Free Essay. Accountability and Oversight Mechanisms

Published: 2023-02-08
Free Essay. Accountability and Oversight Mechanisms
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Government Organizational behavior Public administration
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1803 words
16 min read

Accountability and oversight mechanisms are vital as they ensure that public officials conduct themselves in a manner that is both ethical and efficient. The control mechanisms may be internal or external. Although there exist some differences in the way that internal and external oversight mechanisms operate, both are essential to an agency. This essay will agree with the statement that accountability and oversight mechanisms that are internal to an agency are just as important as accountability and oversight mechanisms that are external to an agency. The essay will majorly focus on misconduct and corruption in agencies and the various internal and external mechanisms used to control such cases.

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Oversight mechanisms refer to the process or system which is intended to maintain a watchful eye. In the case of an agency, it is the presence of a person or a body that pays attention to the operations of the agency so that potential problems are detected as they arise and mitigation measures employed. Proper oversight is able to detect illegal or unethical practices within an agency (Prenzler, 2011). In cases of non-profit agencies, oversight and accountability may be used to change bad financial practices, thus ensuring that the agency progress well.

Accountability exists where there is a relationship where an organisation and the performance of a task within that organization are subject to another's oversight. Accountability involves in everyone being responsible for their actions (Sampford, Smith & Brown, 2005). Accountability involves two major stages. The first stage is answerability while the second one is enforcement. Answerability may be termed as the obligation of the organisation to explain its actions to the stakeholders. The employees and those in management positions are bound to provide information regarding their decisions as well as their actions and justify them (Wood, 2007). The other stage is enforcement, and this refers to ability of the oversight bodies to sanction the offending party or remedy the contravening behaviour that is related to accountability. Accountability is an essential process in any agency as it evaluates the effectiveness of the employees to ensure that they are performing to their full potential as well as offering the value for money in providing value for money and instill confidence in the stakeholders.

Accountability and oversight are used to prevent corruption in agencies. Corruption is a major challenge in agencies which needs to be fought by internal and external means. For any agency to be able to achieve its goals, it must be keen on ending corruption. Corruption disrupts the way in which resources are shared as well as the way agencies give out opportunities (Heyer & Beckley, 2013). For example, when there is a vacancy in an agency and corruption is involved, the position may end up being given to an unqualified person. Such a person may be unable to serve the role given in the right manner. The result for this is that an agency may start experiencing losses and also affect its performance in other fields.

Corruption has a negative effect on the poor as well as the most vulnerable. It increases the costs of accessing services. In an agency, corruption may erode trust as well as undermine social contract (Boardman & Klum, 2013). For this reason, it is necessary that both internal and external oversight and accountability mechanisms be employed to fight corruption.

There are various external measures which are used by agencies to fight corruption in agencies. The most common of them is the use of external whistle blowers. Whistleblowing refers to the act of disclosing information by a stakeholder who alleges willful misconduct performed by an individual person or a group of persons within the organization. The whistle blower serves as an essential source of information which may be important to streamline the functioning of an organization. External whistle blowers are essential in an organization as they improve transparency as well as accountability within the organization. An external whistle blower reports an organization's illegal, immoral, illegitimate works. External whistle blowers may be in nonsupervisory positions of the company, but they understand the functioning of an organization.

Internal accountability and oversight mechanisms are as essential as external accountability and oversight mechanisms as both of them prevent misconduct within an agency. Through employing the oversight and accountability mechanisms, agencies experience fewer cases of misconduct. Misconduct is behaviour that goes against the set rules and policies of an organisation (Roberts, Brown & Olsen, 2011). Agencies are guided by rules and regulations. Any member who goes against the set norms is said to have engaged in misconduct. Misconduct is usually illegal and is followed by some form of disciplinary actions. Research has shown that punishment varies depending on the kind of misconduct. While some forms of misconduct may call for a simple warning from the superiors, some form of misconduct may lead to one being sacked from a job.

Misconduct can be prevented by using internal means as well as external means. Internal means that can prevent misconduct include setting tough disciplinary actions which are meant to curtail the behaviour (Miller, 2010). Some agencies have a proper set out committee that is supposed to handle any case of misconduct in an organisation. Thus, when a member is involved in any case of misconduct, he or she is summoned by the committee, and his or her fate is determined. Such internal measures are very effective in curbing cases of misconduct.

