Chr. Michelsen Institute in collaboration with the Department of Administration and Organization Theory, University of Bergen, arranges a workshop 22-23 April to network for potential joint future research.

Keynote: Professor Mark Bovens, University of Utrecht

The thematic focus of the workshop will be a specific set of institutions that can be considered both horizontal and vertical mechanisms of public accountability. These institutions provide, on the one hand, a check on government and open channels for complaints and concerns from the population at large, on the other. This type of accountability institutions is relatively under-researched as compared to the vertical dimension (between the elected and the electors) and the horizontal dimension (between the three branches of government: legislature, executive and judiciary).

We have labelled this intermediary type of institution which serve as checks on governments as the ‘in-betweens’. This institutional type combines vertical and horizontal accountability functions to variable degrees and comprises institutions such as ombud institutions, human rights commissions, anti-corruption agencies, supreme audit institutions and others (e.g. regulators and supervisory bodies). While they are state bodies, the in-betweens do require autonomy from the state to function effectively. Their main function is to provide checks on the exercise of power by state/government institutions, but also to open channels for the public at large to enquire into and to lodge complaints about governmental decisions and practices. They are bridging vehicles between the public and the government and complement other agencies in the private and public sector.