Government Accountability is More than a Simple Equation

Improving government accountability has been a goal of democracy programming in the development world for years. Practitioners of governance reform have tended to pursue increased accountability by focusing on two individual factors of the equation: transparency, by opening up government decision-making processes and increasing access to information; and participation, by increasing citizens’ voices through strengthened civil society organizations and improved advocacy methods.

The problem with this accountability equation — transparency + participation = accountability — is that it doesn’t really add up. Transparency and participation together haven't improved accountability to the degree that we would like to see. Why not?

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