LCQ12 : Business Review of Architectural Services Department

Following is a question by the Hon Chan Kwok-keung and a written reply by the Secretary for Works, Mr Lee Shing-see, in the Legislative Council meeting today (January 30) :

Question :

It has been reported that the Government commissioned a six-month consultancy study in April last year to assist it in reviewing the organization and management of the Architectural Services Department (ArchsD), as well as its mode of operation and procedures in design, tendering and works supervision, and the Government has announced that it will contract out the design, construction and supervision duties for most Government buildings. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council :

(a) of the proposals made by the above consultancy study;

(b) how the current percentage of ArchSD's project design work which has been contracted out compares with the target percentage under the new arrangement;

(c) how ArchSD's staffing needs for various types of works, including management, design, tendering, site supervision and clerical duties compare to those of the existing establishment with increases in contracting out works; and

(d) whether ArchSD's procedure for contracting out will be changed?

Reply :

Madam President,

(a) The business review of the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) commissioned by Government has reaffirmed the achievements and important functions of the Department and has made a number of recommendations on its future development. Based on those recommendations, Government has decided that ArchSD's strategic roles will be as follows :-

(i) ArchSD will strengthen its professional role as Government's corporate advisor on public building development and maintenance matters;

(ii) ArchSD will expand its role in working with the industry to improve the design and maintenance of public buildings and in promoting higher standards in construction, site management and safety. The Department will work towards leading the local construction industry in raising its overall quality and standards; and

(iii) ArchSD will concentrate more on project management and supervisory functions in delivering and maintaining public buildings. This will enable the Department to put more focus on strategic issues and will enhance the overall professionalism in the relevant fields.

The decision is in line with Government's objective of improving service delivery and public sector productivity through increased partnership between the public and the private sectors. It also helps the further development of the local construction industry. In order to allow ArchSD to adopt the new strategic roles, the bulk of the building and maintenance works currently undertaken by the Department will be outsourced to the private sector which has the necessary expertise and delivery capacity.

(b) Currently, ArchSD has outsourced around 35% of design contracts to private consultants. Under the new mode of operation, ArchSD will work towards outsourcing up to 90% of all new projects. The remaining 10% to be handled in-house is for emergency projects, retaining expertise and staff training purposes. The Department will also outsource/devolve up to 80% to 100% of its maintenance activities.

(c) ArchSD will carefully analyse the effects of the proposed outsourcing programme and its new mode of operation on different categories of its staff and how they can be dealt with. An inter-departmental working group comprising all relevant parties, including the affected Head of Grades and Head of Departments, has been set up to discuss the issues related to the staffing arrangements, e.g. staff retraining and staff redeployment. The staff will be fully consulted on these matters. Government has undertaken that there will be no forced staff redundancy as a result of this outsourcing package.

(d) ArchSD will further review the current outsourcing procedures, aiming at continuous improvement in efficiency. At the same time, ArchSD will also review the recommendations made in the Report of the Construction Industry Review Committee, and update the consultant selection criteria.

End/Wednesday, January 30, 2002