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DO you manage public services that have been outsourced? If you encountered the scenarios as shown in the pictures on the left, what would you do? Have you encountered problems in managing contractors? Managing service contracts effectively is a challenge for most officers who are tasked with this job.

Some colleagues think that they will be free from trouble if their services are outsourced. However, outsourcing of the public services does not mean outsourcing the supervision of these services. The general public still expect the officers involved in contract management to be held accountable for the quality of the public service.

On the other hand, staff involved in contract management are easily exposed to corruption, as contractors might offer them advantages in return for favourable treatment such as:

• lax supervision

• turning a blind eye to sub-standard work or services

• certifying uncompleted or sub-standard jobs

giving favourable performance appraisals despite unsatisfactory work

So how can you manage service contracts efficiently? Here are some helpful tips:

officers have to familiarise themselves with the relevant rules and guidelines issued by the Government regarding the handling of contracts

officers should be alert to and decline any advantages offered by contractors

officers should avoid over-socialising with contractors they supervise

officers should conduct inspections or spot checks before certifying that the job is acceptable

officers should follow instructions and procedures in dealing with non-conformance and unsatisfactory performance of contractors

These suggestions are not exhaustive. You may refer to the newly published Best Practice Module – Management of Contracts for General Services by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) for more details (http://www.icac.org.hk/en/prevention_
). The booklet serves to alert officers to risks of corruption and malpractice in the letting and administration of service contracts. Past cases and scenarios are quoted to illustrate the points to note in letting and administration of service contracts. Corruption prevention best practices are recommended so that officers are protected from the risk of exposure to corruption.

In the meantime, departments might consider arranging for their staff to attend ICAC’s training sessions on contract management. A newly released training video – the Guardian Angel, features different scenarios to highlight the pitfalls of managing outsourced service contracts and the trap of corruption. It aims to ensure that staff involved in contract management have adequate knowledge of the ethical conduct that is expected of them and the importance of “supervisory accountability”.

If you are interested in the above materials and services,please contact Senior ICAC Officer, Anna Lam,
(asylam@crd.icac.org.hk)or visit ICAC website: