.s “concern for the more inclusive principals we commonly call the public interest” (p. 301) largely mirror the concerns of Moynihan and colleagues, particularly in regard to the need for a more organized, efficient and trustworthy way to measure accountability across the board. The manner in which these deficiencies differ and converge at the city, state, and federal level is also an issue that evokes more questions than answers (Johnston et al., 2004).

Klinger et al. (2002) also agree with this general assessment, however their greatest concern is that “the policy process increasingly involves interactions among amorphous and unstable issue-oriented coalitions rather than a smaller number of actors with more stable and predictable roles” (p. 117). Issues related to perpetual government reinvention (Page, 2006) and the haphazardness of the current decision-making process (Brown and Potowski, 2003) have also been the subject of much speculation in the scholarly literature.

Robert Behns (1998) article The New Public Management Paradigm and the Search for Democratic Accountability expresses similar concerns, focusing strongly on the corruption of the system as a whole, as well as by its components. Like Moynihan et al., Behn has some serious misgivings about the balance and distribution of power within the government decision-making process. Both authors are not only interested in how decisions are made, but also, to the nature of those to whom the power to make those decisions is given.


Behn Robert. “The New Public Management Paradigm and the Search for Democratic Accountability,” International Public Management Journal. 1998. (1:2):131-164

Brown, Trevor and M. Potoski. Transaction Costs and Institutional Explanations for Government Production Decisions. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. 13:4 (2003): 441-468.

Johnston, Jocelyn, Barbara Romzek and Curtis Wood. The Challenges of Contracting and Accountability Across the Federal System: From Ambulances to Space Shuttles. Publius: The Journal of Federalism. 2004 (34:3): 155-182.

Klingner, Donald, John Nalbandian and Barbara Romzek, Politics, Administration and Markets: Conflicting Expectations and Accountability. American Review of Public Administration. 32:2 (2002): 117-144. .

Moynihan, Donald and Patricia Ingraham. “Look for the Silver Lining: When Performance-Based Accountability Systems Work. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. 2003 (13:4):469-490

Page, S. The Web of Managerial Accountability: The Impact of Reinventing Government. Administration and Society 38, 2 (May 2006): 166-197.

Wamsley, Gary, Charles.

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