ACCOUNTABILITY. The state of being liable for explanation to a superior DOE official for the exercise of authority. Ultimate accountability is to the Secretary, who may delegate authority or share responsibility for specified actions. The delegate of authority is accountable to the delegating responsible authority for the proper and diligent exercise of that authority. Responsibility differs from accountability in that a responsible official with administrative control “owns” the function for which he or she is responsible; it is an integral part of his or her duties to see that the function is properly executed, to establish criteria for the judgment of excellence in its execution, and to strive for continuous improvement in that execution. A responsible official is associated with the outcomes of the exercise of authority regardless of whether it was delegated, and regardless of whether the designee properly followed the guidance. Accountability, on the other hand, involves the acceptance of the authority for execution (or for further delegation of components of execution), by using guidance and criteria established by the responsible authority.
This is the Department of Energy description and guideline regarding Accountability.