Accountability and efficiency, which are key components of good governance, are inter-related. Accountability
means to take ownership of the outcomes of an action and address the issues arising out of it fairly and promptly. It
involves answerability as well as enforcement. Efficiency is defined as the ability to accomplish something with the
least amount of wasted time, money, and effort or competency in performance.
It is argued that accountability and efficiency are antithetical to each other, as accountability leads to adding of
another bureaucratic layer in the governance process:
● Greater focus on accountability hampers efficiency, as efficiency requires wider managerial discretion while
accountability calls for tighter control.
● An attempt to increase transparency and public participation in order to ensure accountability will invariably
result in delay in decision-making. For instance, public officers spend their time in maintaining records or answering
RTIs etc., which can otherwise be utilised to perform executive tasks.
● It makes public officials status-quoist in their conduct and promotes risk aversion resulting in a compromise on
efficiency. In this context, the Supreme Court held that due to frequent usage of the RTI Act, there was paralysis
and fear in the government and its functionaries due to which officials refrained from taking prompt decisions.
However, this view of accountability hampering efficiency is shortsighted. Further, accountability is a sine qua non
for good governance, as:
● Decisions taken through bypassing clear and transparent procedures seem to be effective in short-run but such
decisions have long-term adverse implications. For example, in the case of involving construction of dams, not
eliciting public opinion or providing for rehabilitation and resettlement will ultimately result in protests leading to
delays in implementation. For instance, the Narmada Bachao Andolan against the construction of Sardar Sarovar
● Accountability ensures rule of law. It ensures decisions and actions of public officials are subject to scrutiny. It
puts obligation on an individual or organization to account for their activities, accept responsibility for them, and to
disclose the results in a transparent manner. Thus, it checks abuse of power, fraud, arbitrary and unauthorised
exercise of authority, violation of rights and neglect of duties.
● Accountability and efficiency are complementary in furtherance of good governance. For example, the use of egovernance
has been very effective in citizen services delivery and has also provided an impetus for the social and
industrial sector along with maintaining the accountability of government departments.
● Accountability is essential for maintaining legitimacy and credibility of administration. It ensures propriety in
decisions taken by the same.
Both accountability and efficiency enhance good governance and their utility should be seen with regard to the
results produced in the long run. They also empower citizens through participatory mechanisms such as RTI, social