Skip to main content
Sarbanes-Oxley and the Relentless Pursuit of Government Accountability: The Perils of 21st Century Reform
Administration & Society
  • Michelle C. Pautz, University of Dayton
  • C. Patrick Washington, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Document Type
Publication Date

In the wake of the corporate financial scandals of the late 1990s, Congress responded by passing the Sarbanes‐Oxley Act of 2002 to improve accountability of both the private sector and of government. Although discussions of accountability and Sarbanes‐Oxley are pertinent to both the public and private sectors, the authors focus on the attempts of the act to encourage government accountability through the creation of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. In a broader context, the passage of Sarbanes‐Oxley fits within public administration’s constant emphasis of reform—particularly those reforms under the rubric of New Public Management that are intended to promote accountability. The authors’ purpose in this article is twofold. First, public administration literature is largely silent on Sarbanes‐Oxley despite its implications for the field. Second, and perhaps more importantly, Sarbanes‐Oxley illustrates the perils of modern government reform efforts. Using Koppell’s five conceptions of accountability, the authors demonstrate how Sarbanes‐Oxley, like many reforms before it, may actually hinder accountability despite its explicit promises to promote it.

Inclusive pages
Peer Reviewed
Citation Information
Michelle C. Pautz and C. Patrick Washington. "Sarbanes-Oxley and the Relentless Pursuit of Government Accountability: The Perils of 21st Century Reform" Administration & Society Vol. 41 Iss. 6 (2009)
Available at: