Public Accountability for New Accounting Officers

“A very useful and relevant programme.”

Local Government Ombudsman

The role of the Accounting (or Accountable) Officer is a key feature of the governance arrangements in the central government sector. Accounting Officers are personally responsible and accountable directly to the Westminster Parliament, Welsh Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly and Scottish Parliament for the oversight of financial management and stewardship of public funds. In some cases, particularly in ministerial departments, Accounting Officers will be called upon to give an evidence, usually based on a report of the relevant state audit body.

The course provides a thorough, up to date and tailored explanation of the key processes in and requirements that apply to the AO role. Participants will be provided with an in-depth understanding of how public money should be managed and how public businesses should be conducted (in line with the principles laid down in Managing Public Money).

This training is tailored to each participant’s personal organisational context and the content is continuously refreshed to provide participants with an up-to-date insight into central government accountability and governance arrangements.

This face-to-face course is from our Accountability & Governance series. At the Civil Service College, we tailor our courses to each attendee’s role and organisation, 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


Key Training Features:

  • Practical insight into the roles and responsibilities of an Accounting or Accountable Officer
  • The proper and proper conduct of public business, including regularity, propriety, value for money and feasibility
  • The scrutiny role of the relevant Audit Office and associated Public Accounts Committee (not only national but also in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with reference to the work of local PACs)
  • Financial aspects of public accountability for government Departments, and arm’s length public bodies.
  • Insights into how to conduct oneself when giving evidence as an AO
  • Key guidance that applies to the AO role
  • The importance of assurance and support from the ARAC and senior management colleagues
  • Video excerpts will be shown from various Public Accounts Committee hearings from throughout the UK and various case studies will be discussed as part of the course, particularly with regard to regularity, propriety and value for money.

Who Can Attend:

This course is specifically designed to meet the needs of recently appointed Chief Executives of Arm's Length Bodies, HE institutions, Academies, Public Corporations, NHS trusts and Office holders such as the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The course is also very well suited to the training needs of senior staff who work in supporting the Accounting or Accountable Officer and who need to understand their responsibilities in providing support and assurance, especially those who are taking up their first post in the central government sector.

Learning Outcomes:

Participants will gain a clear understanding of their responsibilities as Accounting/Accountable Officer with reference to the various aspects of this role as detailed in Chapter 3 of HM Treasury’s Managing Public Money. Participants will acquire a comprehensive insight into the personal responsibilities of an Accounting or Accountable Officer, and an appreciation of what it means to be an Accounting Officer in a subordinate relationship with a Principal Accounting Officer in a ministerial department. The course will look in some detail at what it means to be an ALB or NHS Accounting Officer and explains the relationship between the ALB/NHS entity and their respective sponsoring departments. The course will also provide a detailed and up to date overview of on current developments and newly issued guidance on governance and accountability in central government.




10:00 - 16:00


£650 + VAT


Civil Service College, Westminster, London


Virtual 1 October 2024 Book3

Virtual 3 December 2024 Book8

Lead Trainer

Brian Whalley OBE

Brian Whalley OBE

Brian has over 10 years of experience in training senior management and board members on accountability, governance and financial management.

Read Bio
Brian Whalley OBE

Brian Whalley OBE

Brian regularly provides induction and board development programmes for non-executive board members of government departments, executive agencies, Non-departmental Public Bodies, NHS bodies and public corporations. He has run programmes for over 100 Non-Departmental Public Bodies, and other Arm's Length Bodies, and is experienced in working in all UK jurisdictions.

Brian has written guidance material on numerous governance topics such as the management of conflicts of interest, as well as a guide to working in central government for newly appointed non-executive board members of government departments.

On an international level, Brian has delivered programmes on accountability, governance and financial management in Macedonia, Abu Dhabi, Russia, Hungary, Poland and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Brian is a qualified management accountant (ACMA), has a teaching qualification, and holds an MA in Management Learning.


‘A Guide to Propriety for RDA Board Members’, Department of Trade and Industry

‘Working in Government: A Guide for Non-executive Board Members of Government Departments’, Cabinet Office


  • Qualified management accountant (ACMA)
  • Holds a teaching qualification
  • MA in Management Learning, University of Lancaster 

"Great course, relevant materials; covered all sectors in the room."

Dudley & Walsall NHS Trust

"Impressed by the personalisation of the course - research into attendees' organisation was very evident".

UK Atomic Energy Authority

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