Staff of the C&CD explained to traders and transport carriers about our work on processing of trade documents.
The road to EPP is not totally smooth for the Census & Statistics Department (C&SD). To an already 'slim and fit' department like C&SD, the mission of achieving savings while maintaining quality services and meeting new service demands is challenging. C&SD has taken immediate and positive response to this challenge. Effective actions have been taken under four main areas which include re-engineering of work procedures, establishing rapport with respondents, organisational restructuring and adoption of IT. Examples in the ensuing paragraphs are illustrative of how these actions have enabled C&SD to achieve a saving of $17.30 million in 2001-02.

Re-engineering of Work Procedures
Divisional heads constantly review the duty areas of their own working units with a view to streamlining the work procedures. In the Trade Statistics Branches, for example, the work of updating the commodity classification system for trade declaration has been de-centralised to different units with specialised knowledge over various commodity groups of imports or exports. Specialisation has not only enhanced efficiency, but also speeded up the updating of the commodity classification system.

The 2001 Population Census is another example. The fieldwork procedures for non-residential buildings were critically examined and re-designed. As a result, enumerators would not visit those known vacant units as previously confirmed by the building management offices. The number of field visits and temporary field workers required were thus significantly reduced.

Establishing Rapport with Respondents
The timely release of statistics depends much on the co-operation of respondents. To this end, Economic Statistics Division (1) has taken the initiative to conduct seminars and distribute publicity materials to traders and transport carriers on the correct ways of submitting declarations and cargo manifests. Economic Statistics Division (2) has arranged courtesy visits to the senior management of prominent firms to explain to them the purposes of the department's surveys and the importance of the timely return of questionnaires. Furthermore, we also adopt a one-officer-contact approach in both Divisions to minimise the burden of respondents/firms selected to participate in multi-surveys. Under this approach, only one field officer will be assigned to handle all survey forms targeted to the same respondent/firm and to answer any enquiries which may arise. These activities have expedited data collection and improved data quality.

Organisational Restructuring
Through careful deliberations and detailed logistic planning, several re-organisation exercises have taken place. For example, some units involved in processing land manifests were combined to reduce administrative overheads and streamline supervisory functions. The workload and responsibilities of staff in two data processing branches were also reviewed resulting in the merger of the two branches.

Adoption of IT
A digital mapping system has recently been developed, with information provided by the Lands Department, to conduct household surveys and population censuses. The replacement of some 3,000 paper maps which contain addresses of all quarters in Hong Kong by digital maps has resulted in a more efficient and dynamic system. Information can be retrieved easily and amendment of maps can be done in a neat and tidy manner. The number of field visits for updating these maps has been reduced.

The development of office automation in the department is progressing in a most satisfactory manner. All division/branch/section heads have been equipped with their own personal computers while other staff are using computers on a shared basis. At present, around 1,100 personal computers have been installed in the department to facilitate internal communication and enhance work efficiency. Moreover, electronic data reporting system and computer-aided validation checks have been introduced in many areas of work. Manual checks by outdoor staff can thus be minimised without sacrificing data quality.

The above initiatives cannot be realised without the full commitment of staff. In order to build up team rapport and cohesiveness, all branch/section heads regularly discuss with their staff to enhance mutual understanding and develop common goals. C&SD will continue to explore more innovative and effective ways to strive for improvement in its value-for-money services to the public.

Census and Statistics Department
October 2001

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Staff is converting information on paper maps to digital form.Replacing paper maps by digital maps improves work efficiency.
 

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