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Purpose

This study constructs a valid performance-based system to monitor accountability within the Chinese government.

Design/methodology/approach

First, a normative analysis model was constructed to include four factors, which form a complete accountability system: accountability to whom, accountability for what, how to demand accountability, and its effectiveness. This normative model was then used to explore existing practices of Chinese government performance evaluation and accountability.

Findings

Our study revealed the need to accelerate ‘two integrations’ in order to develop performance-based accountability. This would involve accelerating the integration of government performance assessment and accountability and accelerating the integration of external control and internal control.

Research Implications

This study is a preliminary study that points out the direction of performance-based accountability system reform in Chinese government. It will further promote the transformation of government functions and change the way administration is carried out, promote to achieve the goal of the responsible government, and service-oriented government. Establishing an effective performance-based accountability system in China may yet require further research and policy recommendations.

Originality/value

This article is original in its attempt to construct an accountability index for the Chinese government. Its specific focus on China increases its originality as no known study has attempted to construct such an index. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.