Effective Contract Management in the Post-Carillion era

The sudden collapse of Carillion, one of the government's largest suppliers, has rung alarm bells throughout central and local government. Do you have the right systems in place to monitor your suppliers and to safeguard the delivery of public services?

At a time of unprecedented pressure on public spending budgets, it is essential that the highest possible standards are exercised in managing the thousands of contracts that have been outsourced by central and local government to the private or voluntary sectors.

The much-publicised failure of Carillion, the recent critical report on this by Parliament and previous high profile mistakes by other contractors has highlighted that public officials must be proactive in assessing whether government suppliers will face difficulties in delivering services which the public are expecting. In many cases, this will require a radically new approach to contract management.

To address these important concerns Civil Service College has designed Effective Contract Management training, as part of our Financial Management & Commercial Skills series, which will focus on contract management in the post Carillion era. The course is led by David Finlay, a well-known former director of National Audit Office who led the NAO's work on examining contracts let under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and other outsourcing arrangements.

Training Structure

Key Training Features

Who Can Attend

Learning Outcomes

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Training Structure:

The Effective Contract Management course is unique in that it can be offered in alternative formats depending on delegates needs. The structured seminar style course on Effective Contract Management enables attendees to learn alongside other contract managers about the key contract management issues which will determine whether a project succeeds or fails after contracts have been let. Attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from the other delegates about their contract management experiences. 

Alternatively, Civil Service College is able to offer an exciting opportunity for individual project teams to spend a whole day with David Finlay to work through issues they are facing on managing contracts they have let. The attendees will be able to learn about best practice in contract management and to draw up an action plan for how the project and the contract management relationships will be improved. 

For this tailored one day workshop, public sector delegates can either attend alone or with their private sector partners (an approach which can greatly improve collaborative working). At all times, the emphasis will be on identifying solutions which will ensure that public money is not wasted when greater efficiencies and savings would be possible in the management of the contract.

In addition, it would be possible for the open course format to be run for all the contract managers of a specific government department with the option for this to be held at the department's premises.

Key Training Features:

  • Consequences of ineffective contract management
  • Focus on Carillion: why the problems were not picked up earlier; the implications for managing other suppliers
  • Monitoring suppliers and assessing the risks to service delivery and value for money
  • How to deal with situations where supplier problems start to emerge
  • Contract management issues which need to be addressed before contracts are awarded
  • Seeking best value during the contract period and dealing with change
  • How to learn from experiences on other projects
  • Building successful business relationships and how to secure good outcomes in negotiations.
  • A unique contract management "health check" to enable you to assess how well you are managing your contracts

Who Can Attend:

Both the open course and the tailored one day workshop for individual projects will be suitable for: those currently developing projects who want to plan ahead for how the project will be effectively managed once a contract has been let; officials taking on the early stages of managing a contract which has just been awarded; and individuals or teams who have been managing a contract for some time but have encountered difficulties which need resolving.

Learning Outcomes:

Participants will secure an understanding of why contract management is so important and how to manage the key risks to achieving value for money which it presents. Participants will have a clearer understanding of the strategies which are needed to maximise the effectiveness of contract management and to gain early warning of problems suppliers may be facing which could affect service delivery.

For those attending with private sector partners, participants will also be able to address their own specific contract issues, working to formulate solutions that are agreeable to both parties.

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10:00 - 17:00


Price on request


Available to be delivered In-House

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.
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