Other research has revealed that public-private collaboration extends beyond formal arrangements Gazley Public administration scholars have come a long way in understanding these new public service delivery structures. Transaction cost economics is one of the most influential theories for predicting when an agency public or private would produce a service in-house and when it would chose to purchase it from an outside source Williamson In addition, network managers have received guidance on how their job functions differ from those of traditional public managers Agranoff and McGuire Unfortunately, gaining a better understanding of 21 st century governance highlights how some conventional approaches towards accountability may be less meaningful now than when applied to the traditional bureaucratic paradigm.
Political appointees may keep federal agencies in line with executive priorities Wood and Waterman ; however, such influence is less likely to reach a small business owner who contracts with the state agency charged with federal policy implementation. In contrast, networked governance rarely engenders such distinct, hierarchical relationships among actors.
Thus, 21 st century governance requires new approaches to accountability. One potential avenue coincides with the newfound emphasis on performance evaluation Ingraham Specifically, requiring the evaluation of public outcomes rather than public agency outputs or inputs addresses the effectiveness of an entire network of actors rather than discrete parts that may not explain the whole. In this sense, the delivery of satisfactory public services indicates the accountability of a network where those involved are judged based on the final product.
This confounding of accountability and performance is pervasive in both theoretical discussions and analytic approaches to studying accountability Dubnick Using performance evaluation as a method of accountability is insufficient. Democratic values demand that public accountability extends beyond the what of public service delivery to the how and why. In other words, in a society with public values like equity, transparency, and fairness, public services cannot be divorced from the processes that created them. In order to be accountable, a network must be able to demonstrate that both the ends and the means are justified.
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Consequently, while performance evaluation provides some insight into the effectiveness of public actors, it offers an insufficient mechanism for ensuring accountability. Another approach to accountability in 21 st century governance relies on the increased professionalization of third-party contractors: the trend towards networked governance has been accompanied by increased sophistication and complexity among nonprofit organizations — especially those who receive government contracts. As documented by Hwang and Powell , it is common for nonprofit employees to have advanced degrees, participate in ongoing trainings, and actively formalize their organizations.
This development in nonprofit human resources contrasts sharply with the traditional view of nonprofit organizations as modest, volunteer-run endeavors. Although the increased professionalization of the nonprofit sector does not guarantee accountability, it promotes accountability by improving the management and reporting of third-party contracts. Similarly, accountability demands have fueled an increase in self-regulation among nonprofit organizations Gugerty et al.
Self-regulation moves beyond the professionalization of individual employees and instead encourages the development of standards and norms, often within an issue subsector. Although currently only applicable in highly-regulated industries like healthcare and higher education, accreditation requires even stricter standards for the nongovernmental organizations both nonprofit and for-profit that contract with the government. Jointly, professionalization through streamlined training, self-regulation, and accreditation all serve to increase the accountability of organizations that participate in public service delivery.
While many aspects of 21 st century governance have complicated the quest for accountability, technological advances have provided new opportunities for the increased transparency of government Moon Through e-government initiatives, citizens can interact with government officials and employees in easy, inexpensive ways that foster greater citizen input into and understanding of government activities.
The Obama administration has spearheaded several such efforts such as The Open Government Initiative and a website dedicated to tracking government spending related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Red Tape. Herbert Kaufman.
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State Building in Latin America. Hillel David Soifer. Kelly A. National Policy in a Global Economy. Executive Politics in Times of Crisis.
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