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Sourcebook Brief: National Accountability Systems

Accountability demands attention owing to a number of factors: the information revolution and increasing citizen attention to service delivery and relative functionality; the fiscal crisis and associated austerity measures; the perceived failure of both domestic systems and foreign assistance; and widespread corruption. Inadequate accountability systems are manifestly translating to inadequate results in the stewardship of the public’s money and public service delivery. This Sourcebook Brief provides operational guidelines for accountability systems.  It analyzes systems, categorizing them into: dysfunction; compliance; performance; and public value types. It then advances diagnostic tools for rapid contextual analysis and applies the relevant tools to each type – explaining each with examples in turn.

It tackles key system components individually: treasury; budget; procurement; accounting and auditing; project and program design; oversight and accountability; risk management; and licensing and tenders. The operational typology is geared to complex system transformations, including identifying and addressing hybrid types. The manual provides a valuable tool for leaders and managers in public, private and civil society sectors because it grounds analytic insights within a focus on process.