272f8aaa1e688210VgnVCM100000e56411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2009-Q1Accountability is the essence of government172f8aaa1e688210VgnVCM100000e56411ac____Accountability is the essence of governmentMuch of the upheaval in global markets was born of excessive risk-taking in pursuit of selfish and short-term gains.<p>Much of the upheaval in global markets was born of excessive risk-taking in pursuit of selfish and short-term gains. The crisis has affirmed that markets, like governments and individuals, are rarely as self-policing as any of us might wish them to be.
Institutions that reinforce the best tendencies of human nature must be strengthened, but auditors must also be present to guard against the worst.
It appears that these principles were taken to heart in the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Accountability Authority (ADAA), an independent body that will audit and oversee how Government resources are spent in the capital.
As Riyad al Mubarak, the chairman of ADAA, writes in the foreword to its annual report for 2008: "The sense of being accountable and responsible is a fundamental component of Abu Dhabi culture and heritage." But institutions must develop and mature to ensure that this continues to be the case, particularly as the Government, its institutions and its functions grow in complexity. Mr al Mubarak has been keen to caution against complacency, telling The National that "the direction is very clear: we need to improve our accountability and transparency".</p>
<p>As we report today, the ADAA will provide increased oversight to monitor that public funds are expended efficiently, and to ensure that standards for accountability in Government departments and state-owned enterprises are being met.
"Accountability is the essence of any government because they are responsible for public finances and public resources and to have an accountable government, you need transparency as well," Mr al Mubarak explained.</p>
<p>Without uniform and rigorous standards that measure accountable governance and transparency, monies spent on public service can too often be misused as private subsidies.
There is nothing wrong with working for the Government: indeed, a life devoted to national service is a life well spent. But there must be universal standards in place to hold our Government agencies to account in order to prevent waste and to ensure that Government work is first and foremost at the service of the people.</p>
<p>When it was released in January, the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 declared that Government policies should be formulated "with reference to rigorous data sources and statistical information" but it did not specifically detail how or who would tabulate such data. ADAA builds on the Economic Vision 2030 by introducing and explaining the metrics it will use.
It will not be starting from scratch. ADAA researched the accountability authorities of New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom to establish best practices and has prepared its accounting standards in compliance with the International Public Sector Accounting Standards. "It's important to know we have been benchmarked against international audit institutions," Mr al Mubarak said.</p>
<p>The economic prosperity of Abu Dhabi can be sustained only through greater transparency and legislative reform.
And a more rigorous regime for accountability represents an important effort in making sure that the UAE's most important natural resources - the energy, talent and entrepreneurial spirt of its people - are put to good use. In the growth of every great economy, it is the development of these resources that has proven the best engine for sustained economic prosperity.</p>
<p>Islamic jurisprudence insists that all citizens, no matter their standing, are accountable to the same code of laws. Ensuring that the rule of law stands above the rule of men has been a challenge for every government that places its people's interests as its first priority. ADAA appears to be well constructed to meet that challenge.</p>