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Independent Sector Resources

Independent Sector established a Task Force on Accountability in 1999. The Task Force Report is an important resource on this topic because it set out the challenges, examines strategies to overcoming them, and offers four key recommendations for immediate action by organizations.

Models on Accountability

Maryland Association of Nonprofits' Standards of Excellence
This web site serves to familiarize visitors with Maryland Nonprofits and the nonprofit sector in the State. It has a strong emphasis on accountability factors: see "Standards for Excellence" which offers An Introduction, the Maryland Nonprofit Ethics and Accountability Initiative, and a certification program for Maryland nonprofit organizations that practice accountability.

National Charity Information Bureau Standards in Philanthropy
One of the oldest organizations addressing standards in the nonprofit sector, NCIB offers a comprehensive approach to standards. These standards are designed to ensure accurate information and an improved level of performance by charities.

Public Schools Accountability Act
The California Department of Education has established an integrated strategy for accountability in public schools. The web site includes the legislative history leading to the Act, how schools are measured, how interventions are performed, award programs, test results, and more.

Government Accountability Project: The Whistleblower Protection Program
Here governments across the globe share accountability strategies through an international conference hosted by the International Network of Scientists and Engineers for Global Responsibility (INES2000) from June 14 through June 18, 2000, in Stockholm, Sweden. The primary focus of this site is nuclear technologies and whistleblowers, although many other aspects of technology and social responsibility are available.

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Accountability Task Force
Another governmental example, this site represents the work of a Task Force charged with designing a national system for accountability. Of special interest are the links to sample accountability systems included in the site.

California Corporate Accountability Project
A collaborative of the Natural Heritage Institute (NHI), Human Rights Advocates (HRA), and the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development (NI), this project addresses the overseas accountability needs of multinational corporations (MNCs) in developing nations where governments lack critical elements of regulatory capacity.

Global Business Responsibility Resource Center
Developed and maintained by Businesses for Social Responsibility (BSR), this site is identified as "a comprehensive, worldwide information resource on corporate social responsibility.?It addresses topics such as "Retaining Ethics in Global Responsibility" and "Governance and Accountability."

Promising Practices ??????????? [ Back to Top ]

EQAO is committed to accountability practices that respond to the complex and changing world we live in. We want to measure not only what students know, but how they apply their knowledge, so they will be ready for the challenges that face them in today's complex and demanding society and workplaces. We will provide information to students, parents, teachers and the public that will not only help them understand their schools better, but will contribute to better schools for everyone.

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Intergovernmental and Public Accountability
The State and Tribal Government Working Group (STGWG) helps ensure that the Department of Energy (DOE) facilities and sites are operated and cleaned up in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations, and Tribal rights including those retained by treaty, and conferred by statute and the trust responsibility; as well as in a manner that protects human health, safety and the environment.

Office of Intergovernmental and Public Accountability

Tools on Accountability ??????????? [ Back to Top ]

Complete Guide to Ethics Management: An Ethics Toolkit for Managers by Carter McNamara, Ph.D.
Consumer Expectations on the Social Accountability of Business A survey of the Conference Board
Global Corporate Ethics Practices: A Developing Consensus a resource tool from the Conference Board
Business for Social Responsibility Global Resource Center Guide to Accountability
Trust This: Five Ways to be Reliable by Daniel Robin
Recognition and Accountability in the Workplace by Daniel Robin
References on corporate accountability
The Sunshine Project for Police Accountability
Citizens' Circle for AccountabilityResource Documents

Internet Links

Centre for Applied Ethics
Public Sector Ethics
Topics on Ethical Resources, Duke University site
An Online Human Services Community
Promoting Corporate Accountability
American Society for Ethics in Education
NetImpact network of emerging business leaders committed to using the power of business to create a better world.
Resources on socially responsible initiatives
Northwest Corporate Accountability Project
Citizens' Circle for Accountability
Alliance for Better Campaigns

