Accountability in Public Policy Partnerships by J. Steets

By J. Steets

Governments and overseas firms more and more use public-private partnerships to bring crucial public items. This book presents a brand new version of responsibility which guarantees that those partnerships do not erode public responsibility. It defines concrete responsibility criteria for various forms of partnerships.

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Firstly, it can concern the sources of an agent’s financial and other means. Whoever provides an organisation with resources gains influence over it. This can make the agent dependent and corrupt its impartiality. 52 Secondly, agents are accountable for using their resources efficiently and effectively. Those who provide an organisation with resources usually want to ensure the agent uses them in the best way for reaching the desired goals. In the private sector, return on investment is a common measure for establishing whether resources were well used.

59 Since an accountability system is only as strong as its weakest point,60 effective accountability strategies address all four areas at the same time, or focus on the area with the greatest shortcomings. Clarifying the agent’s contributions and responsibilities: There are two situations in which the effects of an agent’s behaviour are unclear: Firstly, the activities and responsibilities of an actor may be well known, but the consequences of these actions are not. Many environmental problems, for example, are causally extremely complex and scientifically disputed.

Firstly, different principals often have different views on what resources should be spent on. Company managers, for example, can be pressured by shareholders to deliver maximum dividends. Employees may favour higher wages; consumers usually opt for lower prices and NGOs lobby for a greater share of resources to be invested, for example, in environmental protection. Secondly, the three aspects of financial accountability are not necessarily compatible. An environmental NGO that rejects contributions from oil 24 Accountability in Public Policy Partnerships companies to maintain its independence, for example, may be unable to reach its goals because of a lack of resources.

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