Progress of Arch SD re-engineering programme

As part of the continued staff consultation process, the Deputy Director of Architectural Services Department (Arch SD) met staff representatives in a Joint Staff Consultation Group meeting today (December 31) to brief them on the projected future staff requirements based on the new mode of operation under the Arch SD Re-engineering Programme, the progress of outsourcing and the possible staff exit arrangements.

Under the re-engineering programme announced on January 22, 2002, Arch SD will focus on strengthening its professional role as Government's building advisor and working with the industry to improve the design and maintenance of public buildings and to promote higher standards in construction, site management and safety.

"In order to accomplish these objectives, Arch SD will outsource the bulk of the construction and maintenance works to the private sector which has the necessary expertise and delivery capacity. The Government will adopt a flexible and step-by-step approach in implementing the re-engineering programme.", a Government spokesman said.

So far, the outsourcing process has been in good progress. As at October 2002, together with other previous outsourced projects, the department has farmed out an estimated total of 52 per cent of its professional services.

The spokesman reiterated, "Despite increasing outsourced projects, the quality of works has not been compromised. Arch SD has and will continue to ensure the quality of outsourced work through appropriate service procurement arrangements, effective supervision and project management."

Based on the new mode of operation, it is envisaged that there will be no staff surplus in Arch SD up to 2003/04 because of increased commitment on minor works. Projecting to the end of 2006/07, there will be about 600 surplus posts. This projected staff requirement represents the management's medium-term assessment of the impact of the outsourcing of Arch SD services on staff resources and should not be misconstrued as rigid targets.

"Manpower requirements beyond 2006/07 are subject to the influence of many factors, such as the fiscal situation, the state of the economy and priorities of public expenditure.", the spokesman said.

The surplus staff, arising from outsourcing, will first be absorbed through natural wastage. Other possible exit options are open, including:-

(a) internal re-deployment within Arch SD to form multi-disciplinary project management teams;

(b) re-deployment to other departments to manage new works and maintenance projects upon devolution of these responsibilities and

(c) service-wide Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), if it is to be launched.

For those Arch SD staff to join the VRS if it is to be launched, the following special arrangements may be explored:-

(i) Staff to form companies to take on outsourced Arch SD services.

(ii) Consultants/contractors to take on Arch SD staff.

(iii) Consultants/contractors may employ Arch SD staff for a particular contract.

"Views and suggestions from staff on the above are most welcome and any possible exit arrangements suggested by staff will be carefully considered.", the spokesman added.

"The Government has undertaken that there will be no forced redundancy of staff under the re-engineering programme," he stressed.

End/Tuesday, December 31, 2002