For discussion FCR(95-96)101
on 5 January 1996


Subhead 700 General other non-recurrent

Members are invited to approve a commitment of $25.6 million for implementing Phase II of the Records Management Strategy.


We need to carry forward the service-wide Records Management Strategy (the Strategy) in order to achieve the full benefits of the Strategy.


2. The Director of Management Services, with the support of Head, Efficiency Unit and Director of Administration, proposes to implement Phase II of the Strategy over a period of two years upon completion of Phase I in May 1996, as a further step to improve the overall management of records in Government.


Major Phase II tasks

3. Phase I has laid the foundation for the implementation of the Strategy. In order to carry forward the momentum generated by Phase I, we intend to proceed to Phase II of the Strategy and aim to develop and implement improvement measures to cover a wider spectrum of government departments. We have set out the proposed tasks under Phase II in Enclosure 1. A gist of these tasks is as follows -

  1. Service-wide Applications
    1. To extend the Bar-coding File Management System (BCFMS) to those registries not covered in Phase I;
    2. to develop and implement a Bar-coding Non-file Records Management System (BCNRMS) to provide efficient and comprehensive directory system for non-file records;
    3. to further implement records storage facilities and systems in departments particularly in the promotion of standardised mobile racks;
    4. to study the need and feasibility of establishing a service-wide Records Transfer and Delivery System (RTDS); and
    5. to conduct another service-wide Records Management Survey in 1998 with a view to gauging the trend in records management and quantifying the achievement of the Strategy.

  2. Departmental Studies on Records Management (DSRM)

    To conduct about 12 departmental studies on records management by adopting a “total system” approach with a view to addressing the overall records management needs of selected departments.

  3. Specialised Centres and Related Studies
    1. To conduct reviews on microfilming needs of individual departments;
    2. to establish a Government Microfilming Service Centre (GMSC) for providing microfilming and related services to departments; and
    3. to study the need and feasibility of establishing a Government Records Backup and Recovery Centre (BRC) for protecting vital paper records (excluding records in electronic form which are currently protected by the Disaster Recovery Centre of Information Technology Services Department).


4. Phase II of the Strategy will build upon the benefits which we expect Phase I will yield and the details are at Enclosure 2. In brief, the main benefits of Phase II include -

  1. a further reduction of records stock and growth : our target for Phase I is to reduce the current records growth of 12.5% per annum to around 6% per annum. In Phase II, we aim to contain records growth to below that level and if possible, to reduce it to 4.5% within two years of completing Phase II implementation;
  2. a further reduction of the average record retention period : unless there are legal requirements, we aim to reduce the average record retention period (which currently ranges from seven to 11 years) by another 10% within two years after completing Phase II. The implications will be significant as many of the existing records in departments and Records Centres could be disposed of immediately;
  3. increased record file grouping : we aim to assist and facilitate departments in separating records by utilisation so that departments can transfer inactive records to the Records Centres and focus their improve management support services on active records. The aim is to achieve a 100% records grouping by utilisation by 1998-99;
  4. greater utilisation of Records Centres : the prompt transfer of inactive records to Records Centres, which cost about one-seventh of the storage cost in ordinary offices, will result in notional and/or real rental savings. We aim to transfer a further 30% of the inactive records (about 30 000 additional linear metres) from departmental office premises to the Records Centres by the year 1999-2000. This would release about 10 000 square metres of office space for other purposes. The potential benefit is estimated to be $30 million in notional rental savings per annum;
  5. greater use of more space-efficient storage furniture : the use of mobile, open and top-up racks can increase storage capacity by around 50% to 130%. We estimate the benefits of Phase II in this regard to be another 9 000 linear metres of storage capacity, or around $10 million notional rental savings per annum;
  6. greater use of modern technology : we aim to promote the use of technology such as microfilming and electronic filing systems which can improve records retrieval and reduce demand for storage space; and
  7. to secure department-specific benefits : the conduct of DSRM in selected departments will improve departmental efficiency and staff productivity in record keeping and management. The notional savings achieved in the first two departmental pilot studies are in the region of $3.5 million per annum per study completed.

