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International Journal of Leadership in Public Services

New challenges for leadership and accountability in local public services in England
Jessica Crowe

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To cite this document:
Jessica Crowe, (2011),"New challenges for leadership and accountability in local public services in
England", International Journal of Leadership in Public Services, Vol. 7 Iss 3 pp. 206 - 217
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/17479881111187033
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Patrizio Monfardini, (2010),"Accountability in the new public sector: a comparative case
study", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 23 Iss 7 pp. 632-646 http://
dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513551011078897
Mike Bolton, (2003),"Public sector performance measurement: delivering greater accountability", Work
Study, Vol. 52 Iss 1 pp. 20-24 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00438020310458697
John Tizard, (2012),"The challenges and opportunities in contemporary public sector leadership",
International Journal of Leadership in Public Services, Vol. 8 Iss 4 pp. 182-190 http://
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New challenges for leadership


and accountability in local public
services in England

206

Jessica Crowe

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Centre for Public Scrutiny, London, UK


Abstract
Purpose Increasing diversity in public service provision brings potential benefits around choice and
innovation, but could also blur lines of accountability and create weak governance. The purpose of this
paper is to provide a new approach to accountability, to help leaders develop effective network governance.
Design/methodology/approach This paper provides a summative review of previous thinking
about good governance and presents the new concept of a web of accountability. It examines four
potential typologies of public service delivery and considers potential governance models and the
accountability issues for leaders that arise in each one. The theory and challenge of securing
democratic anchorage is used as a framework against which to test each model.
Findings The paper finds that all the potential typologies considered raise different questions for
local leaders about accountability and good governance. None perfectly secures democratic anchorage
when considered against the four criteria which help to anchor network governance in a democratic
society, but they all have different strengths in terms of accountability, transparency, involvement and
scrutiny.
Practical implications The paper offers a new practical tool, the Accountability Works for You
framework, as one way of assessing governance arrangements and developing a locally-owned
approach to accountability.
Originality/value The paper uses original research and the unique concept of the web of
accountability developed by the authors organisation, the Centre for Public Scrutiny. Accountability
Works for You is a new framework available for public sector leaders. It emphasises culture and
behaviours (software) over process and structure (hardware) in thinking about governance.
Keywords England, Public services, Accountability, Public administration, Governance, Transparency,
Scrutiny, Democratic anchorage, Network governance
Paper type Research paper

Introduction
There can be no doubt that leaders, managers and non-executives in English public
services face major challenges in the coming months and years. These include the
pressing need to reduce public expenditure as well as the policy challenges of the UK
coalition government, which are driving towards a reduction in central regulation and
the size of the state and the introduction of a greater diversity of actors in the provision
of public services.

The International Journal of


Leadership in Public Services
Vol. 7 No. 3, 2011
pp. 206-217
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
1747-9886
DOI 10.1108/17479881111187033

The principles what do we mean when we talk about accountability and


good governance?
Faced with the significant structural and policy change currently being set in train by
the coalition government, it is tempting to think that a Year Zero approach to
governance and accountability is required too. However, over the past 15 years or so
there have been significant developments in thinking about what constitutes good

