For discussion EC(95-96)74
on 14 February 1996


Subhead 001 Salaries

Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee the creation of the following permanent post -

1 Senior Principal Executive Officer
(D2) ($95,550 - $101,450)

offset by the deletion of the following permanent post -

1 Principal Executive Officer
(D1) ($80,450 - $85,400)


The present rank of the Secretary, Public Service Commission (Secy, PSC) does not reflect the increased responsibilities and complexities of the job, and the experience and ability required of the officer.


2. The Chairman, PSC, with the support of the Secretary for the Civil Service (SCS), proposes to upgrade the Secy, PSC post from Principal Executive Officer (PEO) (D1) to Senior Principal Executive Officer (SPEO) (D2).


3. The PSC Secretariat provides secretarial and executive support to the PSC which is mainly responsible for advising the Governor on matters relating to appointments and promotions to senior and middle rank posts (some 38 000 posts as at July 1995) in the public service as well as the discipline of public officers. Secy, PSC is the head of the PSC Secretariat which comprises 33 Executive, Clerical, Secretarial and other general grades staff. The post of Secy, PSC is currently ranked at PEO and the Secy reports direct to the Chairman, PSC who is equivalent in rank to a D8 officer in the civil service. The job description of Secy, PSC and the organisation chart of the PSC Secretariat are at Enclosures 1 and 2 respectively.

4. Since the setting up of the current PSC Secretariat structure in May 1990, the responsibilities and complexity of the work of Secy, PSC have increased substantially in the areas detailed below.

Increase in the number and complexity of cases submitted

  1. The workload of the Secretariat has increased significantly, as reflected by the increase in the number of submissions on recruitment and promotion cases from 980 in 1991 to 1 380 in 1995 (+ 41%).
  2. The increasing pace of localisation, the implementation of the interim arrangements for transfer of overseas agreement officers to local conditions of service, the implementation of the opening up arrangements for officers appointed on agreement terms, and the implementation of new initiatives such as those under the Human Resource Management reform, have given rise to new practices in civil service appointment procedures and practices. Those relating to the renewal of agreement for local and overseas officers are particularly complicated and under the close scrutiny of officers affected and staff unions. Cases involving renewal of contracts and the opening of contract positions to competition are submitted to the Secretariat for advice and have become increasingly complex. They often require guidance from Secy, PSC who is personally involved to ensure consistency of advice.

Increase in policy input and role as policy reviewer and adviser

  1. Since 1992 the Civil Service Branch (CSB) has increasingly consulted the PSC on policy issues relating to civil service appointments and on Human Resource Management practices on a regular basis. These issues have included complex policy matters such as the transfer of overseas agreement officers to local conditions, opening-up agreement officers’ positions for competition and uniform conditions of service. As regards Human Resource Management, the PSC has been involved in the streamlining of recruitment procedures, revision of promotion procedures, reviews of performance appraisal systems and changes to and streamlining of disciplinary procedures. To play this new role and assist in the deliberations of the PSC, the Secy, PSC needs to research, review and analyse the policy issues and make recommendations to the PSC.

Increase in guidance provided to departments

  1. As part of the Human Resource Management reform, the SCS has delegated various authorities to Heads of Departments/Grades. In exercising these delegated authorities, departments need to deal with the PSC Secretariat direct. The PSC Secretariat has thus assumed an enhanced role in providing guidance to departments in handling appointments and discipline matters.

Increase in involvement of PSC Chairman and Members in recruitment and promotion exercises

  1. To step up the monitoring of recruitment and promotion, attendance of the Chairman and Members of PSC in recruitment and promotion exercises has increased from 101 sessions in 1991 to 193 sessions in 1995 (+91%). This has given rise to increased preparatory work and supporting analysis by the Secretariat.

5. As head of the PSC Secretariat, Secy, PSC is the key person whom senior management in departments and CSB would normally approach for advice on the appointment of important and sensitive posts, which often involves appointments to posts at very senior level (up to D7). Secy, PSC should be of sufficient seniority and authority, so that he can act independently and authoritatively, without referring to the PSC unnecessarily.

6. It is clear from the above that the duties and responsibilities of Secy, PSC call for an officer with an extensive knowledge and experience in civil service appointments and in the principles, policies, practices, and procedures of human resource management. It is also essential that Secy, PSC should be an officer of sufficient maturity, and possess good administrative ability, experience and skills in the overall management of a government department. An officer of such calibre and quality is not normally available from directorate officers below D2 level. It is therefore considered that the present ranking of the post at D1 does not reflect adequately the requirements of the job and the level of responsibility of the post. It is accordingly proposed to rank the post of Secy, PSC at SPEO. The proposed revised structure of the PSC Secretariat is at Enclosure 3.


7. The additional notional annual salary cost of this proposal at mid-point is-

$ No. of Post

New permanent post




Existing permanent post



Additional cost



Subject to Members’ approval, we shall include sufficient provision in the draft Estimates for 1996-97 and subsequent years to meet the cost of this proposal.

8. Should Members approve the proposal, we shall upgrade, through the Departmental Establishment Committee mechanism, the post of the Personal Secretary II (with a notional annual mid-point salary of $149,520) serving the Secy, PSC to Personal Secretary I (with a notional annual mid-point salary of $239,880). Sufficient provision will be included in the draft Estimates for 1996-97 and subsequent years to meet the cost of this consequential change in establishment of the Secretariat of the PSC.


9. The PSC is a statutory body set up under the Public Service Commission Ordinance (Cap 93). The Commission comprises a Chairman and eight members appointed by the Governor. The Commission is serviced by the PSC Secretariat. In 1990, when authority for the appointment of non-directorate officers was delegated from SCS to Heads of Departments/Grades, the PSC Secretariat assumed the responsibility for vetting submissions directly from departments on appointment cases relating to non-directorate posts, and those through CSB involving directorate posts. To cope with the new responsibility, the PSC Secretariat was expanded to its present structure and establishment by transferring posts from CSB. The original proposal was to rank the Secy, PSC post at SPEO but it was decided to pitch the post at PEO level initially, following a critical review of the workload and level of responsibility in 1990. The responsibilities and complexities of work of Secy, PSC have increased significantly since then.


10. SCS considers that it is necessary to upgrade the Secy, PSC post, having regard to the increased responsibilities and complexity of the job.


11. The Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service (SCDSC) has advised that the grading proposed for the post of Secretary, Public Service Commission would be appropriate if the post were to be created.

Civil Service Branch
January 1996

Enclosure 1 to EC(95-96)74


Main duties and responsibilities

Responsible to the Chairman, Public Service Commission for the following -

  1. overseeing the work of all Secretariat staff in the examination and processing of submissions from departments/grades and/or Civil Service Branch on appointments, discipline and related matters, devising systems and procedures for vetting these submissions, and providing guidance to staff to ensure quality and consistency;
  2. examining and processing submissions from Civil Service Branch for appointments of directorate officers and special appointments;
  3. providing administrative and secretarial service to support Commission meetings, conducting reviews and analysis on policies relating to civil service appointments and other issues as may be required by the Commission, preparing papers for consideration of the Commission;
  4. advising departments on the procedures and practices relating to appointment, discipline and various aspects of staff management relevant to the terms of reference of the Commission; and
  5. managing the PSC Secretariat as a department and taking charge of departmental administrative matters including general, personnel and financial matters.

Last Updated on 3 December 1998