What do you understand by accountability?


  • “Taking responsibility for your actions. For what you are entrusted to do. If you’re entrusted with funding for instance. One must practice good stewardship. Do your reporting in time, on time and do whatever is required to do that to fulfil those criteria on reporting.”
  • “Accountability is who you answer to, who you report to and what you account for. It is essential to have financial accountability as well as administrative accountability. Our accountability is first of all toward the organisation; donors/funders.”
  • “Accountability is like a testimony of events and time. One needs to be responsible and one needs to be able to prove what they did with their time and with the resources of the organisation.”
  • “I think accountability is the ability of what you say you’re going to do, you did.”
  • “My understanding about accountability has to do with transparency. Being transparent about how and why things are done in the office.”
  • Internal Accountability within a CSO is getting things done on time and accurately. external Accountability is Accountability to your beneficiaries, Donors, Government and the general public.
My understanding of accountability is to have the correct guidelines/directives in place within a CSO's constitution. If this is in place, the Board will be able to hold the Director(s) to account for his/her/their actions within that CSO. Similarly, I see the Director/Management within the CSO having the same accountability guidleines with all staff memebers so as to hold members of staff to account for his/her actions. If such an accountability structure is indeed in place within a CSO, it can easily report to donors, beneficiaries or any interested party. This makes reporting to other sectors of society so much easier and legitimises the CSO sector simultaneoudly, which is what is urgently required in South Africa.
Accountability is being able to justify all actions and decisions; • Being able to justify how time and money is spent on projects • Being able to justify why certain programmes and projects are required in communities • Being able to justify how our work/projects changes lives and addresses poverty • Being able to justify our existence as an organisation - that's accountability!
Accountability has many layers and linkages. It is not only about financial issues but also management processes and programme activities for the community that is being served or engaged with. It is about the engagement with all stakeholders, internally and externally. It is also about the much broader accountability to society as a whole - whether programmes are relevant and meaningful; whether they are simply duplicating something that is happening in the same locality; whether they encourage debate and principles of democracy or just maintain the status quo; how do they impact on wider societal issues; are they just putting a plaster on a sore or determining the root cause of the challenge and engaging with the state to improve the conditions in which they are operating??
I agree with all of the above, but I also think that accountability has got to do with a particular function in an organisation, a function at which someone takes the overall responsibility to make interested parties and investors aware of progress in an organisation; and ensure that policies, systems advance the object of the organisation.
What matters to me is who are we being accountable to ? surely this must be to our beneficiaries and or clients or vulnerable groups. Accountability to communities is also important if we are raising funds from the community. We need to be legally compliant. Often we are too concerned with accounting to the donors, in anticipation of new funding. Donors often create impossible demands, beyond the scope of the project costing civil society more time, headaches and heartaches that civil society deserves.
Accountability is nothing short of responsive and transparent mechanisms of governance. It has to do with all possible ways of fleeing from corrupt governance practices. When we talk of accountability, we mean responsible and reliable systems of management. This refers to both financial and human resources. Managing people transparently and responsibly goes along with managing financial and other resources in the same fashion. For example, state bureaucrats are accountable to their direct superiors as well as being accountable to the public they serve. Financial accountability within state departments calls for clarity in all financial dealings between the department concern, its leaders and the individual or business represented in the course of all transactions. If for example, the transaction is about delivering services to the public and the state department concern wishes to make a public announcement on outsourcing the service, the necessary steps and documentations to be taken for the bidders to receive the contract must be fulfilled, and in the course of this, no behind the scenes transsactions must be done. If every particular step is followed without any favoritism and all legal documents required are put in place, then the issue of accountability is said to be taking its rightful place.
Accountability is a sense of responsibility and ownership on the tasks taken. This act of responsibility is taken further as a respect and response to the stakeholders , who maybe actual owners or Seniors. Accountability is factored as a certain degree based on one's or entity's level or position of operation or leadership. The higher your level or position of leadership, the greater will be the degree of accountability.
Accountability is to ensure you are aware of all policies and procedures and laws that govern what work you do so that you understand how to do things. Through this process you should know your roles and responsibilities as the buck stops with you and if there are any transgressions or misappropriation of actions then I must take responsible and account for these actions or activities that has caused problems etc. One is also accountable to rectify any problems or mistakes that may have happened. Through a contract it should be stated how accountable one is and the measures in which to follow to ensure one is accountable.
Accountability means being reliable and responsible. It means upholding the policies, legalities and ethics surrounding the kind of work that one is ascribed to do. It warrants an individual to operate within strict rules and regulations guiding the operational mechanisms of one's task. Stricto senso, accountability implies high level honesty, responsiveness, clarity, being free from all forms of dubious portraits, transparency, straight forward attributes, putting a square peck in a square hold. It does not call for any double standard behaviour. It means openness in all dealings, wether family, state, business, Christian or Muslim denominational organisations or Churches (Mosques). It suffises that accountability be practiced at all levels and in all walks of life. As Christian Denominational organisations, we are accountable to our various congregations. Accountability begins by what we preach, our counselling approach, how we respond to the counselling needs of the congregants, where we allocate church expenses, how we engage in and respond to social and societal needs. It also has to do with the ethics and spiritual standing of our church Leaders and Pastors. The kind of reputation they have, will determine the numerical and spiritual growth of our various congregations. The starting point of accountability is by engaging in self-scruntiny. A well disciplined person will obviously have the ability to manage heavy responsibilities, be it human, organisational or financial capital.
In reply to anonymous 14th May 2012 at 17:04pm. My argument is simple: CSOs/NPOs/NGOs/PBOs/Charities/Body Corporates/Voluntary Associations strive to be accountable through audits and external scrutiny from any interested party. As such, why are churches/mosques/temples/places of worship not allowed to be externally scrutinised by interested parties with regard to their sources of income and expenditure thereof??
Accountability specifically of funds means ensuring that civil society organisation’s funds have been used in a responsible way according to the needs of the organisation and for what they were meant to be expended for. It is also for building credibility for the organisation to the donors who made the funds available. The financial manager is accountable to the organisation’s Board and the stakeholders.
my understanding of accountability is being held responsible for and owning up to tasks taken on by the organization and the resources used to achieve their goals. it also means making the tasks public knowledge so that everyone involved knows what is being done and what resources are being used to achieve those goals. in other words total transparency is needed so that everything is openly discussed and shared with the community, the donors, the board of directors and stakeholders to whom the organization is providing the service to and to those whom they are partnerning with. in turn they are informed of what is going on and what actions are taken to fulfill the goals and tasks agreed upon by both parties. in doing so they are being accountable and responsible for whatever outcomes may proceed as a result.
Accountability - The ability to give an (honest) account for yourself and your actions. That honest account should include: What did you do? Why did you do it? What difference do you think it made? But if we are to move beyond accountability as a sort of "policing" function, then the most important accountability question is WHAT DID YOU LEARN?