Reasonable and Probable Grounds to Believe

To give an account

“Obey your leaders…for they are keeping watch…and will give an account.” Hebrews 13:17. As it pertains to government services in our time and place, giving an account is all about verifying if the right things are being done and if these things are being done right. There’s widespread emphasis on assuming responsibility and being accountable, but saying it does not necessarily make it so. 

In a free and open democracy, citizens are entitled to effective and efficient service delivery from public institutions. As well, effective internal controls and monitoring are required in ensuring our laws and regulations are adhered to. And in the workplace, unless we all strive for truth, justice, and righteousness then it’s difficult to be able to deliver effective and efficient public services. 

In earlier days as a member of the RCMP, stationed in Ottawa, I was director general of the RCMP’s audit & evaluation directorate. For senior RCMP commanders geographically positioned in the provinces and territories, to just have a proper attitude towards accountability was deemed not sufficient. It required them to have a technical structure for audits and performance evaluations that was organizationally sound, with appropriate timelines for delivery of reports. These reports would in turn be subject to oversight control by the Commissioner, and subsequently to the office of the auditor general of Canada. 

Accountability processes at the various governmental levels (i.e., federal, provincial, and municipal) are too often not demanded by internal governing bodies that are responsible for doing so.  And those who are accountable often rely too heavily on subordinates to ensure that accountability processes are in place. Such behaviour can sometimes be deliberate and serve as a shield for one’s own accountability obligations. Also, such a distorted view of accountability easily creeps in when those entrusted with a responsibility begin to believe they should be exempted from public scrutiny, because their appointment implies they are already trusted. This is when ‘Trust but Verify’ kicks in. Good faith and noble disposition are not sufficient. Nobody in a government workplace should harbour the view that ‘I’m beyond having to render an account.’ 

The missing link all along has been the effective accountability for the use of authorities for which people have been entrusted. Nowadays more and more stress is placed on being result-oriented in a client-sensitive culture. The importance of effective accountability is going to become correspondingly greater, and each manager will be expected to have an agreed statement of anticipated results and performance standards. 

The Apostle Paul, in both his Letters to the Corinthians and Ephesians, writes on the requirement of building each other up, premised on the importance of edification over gratification, meaning others over self; freedom over legalism; and respect over condemnation. And in the workplace, one needs to determine not only if it’s lawful, but is it beneficial and does it build up? Does it build you up, and others up, for the overall good of the community? To strive to do better, to become a better person, rather than just striving to become the best. 

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