Accountability & Transparency Pacific Sexual Diversity Network Leadership Development Suva, 1-5 June 2009 Click to add name
In this session… • Accountability • Transparency • Both sections will include some hypothetical scenarios and practical exercises relating to your own organisations • Ways we can take forward what we’ve learnt here
What is accountability? • It is clear who is responsible for making decisions, taking actions • It is clear who is responsible to who and for what • There are clear processes for making sure that these responsibilities are taken seriously • Responsibility is individual not shared or duplicated • Making sure that each individual is supported to act responsibly
Accountability is… • Personal - responsibility is dedicated to one person • Clear – obvious lines of responsibility exist
For example… Clear roles, responsibilities and lines of authority
Principles of accountability • 1. Responsibility and authority is pre-determined and clear • 2. Guidance and support is provided • 3. The way that responsibility and authority is exercised (performance) is monitored and assessed • 4. Action can be taken for positive and negative behaviour - Derived from the Global Development Research Centre
Is it accountable? Your organisation wants to hold a public meeting. The chairperson tells a group of you to organise it even though the president doesn’t know about it. You and a few others organise the meeting but aren’t given any financial support for the sound equipment you’ll need so you also have to raise the money yourselves. You each raise some money but some of it goes missing and you can’t trace whose brought in what amount. Also two different invitations go out to the same people. In the end, the meeting happens and the president takes all the credit for it being organised.
Accountability and communities • Organisations that claim to represent communities have to show they are accountable to them • This means that communities should be able to: • Easily know who is responsible for what • Clearly see where the authority within an organisation lies • Have information about how, by whom and where they will be represented • Understand how they can raise concerns and grievances • Be assured there is a fair system in place for their concerns to be addressed • Know how they can participate (and be welcome to participate)
Is it accountable? Your organisation represents a particular community but some people in the community have found out about some things you are saying in meetings with the government and they disagree with it. They write a letter raising their concerns. Their letter is passed around each office holder in your organisation. No one wants to respond to the letter and an argument takes place about whose job it is to respond. No response is given. In future the people who wrote the letter are excluded from all of your organisation’s activities because they are ‘trouble makers’.
Two sides of organisational accountability • INTERNAL: (accountability to one another) roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, support is provided, everyone knows who they are responsible to, clear system of how good/bad performance is rewarded/addressed • EXTERNAL: (accountability to others) communities, members and other stakeholders perceive the organisation with confidence because of the internal accountability, external concerns can be raised and clearly addressed, it is easy to find out about the organisation’s processes for doing this
Accountability mechanisms • Firstly, who is accountable… • Secondly, what for… • Thirdly, how or by what means. This is called an accountability mechanism. • These can be codes of conduct, annual reviews, performance assessments, written rules, systems, policies, processes, organisational structures etc. • They can be as big or as small as the organisation requires
Brainstorm: Why is accountability important? • Civil society organisations are often criticised for being: • Inefficient or wasteful • Unprofessional or lacking reliable systems • Not representative or not legitimate • Being accountable disproves these perceptions
Exercise • Identify two to three ways that accountability in your organisation can be improved (accountability mechanism). • If you want to focus on your own organisation, identify at least one for your organisation and one for the PSDN.
What is transparency? • Relates to honesty and openness • Aims to prevent corruption and the perception of corrupt behaviour • Refers to information, decision making and use of resources
Transparency is… • Being clear about what your purpose, aims, activities and structures are • Being open about who your loyalties are to (eg. churches, political parties, donors, other organisations) – declaring conflicts of interest • Making information publicly available (routinely not only when it is requested) • Being consultative • Being committed to accuracy and integrity
For example • Printing and distributing an annual report each year • Making your accounts easily available • Having a strategic plan and periodically assessing progress against the plan • Providing updates to community & stakeholders • Literally… something is transparent when we can see through it!
Corruption is… • Abusing your position of power for private gain • Misusing resources including financial resources • Hiding the way that decisions are made
Conflicts of interest • When you use a specific opportunity to achieve something that it is not intended to achieve • Can involve deception, dishonesty • Can involve having multiple relationships/loyalties • Can also involve using professional activities for personal gain
Is it transparent? • Every six months a regional workshop is held in a city that everyone loves going to. A member of your organisation attends these workshops. No one knows when the workshops are coming up because the invitations and correspondence go directly to that person. There’s never any report- backs to the organisation either. The person gets a hefty per diem and stays in a nice hotel. They have some good friends and a lover in this city. Normally when they attend the workshop they stay for the first day and go shopping and sightseeing the rest of the time.
Is it transparent? • You are part of a community organisation that is run out of your president’s home. You have recently gotten some money from a donor for a project which although small will be going on for two years. A large amount of the money will pay for the rent of an office space. This ends up being the president’s home. Other project resources also pay for a computer, electricity bills and a desk – all in the president’s home. These arrangements were never discussed with anyone in the organisation and no is permitted to see the project proposal or funding agreement, but it is normal for the president to make key decisions about the organisation’s work so no one says anything about it.
Brainstorm: Why is transparency important? • It shows our communities, members, stakeholders, partners, donors that we are being behaving ethically • Builds confidence in us • Sets standards for others in our organisation (and for other organisations) • Remember that with transparency PERCEPTION IS AS IMPORTANT AS REALITY! • This means that behaving ethically isn’t enough – we need to clearlyshow that we are behaving ethically.
Discuss • Examples of corrupt, secretive, evasive behaviours in organisations • Examples of how these behaviours might be resolved by more transparent behaviour • For example: the same person always goes to conferences and no one else does… • …produce a roster for conference attendance or some other system that will ensure more equal opportunities for everyone
Discuss: transparency in your organisation • Identify two ways that transparency could be improved in your organisation • If you want to focus on your own organisation, identify one for your organisation and one for the PSDN
To conclude… • Put simply, accountability is about clear roles and responsibilities and systems to support this (behaving responsibly) • Transparency is about accurate information being made openly and easily available (behaving honestly) • The two go together – a good organisation will have clear roles and responsibilities as well as widely available information about itself
Final conclusions… • Because our organisations often call for greater accountability and transparency from governments, health systems, police, donors etc, it’s important we lead by example, are consistent and express our values in our organisation’s work – credibility • It’s also important when we claim to be representative of a community. We can’t make this claim without our communities being in support of our work. Being accountable and transparent gives us credibility in our communities.
Looking at what you’ve produced in this session… • Do you want to take forward these ideas and put them into practice? • If so, what support will you need from ACON and AFAO to do this?
After this session… • How will you pass on what you’ve learnt? • Do you need specific assistance, resources or support from ACON and AFAO to do this?
Some good references • www.gdrc.org – Global Development Research Centre – click on ‘community’ and then ‘NGOs and civil society’ • www.globalpublicpolicy.net – look for ‘mechanisms for NGO accountability’ under ‘research paper series’ in ‘publications’ • www.civicus.org – World Alliance for Citizen Participation – various toolkits for civil society organisations • www.ingoaccountabilitycharter.org • www.transparency.org • Search for NGO accountability in www.un-ngls.org