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With full support and active participation of all staff, we are confident that we will achieve the target savings of the Enhanced Productivity Programme (EPP) while continuing to provide to the public the highest quality of services in land administration which is the vision of the department.
 
Concerted staff effort is the driving force to achieve the department's vision, missions, and commitment in EPP. We need our staff's participation and have been working hard to provide them the most desirable working environment, equipment and supporting facilities to meet our targets. Under the EPP, we focus not only on saving money but also on spending wisely and effectively with a view to improving office environment, equipment and information technology systems, including facilities to enhance occupational safety and health, and, equally important, showing recognition to staff with outstanding performance in particular their contributions towards enhanced productivity. This has been proved to be an effective management approach to gain support of our staff and maintain their momentum to enhance productivity and professionalism.
 
To make our staff aware of the progress on EPP, we keep them and their associations informed of our EPP policy and initiatives through regular meetings and the Departmental Consultative Committee meetings. The Department has been striving for enhanced productivity and professionalism under four main areas which include streamlining and re-engineering the delivery of services, better redeployment of resources and re-prioritising targets and work, use of enhanced information technology, and effective use of resources under enhanced control measures and green initiatives.
(i) Streamlining and Re-engineering the Delivery of Services
Processing of Small House Applications

The Village Improvement and Control Section and the New Territories District Lands Offices of the Land Administration Office (LAO) worked together to streamline procedures and re-engineer the processing of the Small House applications. A workshop approach (which pools resources in case processing) and a new system of interviews and site visits have also been implemented. As a result, we are able to shorten the average processing time of the Small House grants for the more straight forward cases.

Clearance of Black Spots in New Territories

The Black Spots Task Force of the LAO has been achieving an above target clearance performance in the past years through better planned and co-ordinated programmes for site inspection of black spots and follow-up action including land control and grant of short term tenancies or short term waivers.

Land Valuation

The Valuation Section of the LAO has introduced an improved system of analysing the nature of land transactions to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the valuation process in conjunction with streamlined procedures for land valuation analysis.

Updating of Map Database

To enhance the quality and content of the mapping database to meet the rapid and dynamic development of Hong Kong, a comprehensive map updating exercise was carried out by the Survey and Mapping Office (SMO) in 2000. With the help of aerial photographs coupled with site inspections by survey supporting staff, map updating work has been streamlined and the efficiency has been greatly enhanced.

Grant of Deeds of Mutual Covenant Approvals

The Legal Advisory and Conveyancing Office (LACO) has streamlined procedures for processing of the approvals of the Deeds of Mutual Covenant (DMC) and issued clear instructions on the new procedures to private solicitors and other interested parties for their co-operation and compliance.

Continued Effort for EPP through Streamlining of Procedures

The LACO continues to review and streamline existing procedures and guidelines to expedite the processing of applications for the approval of DMC, including contracting out to private solicitors. Apart from streamlining the existing administration and accounting procedures by the Departmental Administration Office, new value-added work such as internal auditing is planned to be carried out with a view to exploiting further EPP initiatives.
 

 
(ii) Redeployment of Resources and Re-prioritisation of Targets

The LAO has critically reviewed the priorities of targets and deployment of resources to face the challenge of a downsized workforce due to natural wastage while upholding the productivity and quality of services. To best utilise staff resources, sections are willing to re-prioritise tasks and to ensure that all priority tasks are adequately handled. For example, the Estate Management Section has implemented a new system of conducting building inspections and enforcement involving re-prioritisation of targets for lease enforcement action including issue of warning letters under the lease conditions to users of private land for their self-rectification. It has also redistributed professional estate surveying duties after completion of major clearances of Government owned pre-war buildings. On the other hand, the Slope Maintenance Section re-prioritises and redistributes duties of the team members who have been provided with suitable training to ensure effective management of contractors. The District Land Offices have been re-prioritising resources for land acquisition and land control works so as to make the best use of their resources.
 
The District Survey Offices of the Survey and Mapping Office (SMO) have exercised greater flexibility in re-deployment of staff between the Topographic Survey and Cadastral Survey Sections so as to optimise utilisation of their staff resources and to deliver quality services.
 