In the same way, external means can be used to prevent cases of misconduct. One of the major ways that external means can be used to curb misconduct is by having external oversight and accountability bodies which look into the performance of an agency (Prenzler, 2009). These external bodies are constituted to keep an eye on a certain agency for the purpose of ensuring that there are no cases of misconduct and corruption. These external bodies can spot a kind of misconduct performed by an employee. Some organisations employ the use of police to nab those who are engaged in misconduct and corruption (Filstad & Gottschalk, 2011). Besides, the external bodies can be invited into the agency to handle a case of misconduct. When employees know that there exist such external oversight bodies, they are bound to perform their duties with maximum care.

Both internal and external accountability and oversight mechanisms are important in an agency as they ensure that there is good governance within the specific agency. Accountability is regarded as an essential cornerstone of good governance (Pierson, Slamanig, Fischer-Hubner, & Krenn, 2019). Despite this, accountability comes in many forms, and it might be challenging for scholars to navigate through all these forms. However, irrespective of the forms available, accountability is meant to ensure that all the resources within an organization are used as required and that cases of misappropriation are reduced. Members of an agency, whether employees or those in management roles, must be accountable in all that they do. An organization that lacks accountability may not be headed in the right direction.

Both internal and external accountability and oversight mechanisms work together to ensure that there is adherence to law and regulations. Every organization is guided by a set of laws and regulations which apply equally to all employees. Before one is employed in an organization, he or she is made aware of the existing rules and regulations which he or she promises to follow. A majority of the rules and regulations touch on how employees should conduct themselves while in the organization (Field, 2013). Some of them also touch on corruption and bribery within the organization. All companies warn their employees against engaging in any corruption-related activity. The laws and regulations have a provision for the consequences that might befall those who do not adhere to the provided laws and regulations.

Internal and external accountability and oversight mechanisms are important in controlling unfair treatment, unethical behaviour, illegality, and corruption. There exist internal mechanisms which an organisation uses to ensure that issues such as unfair treatment as well as illegality are not witnessed in an organization (Stanford, 2015). One of the major ways of doing this is putting the employees under different departments within the organization which are headed by supervisors. The employees are answerable to their supervisors, and the supervisors are tasked with ensuring that all the ethical practices relating to the organization are followed (Punch & Gilmour, 2010). The placing of employees under departments ensures that there is easy control of the employees and issues that may arise within specific departments are resolved within the least time possible.

Ethical behavior can also be enhanced from mechanisms outside an agency. Some organizations use other institutions such as the justice system to curb cases of unethical behavior such as gross misconduct and corruption. Some of the employees who are involved in corruption cases are dealt with by the justice system (Fijnaut & Huberts, 2003). If found guilty, they are fired from the organization and forced to compensate the damages caused by their actions. The justice system is used mostly when dealing with those who are in management positions. The police are used to arrest those who are suspected of having been engaged in any misconduct (Punch, 2003).

In conclusion, this essay has agreed with the statement that accountability and oversight mechanisms that are internal to an agency are just as important as accountability and oversight mechanisms that are external to an agency. Every organization has its unique way of conducting its operations, but many of them are similar in the way in which they handle issues of misconduct and corruption. There are internal accountability and oversight mechanisms as well as external accountability and oversight mechanisms used to ensure that agencies operate as they should. Internal mechanisms may include departments and supervisors within the organization to ensure that the employees and the management conduct themselves in a plausible manner. External mechanisms include other institutions such as external whistleblowers and the justice system. While external whistle-blowers raise voice where there is misconduct within an organization, the justice system is used to apprehend and convict those who have been involved in corruption and misconduct. As such, both internal and external accountability and oversight mechanisms are essential to ensure that agencies operate as they should.


Boardman, C., & Klum, V. (2013). Building organizational integrity. In Larmour P. & Wolanin N. (Eds.), Corruption and Anti-Corruption (pp. 82-96). ANU Press. Retrieved from

Den Heyer, G., & Beckley, A. (2013). Police independent oversight in Australia and New Zealand. Police Practice & Research, 14(2), 130-130.

Field, C. (2013). The fourth branch of government: The evolution of integrity agencies and enhanced government Accountability. Australian Institute of Administrative Law Forum, 72, 24-33. Available from:

Fijnaut, C., & Huberts, L., (2003). Corruption, integrity, and law enforcement. The Hague: Kluwer Law International.

Filstad, C., & Gottschalk, P. (2011). Performance evaluation of police oversight agencies. Policing and Society, 21(1), 96-109. doi:10.1080/10439463.2010

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