Accountability in the Public Sector: From Despair to Where?

35 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2009 Last revised: 4 May 2009

Date Written: April 30, 2009


The article examines one of the most intriguing issues related to the public sector reforms; the changing accountability systems. The debate about the relevance of accounting-based reform in the caring professions is not new, but little research has been conduct in the field of social work. Accounting, in such endeavour, risks to be often, and erroneously, equated to accountability and control. In social services the use of accounting measure may over-simplify their inner complexity and ambiguity of the outcomes, calling for more comprehensive forms of accountability. In this article, through the use of the evidence gathered in an in-depth case study, the case for professional and public sector ethics, autonomy and responsibility in shaping the way accountability manifested and the role of accounting are analysed.

Keywords: accountability, accounting, ethics, social services

JEL Classification: I30, M40

Suggested Citation

Bracci, Enrico, Accountability in the Public Sector: From Despair to Where? (April 30, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Enrico Bracci (Contact Author)

University of Ferrara ( email )

Via Voltapaletto, 11
Via Voltapaletto, 11
Ferrara, Ferrara 44121

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