Abstract - The Information Society 17(4)

Information, Not Technology, is Essential to Accountability: Electronic Records and Public Sector Financial Management

Kimberly Barata and Piers Cain

Information technology is often seen by decision makers as a progressive measure for promoting public sector financial accountability. One of the key assumptions is that electronic access to information increases transparency and thus automatically, accountability. This linkage is overly simplified. There is potential conflict between the objectives of providing efficient access on the one hand and supporting accountability on the other. In sub-Saharan Africa, financial functions were among the first to be automated. More recently, information technology is being used to control and decentralise financial systems. The improvement in financial accountability has yet to materialise. Evidence of this includes instances where corruption and thefts of state assets have gone unchecked. Many efforts to strengthen financial controls fail because the fundamental structures needed to underpin them are often overlooked; this includes record keeping.

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