Actions an Organization Can Take to Demonstrate its Accountability

  1. Designate accountability as an organizational priority and demonstrate leadership for this from the head of the organization.
  2. Educate the organizational leadership about the importance of accountability to the organization's mission, constituents, public trust.
    1. Discuss accountability at staff and board meetings.
    2. Exchange information on defining and practicing accountability with other organizations, one-on-one, and at conferences and through publications.
  3. Build accountability components into strategic planning processes.
    1. Ensure every organizational activity has accountability built into it.
    2. Link executive and staff performance to accountability.
    3. Create special advisory committees to examine and address the issue of accountability.
  4. Utilize the organization's web site to demonstrate its accountability to its members, constituents, and the public.
    1. Prepare and post the annual report online.
    2. List staff members, their titles and means of contact (e.g., e-mail, telephone).
    3. List members of the Board of Directors and their organizational designation.
    4. Make the annual audited financial statement and/or IRS Form 990 available online.

A Checklist of Accountability

Key Question for grantmakers and grantseekers:
How can your organization take steps that will help it maintain the public's trust?

By making information about the organization easily available to any member of the public upon request, in recognition of the nonprofit organization's special responsibility to the public for openness in their activities: current IRS form 990 (including all parts and schedules, except contributors list with amounts, which is protected under the Privacy Act) IRS form 1023 (the organization's original application for recognition for tax exempt status) Annual report (often contains some or all of the following items):

  1. most recent financial audit report
  2. list of contributors, at least large contributors (amounts of contributions may be disclosed only with permission of contributor some organizations list contributors within amount ranges); donor requests for anonymity should be honored
  3. governing documents: vision and mission statements, code of ethics/statement of values, standards of practice, operation or accountability, including conflict-of-interest and affirmative action or other inclusiveness policies
  4. list of board members and officers (usually listed in annual report; form 990 includes compensation of top employees and officers); staff roster
  5. long range plan outline based on vision and mission statements
  6. any current reports on program accomplishments
  7. any ongoing evaluation procedures for assessing effectiveness for the organization, employees, managers and trustees, or outline for a process of self assessment which the organization encourages, including summary of ethics audit process.

Accountability Audit

An accountable organization strives to have all of the following ten mechanisms.
Does your organization have:

  1. A well defined and broadly understood purpose?
    Is your purpose focused and clear? Does it answer: Who are we? What are the basic social or political needs/problems we exist to meet? What do we do to recognize, anticipate, and respond to these needs or problems? How should we respond to our key stakeholders? What makes us distinctive or unique?
  2. A clear and broadly accepted set of core values?
    Are they understood, embraced and exhibited in behavior of staff, board members, volunteers, and members?
  3. A clear and broadly understood organizational vision?
    Has it been developed in consultation with relevant internal and external stakeholders, and is it built from a process to develop and revise mission, objectives and strategies?
  4. A supportive, engaged, and knowledgeable board?
    Is it diverse and inclusive of people and ideas?
  5. A clear set of goals or a strategy that guide organizational programs or activities in the context of the organization's vision and mission?
    Does the organization's programs, projects or activities have well defined outcomes that have real impact on the world?
  6. A diversity of resources and an organizational structure that supports the strategy and vision?
    Does the organization have enough as well as the right kind of resources; e.g. financial, staff, volunteers, time, technology, etc. to achieve its goals?
  7. A 'place at the table?'
    Is your organization involved in an expansive network of people, organizations, societies, sectors [business and government] and communities; and does your organization have information to relate, collaborate as equals and/or form partnerships with other sectors of society, communities, other societies and a diversity of people? Is your organization involved in electronic networks?
  8. A system to objectively measure organizational and programmatic outcomes and provide accountability?
    Does that system include ongoing evaluation and environmental scanning that enables the organization to change as necessary?
  9. A system or process to attract, reward, retain, value and develop talented people in the organization including emerging leaders?
    Does this system naturally support a diversity of people and ideas?
  10. A systematic process that promotes effective leadership across the organization, including board, executive director, staff members and volunteers?

Does this system encourage shared leadership and give credit to others?


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