What Accountability Really Means

The importance of government trust and accountability for a healthy society.

von Megan Colnar, November 14, 2018
Open Society Foundations: Government Accountability and Trust

Trust in government is critical to building and maintaining a healthy society. The symptoms of a government that lacks trust are easy to spot: widespread corruption, nepotism, and patronage.

In short, a profound lack of accountability.

As Blair Glencorse of Accountability Lab notes in the video above, “accountability is about answerability. It’s about people who are in positions of power being accountable for the decisions and actions they take,” especially to the citizens and people who are most affected by these actions.

Changing the way governments work and how people engage with them is no easy task. Accountability advocates like Blair are working to build active citizens and responsible leaders (especially among young people) who have the solutions to challenges in their own communities and can collectively work towards them.

By focusing on young people and building global networks of honest government officials who can push for positive change, accountability advocates are not only inspiring a new generation to be effective, trustworthy public servants; they’re laying the foundations for a future where governments know that public service is an honor, and that all powerful people must earn—and keep—the trust of those they seek to lead.

The Accountability Lab is a grantee of the Open Society Foundations. At Open Society is a video series highlighting the people and ideas that are inspiring our work—and changing the world.

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About the Author: Megan Colnar is the manager for monitoring, evaluation, and learning with the Open Society Fiscal Governance Program.

This article originally appeared on the Open Society Foundations website. It is part of an ongoing series presented in collaboration with the Open Society Foundations. In this series, we shed light on some of the most pressing global challenges and the work that is being done to address them. For more stories like this, go here