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governance and accountability, which can helpfully inform the approach going
forward. For example:
.
Nolan Principles of Public Life (Committee for Standards in Public Life, 1995).
Seven principles outlined by Lord Nolan, the first Chair of the Committee for
Standards in Public Life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability,
openness, honesty, leadership.
.
Cadbury, Greenbury and Hampel Combined Code on Corporate Governance
(Hampel Committee on Good Governance, 1998).
A set of basic expectations for the governance of public listed companies,
which they have a duty to either follow or explain publicly to shareholders why
they have deviated from them.
.
Higgs Report on the Role of Non-executive Directors (Higgs, 2003).
Reviewed and made recommendations on the principles underpinning the role
of effective non-executive directors on company boards, including the important
role of the senior independent director, distinct from the chairman.
.
Langlands Commissions Good Governance Standard for Public Services (CIPFA
and OPM, 2005).
Independent Commission which identified six core principles for good
governance in the public sector and called on organisations to report publicly on
how they were seeking to meet them.
.
Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) four principles of effective scrutiny (CfPS, 2006).
Principles developed to guide the process of independent public scrutiny:
Being a critical friend, Enabling the voice of the public to be heard, Led by
independent-minded non-executives, Improving public services.
.
CIPFA-SOLACE Governance Framework (CIPFA and SOLACE, 2007).
Framework and guidance, which adapted the Langlands Commission
principles for local government and advised English local authorities to review
their governance arrangements in the light of these principles.
From all this thinking across the public and private sectors, it is possible to distil some
common core principles for good governance and accountability:
.
Transparent. Information is publicly accessible about decisions and actions that
have been taken, including costs and benefits. Where the principle of openness is
about the culture and processes leading up to a decision being made, the
principle of transparency provides a retrospective account of what has happened
and enables public scrutiny to take place more effectively.
.
Accountable. The person who has made a decision or taken an action can be
examined and judged for it by others, and may face consequences as a result.
There are clear processes of scrutiny that enable these judgements to be made
and these too are accountable, open and transparent.
.
Inclusive. An organisation conducts its business and organises its
decision-making structures in ways which are readily accessible and open to
influence by those with an interest in what it does, in particular those who are
affected by or receive services that it provides. The involvement of stakeholders

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and the wider public where appropriate is a key part of what drives its decisions
and how it seeks to improve what it does.
Open. An organisation is clear about how and when it takes decisions, who
the decision maker will be and how representations can be made to them. The
process, which will lead to a decision being made is clearly understandable and
the points at which relevant representations can be made are also clear.
Ethical. Those with power at any level in an organisation (but particularly at the
top) use it solely for the purposes for which they have been given it, with no
attempt to seek benefit for themselves or others for whom it is not appropriate. The
culture of the organisation supports an ethical way of operating and is explicit
about why its leaders believe ethical behaviour is important to the organisation.
Responsive. An organisation listens to the views it receives and is willing to
change direction when reasonable evidence is presented to it. It will have built-in
structures and processes to enable it to listen and learn from the experience of its
stakeholders, and it will treat complaints in a strategic way to enable it to learn
wider lessons, not just respond to the individual issue.
Fair. The organisation considers the needs and interests of all those who use its
services or are affected by its actions and seeks to make resource allocations in
an equitable and open manner that takes account of those needs and interests.
Robust. The organisation has a clear vision of what it is seeking to achieve and
its processes and structures are geared towards this. It is able to justify its
decisions on the basis of evidence and having listened to the views of
stakeholders and to defend potentially unpopular decisions where necessary.

There are, thus, some constant principles on which leaders can draw to test whether
any new governance arrangements, which might emerge following the financial, policy
and structural changes that they face, are sound. Linking governance and service
delivery to principles such as these provides what has been described in a different
context as democratic anchorage (Srensen and Torfing, 2003) where regardless of
the structures and organisational arrangements involved, which may include loose
networks as much as single institutions, there are clear links back to accountable
decision makers. Of the eight core principles, the first three are the most fundamental
to this democratic anchorage: they complement each other and without them, the other
principles are harder to achieve.
A web of accountability
The CfPS, which is an independent charity working mostly in England and Wales to
support and promote the value of public scrutiny and accountability, published a new
analysis of accountability in 2010. Entitled Accountability Works (CfPS, 2010), this
publication sought to unpack and clarify what is meant by the increasingly widely
used concept of accountability. We concluded that use of the term is generally
imprecise and that it often means different things to different people. We also identified
the top three principles from the eight identified above accountability, transparency
and involvement as core complementary pillars underpinning a healthy democracy.
The UK coalition government has repeatedly emphasised that greater public sector
accountability will be provided through two key mechanisms: greater democracy

