Good Essays
The new approaches implied for

some observers that ministers would continue

to answer for outcomes, but that public servants

would become more accountable before

parliament for inputs and outputs. Several respondents

declared that it is far from clear in

practice where ministerial responsibility ends

and administrative accountability begins.

Traditional parliamentary approaches to the

enforcement of ministerial responsibility focus

mainly on blaming governments and individual

ministers for abuses, mistakes or simply unforeseen

problems. These processes are mainly

adversarial, theatrical and focused on the past.

This can be contrasted with the newer thinking

(and to a lesser extent, the practice) within governments

and the bureaucracy of insisting that

public organisations must demonstrate more

foresight, responsiveness, innovation and prudent

risk taking, while being granted more authority

and freedom from rules and procedures

and held more strictly accountable for results.

In short, the negative blaming approach typically

followed in parliament does not fit well

with the more constructive, learning approach

being promoted within the APS.

The role of partisanship in parliament is controversial.

For some commentators competition

among parties provides the incentives and energy

which drive the parliamentary process and

ensure that the deficiencies in performance of

governments are revealed. Critics see prevailing

partisan approaches to the enforcement of

political accountability as too ritualistic, narrow,

negative and theatrical. It is argued that the

prevailing adversarial approaches tend to exaggerate,

magnify and distort the real challenges

of public management and improved performance

in mo...

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...ccountability based upon performance. Secondly,

parliament’s use of performance reports,

especially through the processes of committee

hearings in the Senate, will be examined. Both

the relevance and the quality of the information

produced for parliament and the capacity,

opportunity and willingness of parliamentarians

to discuss performance in a meaningful

and constructive manner, along with the opportunities

for them to do so, will be assessed.

Third, an overall evaluation of current parliamentary

approaches to performance accountability

is offered, with some brief observations

on the future implications of recent trends. As

with many other aspects of government, there is

always both change and continuity in the intersecting

and independent worlds of parliament

and the APS. Therefore predictions about future

developments should be made cautiously.
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