5. Apart from the tangible benefits outlined above, the service quality in departments would also be improved through -

  1. the establishment and maintenance of a comprehensive inventory of file-based and non-file-based records in each department;
  2. proper tracking of retrieval and movement of records, thereby reducing the risk of loss or delay in record transfer;
  3. more efficient access to records; and
  4. better protection of, and enhanced ability to recover, vital Government paper records.


Non-recurrent cost - new commitment

6. We estimate that we would require a new commitment of $25.62 million for equipment and system facilities for Phase II implementation. Details are as follows -


Equipment and system facilities






(b) Improved records storage facilities and systems





(c) Departmental Studies on Records Management





(d) Government Microfilming Service Centre





Total cost for equipment and facilities










7. As regards paragraph 6(a), the expenditure of $4,564,000 is for the purchase of scanners, portable terminals, bar-code labels and other equipment for implementing BCFMS and BCNRMS in departments.

8. As regards paragraph 6(b), the expenditure of $5,107,000 is for the installation of mobile racks and other improved storage facilities in departments.

9. As regards paragraph 6(c), the expenditure of $12 million is the one-off cost for implementing the recommendations of the Departmental Studies on Records Management in 12 departments. We intend to allocate an average of $1 million per DSRM for the implementation of the general recommendations; funding for the major departmental systems identified by the DSRM will have to be separately justified by the departments concerned.

10. As regards paragraph 6(d), the expenditure of $3,950,000 is the one-off cost for setting up the GMSC including the costs of equipment, fitting-out and the purchase of necessary materials and facilities for initial set-up.

Non-recurrent costs - staff costs

11. To implement Phase II, we also estimate that there will be one-off staff costs incurred by the Management Services Agency (MSA) and the Government Records Service (GRS). Details are as follows -


(a) Management Services Agency (Total 22 posts)





(b) Government Records Service (Total 12 posts)





Total one-off staff cost





12. As regards paragraph 11(a), the expenditure of $11,626,000 is to meet the one-off staff cost of MSA. This will involve the creation of ten Management Services Officer posts and 12 Clerical Officer II posts on a project basis. MSA will re-deploy another 17 posts from within its existing establishment to support the implementation.

13. As regards paragraph 11(b), the expenditure of $8,637,000 is to meet the one-off staff cost of 12 posts to be created for GRS to provide support in conducting studies, developing guidelines and standards, training and liaison.

Annually recurrent cost

14. We estimate the annually recurrent expenditure for the proposed Phase II implementation as follows -

($'000 per annum)

(a) Staff costs

(i) Management Services Agency
(Total four posts)





(ii) Government Records Service
(Total 11 posts)





Total staff cost





(b) Other recurrent costs

(i) Management Services Agency





(ii) Government Records Service





Total other recurrent cost





Total recurrent costs





15. As regards paragraph 14(a)(i), the expenditure is for the provision of four additional Management Services Officer posts to be created upon completion of Phase II implementation in June 1998 to provide system support and maintenance services to BCFMS installed in Phases I and II, and BCNRMS to be developed in Phase II.

16. As regards paragraph 14(a)(ii), the expenditure is for the provision of 11 additional posts (mainly for records management staff) to be created in GRS for manning the GMSC.

17. As regards paragraph 14(b)(i), the expenditure covers the maintenance of equipment and system support for the BCFMS and BCNRMS.

18. As regards paragraph 14(b)(ii), the expenditure covers the costs of utilities, consumables, maintenance and daily operation of the GMSC.

19. If Members approve the proposal, we will include sufficient provision in the draft Estimates for 1996-97 and subsequent years.


20. In January 1994, we held a Records Management Exhibition to promote the importance of records, to draw the attention of all government departments to proper records management and to promote the use of efficient records systems and the latest technology in records management.

21. In February 1994, we formed a Steering Group on Records Management chaired by Head, Efficiency Unit to oversee the formulation and implementation of a service-wide Records Management Strategy. The objective of the Strategy is to help departments reduce record stock, reduce record growth, improve quality of service and improve cost-effectiveness in record management.

