Supplementary Note to EC(96-97)34
OF FINANCE COMMITTEE
HEAD 170 - SOCIAL WELFARE DEPARTMENT
Subhead 001 Salaries
Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee the proposals set out in EC(96-97)34, as amended by paragraph 3 of this supplementary note.
At the Establishment Subcommittee (ESC) meeting on 9 July 1996, Members considered that as the proposals involve creation / upgrading of three directorate posts, they should be discussed at the LegCo Panel on Welfare Services in the first instance. The Administration withdrew the paper and presented it to the Panel on Welfare Services on 12 July 1996. It is now resubmitted for Members' consideration and endorsement.
2. At the Panel Meeting on 12 July 1996, Members commented that the ESC paper EC(96-97)34 had not spelt out clearly the justifications for an additional Deputy Director of Social Welfare (DDSW) post. They asked that supplementary information should be provided to Members of the ESC. In the light of Members' comments, we set out in more detail in paragraph 3 below the responsibilities of the existing DDSW.
3. At present, the responsibilities of the Deputy Director include the following -
(a)DDSW is responsible for providing input in the formulation of policy proposals for the improvement and development of social welfare services, and overseeing implementation of major welfare policies and programmes either by the Department or subvented non-government organisations. DDSW has to steer, oversee, monitor and co-ordinate the development and delivery of social welfare services under the purview of the respective Assistant Directors. This aspect of DDSW's responsibility is reflected in her chairmanship/membership of a large number of committees and steering/working groups, including -
- The reconstituted Working Party on Kindergarten Education to examine the viability of unification of pre-primary services (DDSW as co-chairperson);
- Inter-departmental Steering Committee on Networking for the Elderly (DDSW as Chairperson);
- Vetting Committee on Bought Place Scheme for Private Homes for the Elderly (DDSW as Chairperson);
- Welfare Services Allocation Committee, for allocating new service units to NGOs (DDSW as Chairperson);
- Five Year Plan for Social Welfare Development Review Committee (DDSW as Chairperson);
- Directorate Planning Meeting, for discussing policy matters of the Department (DDSW as Member); and
- Executive Committee of Hong Kong Council of Social Service (DDSW as Government observer);
DDSW also has to monitor the planning and the implementation of the recommendations of the major policy documents and service reviews, including the 1991 Social Welfare White Paper, the 1995 White Paper on Rehabilitation, the Review of the Children and Youth Services, the Report on the Working Group on Care for the Elderly, the Report of the Working Party on Training and Employment for People with Disabilities, as well as the implementation of the 1993-95 policy commitments.
(b) DDSW is responsible for planning social welfare manpower to meet service requirements as well as career development of professional officers. Regarding long-term manpower planning, a shortfall in the rank of Social Work Assistant is forecast and a "blister programme" has been put in place to train an extra 600 social work diploma holders. As to the human resource management of the Department, the increase in the Department's establishment and delegation of responsibilities on staffing matters to the Department have broadened the scope and increased the level of responsibilities. DDSW is the Chairperson of the Departmental Staff Training and Development Committee and of the Posting and Transfer Committee. DDSW also chaired a Steering Group which has completed a Review of the Manning Standards of Social Security Field Units. With the assistance of the Management Services Agency, DDSW is chairing a Steering Group to review district organisational setup to improve the organisational and staffing structure and delivery of services at district level.
(c) DDSW has a role in preparing the Department to cope with changes, new demands and future developments. The major new issues in hand include -
- The Consultancy for the Review of the Social Welfare Subvention System : DDSW chairs a Project Team which provides the closest regular interface necessary to steer the consultants at a working level;
- The departmental Information Systems Strategy Study project is underway, requiring complete restructuring of the departmental computer systems. Computerisation will involve the complete re-design and replacement of the current Social Security Payment System, and provision of a new Clientele Information System and Office/Management Information System. Overall co-ordination of this project will require DDSW's close attention;
- There is imminent need to formulate guidelines on the management of the large volume of personal data on customers and staff for compliance with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance;
- A strategy has to be formulated to promote and prepare staff for the wider use of Chinese in the Department;
- Future implementation of the Registration of Social Workers Ordinance, on which a Bill has been introduced into LegCo will also require considerable input from the DDSW. Appointment criteria of social workers will have to be reviewed to ensure consistency with the criteria for registration of professional social workers as laid down in the Ordinance. The prevailing service procedures and guidelines to staff will also have to be reviewed to ensure their compatability with the future professional code of practice.
(d) In addition, DDSW must co-ordinate and oversee the management of departmental resources in face of competing demands to ensure meeting policy commitments and other priority targets. Moreover, DDSW is increasingly required to assist DSW in the representational aspects of departmental responsibilities, for instance, attending meetings with other government/non-government representatives, representing DSW at public or ceremonial functions, and representing the government on the social welfare front both locally and overseas.
4. For clearer presentation of the scope of responsibilities of the existing DDSW, we recommend paragraphs 10 to 13 of EC (96-97) 34 be replaced with paragraph 3 above. The remainder of the ESC paper remains unchanged.
Health and Welfare Branch
Last Updated on 3 December 1998