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through introduction of more directly elected positions such as elected Mayors and
Police Commissioners; and publication of data on individual items of expenditure
and senior officials salaries, providing greater transparency. They have expressed
a desire to move from what they have termed bureaucratic accountability to greater
democratic accountability, abolishing a range of central performance reporting,
monitoring and assessment regimes previously overseen by the Audit Commission, also
being abolished. Opportunities for the public to get more involved in service provision is
also suggested as a means for local communities to exercise direct control over services
and decisions that affect them and in effect take on the accountability for those
decisions from the public sector, for example the rights, proposed in the Localism Bill
(HMSO, 2010) going through the Westminster parliament at time of writing, to bid to run
services that are under threat of closure or to take over a local public asset.
The CfPS analysis suggests that these approaches to accountability underestimate
and over-simplify the multiplicity of accountabilities faced by public sector actors, as
well as muddling the three complementary but distinct concepts of accountability,
transparency and involvement.
We identified accountability as being exercised:
.
through the ballot box and elections;
.
through the media investigating and reporting publicly on decisions;
.
individually through the market and consumers exercising choice or raising
complaints and seeking redress for wrongs;
.
through regulation, inspection and audit;
.
through internal management processes; and
.
through scrutiny carried out by lay non-executives in a range of settings such as
select committees and local government overview and scrutiny committees, as well
as by people not subject to direct election such as the members of police authorities
and probation boards, local involvement networks and school governors.
This analysis is given weight if we consider some recent academic definitions of
accountability, for example as:
[. . .] the explanation of action linked to renewal or revocation of the agents mandate (Skelcher
and Mathur, 2004).

or as:
A relationship between an actor and a forum, in which the actor has an obligation to explain
and justify his or her conduct, the forum can pose questions and pass judgement, and the
actor may face consequences (Bovens et al., 2008).

Using this latter definition, we can see that simple publication of data does not
necessarily create a direct obligation to explain conduct, nor provide opportunities for a
forum (in this case the public) to pose questions and pass judgement, nor are there
automatically consequences although all of these things are facilitated by
information being more publicly available. Thus, transparency is an important
pre-condition for accountability, but it does not create accountability on its own; it
depends on the way in which transparent information can be used and what happens
as a result of it being published.

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Likewise, involvement is an important complementary factor if people are not


willing to get involved at the most basic level in voting, then the judgement provided by
accountability through the ballot box is weaker. But simply passing accountability for a
service to a different actor by involving them more directly in running local services does
not in itself improve accountability; it depends on the way in which they choose to make
decisions, how their actions in turn can be judged and what the consequences might be.
If we consider that there are many different actors, forums, judgements and
consequences in our modern public services landscape, it becomes clear that the
accountability obligations on public sector leaders are many, complex and weighty.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, we have seen these multiple accountabilities treated in a
kind of hierarchy, depending on the position of the actor concerned and the hard or
soft nature of the consequences they might face. For elected leaders, the ballot box
may be seen as the most important, because the consequence of losing the election
is the severest. However, for manager leaders, the judgements passed by more senior
managers or by professional auditors and regulators may be more important because
of the consequences for their professional reputation or personal career.
This approach raises important problems in relation to the impact of the different forms
of accountability as it skews the weight attached to these different accountabilities and
may give less weight to the softer forms where the consequence on a particular actor
may be less severe, but where the judgement passed by a different forum may in objective
terms be more important. For example, a pattern of complaints may be addressed on an
individual basis, but if the pattern is not spotted and acted upon, there may be no real
consequence for those providing a service that is failing to satisfy those complaining about
it. Or there may be a great deal of critical media coverage of some decision, but if the
decision maker is unelected, or has some years to go before they next face the electorate, or
has satisfied the forum to which they feel more directly accountable (a Board, or Council
executive), they may feel able to ignore the public criticism, however much it is justified.
This illustrates the weakness of creating a hierarchy of accountabilities and relying
on one or two forms of accountability, to the exclusion of others. CfPS has, therefore,
developed the concept of a web of accountability, in which organisations seek to
understand and inter-relate their multiple accountabilities to improve, clarify and
strengthen the extent to which they are accountable for the decisions that they make.
We believe that this is important for three reasons:
(1) Accountability provides legitimacy for decision makers if they can demonstrate
that they are willing publicly to justify and be challenged on their decisions.
(2) Accountability provides credibility and an evidence base for decisions.
(3) Accountability has utility if it is real and meaningful, it provides a basis for
changing and improving services.
Going back to the three complementary principles of accountability, transparency and
involvement identified earlier, we believe that leaders need to take steps to ensure that
their governance structures and processes enable all three to exist and to inter-relate
with each other (and the other five principles of good governance distilled from
the wider thinking about good governance over the last 15 years). This will enable the
web of accountability to work most effectively and will strengthen the democratic
anchorage for decisions being made about our public services by providing greater
legitimacy, credibility and utility to those decisions.

