The Civil Service employs about 4.7 per cent of Hong Kong's labour force.
It provides staff for all government departments and other units of the
Administration. At December 31, the total strength of the Civil Service
was 164 700 (excluding about 1 500 ICAC and judicial officers).
Overall policy responsibility for the management of
the Civil Service lies with the Civil Service Bureau of the Government
Secretariat. It includes policies on matters such as appointments, pay
and conditions of service, staff management, manpower planning, training
and discipline. The bureau is also the focal point for consultation with
major staff associations and its General Grades Office manages the 26
800 executive, clerical and secretarial staff. Management of the Civil
Service is governed mainly by three important instruments: the Public
Service (Administration) Order, the Public Service (Disciplinary) Regulation,
and the Civil Service Regulation, all made with the authority of the Chief
The Public Service Commission is an independent statutory
body set up in 1950 under the Public Service Commission Ordinance to advise
the Chief Executive on appointment, promotion and disciplinary matters
in the Civil Service. The Government is also advised on matters relating
to pay and conditions of service by four independent bodies: the Standing
Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service (directorate
officers excluding judicial officers and the disciplined services); the
Standing Committee on Judicial Salaries and Conditions of Service (the
judicial officers); the Standing Committee on Disciplined Services Salaries
and Conditions of Service (the disciplined services); and the Standing
Commission on Civil Service Salaries and Conditions of Service (all other
In accordance with the Basic Law, Principal Officials
must be Chinese citizens who are permanent residents of the HKSAR with
no right of abode in any foreign country and have ordinarily resided in
Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 15 years. It is also
a Basic Law requirement that new recruits to the Civil Service on or after
July 1, 1997 should normally be permanent residents of the HKSAR, save
for certain exceptions, for example to fill professional and technical
Subject to the above policy, appointment to the Civil
Service is based on open and fair competition which aims to recruit the
'best person for the job'. Promotion is performance-based and is not a
reward for long service. As the largest employer in Hong Kong, the Government
takes the lead in employing people with a disability to help them integrate
into the community and ensure that they are given equal opportunity in
recruitment to the Civil Service.
The Government monitors closely the turnover in the
Civil Service for manpower planning purposes. Overall wastage in the Civil
Service in 2002-03 was 3.6 per cent. Following the introduction of the
Voluntary Departure Scheme (VDS) and the first Voluntary Retirement Scheme
(VRS) in March and July 2000 respectively, the wastage rate had risen
to 5.7 per cent in 2001-02. With the departure of participants in the
above two schemes, the wastage rate began to level out at 3.6 per cent
in 2002-03. The VDS was implemented to enable civil servants in designated
grades in the Housing Department to leave the service voluntarily to facilitate
a phased transfer of Housing Authority estate management and maintenance
services to the private sector. The first VRS was launched to allow eligible
civil servants in designated grades with identified or anticipated surplus
staff to retire from the service voluntarily with retirement benefits
and compensation. Given the importance of continuity at the management
level, the Government has a well-established staff planning mechanism
to review succession planning of senior staff and to identify and groom
officers with potential for advancement to senior management, in order
to develop a pool of talent for senior positions.
The Government values regular communication and consultation
with staff. There are four consultative councils at the central level:
Senior Civil Service Council, Model Scale 1 Staff Consultative Council,
Disciplined Services Consultative Council and Police Force Council. More
than 80 consultative committees operate at the departmental level. A Civil
Service Newsletter is published regularly to provide an added link with
serving and retired civil servants.
Staff commitment and contributions are recognised
in various forms including appreciation letters, commendations and honours
or awards. Long Service Travel Awards, Long and Meritorious Service Awards
and retirement souvenirs are given to staff having long and meritorious
service. An Outstanding Customer Service Award Scheme was launched in
2003 to recognise the efforts and achievement of bureaux and departments
and their staff in providing quality customer service to the public and
to further promote a customer-focused culture in the Civil Service.
In March 1999, the Government released a Consultation Document on Civil
Service Reform. The main objective was to put forward proposals to modernise
the administration of the Civil Service so as to make it more flexible
and prepare staff to face the changes and increasingly demanding challenges
in the years ahead and meet the demands of society. As a result of feedback
received during the consultation, the Government has drawn up more detailed
proposals in the various policy areas for detailed discussion with the
Staff Sides and department/grade management through working groups that
have staff representatives.
Following are the highlights of reform initiatives
in four main areas:
On June 1, 2000, the Government introduced a new entry system and terms
of appointment for new recruits to the Civil Service to increase the flexibility
of its appointment system.
In June 2003, the Government implemented a Civil Service
Provident Fund Scheme to replace the pension schemes as the retirement
benefits system for officers who are offered appointments to the Civil
Service on or after June 1, 2000 under the new entry terms and when they
subsequently progress onto permanent terms of appointment.
In 2003, the Government set the target to reduce the
civil service establishment to around 160 000 by 2006-07. To help achieve
this target, a general recruitment freeze was imposed with effect from
April 1, 2003.
