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LCQ 6 : Outsourcing programme of ArchSD

Following is a question by the Hon CHAN Yuen-han and a written reply by the Secretary for Works, Mr Lee Shing-see, at the Legislative Council meeting today (March 6) :

The Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) plans to contract out its activities progressively with a view to outsourcing 90% of its new design work and 80% or even all its maintenance jobs within seven years. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of staff employed on non-civil service contract terms at present, with a breakdown by the expiry date of their contracts; and the estimated number of staff still being employed on such terms when the above outsourcing target is achieved;

(b) of the respective estimated numbers of staff, on a yearly basis, still needed and being made redundant when the above outsourcing target is achieved, with a breakdown by grades; if such estimation is not available now, the reasons for that and when it can make such estimation and submit the relevant figures to this Council;

(c) of the estimated number of staff required, on a yearly basis, for monitoring the contracting out works from now on until two years after the above outsourcing target has been met, with a breakdown by grades; if such estimation is not available now, the reasons for that and when it can make such estimation and submit the relevant figures to this Council; and

(d) whether ArchSD will offer the Voluntary Departure Scheme to its staff?

Reply :

Madam President,

(a) The Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) currently employs 32 of its staff on Non-Civil Service Contract terms. A break-down of their contract expiry dates is as follows:-

        Date of expiry of current contract       No.
  	  31 March 2002                             1
  	  31 March 2003                             24
  	  31 March 2004                             7

(b) and (c) The proposed 90% outsourcing for all ArchSD's new projects and 80% to 100% outsourcing for ArchSD's maintenance works are Government's ultimate targets. In implementing the outsourcing proposals, Government will adopt a flexible and step-by-step approach. Government will constantly review the progress of implementation of the outsourcing programme, having regard to the capability of the industry in taking on the increased works, effects on different grades of ArchSD and the staffing arrangements, as well as the standard and quality of the outsourced works so as to work out the implementation details and the required manpower resources. Government will conduct extensive staff consultation as the outsourcing programme progresses.

In fact, the planned increase in outsourcing is only part of the ArchSD re-engineering package. The Department will assume more strategic roles in future, including -

(i) strengthening its professional roles as Government's corporate adviser on public building development and maintenance matters;

(ii) working with the industry to improve the design and maintenance of public buildings and in promoting higher standards in construction, site management and safety; and

(iii) concentrating more on project management and supervisory functions in delivering and maintaining public buildings.

Additional manpower will be required to discharge the above functions. An inter-departmental working group has been set up to consider issues related to the staffing arrangements, e.g. staff retraining and staff redeployment as well as other arrangements. While the working group is making progress, it will need some time to work out the detailed arrangements. Hence, figures on the manpower requirements for each grade of staff (including staff for monitoring the outsourced works) are not yet available.

(d) As a result of Government's commitment to increasing the spending on minor works in the next two years, ArchSD will need extra staff to carry out the additional works. Thus there will not be any surplus staff in these two years. Beyond this time frame and as more projects and works are outsourced, there will eventually be some surplus staff in ArchSD. Government will work out the appropriate arrangements to deal with the matter, including retraining and redeployment, and will explore all possible options. If warranted by circumstances, Government will not rule out considering voluntary retirement. Government is confident in making the most appropriate arrangements for staff, and has undertaken that there will be no forced redundancy arising from the re-engineering exercise.

End/Wednesday, March 6, 2002

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