Preparing for Public Accounts Committee

The prospect of a forthcoming appearance before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) can be an immensely stressful situation for a Public Sector official to encounter, and even the most experienced senior officials may only face the Committee three or four times a year. The career reputation of the official and their department can be significantly affected by the outcome of the PAC hearing.

This one-day course on Preparing for Public Accounts Committee will help to take away much of the stress by providing a clear and thorough explanation of the way the PAC works, its expectations of witnesses, the key issues that are likely to be focused on and how to prepare for a hearing.

This training course is delivered on a one to one basis to thoroughly prepare officials due to face the PAC, to ensure that the trainer can effectively deal with any particular concerns that delegates may have. There will also be the opportunity to practise answering questions specific to a report which is to be the subject of a PAC hearing.

This programme is delivered by David Finlay, a well-known former director of the National Audit Office, who worked closely with the PAC on their examinations of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), one of the most high profile topics considered by the PAC.

Preparing for Public Accounts Committee is an in-house course within our 

Accountability & Governance series. At the Civil Service College, we tailor our courses to each attendee’s role and organisations, ensuring that each delegate gets the most out of the training. Our courses and trainers are continuously updated and evaluated to ensure that we are always delivering the best service possible. 

Key Training Features

Who Can Attend

Learning Outcomes

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Key Training Features:

  • Explanation of the remit of the PAC, how the Committee works and its approach to examining witnesses.
  • Topics it has particularly focused on in recent times
  • Various pitfalls witnesses encounter which reduce their effectiveness in front of the Committee
  • PAC preparation and stress reduction
  • Maximising performance in front of the Committee
  • A fully interactive session with the opportunity for delegates to practise answering questions that the PAC is likely to ask on a specific report.

Who Can Attend:

Public Officials who have little or no experience of the Public Accounts Committee, those who may have previously attended PAC but wish to improve their performance in front of the Committee at future hearings and those who are briefing their permanent secretaries prior to a PAC hearing.

Learning Outcomes:

Attendees will gain greater confidence and less fear in dealing with the PAC through a deeper understanding of how the Committee questions witnesses, as well as the opportunity to practise answering questions in a relaxed setting ahead of a hearing.   

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10:00 - 14:00


1-2-1 or Group booking. Contact us for a quotation.



In-House Option

This course is available In-House and can be tailored to meet your individual training requirements.


Lead Trainer

David Finlay

David Finlay

Chair of National Youth Agency Former Manager of The National Audit Office Qualified Accountant for Price Waterhouse

Read Bio
David Finlay

David Finlay

David is an expert on securing value for money through effective procurement and contract management within the Public Sector. He has extensive experience leading huge financial projects and is regularly called on to offer his professional opinion for radio, television and to the press.

He has worked closely with a number of public and private bodies across his career, including ten years spent managing The National Audit Office’s investigation into PFI; working closely with the Public Accounts Committee to understand their key areas of concern when examining public officials and various other contracts across the public, private and voluntary sectors. He also has experience working with private financing institutions.

David is an experienced public speaker and has trained Civil Servants in negotiating deals and contract management issues.  He is currently Chair of the National Youth Agency which promotes the interests of young people and those who work with them. He also advises Local Partnerships on plans to achieve improvements to contract management training for local authority officials.

His past role at The National Audit Office included directing various teams producing reports for Parliament, liaising with the Public Accounts Committee, providing quotes to the media and public speaking. As well as leading reports on many individual projects, David led the NAO reports on the following cross-government topics: refinancing; market testing and benchmarking; managing PFI relationships; commercial skills; the use of debt in PFI projects; the use of equity in PFI projects; lessons learned from PFI and other projects.

In particular David’s project finance experience led him to encourage the NAO to examine early PFI refinancing which subsequently led to several hundred million pounds being returned to the public sector. He also led the NAO’s review of commercial skills across government and its report on the M25 widening project which showed that £1bn of a £3bn project cost could have been saved.

Prior to his move to the Public Sector David qualified as an accountant with Price Waterhouse advising major clients such as Tesco, Shell and Sir James Goldsmith’s Cavenham group and  specialising in corporate finance advisory, working mainly with companies wishing to list on the Stock Exchange.


  • 1st class honours degree, Economics and Social Studies, Manchester University
  • Chartered Accountant FCA; Accredited mediator.
Tailored in-house training

Civil Service College can deliver In-House training within your organisation that is exactly tailored to meet your individual training requirements.

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