It is useful to identify three goals of accountability:
The three goals cover both financial issues and programme issues.
- Financial accountability
Have funds been properly used or has there been fraud?
- Effectiveness accountability
Have objectives been achieved? Are beneficiaries pleased with the processes and outcomes?
- Efficiency accountability
Have the limited resources been put to the best possible use to provide value for money? Were the activities the best option for contributing to the mission?
Why be accountable?
Being accountable helps everyone involved to learn from your current activities - and work more effectively in the future. This is a very important aspect of accountability to beneficiaries, managers, trustees and donors. It is the engine that helps people improve how they work.
How can NGOs be accountable?
NGOs need practical tools to help them achieve each of the three accountability goals. There are many different approaches, including: carrying out audits, holding review meetings, writing financial and narrative reports, and carrying out evaluations.
But in order to understand the current debate, it is useful to first look at some key practical problems with accountability.