Since their inception, the accountability of independent regulatory agencies has been of concern to scholars of public law and political science. But whilst many decry the lack of accountability of regulatory agencies, others (albeit a minority) argue that accountability demands are counter-productive or subverted, prevent the agency from performing its role effectively or create cultures of blame.
The challenges of calling regulators to account are deep-rooted. The first key challenge is that of fluidity and ambiguity: the tension between independence, political control and political accountability creates an ambiguity in the responsibilities of the core executive and regulatory agencies which both, but particularly the executive, can seek to exploit. As a result, lines of responsibility and thus of accountability can be unclear, to say the least, particularly when things go wrong.