This becomes even more important in a context, where organisations are more
responsible for their own regulation and governance as central regulation and
monitoring is scaled back, as envisaged by the UK coalition government. Not only does
it place more responsibility on local leaders to consider their own governance systems
at local level: a less centralised system is likely to drive divergence in service delivery
as well, requiring different forms of governance to match.

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Four typologies of public service delivery and governance
In the absence of centrally defined performance targets, regimes and national
programmes, and with a variety of approaches to service delivery developing at local
level, organisations will require a variety of forms of accountability, each one
proportionate and appropriate to how the services are delivered, who the customers are
and who the commissioners and funders are. To bring some coherence both to this
picture and to the web of accountability described above, it is possible to categorise
four possible models of governance, which might develop in different contexts of service
delivery and organisation. These are no more than broad typologies, and in reality many
local areas will probably end up operating something that might be a combination of
two or more of these models or have an additional refinement or slightly different
perspective added. They are not intended to be mutually exclusive, nor prescriptive,
nor as best practice models to be adopted wholesale at local level.
Instead, they might be viewed as different conceptual approaches to service provision
at local level. We are not defining one approach as more accountable or better than
the others we can see strengths and weaknesses in all four approaches. Local areas
might want to consider which if any best helps them meet the principles of good
governance in their own local circumstances. More typologies, indeed, may emerge as
service delivery models continue to diverge.
Each model is described and critically assessed below, both in terms of its
governance requirements and the challenges of ensuring that the governance networks
involved in each are democratically anchored. In this section, the paper draws on
Sorensen and Torfings account of democratic anchorage as requiring governance
networks to be:
.
controlled by democratically elected politicians;
.
representative of the membership base of the groups involved in the network;
.
accountable to the citizens of the geographical area in which it operates; and
.
following a shared set of democratic rules and language (Srensen and Torfing,
2005).
(i) The strategic leadership council a Public Service Board model
In this model, the council with partners, but the council is firmly in the lead as the body
with the local democratic mandate is taking forward the lessons of the 2009-2010
Treasury-sponsored programme, known as Total Place (HM Treasury, 2010), now being
further piloted by the coalition government under the name community budgets.
Pooled budgets for the locality are provided to the partnership across a wide range of
government spending streams to spend on commissioning or delivering services as they
see fit to tackle the priorities and problems they have identified. There may be
some accountability to parliament for agreed outcomes for nationally voted funds,

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but accountability is mostly focused outward to the community, around local priorities.
Governance is through a Public Service Board, fairly tightly drawn around senior
leaders with decision-making power, particularly with regard to committing resources.
There is a key question over whether non-executives are members of the PSB as in the
British company board model, or whether there is a separate scrutiny body with power
to challenge, review and question. This is explored further below.
Three weaknesses need to be overcome in this model. First, tightly drawn runs the
risk of being exclusive and in particular of not hearing the voices of service-users or the
community. This could be overcome through the role of the scrutiny body or through a
wider stakeholder forum to engage and involve the community. Second, clear rules
around interests, ethical behaviour, openness of decision making and reporting and
how decisions can be influenced would be required to overcome the well-documented
deficiencies in governance networks, particularly as exemplified in local strategic
partnership decision-making structures (Skelcher et al., 2004; Audit Commission, 2005).
The most fundamental question, however, is the degree to which a board
decision-making structure, most commonly used in the governance of private sector
companies, can or should be adopted and adapted for use in the public sector, in
particular for network governance and decision making. It is worth considering that the
unitary company board model of directors and non-executive directors operating
collectively, in operation in Britain and covered by the Cadbury, etc. governance reports
referenced above, is not universal. In Germany, companies must operate a two-tier board
model, comprising a management board and a supervisory board, where the latter is
comprised of representatives from shareholders and employees. This model was
considered but rejected at the time of the Higgs report on the role of non-executive
directors, and the unitary board model retained, although the non-executive directors
were given a distinct role within the unitary board:
[. . .] non-executive directors should constructively challenge and help develop proposals on
strategy. Non-executive directors should scrutinise the performance of management in
meeting agreed goals and objectives and monitor the reporting of performance. They should
satisfy themselves on the integrity of financial information and that financial controls and
systems of risk management are robust and defensible (Financial Services Authority, 2003).

However, given the variety of responsibilities and accountabilities that would be held by
the non-executive leaders of partner organisations (some elected, some appointed, all
with separate mandates and responsibilities), it may be hard to establish true
independent directors in the sense understood in UK company law. It might be that the
two-tier German model would be more appropriate in the context of the Public Service
Board, which we are discussing here, with a supervisory board of non-executives from
the partner bodies.
Looking ahead, in a highly integrated and well-developed PSB model, where most if
not all services are jointly planned according to shared goals, all partners might slim
down their internal governance and concentrate their accountability and governance
systems jointly around the PSB. This would offer efficiencies both in speed, clarity and
effectiveness of decision making and in financial and resourcing terms. However, this
model is the most dependent on change at the centre, requiring Whitehall spending
departments to amalgamate funding streams and reduce their lines of central control
and accountability through performance targets.

Representing the most developed and integrated form of governance network of any
of the four typologies, the leaders of this model need to consider fully the fourfold
approach suggested by Sorensen and Torfing to secure democratic anchorage of their
governance arrangements. Doing so will enable it to meet the three key principles of
accountability, transparency and involvement and ensure its legitimacy and credibility
and long-term effectiveness at service delivery.

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(ii) The virtual council a commissioning model
In this typology, the council sees itself as an enabling and coordinating body, rather
than as a direct provider of services or as a strong strategic leader of other partners.
Councillors set high-level strategic direction, but focus their scrutiny on what happens
in their communities at a very local and neighbourhood level, following an explicit or
implicit new public management steering not rowing approach (Frederickson,
1996). There is a conscious aim to encourage a wide range of providers, including
charitable, co-operative and social enterprises, and a focus on ensuring choice for
service users, through markets, personalisation and direct payments. Governance is
lean and regulation light, with an antipathy to anything that smacks of bureaucracy,
requiring a high degree of self-discipline and self-regulation, for example, around
ethical behaviour and financial probity and soundness.
This model, therefore, requires a high tolerance of risk, as well as an acceptance of
differential levels of service provision and an expectation of greater self-reliance on
individuals and communities. Reporting and scrutiny would be light touch and with
limited powers to intervene or compel. Rather the aim would be to secure co-decision
making between citizens and formal decision makers. However, as discussed above,
sharing responsibility for decision making and involving others in that role does not
necessarily enhance accountability. Those directly involved will be co-decision makers,
but how will others not directly involved exert influence and hold those involved to
account in their turn?
Questions also remain over how failures will be dealt with if market mechanisms
are not able to do so effectively for example, a failing school might eventually lose the
confidence of parents and rolls would fall leading to closure, but this could take several
years, blighting the education of the children who remain there in the meantime. There
might need to be differential levels of regulation, with tighter control over life and
limb services (e.g. for vulnerable children and adults), a continuing role for financial
audit and an exception system whereby local scrutiny could trigger action if there
were concerns.
Leaders in this typology would emphasise that engagement with the citizens of the
area in which their organisation is operating is the key way in which they secure
democratic anchorage and how they will be accountable for their decisions, with
involvement of participating groups as a second-order accountability mechanism.
However, to secure full democratic anchorage, they will need to consider other forms of
accountability, including the involvement of elected politicians that goes beyond
high-level steering.
(iii) The public stewardship council a municipal model
Here, the council sees itself as the guardian of the public interest, based around its
democratic mandate to safeguard public assets and the interests of all the community,

