The Private And The Public Sectors Accounting Essay


This essay particularly covers accountability and transparency procedures according to the critics and the pros cons of having such practices within the organizations irrespective of whether public or private. 'Accountability' is used as a synonym for many loosely defined desired policy, such as good governance, transparency, equity, democracy, efficiency, responsiveness, responsibility, and integrity (Mulgan 2000b: 555; Behn 2001: 3-6; Dubnick 2007). As per Boven, M. (2005), accountability could be described as a social connection in which an actor feels a commitment to illustrate and to defend his or her behavior to someone for life. Accountability is regularly used as a part of an exceptionally wide sense, as a synonym for a variety of evaluative, but essentially contested concepts, such as responsiveness, responsibility and effectiveness. Accountability in this broad sense is a basically challenged idea (Gallie 1962: 121) as cited in Fisher (2004), in light of the fact that there is no general concept concerning the measures for accountable behavior, and they differ from role to role, time to time, place to place, and from speaker to speaker. Defining accountability is more unpredictable. Tisné states: "Broadly speaking, accountability refers to the process of holding actors responsible for their actions. More specifically, it is the concept that individuals, agencies and organizations (public, private and civil society) are held responsible for executing their powers according to a certain standard (whether set mutually or not)".

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Usually, "Transparency" means openness, communication and accountability. It is a figurative augmentation of the importance a "transparent" question is one that might be seen through. With regard to the general population services, it means that holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest demands it (Chapman, 2000). Jayal, N.G. (2008: 109) defines that while transparency is instrumental to achieving higher standards of accountability, misguided judgments concerning their relationship are common. The right to information is frequently mixed up for accountability itself, instead of being understood as an instrument for the broader objective of securing accountable administration.


A great part of the scholarly literature on accountability is fairly disengaged, as countless authors set out to produce their own particular definition of accountability. Every newly edited volume on accountability - and far more terrible: each of the individual chapters within these edited volumes - uses its own concepts, conceptualizations, and frames for studying accountability (Dowdle 2006; Ebrahim & Weisband 2007). Some use the idea very loosely, others produce a more narrow definition, at the same time few of these definitions are thoroughly good and fully compatible, which makes it particularly very hard to produce cumulative and commensurable research. Additionally, few papers move past theoretical and conceptual analyses and take part in methodical, comparative empirical research, with the exception of a series of studies in the narrow field of social psychology (Adelberg & Batson 1978; Tetlock 1983; Tetlock 1985; Tetlock et al 1989; Lerner & Tetlock 1999).

Accountability has become a foundation stone of public sector reforms, and an especially noteworthy issue in those public services where professions and professionals are central, including schools, health care and social care. The design of accountability arrangements is fundamental to the legislation and honesty of professionals working in the public services.

On the contrary O'Neill, O. (2002) argues that huge dependence on substantial performance markers observed in a various hierarchical accountability relationship is viewed as a variable undermining broad professional values and standards. She takes it further, and questions whether our trust in these professionals has increased? As a result, we impose the greater accountability conditions that facilitate ever more administrative, institutional and professional control. However, the mechanisms of control, monitoring and authorization planned to underpin office-holders' work may in fact damage their professional efforts. It is possible that according to higher demands for accountability, professionals organize their work in a way to meet the targets infringed on them and 'score' high in the elements that are almost always measured, compared and examined.

Fox Meyer, 1995, cited in David K. 2010) defines accountability as the "obligation of government and its agents or executors towards the general population to achieve previously set objectives and to give the explanation for them in public". He is more interpretive that it is a duty that is needed from public authorities separately and collectively to accept public responsibility for their own action and inaction. In this case, the burden of accountability rests on each public functionary to act in the public interest and according to his/her conscience, and do everything with his/her heart, with solutions for every matter dependent upon professionalism and participation. Fox. J (2007b) also points out the fact that transparency is often assumed to generate accountability, but this is not automatically the case: transparency initiatives which 'mobilize the power of shame' have no purchase on the shameless.

