Accountability LO13608

Bob Williams (
Thu, 15 May 1997 18:55:57 +1200

Replying to LO13589 --

At 10:42 PM -0400 14/5/97, Gray Southon wrote:

>Accountability seems such a reasonable thing until you get to the
>practicalities of who is accountable to whom for what on whos terms and by
>what means. When one starts to sort out these issues in many cases it
>starts to get very complex and rather meaningless.

Well said Gray. New Zealand has bought in a big way the so-called "New
Public Sector Model". One of its cornerstones is the clarification of
accountabilities, using all the usual devices about visions, goals, key
performance indicators, strategic results areas and all that bag of

The result has been mixed to say the least.

Allen Schick, an American public sector academic, was recently
commissioned by the NZ government to review the NZ state sector reforms.
He commented at length that in demanding greater accountablity, the new
public sector management system could weaken notions of responsiblity.
Referring to a particular disaster where a government department was
adhering perfectly to its accountablity reporting yet managed to kill 15
people, he asked "how do we ensure that people .... have a robust sense of
all the responsibilities that adhere to them ?"

Without getting into the semantics about accountablity and responsiblity;
I think most people could get the point he was making. To paraphrase the
famous quote about visions; it is not what accountablity is that matters,
but what it does.




So many questions, so little time.


Bob Williams <>

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