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Paul G. Thomas

In: Handbook of Public Administration

Section 13: Accountability

Edited by: B. Guy Peters & Jon Pierre

Subject: Public Administration (general)

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Accountability has always been a central concern of both the study and the practice of public administration. This key concept has also been elusive and controversial, with theoretical debates under way almost constantly. In the realm of practice, critics have seldom been hard pressed to find fault with existing accountability arrangements and procedures, regardless of the type of political and bureaucratic system under examination. Because accountability is such a prized political and administrative value, the usual assumption has been that there can never be too much of it. Also, there has been a reluctance to acknowledge that accountability must at times adjust to, compromise with and even yield to other important political and administrative values, such as representation, responsiveness, efficiency, equity and legitimacy.

While controversy ...

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