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Ole Ingstrup and Crookall, (1998), cited in David K. (2010) argues that accountability in the public sector is broader than in the private sector. In the private sector, everybody in the company is accountable to its board members. The public sector is also accountable to a board of sorts: the minister, cabinet and legislature. The public sector is also accountable to a board of sorts: the minister, cabinet and legislature. But the public sector has additional accountability to its employees and to its customers, the citizens who use the services - as well as to its non - customers, the citizens who don't use the service. It is a different kind of accountability, more subtle and indirect. Therefore, in general accountability for performance and the obligation that public functionaries (elected and appointed officials) have to give a satisfactory description over the action of force and power, authority and resources entrusted in them on behalf of the general population (tax payer).

As per Curtin & Meijer, (2006) citing that an organization's transparency can be measured by the depth of access it permits, the depth of knowledge about processes it is willing and eager to uncover, and the concentration in regards to citizen response it provides. The more transparent an organization is (via its web site or any other source), the more it is willing to permit an ordinary citizen to monitor its performance and to participate in its policy approach procedures.

Stirton & Lodge, (2001) maintained that Transparency serves two other important functions. Firstly protection of unique individual rights and facilitation of individual involvement in governance. Individual rights are more likely to be secured when administration is transparent because "the more strictly we are watched the better we behave". (quoting Jeremy Bentham)

On the contrary Curtin, D. & Meijer, A. J. (2006) criticized that transparency in government websites will not necessarily strengthen or reinforce governmental authenticity. First, because few people may access or view those sites; second, in light of the fact because those who do may be overwhelmed by the available information; and third, increased transparency may result in increased negative publicity-thus undermining authenticity. Hood, (2007) likewise back the sentiment and stated that when transparency approaches are joined together with the bureaucratic/political desire to avoid blame, sensitive information may be more tightly regulated and controlled and creative ways to evade culpability may result.

Neyland, (2007) suggested that while transparency may open organizations to public observation, recognition, inspection and review, it does not always make those organizations more accountable. Rather, recognized organizations reorient informative data to fit the demands of the transparency analysis without unveiling the genuine internal workings of the organization.

Example of a public sector organization

The use of performance management as an accountability mechanism: A case study in the UK National Health Service

The structure of the NHS has been changed numerous times in light of the fact that it was built in 1948 (Levitt et al., 1999). The Thatcher administration's 1991 partitioning of health service buyers and suppliers, and introduction of the internal health sector 'market', was probably the most sensational restructuring (Lapsley, 1996). However, this internal market structure had small measurable effect on exhibition, if outlined in terms of volume, quality or unit expenses (Le Grand et al., 1998; Smith, 2002) and was nullified in 1997 by the Labor Government.

The Labor Government suggested a 'third way' working association for the NHS - "a framework dependent upon partnership and determined by exhibition" (Department of Health [DoH], 1997; p.10).

The government outlined its strategies in order to meets its priorities in health care. (DoH, 2000a), not only on the perspective of efficiency, but likewise on health service outputs and long-term health outcomes i.e. Health Improvement Programme (HImP), which is locally agreed between health communities (including Health Authorities) and their Regional Offices. The HImP sets out "the targets and breakthroughs concurred by regional standards to convey the necessities and targets outlined in the NHS Plan" (DoH 2000c; p.5). This understanding is underpinned by the Service and Financial Framework (SaFF).

Fundamentally Service and Financial Framework (SaFF) fills in as an arranging report or a planning document, a performance measurement tool and an accountability mechanism between central government (via NHS ROs) and local NHS organizations. Improvements in performance, therefore, seem predicated on improvements in the administration of NHS organizations. Few bosses or chief executives have even lost their jobs due to under performance. The Head of Performance Management within the SERO contends that "A lot of the NHS chief executives are very poor in management. We have got rid of a number of them on the grounds that they don't have confidence in effective performance." (Interview with a financial officer of the Finance Department of the NHS Executive South East Regional Office, 15th March 2001.)

