LCQ13: Promoting development of information and communications technology industry
Following is a question by the Hon Christopher Chung and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the Legislative Council meeting today (June 25):
Regarding the support provided by the Government and relevant organisations for promoting the development of the innovation and information technology (IIT) industries in Hong Kong, e.g. subsidies/sponsorships for various activities such as visits, exhibitions, seminars, forums, workshops and training courses as well as perfecting the system for recognition of information and communications technology professional qualifications, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the respective numbers of activities/projects, which aimed at promoting IIT development, subsidised by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) and the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC), in each of the past five years, and set out, by name of the organisation subsidised, in a table the titles and nature of the activities/projects, the subsidising department (OGCIO/ITC), dates of the activities/projects, amounts of the subsidies and numbers of times that the organisations concerned had been subsidised;
(2) of the respective criteria based on which OGCIO and ITC decide whether or not to subsidise an organisation or activity/project, as well as the scope and amount of a subsidy to be granted; of the specific policy bases for such criteria, and the persons (if government officials are involved, of their ranks) responsible for vetting and approving the applications for subsidies;
(3) whether it knows the respective numbers of activities/projects, which aimed at promoting the development of IIT, sponsored by the Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited (Cyberport) and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (STP) in terms of money or venues, in each of the past five years, and set out, by name of the organisation sponsored, in a table the titles and nature of the activities/projects, dates of the activities/projects, amounts and/or venues sponsored and numbers of times the organisations concerned had been sponsored;
(4) whether it knows the respective criteria based on which Cyberport and STP decide whether or not to sponsor an organisation or activity/project, as well as the form and amount of a sponsorship to be offered; of the specific policy bases for such criteria, and the persons (if government officials are involved, of their ranks) responsible for vetting and approving applications for sponsorships;
(5) whether it knows, since the establishment in 2007 of the Hong Kong Institute for IT Professional Certification (HKITPC), which is responsible for assessment and certification of information technology (IT) professional qualifications, the total number of IT professional certifications that the Institute has awarded, the total amount of subsidies that the Institute has received from the Government and the format (one-off or recurrent) of such subsidies, the total number of persons that the Institute has awarded certifications, and the status of the Institute's certifications being recognised by relevant professional bodies in Hong Kong and on the Mainland as well as internationally;
(6) given that the Government currently proposes the establishment of a unified information and communications technology professional recognition framework (unified framework), of the differences between the positioning of this framework and that of HKITPC; whether it has assessed if there is any overlap of the functions of these two entities in concurrently awarding certifications and if there is any waste of resources in this respect; if it has assessed, of the findings; and
(7) as it is reported that currently the certifications awarded by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and the British Computer Society (Hong Kong Section) gained recognition of professional qualifications internationally and on the Mainland through the professional recognition by the Engineers Registration Board, whether there will be/is a similar mechanism for mutual recognition of the certifications to be awarded by the unified framework proposed by the Government and being awarded by HKITPC, so as to avoid creating extra pressure on local IT practitioners arising from the need to sit for different examinations in order to obtain different professional certifications?
My reply to the seven-part question is as follows:
(1) The projects funded by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) and the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) under the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) from 2009-10 to 2013-14 are set out at Annexes A and B respectively.
(2) OGCIO is a government department responsible for the development of information and communications technology (ICT) within and outside Government. One of its missions is to promote and facilitate the wider use of ICT in the business sector and the community, and develop Hong Kong into a digitally inclusive knowledge-based society. In this connection, subject to resource availability, OGCIO will make use of departmental funding to support IT projects initiated by local organisations, in order to tap community wisdom, leverage industry network, reinforce collaboration between the Government and the industry, and jointly create an atmosphere for developing the ICT industry in Hong Kong. Since 2011-12, we set sponsorship themes in consultation with the Digital 21 Strategy Advisory Committee (D21SAC) every year and openly invited proposals under these themes.
OGCIO devises the criteria and marking schemes for assessing the proposals under each specific theme, which are scrutinised and approved by the Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO), and are set out in the corresponding Requests for Proposals. The assessment criteria typically include cost-effectiveness, feasibility, practicability, uniqueness and sustainability, as well as the track record and management capability of the proponents.
