chapter
A–Z entries
Pages 1079

Accountability describes a relationship between power-holders and those affected by their actions, and consists of two key elements: ‘answerability’ (making power-holders explain their actions) and ‘enforceability’ (punishing poor or criminal performance) (Schedler 1999). Accountability is often conceived as operating along two dimensions, the vertical and the horizontal. The ‘vertical’ relationship between citizens and the state can be either formal (through electoral systems) or informal (through lobbying and public advocacy by associations). The ‘horizontal’ relationship involves one public authority scrutinizing the activities of another – for instance, legislative oversight of executive agencies, or the capacity of specialized authorities (ombudsmen, anti-corruption agencies) to investigate charges of malfeasance (O’Donnell 1999).