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including the community that has not yet been born. It could be seen as traditional
but also highly pragmatic, flexible and efficient, willing to work in partnership with
others where a clear case can be made for it being in the best interests of the
community, but less interested in new structures or approaches for their own sake.
Its proponents might conceptualise the council itself as a social enterprise, but with a
stronger and more legitimate form of governance or one with stronger democratic
anchorage in leadership by democratically elected politicians.
For councillors in the public stewardship council, having control over services is
important to deliver desired outcomes, hence there may be more interest in direct
provision than in marketisation. There may be a focus on fairness and access, and
councillors would also have a strong champion and mediator role, standing up for
people who may be less able to exercise choice over services for themselves, and using
their democratic mandate to scrutinise and influence other service providers.
Services in this model would need to be highly responsive to customers and to local
need and consistently able to justify why approaches that might involve others more
directly in delivery were not better. It would be important to supplement the primacy of
the councils representative democracy form of governance with a wide range of ways
for people to engage with the council in whatever more participative ways suited them.
Network governance would develop patchily under this model, according to the
needs of particular service areas for some forms of joint decision making. Where it does
develop, leaders will need to be aware that the representative democracy on which
they base much of their legitimacy does not mesh comfortably with the direct
involvement of citizens and other partnership groups in decision making, and that they
will need to be sensitive to this. Focusing on the fourth of Sorensen and Torfings
democratic anchors developing a shared democratic discourse around aims, values
and rules will help leaders link those involved together and help strengthen all forms
of accountability.
(iv) The collaborative council a joint committees model
Here, individual bodies may choose to collaborate and share services between them,
as sovereign organisations pooling decision making for particular, limited purposes.
This might be to make management efficiencies (e.g. district councils sharing
management structures and agreeing to deliver services together) or to collaborate to
achieve shared goals (e.g. at regional or sub-regional level and on strategic issues as in
the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities). It is likely to be more common
within sectors than between them, although not exclusively (e.g. joint management
arrangements between the council and Primary Care Trust in Herefordshire and new
collaborative care arrangements developing in South Yorkshire between Rotherham,
Doncaster and South Humber Mental Health Foundation Trust and Doncaster MBC).
As these arrangements are likely to be partial and to develop gradually over time, there
is a danger that governance arrangements may not keep up. Authorities may be left with a
mixture of governance systems and the risk of duplication and inefficiency, e.g. needing to
refer decisions and scrutiny back to individual sovereign bodies rather than being able to
act in a wholly joined up way across the piece. Non-executives in particular could find it
hard to act in a joined-up way if there were gaps between governance systems. However,
this model also offers organisations, the opportunity to develop at their own pace, going
with the grain of what is felt to be acceptable and necessary locally at the time.

