Hong Kong 2003
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Constitution and Administration
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Structure of the Administration

The Chief Executive is the head of the Government of the HKSAR. The Chief Secretary for Administration, the Financial Secretary or the Secretary for Justice are to deputise for the Chief Executive during his temporary absence.

There are currently 11 bureaux, each headed by a Director of Bureau, which collectively form the Government Secretariat. There are 64 departments and agencies whose heads are responsible to the Directors of Bureaux for the direction of their departments and the efficient implementation of approved policies. The exceptions are the Audit Commission, the independence of which is safeguarded by having the Director's report submitted directly to the Legislative Council; and the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Office of The Ombudsman, whose independence is safeguarded by having the Commissioner's and The Ombudsman's reports submitted directly to the Chief Executive.

Following the implementation of the Accountability System for Principal Officials on July 1, 2002, the Chief Secretary for Administration, the Financial Secretary, the Secretary for Justice and the 11 Directors of Bureaux are no longer civil servants. They are directly responsible to the Chief Executive and accountable to him for matters falling within their respective portfolios as assigned to them by the Chief Executive. They are appointed to the Executive Council. Together with five non-official members of the Executive Council, they assist the Chief Executive in policy-making.

The Government has conducted a review of the Accountability System for Principal Officials one year after its implementation. The review concluded that, in overall terms, the implementation of the Accountability System is an important step forward in constitutional development in Hong Kong and a step in the right direction. However, the Government recognises that its first year of operation was not entirely smooth. The system will take time to evolve and develop.

Role of the Chief Secretary for Administration

The Chief Secretary for Administration is the leading Principal Official of the HKSAR Government. He is the most senior among the three Secretaries of Departments available to deputise for the Chief Executive.

The Chief Secretary for Administration assists the Chief Executive in supervising the policy bureaux as directed by him and plays a key role in ensuring harmonisation in policy formulation and implementation. This is particularly important in areas which cut across policy bureaux.

The Chief Secretary for Administration also covers specific priority areas of the Chief Executive's policy agenda, and is responsible for forging a closer and more effective working relationship with the Legislative Council and for drawing up the Government's legislative programme. The Chief Secretary for Administration exercises statutory functions vested in him by law, such as those concerning certain public bodies and the handling of appeals.

Role of the Financial Secretary

The Financial Secretary reports directly to the Chief Executive. Working closely with the relevant Directors of Bureaux, he oversees policy formulation and implementation in financial, monetary, economic, trade and employment matters. He also chairs several important committees, including the Exchange Fund Advisory Committee and the Banking Advisory Committee.

The Financial Secretary is responsible under the Public Finance Ordinance for laying before the Legislative Council each year the Government's estimates of revenue and expenditure. In his annual budget speech, he outlines the Government's budgetary proposals and moves the Appropriation Bill, which gives legal effect to the annual expenditure proposals contained in the Budget.

Central Policy Unit

The Central Policy Unit provides advice on policy issues to meet the special requirements of the Chief Executive, the Chief Secretary for Administration and the Financial Secretary, and reports direct to them.

The unit consults widely with business and professional circles, political organisations and concern groups and the academic community. It undertakes in-depth examination of complex policy issues, analyses options, takes soundings of community feedback and recommends solutions for the Government's internal consideration. The unit is responsible for coordinating the annual Policy Address exercise. It also provides secretariat support for the Commission on Strategic Development, which is chaired by the Chief Executive.

Efficiency Unit

The Efficiency Unit reports directly to the Chief Secretary for Administration and is tasked with pursuing the Government's commitment to transforming the management and delivery of public services so that the community's needs are met in the most effective and efficient manner. The unit works in partnership with client bureaux and departments across the Government to identify opportunities for performance enhancement, design practical solutions, develop compelling business cases, and secure effective implementation.

The unit has played a major role in many important reform initiatives: the creation of trading funds; customer service improvements, including the development of the performance pledge programme; and the design and implementation of an integrated call centre. Other major aspects of the unit's work include greater involvement of the private sector in delivering public services, for example, through outsourcing and public private partnerships; and the undertaking of major re-engineering projects particularly where this is required to make real gains from the adoption of new technology and best management practice. All the work of the unit is focused on enhancing the quality of public services at the same time as seeking greater efficiency in the use of limited public resources.

Sustainable Development Unit

The Sustainable Development Unit, established under the Chief Secretary for Administration's Office, promotes sustainable development in both the Government and the community, and provides secretariat support to the Council for Sustainable Development.

The council was appointed by the Chief Executive in March 2003 to promote sustainable development in Hong Kong.

One of the unit's major tasks is to implement a sustainability assessment system within the Government to facilitate the integration of sustainability considerations in the decision-making process. All bureaux and departments are required to conduct sustainability assessments of their major initiatives and programmes, and explain the sustainability implications in their submissions to the Executive Council.

The unit also provides secretariat support to the Sustainable Development Fund.

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