All offices have been co-operatively adopting a more flexible approach in deployment of staff resources in coping with the deletion of all leave relief posts.
(iii) Information Technology Improvement

An Office Automation System (OAS) was implemented in the LAO and the LACO respectively in 1996 and 2000 while that for the SMO is still being developed. To maximise the benefits of the use of information technology (IT), staff are given extensive computer training courses, clear instructions and guidelines and computer application support. With timely and efficient communication in the day-to-day operation as information and documentation can be conveniently exchanged under an electronic platform, we are able to reduce our need for typing and despatch services. We envisage that when the OAS is fully implemented in the department, further gains in terms of productivity and resources savings will be realised.
 
The LAO implemented a Land Acquisition System in 2000. The system allows more effective planning, management and monitoring mechanism for land acquisition projects in the urban area and the New Territories whereby productivity is gained through better re-deployment of staff resources.
 
The Land Information Centre of the SMO has been trying every endeavour to maximise the efficiency gain through implementation of IT strategies including replacement of obsolete and inefficient computer equipment and provision of training for staff to acquire updated knowledge on new technology. The outdated electrostatic plotters generating chemical wastes have been replaced by environmental-friendly plotters that use greener and less expensive consumables. On the other hand, the SMO promotes wider use of digital map products in place of paper maps to reduce paper consumption. In this way, a reliable and efficient production environment for timely delivery of high quality services/products to the public and user departments has been established.
 
The SMO is developing a Territorial Continuous Global Positioning System Array for Hong Kong, to be in full operation by mid-2002. The System will modernise and improve the efficiency of the land and engineering survey operations and other surveying and mapping work. It will bring about substantial savings in manpower resources and equipment in three years time after its full implementation.
(iv) Enhanced Control Measures and Green Initiatives

After gaining experience in cost-effective spending, the Lands Department has been implementing suitable enhanced expenditure control measures. Guidelines and circulars on overtime allowances, mileage and travelling allowances, Land Registry (LR) service fees and security guard services for unallocated and unleased Government land have been regularly and carefully reviewed and revised. Staff have been reminded of cost effective spending and overtime allowances are only granted when strictly unavoidable and granting of time-off impossible. Section Heads, supervisors, claimants and Accounts Office are required to exercise utmost stringency in approving and processing mileage and travelling allowance claims according to the department-wide acceptable standard of cost-effectiveness. Through better planning in the use of Government vehicles for field work, we have reduced considerably the claims of duty mileage allowances. Further savings have been achieved when home-to-office mileage and travelling allowances were abandoned with effect from 1 April 2000 under the new Civil Service Regulations.

For the LR services, land searches are only carried out on a justified need basis and on a user-to-pay principle such as private applicants for lease modification are asked to reimburse the cost of LR service fees incurred in their cases. As regards to management of Government land, the District Land Offices closely supervise the unallocated and unleased Government land sites, arrange more focused maintenance works and provide patrolling security guard services to reduce the number of sites requiring guarded security services, which at the same time do not make Government land sites more vulnerable to intrusion. In this connection, the expenditure saved and other cost effective measures have allowed the re-deployment of resources to meet the increasing demand in grass-cutting on the Government land sites. By means of the enhanced control measures, the budget of major departmental expenses are more manageable and less likely to be affected by any surge in costs.

We carefully plan the replacement and procurement of office equipment and supplies. We have also reduced expenditure through adoption of the green initiatives including economy use of paper, electricity and consumables as well as selection of stores and office equipment which also have to meet our standard of occupational safety and health and green management.

The Lands Department has achieved EPP gains of $15.971 million and $26.835 million involving deletion of 51 posts and 79 posts in 2000-01 and 2001-02 respectively. With our relentless efforts, we will achieve a further gain of $29.215 million in 2002-03 which yields a cumulative 5% EPP gain of $72.021 million in three years. The contribution of various measures towards EPP gains is illustrated in the following pie-chart:

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We appreciate the co-operation of our staff, their creative ideas and constructive suggestions to help resolve difficulties encountered during the process of delivering the EPP initiatives and lead to the achievement of our EPP gains.


Lands Department
June 2001

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The Director and his staff with contribution to EPP in the Outstanding Staff Award Presentation Ceremony
 

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