Accountability for environmental performance of the Australian Commonwealth public sector

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Abstract:

Takes an exploratory approach to the development of an accountability framework for environmental performance of the Australian Commonwealth public sector. Explains that the aim of the environmental performance accountability framework is for the various stakeholders to understand the actions of Commonwealth public sector organizations and consequences of those actions for ecological systems; to become familiar with the trends and changes in trends in public sector environmental performance; and to place stakeholders in a position to promote change when performance is not acceptable. Examines three interrelated strands of literature. Identifies key institutional stakeholders in the Commonwealth public sector. Synthesizes the literature related to public sector transformation, and reviews the flourishing literature on environmental accounting and reporting, and links it to the concept of environmental accountability. Drawing on this literature, explores interrelationships between three characteristics of environmental performance at the federal level in the Australian public sector: criticality of natural capital; information uncertainty; and regulatory response. Examines environmental accountability dimensions of each of these characteristics. Concludes by making three policy recommendations: first, measurement of environmental performance should focus on criticality of natural capital and informational uncertainty as bounded by the precautionary principle; second, the measures of criticality of natural capital and informational uncertainty should determine the extent of direct accountability to parliament for each public sector organization's environmental performance; and, finally, a third party attestation of reported information is needed. Also makes some suggestions for extending this exploratory research.

Keywords: Accountability; Australia; Environment; Performance Measurement; Public Sector; Stakeholders

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513579710367494

Publication date: April 1, 1997

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