22. In April 1994, we conducted a service-wide Records Management Survey with a view to defining the scale of records management problems, quantifying the records improvement needs of departments and estimating the resource implications of Records Management Strategy.

23. Taking into account the level of coverage and complexity, the service and improvement demands, the systems and technology involved, the resource and financial implications of the Strategy, we have adopted a phased approach for implementing the Strategy, with the intention of completing it in above five years. The timing and broad objectives to be achieved under each phase are outlined in Enclosure 3.

24. In October 1994, the Legislative Council Panel on Information Policy (the Panel) supported the broad approach of the Strategy and urged the Administration to implement the proposed improvement measures as soon as possible. In November 1994, Members approved funds for implementing Phase I of the Strategy. The major tasks of Phase I and the progress to-date are summarised at Enclosure 4. We have reported progress of Phase I implementation to the Panel regularly. On 1 December 1995 we consulted the Panel which has given support to the proposal for Phase II, as outlined in this paper.

Efficiency Unit, Chief Secretary’s Office
December 1995

Enclosure 1 to FCR(95-96)101

Records Management Strategy Major Tasks for Phase II Implementation

Service-wide Applications

Bar-coding File Management System (BCFMS)

The purpose of implementing the service-wide Bar-coding File Management System (BCFMS) is to identify each record with a unique code to assist registries to keep track of records and to provide management information on their retrieval frequency to facilitate grouping into active and inactive records.

2. Phase I implementation was planned for 1 219 registries. The latest departmental returns show that the total number of registries in Government departments excluding those separately-funded ones is about 1 700. In Phase II, we will extend the system installation to all remaining registries and provide maintenance support for registries already installed with BCFMS. Furthermore, we have to be prepared to work on about 200 registries in those separately-funded departments such as USD, RSD, and Housing Department which have not expressed readiness to implement BCFMS in Phase I. Costs so incurred will be recovered and credited to General Revenue Accounts.

Bar-coding Non-file Records Management System (BCNRMS)

3. The BCNRMS is a quick and comprehensive enquiry/directory system for those non-file records. It will provide easy index and key-word search facilities for retrieval of records or parts of records for specific purposes. We intend to cover non-file records including publications, directories, guides, instructions, technical references, books, etc. The BCNRMS will be built upon the BCFMS already installed in registries.

Improved Records Storage Facilities and Systems

4. This is a continuation of Phase I. By May 1996, we would have distributed 3 500 top-up racks and 1 400 standard open racks to departments. Mobile racks would have been installed in a few pilot sites to test the effectiveness of the standard approach.

5. In Phase II, we shall focus our efforts in the promotion of standardised mobile racks. We estimate that in Phase II additional mobile racks and other storage racks will be provided for about 9 000 linear metres and 2 000 linear metres of records respectively.

Service-wide Records Transfer and Delivery System (RTDS)

6. We intend to conduct a study on RTDS which will focus on a comprehensive review of the entire record transfer and delivery methodology and practices in Government. These include the tracking of deliveries, the design of routing and transfer media, packaging, and the transfer of “soft” records using different types of technology.

Service-wide Records Management Survey in 1998

7. A service-wide survey was conducted in 1994 shortly before the launching of Phase I. Another survey in 1998 nearing the completion of Phase II will enable the Administration to ascertain the latest record situation and the changes in records management in the preceding four years. The data so obtained will facilitate the evaluation of the implementation results and the planning of Phase III implementation.

Departmental Studies on Records Management (DSRM)

8. We would have completed five departmental pilot studies (DPS) in Phase I addressing the overall records management needs of individual departments through a “total system”[1] approach.

9. We have so far completed two DPSs and the findings are very encouraging. To implement the DPS recommendations we have spent about $1 million on each project and the benefits are very attractive. Not only a notional rental savings of about $7.6 million per annum have been identified under these two projects, the overall efficiency of the departmental records management would be greatly enhanced.

10. In Phase II, we shall adopt the similar approach and plan to conduct about 12 more Departmental Studies on Records Management (DSRM). Similar to DPS, the objective of DSRM is to address the overall records management needs of the department and to improve the quality and effectiveness of its record services. In general, the following major areas will be covered in the DSRM -

  1. Records handling and keeping;
  2. Storage facilities and space utilisation;
  3. Record systems and equipment; and
  4. Record staff development and training.