In July 2000, the Administration introduced a Voluntary Retirement Scheme
(VRS) to enable staff of 59 designated grades with an identified or anticipated
staff surplus to retire from the service voluntarily with compensation
and pension payments. About 9 800 applications were approved. In March
2003, the Administration introduced the second VRS to enable identified
or potential surplus staff in specified ranks/streams of 229 designated
grades to leave the service voluntarily so as to reduce the civil service
establishment and bring about long-term savings to the Government. About
5 300 applications were approved.
The Administration has since September 2000 introduced
a Management-Initiated Retirement Scheme to provide for the retirement
of directorate civil servants on permanent and pensionable terms to facilitate
improvement in the government organisation.
The current pay policy for the Civil Service is to offer sufficient remuneration
to attract, retain, and motivate staff of a suitable calibre to provide
the public with an effective and efficient service. Such remuneration
should be regarded as fair by both civil servants and the public they
serve. Within these parameters, broad comparability with the private sector
is an important factor in setting civil service pay.
As part of ongoing efforts to modernise the management
of the Civil Service and to address public comments on the existing civil
service pay adjustment mechanism, the Government has embarked on an exercise
to develop an improved pay adjustment mechanism for long-term adoption
in the service. The objective of the exercise is to put in place an improved
mechanism which reflects the civil service pay policy and upholds the
principle of maintaining broad comparability between civil service pay
and private sector pay. The exercise includes the conduct of a pay level
survey, improvement to the methodology for the conduct of annual pay trend
surveys and the development of an effective means for implementing both
upward and downward pay adjustments.
In April 2003, the Civil Service Bureau established
a steering committee and a consultative group to provide professional
input and staff views to the exercise. In November, the Civil Service
Bureau issued a progress report setting out the policy considerations
as well as the timetable for taking forward the exercise. The aim is to
complete the whole exercise, including the conduct of a pay level survey,
in the second quarter of 2005.
In April 2000, the Government introduced measures to streamline the disciplinary
procedures and set up an independent Secretariat on Civil Service Discipline
to handle disciplinary cases in a prompt, impartial and equitable manner.
Training and development programmes are used extensively to support the
implementation of the reform initiatives. The Government acquired funding
of $50 million to introduce a Three-year Training and Development Programme
from 2001-02 to 2003-04. The programme focuses on three main themes, namely,
training for staff affected by the Voluntary Retirement exercise, training
to equip staff with the requisite skills and knowledge to implement the
Civil Service Reform initiatives and promoting a continuous learning culture
in the Civil Service.
Since 2001-02, more than 2 600 seminars and courses
on various subjects have been offered to about 72 000 staff. Most of them
are junior staff. In support of the second VRS launched in March 2003,
the Three-year Training and Development Programme will be extended to
2004-05 to provide training to staff affected by the scheme, thereby assisting
them in adapting to the new working environment.
The Government is committed to providing civil servants with training
programmes that will equip them with the skills and knowledge necessary
for providing quality service to the public. The Civil Service Training
and Development Institute (CSTDI) is the Government's central training
and development agency. The institute provides general training and advisory
services to bureaux and departments, and it also promotes a culture of
continuous learning in the Civil Service.
To encourage departments and grades to think and plan
ahead so that their corporate goals can be more effectively supported
by training and development activities, the institute has for some years
been promoting the formulation of departmental training and development
plans. By 2003, all departments and grades had drawn up their own detailed
plans. In the coming years, the institute will continue to assist departments
and grades in deriving full benefits from the annually rolled forward
training and development planning process.
The CSTDI continued to accord priority to leadership
development in 2003. A 'Directorate Leadership Scheme' to strengthen the
leadership capacity of senior officers and a 'Leadership In Action' Programme
designed to groom senior officers with high potential for further career
development were launched. Also, a series of seminars was held jointly
with three private sector organisations to facilitate the exchange of
ideas and best practices in corporate leadership. A forum on 'Continuous
Improvement Through People' was held for about 300 professional officers
from different bureaux and departments to facilitate the sharing of experience
in implementing continuous improvement and service enhancement initiatives.
Building on the cyber-learning infrastructure put
in place since 2000, the institute has made sustained efforts to enrich
the content and to upgrade the functions of the Government's e-learning
portal, the Cyber Learning Centre Plus (CLC Plus). The portal provides
a one-stop access to a wide spectrum of training and development information
and learning resources for staff at different levels. The number of registered
users grew to over 35 000 in 2003.
Continuous emphasis has been placed on national studies
programmes, including staff exchange programmes with Mainland institutions.
Besides the programmes offered by the Tsinghua University and the National
School of Administration, the Peking University has been commissioned
to organise programmes on national affairs for senior civil servants,
starting from 2004. During the year, the CSTDI also arranged a series
of seminars to help civil servants better understand the opportunities
and challenges that the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement with the
Mainland provides for Hong Kong. Updated and more comprehensive job-related
reference materials were added to the CLC Plus to help keep civil servants
abreast of latest developments in the Greater Pearl River Delta region.
A variety of courses and promotional activities were organised on a continuing
basis to enhance civil servants' knowledge of the Basic Law.
During the year, the Administration completed a review
of the CSTDI's operations with a view to rationalising service delivery.
Starting from April 2004, the institute will be subsumed under the Civil
Service Bureau, in the interests of achieving greater efficiency and economy
in operation. The institute will continue to focus on its core business
of delivering cost-effective training and development and consulting services
to its clients.