Bureaux, departments and subvented organisations have been adopting a variety of measures to bring about productivity savings. These measures have one thing in common: achieving savings without affecting the quality of service. Some examples of such measures are summarised below.
Re-engineer work process
- The Inland Revenue Department re-engineered the work process to dispense with certain manual procedures in handling computer input and output in the department's Computer Section.
- The Legal Aid Department re-engineered and streamlined the workflow of the Legal Aid Assistant Teams in order to enhance operational efficiency.
- The Customs and Excise Department will implement the "Open Bond System", thereby removing the Customs attendance at the bonded warehouses for dutiable goods. As a result, the warehouse operators will be held responsible for ensuring the safekeeping and accurate reporting of the dutiable goods in the warehouses through a regime of self-regulation.
- The Government Laboratory re-engineered and developed new analytical processes to achieve savings in time and manpower.
- The Hospital Authority set up an Acute Day Rehabilitation Centre to provide medical care and intensive rehabilitation support to patients, thus lowering the demand for hospital beds.
- The Labour Department combined the offices of the Occupational Safety and Health Centre and the Occupational Health Clinic to facilitate better utilisation of manpower.
- The Treasury re-organised the department's Salaries and Allowances Division for better utilisation of resources through streamlining of existing operational procedures.
- The Official Receiver's Office restructured its Financial Services Division and reshuffled the work of personal secretaries and solicitors to enhance productivity and achieve savings without affecting the quality of service.
- The Housing Bureau streamlined work procedures in the Project Management Division and redistributed duties among Divisions in the Bureau to enhance cost effectiveness.
- The Social Welfare Department disbanded the Placement Office for the Elderly following the re-engineering of the placement process of the residential services for elders. Placement Units have been subsumed under the five Standardised Care Need Assessment Management Offices (Elderly Services) to handle admissions to residential care homes for the elderly on a district basis.
- With in-situ expansion in some rehabilitation service units and residential elderly homes, subvented non-governmental organisations in the welfare sector provide additional places in these service units (residential and day places in rehabilitation service units; and care and attention places and nursing home places in residential elderly homes) at lower unit costs.
Adjust level of service in line with demand and utilisation
- The Social Welfare Department closed Sha Kok Children's Home and Western District Day Activity Centre following a review of the utilisation of the two service units and availability of such services territory-wide.
- The Treasury downsized the Postal Remittance Office in line with reduced public demand.
- The Judiciary rationalised the workload and support staff in its Court Reporters Office following the full implementation of the Digital Audio Recording and Transcription Services in all courts.
- The Immigration Department reduces the staffing level in the relevant offices in response to the decreased demand for replacement of Hong Kong Identity Cards; births, deaths and marriage registration; and worker/extension of stay visas.
- The Home Affairs Department reviewed the need for language services and rationalises the translation services.
Reduce expenditure in various allowances
- The Inland Revenue Department reduces the requirement for overtime allowance through streamlining of office procedures and enhancement of computer applications.
- The Civil Engineering Department reduces expenditure on overtime allowance through redistribution of work and streamlining of work procedures in the Port Works Division and all divisions of the Geotechnical Engineering Office.
- The Home Affairs Bureau reduces expenditure on overtime and acting allowances by streamlining existing work process, redeploying staff to meet pressing needs and granting time-off in lieu.
- The Radio Television Hong Kong reduces spending on overtime allowance by hiring external transport services to meet demand peaks and tightening control on booking of facilities for programme production.
- The Transport Department reduces expenditure on overtime allowance and acting allowance by re-arranging work shifts, compensating overtime work by time-off in lieu and sharing the work of officers on leave.
- The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department reduces expenditure on overtime allowance through more effective staff deployment.
Contract out or hire service where it is more cost-effective
- The Social Welfare Department will close Kowloon Kitchen and adopt a more cost-effective arrangement for providing meals during emergency relief by the hospitals under the Hospital Authority.
- The Government Supplies Department abolished 13 delivery teams and contracts out the service to commercial operator.
- The Fire Services Department hires private contractors to provide catering and cleansing services at fire stations and ambulance depots.
- The Administration Wing of the Offices of the Chief Secretary for Administration and the Financial Secretary hires private security service for the Central Government Offices to achieve savings while maintaining the level of service through close monitoring.
- The Intellectual Property Department outsources non-core activities to the private sector, including information management, development and administration of computer systems, and office operation.
- The Leisure and Cultural Services Department contracts out the cleansing and supporting services in leisure services venues.