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In this typology, we might expect that all four anchors would be relatively weak,
reflecting the weakness of the overall governance network. Perhaps, the strongest will
be the engagement between the different groups involved who will be driving
the development of shared services within a range of sub-networks. To avoid the
governance problems identified above, it will be important for leaders to focus on the
fourth democratic anchor as a way of developing shared agreement over the approach,
and in particular for elected politicians to own the overall strategy.
The role for leaders and a tool to help them: Accountability Works for You
It can be seen that all these approaches have strengths and weaknesses, and taking a
localist approach, it will be for local areas to debate and discuss which kind of
approach is most appropriate for them. CfPS has developed a new framework, entitled
Accountability Works for You (CfPS, 2011), which we believe provides a valuable tool
for local authorities and their partners to assess whether their current or proposed
approach to governance can meet the eight principles set out above, in particular those
of transparency, accountability and inclusiveness, and provide clear democratic
anchorage in a strong and healthy democracy.
The framework requires leaders to lead their organisations through a process of local
self-assessment and challenge to establish the processes, behaviours and systems that they
currently use and explore areas for improvement to become more accountable, transparent
and inclusive. We originally envisaged this framework as a charter, i.e. an explicitly
normative approach, which set out a series of commitments based on the principles and
criteria derived from the experience and accepted good practice of 15 years or so in the
public and private sectors. However, following consultation and a piloting process, we
rejected this in favour of a more flexible, discursive, process to help organisations to
determine for themselves how to develop a culture of accountability that works for them.
We believe that this kind of approach will enable organisations to consider the
constitutional software (Dryzek, 1996) (behaviours, cultures, the unwritten rules as
actors interpret them and the way we do things around here) as well as the hardware
(the rules, constitutions, structures and formal governance arrangements), both of which
are important for good governance. Accountability Works for You invites organisations
to consider, for example, how publicly accessible and transparent their meetings and
decision-making processes are (hardware), how positively leaders respond to scrutiny
and challenge (software), and how citizens are enabled to get involved in co-decision
making where appropriate (potentially involving both hardware and software).
In a time of reducing resources and major service reconfiguration, governance
issues may be seen as a luxury and as a back-office function that can be squeezed
to protect front-line service delivery. We conclude that this would be a false economy.
The Audit Commission report on Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council in 2010
provides an excellent and salutary reminder of why good governance matters:
Good governance is about running things properly. It is the means by which a public
authority shows it is taking decisions for the good of the people of the area, in a fair,
equitable and open way. It also requires standards of behaviour that support good decision
making collective and individual integrity, openness and honesty. It is the foundation for
the delivery of good quality services that meet all local peoples needs. It is fundamental to
showing public money is well spent. Without good governance councils will struggle to
improve services when they perform poorly (Audit Commission, 2010).

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Conclusion: some implications for leadership in practice


We think that this analysis offers some clear lessons and challenges for leaders to
consider in practice:
.
Leaders elected or managerial need to be aware that they and their
organisations have multiple accountabilities.
.
They should determine at local level how they will meet these accountabilities
and be accountable, transparent and inclusive in how they work.
.
Leadership approaches will vary according to political and policy choices about
how services are to be delivered and leaders should consider what form of
governance is most suited to their approach to service delivery.
.
There are lessons from thinking about good governance from the public and
private sector over the last 15 years.
.
In particular, leaders should consider the value of independent scrutiny by
non-executives and determine how their decision-making processes will enable
this scrutiny to be most effective.
By thinking through the challenges and approaches outlined above and in this paper,
leaders should be able to:
.
help their organisations develop a locally-owned approach to governance;
.
take account of the varying networks and service delivery approaches that may
develop locally; and
.
provide stronger and more accountable democratic anchorage for their collective
decision making.
As one of our Accountability Works for You pilots concludes:
Accountability has to be seen as central to the whole approach to transformation and
improvement (CfPS, 2011).
References
Audit Commission (2005), Governing Partnerships: Bridging the Accountability Gap, Audit
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Audit Commission (2010), Corporate Governance Inspection Report into Doncaster MBC,
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About the author
Jessica Crowe is the Executive Director of the Centre for Public Scrutiny, an
independent charity founded in 2003 to promote better scrutiny and
accountability in decision making across the public sector. Prior to joining
CfPS in 2006, she was a councillor for eight years in the London Borough of
Hackney, where she was Deputy Mayor and part of the team responsible for the
turnaround in how the council is run. In July 2010, she became one of three
commissioners appointed by the government to help improve the governance of
Doncaster Council. In 2007-2008, she was on the independent Councillors Commission,
which investigated the barriers and incentives to becoming an elected councillor. From 2004
to 2008, she was a Non-executive Director of Homerton University Foundation Hospital
Trust. She has a BA (Hons) in Modern History from the University of Oxford and an MSc in
European Social Policy from the London School of Economics. Jessica Crowe can be contacted
at: jessica.crowe@cfps.org.uk

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