At the end of the lecture student will be able to: -Understand the concept of Administrative Accountability and Control -Understand the types of internal accountability and external accountability

Administrative Accountability

According to Leonard D. White accountability is ‘the sum total of constitutional, statutory, administrative and judicial rules and precedents and the established practices by means of which public officials may be held accountable for their official actions’. It refers to the formal and specific location of responsibility vested in a person. While responsibility has a personal and moral connotations and is not necessarily related to formal status and power. Accountability is also defined as the answerability of a person in organization.

The Meaning of Control

Accountability is a kind of management Control. Control is the process of ensuring that actual activities conform to established standards and laid done procedures. Control helps managers to monitor the effectiveness of managers

Figure 1

introduction to public administration  ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL

Figure 1 shows the basic control process. This process is essential to accountability. As shown in figure before control process is initiated standard and methods are established against which performance is measured. Then it is measured or assessed if the performance matches the laid down standard. If it matches then it is satisfactory performance. But if it does not match corrective actions are taken. Now, this is a general process of control and accountability. These general steps can be adapted to any work situation.

Types of Accountability

There are two types of accountability mechanism that make organizations to continue to achieve goals. These are discussed below:

1. Internal Control: is exercised either by superior over the subordinates within the chain of hierarchy or by other parallel agencies in the executive branch of government. It consists of directing, regulating, supervising, advising, inspecting and evaluating. It should be continuously done; without being felt. This mechanism of accountability has positive results also.

2. External control, is fitted outside the administrative machinery and works within the general constitutional framework of the system. It is exercised by the external bodies such as legislature and judiciary.

(A) Internal Control:

In internal control mechanisms follows methods are used:

i) Administrative process:-In a parliamentary system, cabinet stands at the apex of the executive. Prime minister directs the ministers; who are in-charge of their respective department and are responsible for the efficient working to the cabinet and prime minister. The whole working of the departments are reviewed by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.

ii) Hierarchical order:- Every administrative department is arranged on scalar pattern and executives are organized in hierarchical order. The executives are linked with superiorsubordinate-relationship with clear authority and responsibility. They are accountable to their respective superiors for their actions and dealings. Thus hierarchy itself a powerful instrument for monitoring subordinates behavior and for enforcing accountability.

iii) Annual confidential Reports:-The superior officers prepare annual confidential reports (ACRs) of their subordinates every year. The work of whole year of each public servant is assessed.

iv) Budgetary control:- A budget is not only a complete policy statement of the total activities of the government but it also reflects the aspiration of the people. The Ministry of Finance prepares budget, and operations of the budgetary sanctions and appropriations.

v) Administrative leadership:- It is another means of internal control. Leadership motivates, and inspires the employees for efficiency. Thus the morale and motivation of employees depends upon the leadership. The effective leader set examples of high standards of integrity and performance for his followers. He inspires them for work and instills in them a pride in work. A good leader is objective – oriented and always tries his subordinates to achieve that objective.

(B) External Control:-

Following mechanism is in place as external methods

  1. Legislative Control: The major instrument of public accountability is the authority of the legislature to empower, limit, investigate and censure the executive branch. The legislature enacts Laws, authorizes administrators to engage in quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial activities, appropriates funds for all administrative programmes, and determines the general outlines of administrative organization and procedure.
  2. Questions:-The first hour of every day sitting of legislature is known as the question-hour. This time is allotted for asking and answering questions. Every legislators, after giving due notice, are entitled to put questions and supplementary questions to the ministers about the state of public administration. The ministers are bound to answer these questions. The purpose of questions is to elicit information on the working of administrative departments.
  3. Resolutions and Motions:- Resolutions and motions are of two kinds i.e. firstly, those whose object is to censure a particular minister or government as a whole, secondly those, which recommend some course of action to be adopted. The former leads to dismissal of the government or ministry. The later is recommendatory, hence it may or may not be accepted by the government. Members of parliament are entitled to pass resolutions on matter of general public interest.
  4. Debates and Discussions:- Debates or discussions in the House constitute another important means for controlling the executive. Houses perpetually go on debating one thing or other. Discussions, take place over every point of a bill or budget. Every motion comes under discussion in the house. The inaugural address of the President, the budget speech, introduction of bill for amendment, introduction of new law, or introduction of motion or resolution provide opportunity for debates and discussions.

5. Committees of Legislature:- Legislatures are unwieldy bodies and can not meet for the whole of year. Hence, they appoint committees of their own members, who are specialists in their sphere of activity and keep constant watch over administration. Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Subordinate legislation, petitions Committee, Committee on Public Service. These committees gather a lot of material, hear expert evidences and frame conclusions. Such conclusions, which are formed in the form of recommendations, which correct the tone of administration, by improving efficiency and quality of work civil service responds immediately to the recommendations of such committees, because they know that their opinions are of experts and backed by the full house.

Methods of Executive Control

The executive exercises control over administration through the following methods:-

i. Policy-Making:- The chief executive along with his cabinet, control the administration through policy-making. All important policy-decisions are taken by the cabinet in every country. The departments carry on their day to day business, within the policies laid down by cabinet.

ii. Budgetary System: It is the main responsibility of the chief executive to prepare budget and to present it to the legislature. After the approval by legislature, the chief executive implements it through the allocation of funds among various departments, and controls it by proper utilization of funds.

iii. Recruitment system:- The third system of executive control works through recruitments of public personnel. This is usually placed in the hands of an independent recruiting agency like Public Service Commission.

Judicial Control

Judiciary is one of the important external agency, which exercises control over administration. By judicial control means the power of courts to keep the decisions and acts, of administrative officials within the bounds of law. L.D. White explains the importance of judicial control and says, “The system of formal external control officials and their acts which fall primarily into two divisions – that exercised by the legislative bodies and that imposed by the courts.

The main purpose of judicial control is to determine the constitutionality and legality of administrative acts of public administrators, and thus to protect the rights and liberty of citizens from the wrongful acts of government officials.

Types of Remedies

There are two systems of legal remedies against the unlawful acts of government officials. One is called the Rule of law and the other Administrative law or Driot Administrative; the former system prevails in USA, England and Common Wealth countries including Pakistan, while the latter prevails chiefly in France, and Germany and Sweden. Brief description of each is given below:-

(a) Rule of law System:- Theoretically it means that every body high or low, and official or private is subject to the same law. The public administrator is not above the law, while performing official duties. Ordinarily the aggrieved party to shall have all those legal remedies against the offending officials; which are known as prerogative writs,


  • Control: a process of ensuring the actual activities conform to established standards.
  • Legislative control: the control exercised by legislature, through system of question hours, resolution and motions, debates and discussion.
  • Hierarchical order: type of internal control in which individuals are supervised by superiors.
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