LCQ10: Employment of information technology staff by Government
Following is a question by the Dr Hon Samson Tam and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, in the Legislative Council today (July 8):
Regarding the employment of information technology (IT) staff by the Government, as well as the employment of such staff by outsourced service providers for government IT projects, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the establishment, the respective numbers of civil servants and non-civil service contract staff among the serving staff, the number of vacancies, and whether it knows the number of staff of outsourced service providers, in respect of each IT-related grade in each of the past three years;
(b) of the names of the 10 policy bureaux/government departments with the highest number of serving non-civil service contract staff in (a), the number of such staff, as well as the longest and average periods of their continuous employment; whether the authorities will consider converting those posts which need to be filled on a long-term basis to permanent establishment posts; if they will, of the details (including the government departments and posts involved) and the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that;
(c) of the policy bureaux/government departments to which the vacancies in (a) belonged; the longest and average periods during which such posts had remained vacant; the reasons for not having such vacancies filled; whether such reasons were related to individual grades being classified as "controlled grades"; if so, of the grades involved, and whether these grades will be removed from the list of "controlled grades"; if they will, of the details and the earliest implementation date; if not, the reasons for that;
(d) of the policy bureaux/government departments which plan to recruit IT staff in 2009-2010, the posts and number of staff involved, the respective numbers of existing and new posts, as well as the respective numbers of staff to be employed on civil servant and non-civil service contract terms; and
(e) whether the authorities will conduct a comprehensive review on the demand of the various policy bureaux/government departments for IT staff; if so, of the details, and whether they will formulate a long-term strategy for IT manpower to tie in with the overall needs of Hong Kong and the need to develop an e-government; if no such review will be conducted, the reasons for that?
Regarding the questions raised by the Dr Hon Samson Tam, my reply is as follows: (a) There are three Information Technology (IT)-related grades in the civil service, namely the Analyst/Programmer (AP), the Computer Operator (COp) and the Data Processor (DP) grades. The Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO) is the Head of these grades, and is responsible for their grade management and recruitment matters. The IT manpower position in the Government over the past 3 years is summarised in Annex I. Apart from civil servants and Non-Civil Service Contract (NCSC) staff, bureaux and departments (B/Ds) also engage IT staff via a term contract (commonly referred to as the T-contract) centrally managed by the Office of GCIO (OGCIO). Figures on IT staff employed for IT projects and services outsourced to the private sector either on a turnkey or assignment basis are not available.
(b) The ten B/Ds employing the largest number of NCSC IT staff as at March 31, 2009 are listed in Annex II. Amongst these staff, the longest length of service was nine years and nine months, while the average was about two years.
Civil Service Bureau (CSB), jointly with B/Ds, conducted a special review on the employment situation of NCSC staff in 2006. As far as NCSC IT staff are concerned, the outcome revealed that the majority of them were employed within the ambit of the NCSC Staff Scheme. The review also identified some 40 NCSC IT positions undertaking duties that should more appropriately be performed by civil servants. Details of these positions are set out in Annex III. These NCSC positions are being phased out and replaced by civil service posts having regard to the end-dates of the employment contracts of the NCSC staff concerned and the lead-time for filling the replacement civil service posts.
(c) Details of the vacancies in the AP, COp and DP grades in the past three years are set out in Annex IV.
In 2003, the AP grade was included in the Second Voluntary Retirement (VRII) Scheme as there was anticipated manpower surplus in the grade. 17 officers from the AP grade retired under VRII. To maintain the financial integrity of VRII Scheme, the grade was subject to an open recruitment freeze ending in March 2008.
There were a total of 59 civil service vacancies in the AP grade as at end March 2009. OGCIO has just completed a comprehensive review on the future positioning and manpower requirements of the grade. As the outcome of the review may have an impact on the long-term manpower need of the grade, the grade is categorised as a controlled grade and its open recruitment subject to CSB's approval. CSB is currently considering the review report submitted by OGCIO.
On average, the AP vacancies as at end March 2009 had been vacant for one year and three months.
As far as the COp and DP grades are concerned, manpower plans from B/Ds reveal that there will be surplus staff in both grades in the coming years. There is therefore currently no recruitment plan for the grades. Vacancies in individual B/Ds can be tackled through redeployment of existing staff where necessary.
(d) As mentioned in (c), CSB is currently considering the review report recently submitted by OGCIO. Subject to CSB's consideration, OGCIO will work out a recruitment plan as appropriate.
With regard to NCSC staff, B/Ds employ them to meet service needs which are time-limited or do not require keeping staff on a permanent basis. Accordingly, the number and type of NCSC positions will fluctuate from time to time having regard to individual B/Ds' changing service and operational requirements. We are therefore not able to provide the information required.
(e) OGCIO regularly reviews the developments of the grades under its purview in terms of their composition, responsibilities and functions, qualifications and competencies in response to the changing nature of and demand for IT services over the years. Such a review was initiated in 2007 in the context of updating the Digital 21 Strategy. In 2008, OGCIO further developed the Government IT Skills Framework (GISF), which describes the whole set of skills and competencies required by the government IT profession in all areas of work. It covers all the focus areas of the Digital 21 Strategy. For E-government, the defined mission of the government IT profession is to inspire and support B/Ds in maximising the value of IT in achieving their policy goals and programmes. The GISF is modeled along similar practices and frameworks in countries leading in IT.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009