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LCQ4: Manpower arrangement of CEEO

     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Margaret Ng and a reply by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Miss Denise Yue, in the Legislative Council today (May 9):


     In the paper on the plan to set up the Chief Executive-elect's Office (CEEO) submitted to the Panel on Constitutional Affairs of this Council on January 16, 2012, it is stated that regarding the staff establishment of CEEO, there will be only one staff member in the rank of Special Assistant (SA) which is a special appointment on non-civil service terms.  Yet the media earlier reported that the Chief Executive-elect intended to make arrangement for the post of SA to be taken up by three persons.  One of the appointees confirmed to the media on April 12, 2012 that she had been employed by CEEO on Non-Civil Service Contract terms to fill the post of Public Relations Officer.  Such a post does not exist in the original establishment of CEEO.  Some members of the public have pointed out that splitting one post for several persons to take up, irrespective of whether or not additional public funds are involved, does not comply with the original arrangement for the use of public funds, and it is against the establishment system for government officers.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  upon the splitting of the aforesaid SA post into several posts, whether the persons appointed to such posts are government officers;

(b)  whether it has assessed if the practice of splitting one single post into several posts is against the establishment system for government officers; if the outcome of the assessment is in the positive, how the Government will follow up; if the outcome of the assessment is in the negative, of the reasons for that; and

(c)  whether the Government has assessed the possible impact of the practice of splitting one single post into several posts; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     My consolidated reply to the three-part question raised by the Hon Alan Leong on behalf of Dr the Hon Margaret Ng is as follows.

     The Administration briefed the Panel on Constitutional Affairs of this Council on the plan to set up a Chief Executive-elect Office (CEEO) on January 16, 2012, more than two months before election of the fourth-term Chief Executive (CE).  A paper on the plan was submitted to the Panel before the meeting.  According to the paper, having regard to overseas practices and the situation in Hong Kong, the Administration planned to set up the CEEO, which would formally commence operation on the day the fourth-term CE was elected, namely on the March 25, this year, and would cease to operate on the June 30 this year.

     The aforesaid paper stated that the CEEO was expected to assist the CE-elect to undertake work in a number of major areas, including to form a governing team for the new term of Government within a short period of time; to prepare for drawing up a policy plan for the new Government based on the CE-elect's election platform; to make arrangements with the incumbent Government for a smooth transition; and to liaise extensively with different sectors of the community.  As such, the CEEO would need to be staffed by civil servants conversant with the Government's internal operations as well as non-civil service employees conversant with the CE-elect's manifesto and vision for governance, so as to provide effective assistance to the CE-elect and to ensure a smooth transition between the new and the existing Governments.

     Since election of the fourth-term CE had not yet taken place when the Administration planned the manpower arrangement of the CEEO, no discussion could be held with the CE-elect.  Accordingly, the Administration could only assess the likely manpower requirement on the basis of the above considerations, and suggested the provision of the 26 posts to the CEEO as set out in the Constitutional Affairs Panel paper.  Of these posts, apart from the Head of the CEEO and the Special Assistant which were to be special appointments on non-civil service terms, the rest were to be civil service posts to be filled by deployment from within the Government.  To allow flexibility, these civil service posts might also be filled from outside the Government as the CE-elect thought fit.  The Panel paper also specifically stated that if the CE-elect found it necessary to increase the manpower of the CEEO, we would make suitable arrangements.

     Following the establishment of the CEEO and having regard to the operational needs of the CE-elect, the Administration has deployed 28 civil servants to work in the CEEO.  The Administration has also agreed that in addition to the two special appointments on non-civil service terms (i.e. the Head of the CEEO and the Special Assistant), two additional non-civil service posts of Project Officer and one additional non-civil service post of Public Relations Officer would be provided to the CEEO until June 30 this year.  The additional posts are to meet the CE-elect's manpower requirement.  Holders of these additional non-civil service posts are all government employees.

     In gist, the Administration approved the provision of three additional non-civil service posts for the CEEO, and not the splitting of the Special Assistant post into several posts.  We understand that the CEEO, having considered its operational arrangement and needs, has no plan at present to appoint any person to the Special Assistant post.

     Thank you.

Ends/Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Issued at HKT 14:22


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