For discussion EC(95-96)63
on 13 December 1995


Subhead 001 Salaries

Members are invited to recommend to the Finance Committee -

  1. the creation of the following new rank -

    Deputy Director of Buildings
    (D3) ($111,100 - $117,750); and

  2. within this rank, the creation of one permanent post of Deputy Director of Buildings in the Buildings Department.


The Director of Buildings (the Director) has too wide a span of command for effective management. The existing senior directorate structure of the Buildings Department is inadequate to meet the increasing scope and complexity of its functions and responsibilitiesareas of administration of the department and the Buildings Ordinance.


2. We propose to create a new rank and a permanent post of Deputy Director of Buildings (D3) to directly manage the four front-line divisions and to assist the Director in policy and strategy formulation.


Existing Organisation

3. To discharge its statutory responsibilities for building safety under the Buildings Ordinance, the Buildings Department is organised into five divisions, each headed by either a Government Building Surveyor (D2) or a Government Structural Engineer (D2), departmentally designated as Assistant Director of Buildings. An existing organisation chart of the Buildings Department is at Enclosure 1.

4. The four front-line divisions (Control & Enforcement, Specialist, Structural Engineering, and Development) provide direct services to the public. These services include checking building plans for compliance with the Buildings Ordinance and Regulations and technical standards, inspecting building sites and building works, surveying dangerous buildings, slopes and retaining walls, providing professional services to Licensing Authorities, investigating and rectifying defective and polluting drains and sewers, and combating illegal building activities.

5. The fifth division, the Legal and Management (L&M) Division provides legal advice and co-ordinates technical support for the front-line divisions. It also carries out a monitoring function as it checks on the safety aspects through inspections of work sitesin progress and collates feedback on departmental services and on performance pledges.

6. In addition to these five divisions, there is a Departmental Administration Section and an Accounts & Supplies Section, the functions of which are self-explanatory.

Expansion of the four front-line divisions and activities in other areas

7. The Buildings Department has developed rapidly over the past two years and has introduced a number of initiatives in areas of public safety. This has led to a major expansion of activities in the four front-line divisions.

8. In the Development Division workload has increased with the establishment of two new sections to implement new initiatives, namely the PADS & Rail Section for processing plans and submissions in connection with New Airport and PADS & Rail related projects, and the Housing Development Section for implementing the recommendations of the Task Force on Land Supply and Property Prices to increase housing supply.

9. On the control and enforcement side, we have stepped up clearances on unauthorised building works, particularly with regard to dangerous abandoned advertising signs and air-conditioning cooling towers. We also plan to set up a new team to tackle fire safety issues in April 1996.

10. We have enhanced and commissioned under the Specialist Division surveys of private buildings to establish their general condition, to identify dangerous buildings and where necessary, to order such buildings to be repaired or demolished. Also, in view of public concern on slope safety, we will set up a Landslip Prevention Measures Section, together with a unit to deal with maintenance of buried services affecting slopes next year to ensure that potentially dangerous private slopes are rendered safe.

11. The continued expansion of activities and the introduction of new services in the various divisions have called for a more co-ordinated interface and a stronger engineering input from the Structural Engineering Division. This Division has taken on, or will be taking on, new responsibilities such as assessment and monitoring of specialist contractors, and control and enforcement functions. It has undertaken a number of major consultancy studies, which have provided insights on future policy directives. The Division also conducts reviews of engineering standards to keep pace with advances in technology.

12. On the administration side, the Department has, in collaboration with the Civil Service Branch, embarked on a review of staff management practices in a “human resource management” pilot study. This exercise has been completed but we are taking the initiatives from it further forward. The Department is also, with the assistance from the Management Services Agency, carrying out reviews on record management and registry services.

13. To enhance communications with staff and to provide a forum of consultation on matters affecting staff well-being, we have set up regular departmental consultative committee meetings. Much of the implementation work arising from the various reviews and staff consultations has to be guided by the senior directorate. In the absence of a deputy, the Director often needs to participate directly in arbitration or mediation with staff associations over particularly contentious and complex, at times much publicised, issues. This poses difficulties for the Director in terms of time and focus to balance the Department’s overall development and planning needs. There is a need for a deputy to share such responsibilities.

