Its first component; what is it that someone (group, department, program, government) accountable for and to whom are they accountable. The second, accountability to ourselves. Simple, right?
In practice we see that doesn’t work very well – and, with elections in the offing, I think this two-element approach to accountability is missing something fundamental to accountability.
That is ownership.
Does the person (or group) begging for our votes feel genuinely accountable?
Do they own it, feel it, and live it?
For example, we can scold and/or guilt a child into cleaning up their room, but that doesn’t make them do it – or make them feel accountable for doing it.
When important people wooing for votes promise to clean up their room, we have to ask whether that is because we want them to clean up their room, or because they feel a commitment of their own to clean up their room. When we examine the promises never kept, most boil down to this element of life – which is that you can’t make someone accountable and even when they promise to be accountable (just like a child promising to clean up their room), it won’t happen unless they feel accountable and own that need for accountability.
In the end, it isn’t campaign promises, but rather a history of personal accountability, I want.
We need that in our leaders.
Political will, a driving/driven force, with a backbone.