A ‘panoptical’ or ‘synoptical’ approach to monitoring performance? Local public services in England and the widening accountability gap

Eckersley, P. ORCID: 0000-0001-9048-8529, Ferry, L. and Zakaria, Z., 2014. A ‘panoptical’ or ‘synoptical’ approach to monitoring performance? Local public services in England and the widening accountability gap. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 25 (6), pp. 529-538. ISSN 1045-2354

10881_Eckersley.pdf - Published version

Download (502kB) | Preview


This article highlights how recent reforms to the auditing and assessment of local public services in England suggest there will be a shift from panoptical to ‘synoptical’ monitoring approaches. This is because the UK Government has abolished its centralised monitoring regime and instead required local authorities to publish a range of financial and performance datasets online, ostensibly so that citizens can hold organisations to account directly. However, the complexity and raw nature of these data, along with the sidelining of professional auditors, will result in most citizens being either unable or unwilling to undertake this task. As such, the proposed ‘synoptical’ approach will not materialise. Indeed, other legislative changes will mean that outsourcing firms effectively become the new, unaccountable observers of local public sector bodies within an enduring panoptical system. In many cases these companies will then assume responsibility for delivering the same services that they have assessed.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Critical Perspectives on Accounting
Creators: Eckersley, P., Ferry, L. and Zakaria, Z.
Publisher: Academic Press
Date: September 2014
Volume: 25
Number: 6
ISSN: 1045-2354
S1045235413000282Publisher Item Identifier
Rights: Open Access funded by Economic and Social Research Council under a Creative Commons license (Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)).
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 26 Apr 2018 09:09
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2018 09:09
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/33344

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year