When talking about governments accountability refers to:
- explaining the reasons why decisions were made
- taking responsibility for any mistakes, and
- responding to questions about the actions of government
The importance of accountability cannot be overestimated. Without an effective accountability system, devolution will not deliver on its promises. Reforms the world over have proven that greater local autonomy without strong accountability links does not improve local governance and service delivery.
The accountability links are shown as double-headed arrows as they imply a two-way flow of information/reporting versus supervision/oversight.
The law prescribes clear links within the County Government as the Assembly is vested with the oversight function over the Executive.
The County Executive is required to report periodically to the Assembly, which is expected to interrogate these reports to ensure government delivers on what is approved in plans and budgets.
Management and reporting lines within the County Executive are also forms of accountability – county workers in charge of service delivery report to their managers and directors, who in turn report to their Chief Officers and members of the County Executive Committee (CEC).
Looking outwards, the county is also accountable to the public and to national institutions on the legality and effectiveness of their actions.
At least once a year, the County Government is subject to an independent audit by the Office of the Auditor General that verifies if county spending is consistent with laws and regulations.
Other national level institutions with roles defined in the Constitution for supervising counties are:
The final – and probably most important – accountability link is between the County Government and its citizens. Is the government keeping its promises and making the best use of public resources for the common good?
Citizens have the right and responsibility to hold their County Governments accountable and need to get involved and be informed to play this role.
Every four years citizens elect their leaders and representatives, but there are many other ways for citizens to get involved and hold governments to account. For more information on the role of citizens and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) within the accountability system envisioned by the Constitution please visit our page on social accountability.