Make greater use of technology
- The Inland Revenue Department reduces the manpower required in filing and retrieval of correspondences related to employers' returns following the increase in filing of returns by electronic means.
- The Customs and Excise Department makes use of a computerised textiles traders targetting system to assist in targetting high-risk textiles consignments for checking, thereby improving its enforcement capability.
- The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices reduce expenditure by making more use of electronic means for communication and dissemination of information about Hong Kong.
- The Leisure and Cultural Services Department introduces electronic money payment facilities and automatic coin-changing machines at all public swimming pools and some sports facilities.
- The Planning Department widely uses information technology to facilitate more efficient and effective dissemination of information and production of plans, and help maintain a systematic record management system for faster information retrieval.
- The Vocational Training Council continues to widen the use of non-print learning materials (for example, web-based materials) more widely to minimise the number of new library books required.
Reduce maintenance costs for equipment
- The Marine Department reduces expenditure on vessel maintenance through better planning and tighter monitoring of the conditions of aged vessels and the stock level.
- The Government Flying Service re-organises maintenance services to reduce expenditure on maintenance of electrical and mechanical equipment.
- The Works Bureau reduces the recurrent costs of its major computer system through the use of more competitive dataline rental charges and the use of hardware with lower maintenance charges.
- The Transport Department reduces maintenance cost of equipment through a more competitive maintenance contract with the Electrical and Mechanical Services Trading Fund.
- The Information Technology Services Department reduces the maintenance cost of computer systems by critically reviewing and rescheduling hardware and software maintenance work.
Spend less on office expenses
- The Consumer Council develops new joint tests with overseas consumer organisations to reduce costs of the test projects.
- The Treasury replaces the leased communication lines by dial-up facilities which cost less but provide comparable quality of service.
- The Legal Aid Department retains serviceable peripherals of personal computers upon their replacement and economises in the procurement of furniture and office equipment.
- The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices reduce costs on office expenses as far as possible when organising functions by using its own office premises and through organising events jointly with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
- The Innovation and Technology Commission reduces expenditure on overseas duty visits through more critical examination of the service need, minimising the size of the delegation and the duration of attendance, and considering other suitable alternatives such as video conferencing.
Safeguards for Quality Service
- In implementing the above measures, Controlling Officers have to satisfy themselves that these measures will not undermine their policy objectives and that there are sufficient safeguards to preserve the quality of service. Some of the safeguards are summarised below.
Step up monitoring of services
- The quality of subvented welfare services is monitored vigorously through the Service Performance Monitoring System (SPMS) of the Social Welfare Department (SWD) which comprises Funding and Service Agreements (FSAs) and Service Quality Standards (SQSs). The FSAs set out clearly the required level of performance in respect of different subvented services and the FSAs are evaluated against the well-defined SQSs. The SPMS has been introduced progressively since 1999-2000 and is applied across the board to service units operated by both SWD and non-Government organisations.
- The Judiciary stipulates service standards in contracts for information technology on-going support and maintenance services, and closely monitors the contractors’ performance accordingly.
Monitor the performance of contractors where the services are outsourced
- The Government Property Agency adopts the "carrot-and-stick" approach in contract management to motivate Property Management Agents to achieve objective performance targets without the need for day-to-day inspections.
- Upon streamlining the operations of the Meteorological Telecommunication Centre at the department’s headquarters, the Hong Kong Observatory closely monitors the services provided by the contractor to ensure the quality is maintained.
- The Water Supplies Department contracts out the maintenance of electrical and mechanical plants in small and remote treatment works, the preparation of as-constructed drawings, and the procurement of materials for repair works. Measures to monitor the contractors' performance is developed together with staff to ensure the quality of service is maintained.
Provide suitable training, guidance and adequate support to staff
- The Inland Revenue Department provides up-to-date computer training to staff to ensure that they can fully operate the computer applications.
- The Civil Aid Service conducts a series of seminars and consultations with members to ensure that the centralisation of training will not adversely affect the performance pledges and operational effectiveness.
- The Department of Health provides suitable training and briefings to ensure that staff can adapt to changes in the modes of operations or process of service delivery.
- The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department provides training to all inspectorate officers to ensure smooth use of personal digital assistance devices in site inspection work.
We have put full details of the EPP plans of bureaux, departments and subvented organisations as well as those of the Trading Funds on Finance Bureau's web site at http://www.fstb.gov.hk/tb/. Interested parties are invited to visit the web site to browse through the details. They are also welcome to approach Finance Bureau or relevant bureaux, departments and subvented organisations to obtain hard copies of these plans.