Re-engineering of Architectural Services Department

Following a business review of the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD), the Government decided that ArchSD will in future focus on its strategic roles as the building authority for and steward of government buildings and as Government's corporate professional advisor on architectural policies, building planning and maintenance matters.

The Government fully appreciates the professional competency and achievements of ArchSD over the years and the review has reaffirmed the important role of the department.

"Apart from the above functions, ArchSD will in future focus more on raising the professional standards and promoting best practice in the design for buildings which are more intelligent, environmentally and user friendly, and work towards leading the local construction industry in improving its overall quality and standards in construction, site management and safety," a spokesman for the Works Bureau said.

The department will concentrate on project management and supervisory functions in delivering and maintaining public building projects.

"This will enable the department to put more focus on strategic issues and will enhance the overall professionalism in the relevant fields," the spokesman said.

As a means to raise the productivity of ArchSD and to allow the department to focus on its strategic roles, the bulk of the building and maintenance works currently undertaken by ArchSD will be outsourced to the private sector.

This will involve the outsourcing of up to 90% of all new projects approved in September 2001 and onwards, including both the professional and technical services and outsourcing/devolving up to 80% to 100% of a range of maintenance activities.

"The outsourcing initiative will not in any way undermine the quality of building and maintenance works as ArchSD will continue to provide professional advice as well as oversee and upkeep the overall standard of works," the spokesman said, "We are also committed to a smooth transition."

In explaining the benefits of the re-engineering of ArchSD, the spokesman said : "Extensive outsourcing will enable the use of resources, new technology and practices in the private sector in the delivery and maintenance of public building projects.

"It helps create a considerable number of jobs in the private sector while enabling ArchSD to concentrate on its professional role in raising the quality and standards in construction, site management and safety.

"It will enhance the productivity of the department in its service delivery in terms of the speed of delivery and the volume of building projects and greater flexibility to cope with fluctuation in the construction volume. This partnership ensures the most effective use of the expertise and resources in the public and private sectors.

As the Government has committed to increasing its investment in minor works, which has a positive effect on job creation, there will be no staff surplus to requirement in ArchSD in the next two years, the spokesman added.

"The Government has undertaken that there will be no compulsory staff redundancy arising from this outsourcing programme," he said.

An inter-departmental working group comprising all relevant parties has been set up to work out the detailed staffing arrangements and related issues such as staff retraining, staff redeployment, implementation timetable and plans etc.

"The staff will be fully consulted on these matters and we look forward to their support and co-operation in working together with the department in meeting its new challenges," the spokesman said.

End/Wednesday, January 22, 2002