Overburdening of the Director

14. We consider that such a wide span of command under the Director is highly unsatisfactory and militates against the effectiveness and efficiency in his/her function as a head of department. Apart from day-to-day operations, the Director has to attend personally to both internal and external consultations, for example, with staff on internal staff relations matters, and with the building industry and professionals on matters affecting building safety and interface with the community. Moreover, with an increasingly open and transparent Government, the role and functions of senior civil servants have changed significantly in recent years. As a head of department, the Director is expected to explain policies and practices to legislators, professional bodies, concern groups, the media as well as members of the public. This takes time and places a further call on the Director’s personal involvement.

No spare capacity of Assistant Director(L&M) to help

15. When the Buildings Department was constituted in August 1993, a Government Building Surveyor, departmentally designated as Assistant Director (L&M), was tasked with supervising the work of the Departmental Administration Section and the Accounts & Supplies Section. However, we had to revise this expedient in order to effect an equitable arrangement for grade management for the two professional grades of the Department. Consequently, Assistant Director (L&M) has taken on the day-to-day management of the Building Surveyor grade in place of the two sections.

16. Meanwhile, the workload of the L&M Division has increased considerably. It has embarked on extensive reviews to update codes of practices on building matters, to revise practice notes for authorised persons, structural engineers and contractors and to amend legislation under the Buildings Ordinance. In addition, it is responsible for implementing a more rigorous prosecution policy and developing public education and information programmes on building safety. The Site Monitoring Section was set up under this Division in July 1995 for proactive and regular monitoring of building and demolition sites. The Division also co-ordinates the planning and implementation of the departmental computerisation strategy and monitors and reviews performance targets and service standards in line with Government policy. The functions of the Division have thus evolved and expanded to the extent that the Assistant Director (L&M) is fully committed and does not have the capacity to assist the Director in the area of administrative and financial control.

Need for the Deputy Director post

17. The proposed Deputy Director will manage and co-ordinate the work of the four front-line divisions and also deputise for the Director in managing the department in general and in carrying out the statutory functions as the Building Authority. The Director will thus be able to focus on guiding the Department to achieve its mission in setting and enforcing safety, health and environmental standards for private buildings. Since the proposed post has to co-ordinate and to give guidance to the Assistant Directors who are at D2 level, it is appropriate to rank the post at D3 level. The job description of the Deputy Director post is at Enclosure 2. The proposed organisation chart is at Enclosure 3.

18. The Director considers that the post should be capable of being filled by an officer with suitable capability and experience from either the Building Surveyor grade or the Structural Engineer grade. This flexibility will enable the Department to appoint the most suitable officer from either profession for the post.proposed Deputy Director post is at


19. The additional notional annual salary cost of the proposal at MID-POINT is $1,372,800. Subject to Members’ approval, we have sufficient provision in the global allocation for the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands in the 1995-96 Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal. We will include the future provision required in the 1996-97 draft Estimates of the Buildings Department.

20. To provide secretarial service to the Deputy Director, one Personal Secretary I post will be required at a cost of $239,880 at notional annual salary at MID-POINT. This will be created through the normal Departmental Establishment Committee machinery.


21. The Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service has advised that the grading of the proposed new rank and post would be appropriate if they were to be created.

Civil Service Branch
December 1995

Enclosure 2 to EC(95-96)63

Job Description Deputy Director of Buildings

Rank : Deputy Director (D3)

Duties and Responsibilities of the Job

Responsible to the Director of Buildings in co-ordinating the work of the specific functional divisions and to deputise for the Director in managing the Department. His duties include -

  1. assisting the Director in direction setting and policy and strategy formulation of the Department;
  2. managing and co-ordinating the work of the four specific functional divisions, viz. the Development Division, the Specialist Division, the Structural Engineering Division and the Control and Enforcement Division;
  3. monitoring the performance and the programme of activities of the Department against targets and objectives and recommending and overseeing the implementation of proposals for improvement;
  4. representing the Director on departmental boards and committees;
  5. assisting the Director in carrying statutory functions as the Building Authority in ensuring the effective, efficient and impartial administration of the Buildings Ordinance; and
  6. deputising for the Director.


    Departmental Establishment Committee (Chairman)
    Departmental Consultative Committee (Chairman)
    Building Sub-committee (Member)
    Authorised Persons and Registered Structural Engineers Committee (Member)
    Staff Development Panel (Member)
    Senior Directorate Meeting (Member)
    Buildings Department Contractor Committee (Chairman) (To be set up)

Last Updated on 3 December 1998