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The SaFF is an apparatus of measuring performance and accountability mechanism. A 2000 DoH document outlines the role of the SaFF as follows, "The SaFF will capture the agreed action, investment and activity to be delivered by the local health community and at what cost. This information will then be incorporated into Local Action Plans that provide more detail on how the SaFF will be delivered…. Once signed off, the Action Plans, incorporating the SaFF, will form the basis of the performance agreement between Regional Offices and their NHS Trusts and Health Authorities. The performance agreements will be used to judge performance throughout the year." (DoH, 2000b; pp. 34-35).

There are more than 90 health districts in England, each reporting on a wide range of performance indicators, the process of monitoring SaFF performance measures process has been appointed to ROs, which represent centermost administration in every area. SaFF facilitate the health department to gain assurance that NHS plans are on track to convey the necessities in terms of targets and developments of the NHS Plan Implementation document. The Department of Health HQ will give Regional Offices target. Targets are to be met in 2001-02 and these will be explicitly agreed as part of the SaFF process. (DoH, 2000c; pp.12-13)

Monitoring aspect of performance management involves developing informative content frameworks to record measurable performance against predetermined performance targets. The RO then uses the SaFF report to agree the year-end targets with the HA. According to an RO, once targets have been agreed, we go through an exercise, called profiling, which says, we start here (current situation) and got the end up there (agreed target), what shape will that being that year." (Interview ,15th March 2001).

According to the (DoH, 2000a; pp. 63-64), "All NHS organizations will for the first time annually and publicly be classified as 'green', 'yellow', or 'red'. Criteria will be set nationally but appraisal can be by Regional Offices with free verification by the Commission for Health Improvement. Red status will result from poor absolute standards of performance, triggering action to ensure a 'floor' level of acceptable performance is achieved throughout the NHS. Green status reflects both outstanding absolute performance against core national targets and relative performance against the wider Performance Assessment Framework measures. The green-light NHS organizations will be rewarded with greater autonomy and national recognition."

To make certain that health equality is achieved via the provision of consistent national clinical standards, effectiveness-based standards drawn from the National Service Frameworks are integrated into the SaFF. Effective information systems are crucial to the use of the SaFF as an accountability mechanism. Evidence from this study suggests that no appropriate information systems are available for newly developed indicators, which might compromise the consistency, quality and comparability of data used. Therefore, the improvement of information quality will be central to developing the SaFF as an accountability mechanism for reporting and evaluating the performance of local NHS organizations.

Example of a private sector organization

Louis Loss once wrote that ''people who are compelled to disrobe in free will probably give careful consideration to their figures'' (Loss, 1988, p. 33). The thought is that transparency can incite institutional picking up and behavioral updates of the sort fancied by the state. By constraining companies to freely provide details regarding exhibition pointers that may reflect inadequately on the association's monetary or moral administration, transparency necessities may sway corporate directors to enhance their exhibition.

Nike's plan of action has consistently been dependent upon worldwide outsourcing to ease locales. It has used it is claim processing offices at different times in it is history, at the same time this is the exemption to the general decide that Nike is primarily a configuration and showcasing association. Handling is outsourced to countless foreman mills scattered internationally. For quite some time, Nike stated that it had no burden regarding working conditions in it is suppliers' production lines. John Woodman, a senior Nike agent, communicated this supposition in 1991, when he told a columnist that it was ''not within our scope to investigate'' states of work in builder production lines (Barnet and Cavanagh, 1994; Katz, 1994). Media visualizations of youngsters sewing Nike soccer balls and running shoes compared in opposition to the millions of dollars Nike paid wears famous people to business sector their items demonstrated an adequate equation for another crop of social activists who abused the Internet in a worldwide against-Nike battle (Murphy and Mathew, 2001). Nike's conventional line denying obligation regarding conditions in foreman processing plants rapidly confirmed untenable to a developing number of suspicious shoppers, a focus that Nike executives had apprehended by the early 1990s.

