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Historically the idea of accountability is associated with accounting.

Nowadays accountability has moved away from bookkeeping and has become a representation of good governance. Accountability no longer carries the image of financial administration but holds assurance of fair and reasonable governance. McGee (1980) points out that the term accountability is used as an ideograph to convey an image of good governance and to rally supporters. Accountability is an icon for good governance. In 2003 Mulgan defines accountability as an obligation to be called to account and a method of keeping the public informed and the powerful in check. Public accountability is described by Day and Klein (1987) as a social relationship in which an actor feels an obligation to explain and justify his or her conduct to some significant other. The actor is an individual or an agency and the significant other can be a specific person or agency or the general public. The relationship between the actor and the significant other consists of three elements; the actor must first feel obliged to inform the significant other about his conduct through provision of data about outcomes and performance of tasks. Secondly the information can prompt the significant other to question the actor about the legitimacy of the conduct and thirdly the significant other will pass judgment on the conduct of the actor. Traditionally public accountability has been vertical in nature were accountability follows the chain of principal-agent relations and the apex of the organizational pyramid is answerable for the organization in parliament or in the media. The introduction of New Public management has cause accountability to become horizontal in nature were the hierarchical chain is surpassed and the agency, minister or public manager is directly accountable to the public. Before the introduction of NPM accountability was a relationship of control. The principal, such as the public, delegates power and resources to the agent (the government). The agent will then account for their actions and the principal will evaluate their performance by praising or blaming them which is usually through voting for the next term of government. Since the implementation of NPM there has been a loss of democratic control. Neoliberal theorists are suspicious of democracy and believe that large state bureaucracies are defective and wasteful. Neoliberalists believed that privatization of the public sector were the best way forward. It is argued by some that privatization also reduced accountability as the government is less reluctant to hold private companies liable when they are providing the funds for public projects and infrastructure. Nevertheless over the years there has been a greater demand for accountability. There are many factors as to why greater public accountability is demanded by the public. Stewart explains that the government and public sector has grown in size as well as complexity which has weakened traditional accountability but has increased the influence of government resulting in an intensified demand for accountability. The government generated expectations yet they did not fulfill them, disappointing the public during a time of economic struggle and traditional forms of accountability was no longer useful when one minister was responsible for the actions of many thousands of civil servants. Ministerial accountability needed to be reinforced. Due to the complex nature of the government, trying to identify who is accountable is very difficult. The growing dissatisfaction also demanded greater accountability. Due to these pressures changes were made such

as the introduction of ombudsmen and provisions made council and education committee meetings open to the public. Today accountability can be in different forms such as political accountability and professional accountability. Public servants are accountable to ministers whilst doctors/teachers are accountable to oversight bodies. Compared to traditional accountability, the neo-liberal forms of accountability focus mainly on standards and value for money. Although both forms of accountability aim to make certain people or organizations accountable for their actions, neo-liberal forms of accountability heavily focus on standards and value for money. For example in the education sector due to neoliberal ideas of accountability there is a focus on raising the average grade achieved by pupils rather than focusing on teaching. Secondary schools aim to top A-level and GCSE league tables by gaining the most A*-C grades. It is argued by some that teaching is more oriented towards the exams when it should be focused on the understanding of pupils. Teachers follow curriculums and mark schemes even when they question the material given to them. Furthermore, the audit explosion has also increased the need for accountability. The public sector wants to gain legitimacy. In order to be legitimate the public sector believes that if they are audited and have standards set in place they seem more genuine to the public. New Public Management introduced Whole of Government accounts which are audited by the national audit office who have verified the true and fairness of the accounts whilst universities have quality assurance logos and excellence awards displayed on their websites. Both of these show the public sectors need to prove legitimacy and seem accountable as these logos and audits validate their quality and value.