Account Me In: Agencies in Quest of Accountability
70 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2009 Last revised: 14 Nov 2012
Date Written: March 23, 2010
This articles adds to the literature about accountability by examining the little-studied phenomenon of agencies making efforts — sometimes substantial efforts - to be accountable. It briefly describes how three agencies — the EPA, the FDA and especially the IRS — worked to increase their accountability. It demonstrates that agencies are often not the enemy in the “accountability game”. In today’s world agencies, contrary to the stereotype, often buy into the language and practice of accountability. It addresses three arguments for this behavior: a rational choice argument based on comparison of the costs of non-accountability with the benefits of accountability; a power of ideas argument showing that agencies, like individuals, can respond to new ideas of governance; and a role conception argument based on agencies’ choice to increase their accountability into their view of their mission.
Keywords: Accountability, Public Administration
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