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Restoring Trust in Government: A Cost-Effective Approach to the Cry for "Accountability"

Summary: Government agencies and programs are using performance audits as a means of restoring citizens' trust, but audits fail to address the underlying issues. Taxpayers say they won't give agencies more money when they aren't getting the services they have already paid for. Government managers say they try hard to build relationships to ensure trust, yet nothing seems good enough. Trust requires not only doing what you say you will do, but also telling people that the commitment has been fulfilled. This includes an explanation of how, when and why stakeholder suggestions and preferences have been incorporated into action. Washington State is developing an integrated performance management system that defines measures in plain English and uses clear visuals and benchmarks to validate assessment. Performance audits are not effective tools for driving systemic change and may actually impede an agency's ability to improve. Audits also don't build trust because their cost, size and lan!guage perpetuate the image of government waste. Agencies should consider publishing informative annual performance reports that assure citizens' their requirements are being heard and met.

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  • Topics: Auditing
  • Keywords: Government,State government,Stakeholders,Audits,Accountability,Performance appraisals,Communication,Trust
  • Author: Campbell, Mary
  • Journal: Journal for Quality and Participation