Humanservices workers, leaders and organizations have a hugeresponsibility of helping their clients meet their needs and improvetheir living standards and lives. are personal innature and thus human services organizations and workers mustmaintain high standards of accountability and professional ethics.Accountability standards are therefore essential aspects of humanservices. They place a greater responsibility to human servicesorganizations and their leaderships in accounting for publicinvestment in various human services programs. The accountabilitystandards ensure that there is a balance as well as a clear linkagebetween the resources allocated to the agencies and the work andprograms implemented. The human services agencies and institutionsare responsible for huge sums of public investment. Due to theimportance of these services, they are generously financed by thegovernment as well as private agencies and donors. This is mainlybecause human services confront some of the pertinent issues thathave a direct impact on the society. As a result, human servicesagencies have adopted rigorous accountability standards that areaimed at ensuring that their projects and activities are effectivelyand efficiently managed (APHSA, 2013).
Basically,the accountability standards in the human services systems aredefined by requirements from the government, at the federal, state orlocal level. The accountability standards set by the government arenecessary because the government is the major financier of humanservices. Additionally, the human services system is dominated bygovernment owned agencies and institutions, partly due to thesensitivity of human services and the welfare of the society.However, the private sector plays a critical role in the humanservices system, but is subject to accountability standards by thegovernment. The strong requirements that human services agencies needto be accountable are aimed at ensuring that the general public getthe value for resources invested. Funding amount, projects timeframes and how much the government is willing to pay is influenced bythe strict adherence to the established accountability standards(APHSA, 2013).
Thestrict requirement by the main financiers has increased the need foraccountability and ethical use of resources in human servicesorganizations. To meet the accountability standards there areextensive audits, control systems and reviews of the agencies andorganizations operations as well as their programs. Due to thechallenges facing various human services systems, such as increasedcost of services, increased demand and economic challenges that limitthe amounts of funds available, the need for accountability isbecoming more critical (Madison, 1997). Consequently, human serviceagencies at national, state and local level are spending significantamount of time documenting their decisions, spending, auditing andreviewing, developing strategic action plans and explainingexceptions. These activities are essential if the agencies will beaccountable in the long run and thus attract the right amount offunding. Meeting the minimum standards of accountability enableshuman services agencies to avoid sanctions and measures that havebeen put in place to enforce integrity. This high demand forintegrity and accountability has huge impacts on how accountingofficers and leaders in human services department make decisions. Forexample, due to highly developed accountability standards,eligibility determinations are strictly regulated, there is increasedaccuracy in payments and agencies and institutions are more compliantwith rules that govern cost allocation in different programs. Thesemeasures and standards acts as the basic elements of accountabilityin any human resources program. There are also accountabilitystandards that enhance isolation of processes and outputs into shortterm programs. However, the system is designed to ensure that thestandards are achieved in the short rub as well as the long run. Theaccountability standards are supported by a system of penalties forlack of compliance as well as incentives that encourage agencies toachieve the desired goals (APHSA, 2013).
Dueto the negative impacts of penalties, the organizations managementand leaderships have implemented systems to avoid the penalties. Thissystem includes internal controls and standards. It is important tonote that accountability translates into some one being answerable toan action (APHSA, 2013). It is unfortunate that accountability isoften misconceived as something bad or something that attractsnegative consequences. Managers and leaders in human servicesagencies are answerable to the financiers, mainly the government.Although as the accounting officers, they make key decisions in theagencies, the direct service workers have a greater influence on theaccountability of the agency. This is because they are the people whoderiver the programs. Their actions determine the value of theprojects and thus, whether the agency will be able to account for theresources allocated. Thus, in addition to influencing internalaccountability standards, the standards set by the government andother industry players have an influence on how managers relate withdirect services workers in the agencies. Bad relationships between amanager and his workers may negatively influence their morale orkeenness to details. This will affect the integrity andaccountability of the organization. However, a good relationshipbased on mutual respect and teamwork will enhance the ability of theorganization to meet the standards at the basic level (Austin, 2012).
APHSA(2013). Accountabilityin Human Services,an APHSA Innovation Center Issue Brief.
Austin,D. M. (2012). Humanservices management: organizational leadership in social workpractice,New York: Columbia University Press.
Madison,A. (1997) "Performance and Accountability in Human Services:Ownership and Responsibility of Professionals," NewEngland Journal of Public Policy:Vol. 13: Iss. 1, Article 12, p 165-175.