For discussion EC(96-97)7
on 8 May 1996


Subhead 001 Salaries

Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee the creation of the following permanent post in the Geotechnical Engineering Office of the Civil Engineering Department -

1 Chief Geotechnical Engineer
(D1) ($80,450 - $85,400)


The Director of Civil Engineering (DCE) needs additional directorate support to implement an improved process for assessing slope stability.


2. DCE proposes to create a permanent post of Chief Geotechnical Engineer (CGE) (D1) to head a new Landslip Investigation Division.


3. In November 1994, Professor N R Morgenstern submitted a report to the Governor on the adequacy of Government's approach to slope safety, with recommendations for improvement. The Administration subsequently undertook to implement the recommendations on enhancing stability of slopes as soon as possible. One of Professor Morgenstern's recommendations for long term improvement involves supplementing the Landslip Preventive Measures (LPM) programme by a more integrated process for slope stability assessment.

4. At present, DCE investigates man-made slopes in order of priority set by ranking formulae under the slope priority classification system. He then initiates work on those slopes found not up to the safety standard and which could lead to high risk to life and limb and to severe community disruption in case of failure.

5. Professor Morgenstern considers that we should supplement the present method by adopting an integrated approach, under which we will examine all reported landslips after each rainstorm and study documentary information on each landslip site and its surrounding area. If the results show that the landslips occur in areas suspected to have common generic problems, we will conduct out-of-turn investigations of the slopes in these areas. DCE has developed proposals to implement the recommendation. However, due to the lack of in-house resources in the Civil Engineering Department (CED) to deal with the work in the desired timeframe, the bulk of the technical work involved will have to be carried out by geotechnical consultants. In December 1995, Members approved a new commitment of $90.5 million for engaging consultants for a three-year period from 1996 to 1999 to develop and implement an improved process for assessing slope stability. The consultants will undertake the following tasks -

  1. examining all fresh landslip reports, inspecting the sites and analysing background information with a view to identifying sites requiring an assessment under the integrated approach;
  2. taking follow up action to ensure that substandard slopes selected under (a) are upgraded to modern safety standards;
  3. reviewing the new system and the criteria for identifying such sites annually;
  4. recommending an appropriate system for long term implementation; and
  5. carrying out forensic investigations of selected landslips.

6. Whilst the consultants will take up most of the workload in developing and implementing the new integrated approach, DCE will have to undertake the following tasks in-house -

  1. devising necessary amendments to the present landslip reporting system and managing it to ensure that all significant landslips will be reported to the Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO) of CED and that reports contain the information required for the new system;
  2. planning and managing the introduction of the improved procedure into the LPM process. The work includes creating and establishing the technical framework for the improved procedure, commissioning annual consultancies for a three-year period, and considering the recommendations of consultants on sites requiring accelerated action under the integrated approach;
  3. monitoring the work and performance of the consultants;
  4. upon completion of the consultancies by 1999, planning and establishing the improved procedure on a long term basis in the light of experience gained; and
  5. managing the professional and technical staff who will undertake the long term implementation of the new system for assessing slope stability, and providing technical leadership for their work.

7. As the in-house work requires a high level of professional competence and managerial skill, DCE considers that he needs an additional directorate officer at the rank of CGE (D1). A permanent post is needed to ensure that the experience gained in the initial three-year period is fully and effectively used in drawing up and implementing the measures for long term use of the integrated approach and to provide the necessary continuing high level of professional management of the new system. The process of examining the landslips, which occur in Hong Kong each wet season, to determine common generic problems and then to deal with them will have to be carried out every year even after the consultancy. The implementation and management of the new system is a long term commitment.

8. DCE has examined the feasibility of redeploying existing staff for this work but found it impossible to do so as all existing directorate staff in the GEO have already been fully stretched in dealing with the various important aspects of the Government’s long term slope safety programme, including control of the geotechnical aspects of all new developments, provision of landslip emergency services, upgrading of pre-GEO slopes, development of geotechnical design and construction standards and input into the land planning process. DCE therefore proposes to create a new post of CGE, to be entitled Chief Geotechnical Engineer/Landslip Investigations (CGE/LI), in the Landslip Preventive Projects Group of GEO. He also proposes that the two existing Senior Geotechnical Engineer posts in the Project Management Unit should be subsumed under the CGE/LI, forming a new Landslip Investigation Division.

9. The proposed organization chart of GEO is at Enclosure 1. The job description for the CGE/LI post is at Enclosure 2.


10. The additional notional annual salary cost of this proposal at MID-POINT is $994,200. The full annual average staff cost of the proposal, including salaries and staff on-cost, is $1,781,952. In addition, we will create one Personal Secretary II post at a notional annual salary cost of $149,520 and a full annual average staff cost of $259,440. We have included sufficient provision in the 1996-97 Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal.


11. A retaining wall at Kwun Lung Lau, Kennedy Town collapsed in July 1994 killing five people and injuring three others. The GEO investigated the cause of the failure. After an independent review of the investigation, Professor Morgenstern submitted a report to the Governor on 30 November 1994 giving advice on the adequacy of our current approach to slope safety in Hong Kong and suggested improvements. One of his five recommended measures to enhance slope stability in Hong Kong is that the GEO should introduce a more integrated approach into the slope stability assessment process.


12. The Civil Service Branch considers the ranking and grading of the post appropriate.


13. The Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service has advised that the grading proposed for the permanent post would be appropriate if the post were to be created.

Works Branch
April 1996

Job Description for Chief Geotechnical Engineer/Landslip Investigations

Rank: Chief Geotechnical Engineer (D1)

Main Duties and Responsibilities

Responsible to the Government Geotechnical Engineer/Landslip Preventive Projects for -

  1. implementation and long term management of the more integrated approach recommended by Professor Morgenstern for assessing slope stability;
  2. devising and implementing necessary changes to the present system of landslip reporting to ensure that all significant landslips are reported to GEO and developing suitable criteria for identifying sites for application of the system;
  3. preparing the briefs for the annual consultancies for carrying out the integrated slope stability assessments and arranging the selection and appointment of consultants ;
  4. overseeing the work of the consultants or in-house staff in examining landslip reports, inspecting landslip sites and studying documentary information to identify sites requiring an integrated approach in slope stability assessment, in assessing the stability of selected sites, carrying out the follow-up action to ensure that slopes selected for the integrated approach are upgraded to modern safety standards, and in carrying out forensic investigations of landslips;
  5. auditing the quality and reliability of the work of the consultants;
  6. considering improvements to the system based on experience gained and formulating proposals for the long term implementation of the system;
  7. supervising the professional and technical staff undertaking the long term implementation of the system;
  8. supervising the project management and project management information system functions for the Landslip Preventive Measures Programme; and
  9. controlling and maintaining such records and information systems as are appropriate to the activities of the Landslip Investigations Division.

Last Updated on 3 December 1998