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Home > Administration of the civil service >> Civil service reform

Civil service reform

The Government has put in place a series of measures in the course of the Civil Service Reform since 1999.

Background

In March 1999, the Government released a Consultation Document on the Civil Service Reform. The main objective was to put forward proposals to restructure the administration of the Civil Service so as to make it more flexible and prepare ourselves to face the changes and increasingly demanding challenges in the years ahead and meet the demands of society. As a result of feedback received during the stage of consultation, the Government has drawn up more detailed proposals in the various policy areas for detailed discussion with the Staff Sides and department/grade management through working groups with staff representatives.

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Implementation of reform initiatives

Through process re-engineering, procedure streamlining and organisational review, the civil service establishment had been reduced from around 198 000 in January 2000 to about 161 000 in March 2007.  In line with the principle of prudent management of public resources, the Government will continue to keep the civil service establishment under control to maintain a lean and efficient civil service. (Details)

Following are the highlights of reform initiatives in four main areas:

1. Entry and Exit

  • On 1 June 2000, the Government introduced a new entry system and terms of appointment and conditions of service for new recruits to increase flexibility of its appointment system. (Details)
  • The Government has implemented a Civil Service Provident Fund Scheme in place of the pension system for officers who are offered appointments to the Civil Service on or after 1 June 2000 under the new set of terms of appointment and conditions of service and when they subsequently progress onto new permanent terms of appointment. (Details)
  • The Administration introduced the first and the second Voluntary Retirement (VR) Schemes in July 2000 and March 2003 respectively to enable existing staff of designated grades with identified or anticipated staff surplus to retire voluntarily with pension benefits and compensation. About 9 800 applications under the first VR Scheme and another 5 300 applications under the second VR Scheme have been approved. (Details)
  • The Administration has introduced a Management-Initiated Retirement Scheme to provide for the retirement of directorate civil servants on permanent and pensionable terms to facilitate improvement in the Government organisation since September 2000. (Details)
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2. Pay and Conditions of Service

  • To maintain the broad comparability between civil service entry pay and private sector entry pay, the Government revised the starting salaries of certain civil service grades in April 2000, August 2007 and October 2010, having regard to the findings of periodic starting salaries survey. (Details)
  • Upon the Government's invitation, the three advisory bodies on civil service salaries and conditions of service set up a Task Force to conduct a comprehensive review of the civil service pay policy and system. The review was concluded in September 2002. Accepting the Task Force's recommendation that priority should be given to devising a practical framework and methodology for conducting a pay level survey and to reviewing the pay trend survey methodology, the Government embarked on an exercise to develop an Improved Civil Service Pay Adjustment Mechanism, in consultation with the staff sides.
  • On 1 June 2000, the Government introduced a new fringe benefits package which includes revised leave earning rates, a new leave passage arrangement and a non-accountable housing allowance for new recruits. (Details)
  • It is stated Government policy to keep our civil service management system under review and to ensure that the continued provision of various allowances is justified and in line with present day circumstances. It is also the Government's commitment to enhance control over Government expenditure on the civil service allowances and to achieve savings in the next few years. Against this background, the Administration has undertaken to review all allowances payable to civil servants, including those related to the performance of duty and those provided as fringe benefits.

    We have made good progress in respect of duty-related allowances. As regards allowances payable as fringe benefits, we have been taking proactive steps over the years to modernise the provision of fringe benefit type of allowances to civil servants. As a result, new entrants joining the service after a specified date are no longer eligible for most of the fringe benefit type of allowances.

    Following staff consultation on the change proposals arising from the review of fringe benefit type of civil service allowances, we also sought the advice of the advisory bodies on civil service salaries and conditions of service on the change proposals and the submissions received. Taking account of the policy objectives of the allowance review, legal considerations, the views of the advisory bodies as well as the feedback from staff, we have finalised the package of change proposals. In considering whether an allowance should be removed or retained and what should be the appropriate rates for an allowance, we have been guided by the principles of lawfulness, reasonableness and fairness. We have also borne in mind the possible impact on eligible officers. The Finance Committee of the Legislative Council has approved the final package of change proposals at its meeting on 19 May 2006. All change measures have been fully implemented in 2007-08.
    A summary of the final change measures (PDF format)
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3. Conduct and Discipline

  • In April 2000, the Government introduced measures to streamline the existing disciplinary procedures and set up an independent Secretariat on Civil Service Discipline to handle disciplinary cases in a prompt, impartial and equitable manner. (Details)

4. Performance Management

  • The Administration has issued guidelines to tighten rules on the award of increments and reinforce the application of Civil Service Regulations on stoppage and deferment of increments for officers with substandard performance at work. They came into effect on 1 October 2000. (Details)

5. Training and Development

  • Training and development programmes are used extensively to support the implementation of the Civil Service Reform initiatives. The Cyber Learning Centre Plus website has been enhanced to provide more e-learning materials in a more systematic way to facilitate civil servants' continuous self learning anytime, anywhere.

The changes the Government has introduced will provide the necessary flexibility and capability to allow the Civil Service to respond quickly to community needs; to provide a more motivating and positive work environment; and to further a performance-based, service-oriented management culture.

The Government will continue to implement the approved reform initiatives with care and sensitivity, taking full account of the views of civil servants as well as the community at large.

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