The delivery of public service is labour-intensive. Any productivity enhancement therefore touches upon the "people" element. How to win the support of staff and address their concerns are the major challenges in the implementation of EPP.
To ensure that the "people" element is taken care of, we have devised a strategy to provide Controlling Officers with guidelines and advice in dealing with staff issues arising from the implementation of their EPP initiatives. The strategy also provides practical assistance in redeploying staff released from one office to another. The strategy is based on the following principles:
- facilitate bureaux' and departments' efforts in enhancing efficiency and productivity while avoiding staff redundancy;
- meet the pledged EPP targets while making full use of the human resources available; and
- manage all grades and ranks of staff in the best interest of the staff and the community when formulating EPP plans.
Through the introduction of various EPP initiatives and the corresponding human resources management strategy, the civil service establishment has been reduced from the previous estimate of some 198 000 in March 2000 to 184 300 as at 1 January 2002. Our current target is to reduce the size of the civil service to 181 000 by end March 2003. Our achievement has been made possible through deletion of vacancies, re-engineering of service delivery process, outsourcing, introduction of the Voluntary Retirement Scheme and stringent control on creation of new civil service posts.
It is our policy under EPP to avoid staff redundancy. When Controlling Officers plan reductions in their establishment and explore alternative means of service delivery, some may encounter genuine difficulties in re-absorbing staff within their departments. Therefore, in 2000-01, we introduced the Voluntary Retirement (VR) scheme. So far, out of 11 000 applications, the Administration has approved some 9 350. In view of the positive response, we envisage that the staff surplus problem in the majority of the VR grades can largely be reduced or has become manageable. The resultant savings will be used for EPP savings for 2002-03, or redeployed by the Controlling Officers for the provision of other essential services for the benefit of the community.