Starting in 1996, Nike accomplished a succession of organizational updates composed to empower head office authorities to better screen roots of danger connected with their suppliers' work rehearses. A while later, supplemental steps were taken incrementally to enhance the group's institutional learning of it is suppliers and their work drills. Those steps incorporated the emulating:

The SHAPE inside checking framework was presented in 1997. This essential review was planned to give Nike a beginning evaluation of if a suggested unique processing plant was at any rate in the ballpark in terms of fulfilling the code. In 1998, Nike made a corporate obligation and consistence division (CRD). CRD housed some sections, incorporating consistence which was resolved to aid the mix of corporate burden issues all through the business by carrying as one unit manageability and consistence individuals working within the diverse Nike item assemblies.

Nike nonstop strive for adequate consistence and in the early 2000s, Nike advanced a worldwide industrial facility database to help Nike's head office track it is worldwide production network and to empower head office access to the different reviews being led in the field, which were now participated in the database by field staff on a general foundation.

This very subtle movement to transparency and outside engagement continued into the unique thousand years. In July 2000, Nike came to be one of the first organizations to uphold the United Nation's Global Compact, a drive that asks associations to provide details regarding their ventures to guarantee consistence in their plants with a set of guts work models. That same summer, Nike presented a drive called 'Transparency 101,''through which it proclaimed it could start presenting on it is web space the effects of reviews of some of it is production lines. Sluggishly and circumspectly, Nike was starting to move to more fantastic transparency.

At length, Nike chose for full processing plant divulgences were observed by the Nike administration to balance waiting concerns that the revelation could mischief the association. The mill catalogue was discharged in April 2005 and incorporated all mills generating Nike-marked things, however not Nike subsidiaries. This developed into pretty nearly 90% of Nike's supplier mills. In 2011, the Nike production line divulgence web space correspondingly demonstrates that ''disclosing our plant base heartens transparency and collaboration'' (Nike biz, 2011).


In the past few years, accountability has become one of the most important topics in discussion among public and private sectors. As Boven (2005) described accountability as merely a social connection between the people who hold the public office to the stakeholders for life. (Dubnick 2007) argued that accountability can be defined as good governance, transparency, equity, democracy, efficiency, responsiveness, responsibility, and integrity. Accountability involves either the expectation or assumption of account-giving behavior. Soroka, (1968) gave the study of account giving as a sociological act and it can be traced as well to Austin's 1956 essay "A Plea for Excuses," in which he used excuse-making as an example of speech acts. Tisné further discuss accountability and stated that accountability refers to the process of holding actors responsible for their actions. More specifically, it is the concept that individuals, agencies and organizations (public, private and civil society) are held responsible for executing their powers according to a certain standard (whether set mutually or not). (Chapman, 2000) showed a positivistic approach towards transparency as a means that holders of public office should be as open as much possible about all the decisions and actions they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and only confine information if the wider public interest required. Jayal (2008) suggested that transparency is instrumental to achieving higher standards of accountability.

On the contrary O'Neill, (2002) argues that huge dependence on substantial performance markers observed in a various hierarchical accountability relationship is viewed as a variable undermining broad professional values and standards.

The efforts of the many private actors to become more transparent are well spent if they can provoke companies to introduce the sorts of tracking and monitoring systems we witnessed at Nike in private sector. They took measures to improve the working conditions in their suppliers' factories around the globe. NHS also took steps for monitoring the performance and accountability mechanisms. Service and Financial Framework (SaFF) mechanism introduced in NHS works as a planning document, which is a performance measurement tool and an accountability mechanism between central government and local NHS organizations.

Thus I can say from my perspective that accountability and transparency both play a major role in developing CSR as well as company's image in consumer's mind, and thus they are equally important in both private and public organizations.