All eligible proposals are assessed by an evaluation panel chaired by a Deputy Government Chief Information Officer. Depending on the nature of the theme, representatives from relevant government departments, members of D21SAC and the industry are invited to participate in the assessment so as to take into account industry views. The evaluation panel's recommendations will be submitted to GCIO for approval.
As regards the ITC, it administers the General Support Programme (GSP) under the ITF to support non-R&D projects that contribute to the upgrading and development of our industries as well as fostering of an innovation and technology culture in Hong Kong. Projects supported under the GSP include conferences, exhibitions, seminars, workshops, promotional events, studies and surveys, etc.
All applications will first be considered by a Vetting Committee comprising members from the industry, academia and professional sector based on the GSP assessment framework. The Vetting Committee will then make recommendations to the Commissioner for Innovation and Technology (CIT) for approval.
In assessing project applications, CIT and the Vetting Committee will consider a number of factors based on the GSP assessment framework, which include expected social impact, government policies, quality of submission, management capability of the applicant and financial assessment.
(3) The projects sponsored by the Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited (Cyberport) and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (Science Park) from 2009-10 to 2013-14 are set out at Annexes C and D.
(4) Cyberport and Science Park follow their sponsorship policies and guidelines in providing sponsorship to other organisations in the form of cash reimbursement of actual expenses or venue. The major approval criteria include whether the sponsored activities align with the missions and goals of Cyberport and Science Park, whether the activities are conducive to enhancing their images and strengthening their collaboration with the industry. Depending on the amount of sponsorship sought, the sponsorship applications are approved by the management or the Board of Cyberport and Science Park.
(5) The Hong Kong Institute for IT Professional Certification (HKITPC) is a non-profit organisation established by IT professionals in 2007. To our understanding, HKITPC has so far offered six certifications under the Certified Professional of IT (CPIT) scheme. Among these certifications, three of them are assessment-based senior professional certifications, namely, "Project Director", "Systems Architect" and "Quality Assurance Manager". The other three are examination-based professional certifications, namely, "Associate Project Manager", "Information Security Officer" and "Business Analyst".
The OGCIO provided one-off subsidies of $900,000 and $960,000 to the Hong Kong Computer Society (HKCS) in 2005 and 2007 respectively to develop the CPIT scheme and launch a pilot programme. In 2013, the HKITPC also obtained a one-off subsidy of $230,000 from the Government's Professional Services Development Assistance Scheme to implement the project "Promoting the Hong Kong Certified Professional IT Certification Scheme". According to the information provided by the HKITPC, for the 375 persons applied for the CPIT certifications, 172 persons (accounting for 46 per cent of the total number) have successfully obtained the certifications. The passing rates of senior professional certifications and professional certifications are 69 per cent and 34 per cent respectively.
To our understanding, the HKCS / HKITPC signed a one-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2010 with the Guangdong Modern Information Service Industry Association on cooperation between Hong Kong and Guangdong for the promotion of IT professional certifications in the two places. In 2014, HKCS / HKITPC also signed a MOU with the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF) Hong Kong Chapter to enhance collaboration.
(6) The HKITPC awards certifications to individuals based on the knowledge, skills, competency and work experience of the practitioners, whereas the proposed unified ICT professional recognition framework (unified framework) recognises those professional qualification schemes that have achieved a certain level of professional standard (rather than individual professionals). As the positioning of the HKITPC and the proposed unified framework is different, there is no overlap of their functions.
(7) At present, members of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE) and the British Computer Society (BCS) can register as a Registered Professional Engineer via the Engineers Registration Board in accordance with the Engineers Registration Ordinance. Both HKIE and BCS also provide professional qualifications that are recognised internationally. For mutual recognition with the Mainland, the arrangement between HKIE and the China Association for Science and Technology covers only the mechanical, electrical, and manufacturing & industrial engineering disciplines but not the ICT discipline. Currently, there is no similar mechanism for mutual recognition of the certifications awarded by the HKITPC.
To facilitate international recognition, the proposed unified framework makes reference to the "Skills Framework for the Information Age" which is being used in over 100 countries / economies. Besides, the proposed unified framework could embrace different ICT professional qualification schemes, thus would facilitate useful discussion of mutual recognition arrangement with other places (including the Mainland). ICT practitioners could select the professional qualification schemes that best suit their career path and development needs for recognition under the proposed unified framework. This would also help relieve their pressure arising from the need to obtain different professional certifications.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014