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The Journal of Public Accountability

The Journal’s Aims

The Journal has two aims. The first is to identify important responsibilities in society for which adequate public answering is missing. The Citizen’s Guide cites major examples. As the Guide notes, every responsibility affecting the public in important ways has attached to it the obligation to answer publicly for the discharge of the responsibility. We ask readers to identify and submit important types of responsibilities for which they see inadequate or no answering, and for those responsibilities to propose the public answering that they think citizens need so as to have a "right understanding of matters." We will try to organize these responsibilities and accountabilities in a useful way. The map must ultimately be drawn globally.

The second aim is to be a forum for people to exchange ideas and strategies for holding fairly to account. As Ursula Franklin said in her Foreword to the Citizen’s Guide, the first steps in achieving adequate public answering must be "citizen to citizen." Those who wish to contribute are encouraged to submit articles to the Journal. These can be useful ideas about public accountability, strategy proposals for holding fairly to account, or case studies of people’s work in trying to hold to account. But the article must deal with the answering (reporting) obligation, and not be just a writer’s outrage at something happening. There are many journals and international newspapers in which people can help each other build awareness of harm and injustice.

To be printed, readers identifying authorities’ responsibilities must propose the type of reasonable and specific public answering for them. Those submitting articles for the Journal are expected to have read and thought about the basic concepts and standards for public answering that are proposed in this web site or expanded on in the Citizen’s Guide. If, when readers identify inadequate answering from authorities and the authority wishes to respond in the Journal, we will print their response unedited. But if we think the response is "spin," we will say so. We will not print anonymous articles, but we will carefully examine concerns about public answering sent in by people who feel they must remain anonymous. The Journal does not have the role of an ombudsman or an inspector general -- it is to help citizens with strategy in holding fairly to account.

Readers are also asked to submit examples they see of good public answering. The reporting can be given on an authority’s own initiative, or in response to an invitation or legal requirement to publicly account. Examples of good answering practice can serve as models for others’ answering.

We also wish to know and cite any organization’s surveys done of the adequacy of public answering from different accountable entities, where the answering is rated against the types of answering standards in the Guide or against the surveyor's own criteria.

As to public financial reporting, the Journal is interested in noteworthy examples of good or inadequate reporting that focus on stakeholders’ (not just shareholders’) rights to be adequately informed so as to know better what to decide about the accountable entity. Canada has had major corporate collapses, as have other countries. The collapse of the huge American companies Enron and WorldCom are the most recent major examples, the accountabilities for which are the subjects of Dr. Ernie Pavlock’s article in the first issue of this Journal, and CCA's proposal to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the March 2003 issue. The Citizen's Guide went to press before the Enron disgrace became public.

Also of interest are cases of missing, inadequate or deceptive reporting that camouflage corporate boards’ intentions and their reasoning when those intentions significantly affect not just employees and shareholders but also the public at large. An example would be the lack of public answering for drug companies’ actions designed to successfully "purchase" favourable research findings.

Lastly, we encourage readers to submit articles challenging the concepts, principles or standards proposed by the Circle.

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