Mother Earth Community for Change Association

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Responsible Governance

The Four Principles for NGO Accountability

Accountability mechanisms in NGOs take a number of forms. For example, they include documents such as legal instruments, policies, mandates, values, legislative provisions, rules and regulations. The four principles of accountability call for responsibility and authority to be clearly specified, guidance and support to be provided at all stages to everyone involved, exercize of responsibility and authority to be monitored and assessed, and appropriate action to be taken. 

1 One of the first principle is that responsibility and authority has to be clearly specified. The responsible person must be informed of the expected programme results and resources (financial and human) allocated for the purpose. Monitoring and evaluation systems should be clarified, along with organizational values, policies, rules and regulations, and the behavioural standards. 

2 The second principle calls for providing guidance and support to the responsible person in the form of regular and timely management information, training and development, access to senior managers, and advice from financial and human resource management experts.

3 The third principle calls for the monitoring and assessment of the needs of responsibility and authority. This is done by an objective comparison of results against targets and standards, covering such issues as delivery of programmes, cost and quality; management of human and financial resources; decision-making – authority fully exercised but not exceeded; and compliance with policies, values, rules and regulations, and behavioural standards.

4 The final principle is on taking appropriate action. This deals with issues such as excellence, satisfactory performance, unsatisfactory execution of responsibility and authority as a result of carelessness or ignorance, unacceptable execution of responsibility and authority due to deliberate flouting of policies, rules and regulations, or exceeding the limits of decision-making authority.

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