chapter  6
17 Pages

Accountability in the context of E-Government


The chapter addresses the question of what constitutes accountability in the context of E-Government. Accountability is embedded in the traditional bureaucratic public sector because of the principles that underpin, at least ideally, its function. By contrast, E-Government initiatives are surrounded by different principles such as technological orientation, joining up, re-engineering of administrative procedures, customer orientation and contractualisation. These principles are supposed to engender accountability and responsibility by standardising officials’ behaviour and eliminating their discretion. Yet, when put into effect, these principles open up a field of multiple possibilities for officials to act. We argue that within this context accountability cannot be established, as it is, at least ideally, in the bureaucratic public sector. Rather, it becomes an individualistic, political and contingent issue that is dependent upon officials’ personal values and ethic.