Public servants learning to be leaders at Peppers Manor House, billed as a grand country house exuding old world country charm, have cost taxpayers more than $300,000.
They have also paid $90,000 for public servants to train at Lake Crackenback resort over the past three years, plus about $500,000 for food to be ferried to training courses in Canberra.
But Public Service Commissioner Stephen Sedgwick denies that is a waste of money because the services runs a major training business that gets value for money.
"That is not fair," Mr Sedgwick told a senate estimates committee on Monday.
Senior public servants are taken on very intensive training courses outside their workplace where they can "understand themselves as leaders in quite intensive ways".
"I don't know where the $300,000 number comes from. But I do know that the programs that I have in mind are very highly regarded... they are regarded as being great value for money," he said.
He was unable to immediately detail how $90,000 was spent at Lake Crackenback or why $500,000 was paid to Idelic cafe in Kingston, near parliament house, for training courses further south in Woden.
"We run a lot of courses in that (Woden) training centre, we have thousands and thousands of people through," he said in response to questions from Liberal senator Dean Smith.
"I don't argue with there being many sandwiches for many courses," Senator Smith said.
"But the question must be asked, is this expense necessary."
Pepper's website says it is 15 minutes from Bowral in NSW with exceptional facilities including an adjacent golf course.
On the border of Kosciuszko National Park, Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa boasts of being the perfect base to explore all facets of the Snowy Mountains.