Accountability Maturity Assessment Model

In the current version, the Accountability Maturity Assessment Model consists of eight dimensions:

Procedural burden

What is the extent of bureaucratic regulation? How intensive are process-related transactions per type of stakeholder? What is stakeholder consensus on an acceptable tolerance level for “procedural burden”?


Do Member States, UN entities, and non-state stakeholders share their policy and other positions in an accessible, timely manner?

Procedural regularity

Are procedures in place and observed in practice for administration, management and policy? Are exceptions from procedure documented, with appropriate justifications and approvals?

Quality governance

Are all stakeholders contributing, effectively and within the remit of their role, to decisions at the programming, operational, policy and strategic levels of the organization? Is participation inclusive and effective?

Implementation and agility

Are priorities clear for effective mandate implementation without ad hoc deviations? Are there procedures for anticipation and rapid priority adaptation when needed? How quickly does the agency develop, approve, fund and begin implementation of high risk, high gain projects, and what proportion of projects fit this profile?

Financial sustainability and sound management

Is there consistency in presenting actual and projected budgets, types of funding and projects? Are these and supporting data sufficient for internal and external audits? Is the agency able to demonstrate sustainability, efficiency gains and cost savings?

Well functioning workforce

Are staff numbers representative, gender balanced, and selected objectively? Does the agency follow fair procedures for benefits, career development, mobility, promotion and internal justice? What are independently assessed staff perceptions?

Oversight independence and effectiveness

To what extent is oversight free of executive and member state influence? Are there clear and reasoned levels of materiality for differentiated controls to support delegation and proactivity? Is there clear RoI analysis for control measures? Are the clear and implemented procedures for executive oversight and for implementing external oversight recommendations?

The Issue

Efforts to improve the UN have been a recurring institutional feature since its inception, with accountability appearing frequently; however these efforts have focused on interactions within one specific group of stakeholders or another, rather than all three groups and their interactions to address the relational aspect of accountability.

Gaps in accountability are often a result of insufficient transparency, unexplicit, conflicting or unprioritised expectations and norms, obsolete or unseen structural or procedural incentives with perverse effects, absence of structures for periodic review and corrective measures, and other similar structural governance gaps. Identifying these structural weaknesses gives stakeholders the means to rectify them.

The Model

The Accountability Maturity Assessment Model (AMAM) adds value with its comprehensive method of analyzing accountability in a new structural way. Current approaches look at System organizations separately and one by one, and focus on management accountability, largely leaving aside the relational accountability of the interactions between the three key groups of stakeholders, namely Member States, UN System Administrations, and non-State stakeholders. In contrast, the new Model uses a matrix of indicators and components that can be used for all System entities, and looks at the impact of all three stakeholder groups in each of these – not only on their own, but in their interactions with each other. Structurally assessing these interactions allows the Model to effectively combine relational accountability with management accountability. The AMAM’s new structural approach thereby supports a constructive approach that is operational across all stakeholder groups, and is independent by virtue of being completely outside the UN System.

Why it is useful

In this context, AMAM is user-centered tool to provide stakeholders with quantitative and qualitative analyses, as well as clear visuals, to:
  1. Assess relational accountability in a specific organizational context: the actions that create the premise or structure for stakeholders’ interactions, or that rely on the established process of stakeholders’ interactions. These interactions may be among members of the same stakeholder group (e.g., Member State negotiations or inter-agency platforms) or in between organized groups of stakeholders (e.g., between Member States, Observers and the Administration at a Governing Bodies meeting).
  1. Analyze comprehensively and discuss issues on their merits: structural trade-offs, inter-dependencies, limiting factors and organizational incentives in between the dimensions.
    Example: We understand the general inverse relationship between procedural burden, and procedural regularity, on one hand, and innovation and agility on the other: the more one increases the first, the more one creates obstacles for the second; likewise, innovation and agility cannot increase without addressing administrative and procedural impediments.