11. A DSRM would normally be conducted in two stages, that is, a scoping study to be followed by a detailed study -

  1. The Scoping Study, normally taking about four weeks to complete, is a preliminary review of the overall records situation of the department and the identification of potential areas for improvement or detailed studies; and
  2. The Detailed Study, normally taking ten to 16 weeks to complete, is an in-depth review intended to address specific record problems encountered by the department or to explore improvement opportunities identified in the scoping study.
Specialised Centres and Related Studies

Government Microfilming Service Centre (GMSC)

12. In Phase I, Management Services Agency has completed the Report on Feasibility and Cost-effectiveness of Establishing GMSC and concluded that a microfilming centre should be established to provide microfilming and related services for individual departments. Filming services will be provided either “on site” or “in-centre” and processing would normally be completed centrally.

13. The setting up of GMSC would involve the purchase of microfilming equipment, the related facilities, and the fitting out of an operating area of about 250m2. The GMSC will be manned by 11 staff including a Centre Manager. Major recurrent costs include utilities, consumables, maintenance, and transportation.

Government Records Backup and Recovery Centre (BRC)

14. At present there are no laid down procedures for departments to identify their vital[2] records and to keep a duplicate copy in a separate location. In order to avoid loss or damage of records due to unforeseen disasters, some form of back-up and recovery facilities would be necessary. The main purpose of BRC is to provide a purpose-built off-site accommodation for the backup of all vital Government paper records (excluding records in electronic form which are currently protected by the Disaster Recovery Centre of Information Technology Services Department). The backup copies of records will enable any vital records to be “recovered” if the original copies of the vital records are damaged or lost. We shall conduct a study in Phase II to assess the needs, the storage media, the location, the operations, the alternative approaches, and the feasibility of setting up the BRC.

[1]The meaning of “total system” approach here is to view each type of record throughout its life cycle (creation, active use, inactive use, and destruction) and to manage all records in the department as a total entity.

[2] Vital records are those records which could not easily be replaced or duplicated if they were destroyed in a disaster or were stolen. These records should be given special protection because their damage or loss may cause significant damages to the public and Government.

Enclosure 2 to FCR(95-96)101

Records Management Strategy Targets of Achievements

Issue Current
Two years after Phase I Implementation
(as compared with current situation)
Cumulative, two years after Phase II Implementation
(as compared with current situation)


Records growth

12.5% p.a.

Reduce to 6% p.a. by


Sustain at 6% and if possible aim to reduce to 4.5% p.a. by 1999-2000


Record retention period

Average retention period ranges from 7 to 11 years

Reduce by 10% by

Reduce by 20% by


Record files grouping

63% of record files are grouped

Increase to 90% by

Increase to 100% by


Use of Records Centres (RC)

Still 100 000 linear metres of inactive records in departments

Transfer 10 000 linear metres of inactive records to RC before 1997-98

Transfer a total of 40 000 linear metres (30 000 linear metres being targeted under Phase II) of inactive records to RC before 1999-2000


Use of storage furniture

Four-drawer filing cabinets are widely used for storage purpose

The proposed use of mobile racks, standard open racks and top-up racks will give rise to a net gain of 12 000 linear metres of storage capacity.

The proposed use of mobile racks, standard open racks and top-up racks will give rise to a total net gain of 21 000 linear metres (9 000 linear metres being targeted under Phase II) of storage capacity.


Use of technologies

Not being commonly used

The use of bar-coding, microfilming, electronic filing, and other related technology will improve records retrieval and reduce storage space requirements.

Further exploitation of technologies


Departmental studies

Records management issues in departments are addressed on a piecemeal basis

“Total system” approach adopted to improve records management in five departments. Based on the findings of the two departmental studies completed, the potential notional rental savings would amount to an average of $3.5 million per annum per department.

“Total system” approach adopted to improve records management in a total of 17 departments (12 departments will be covered in Phase II).

Enclosure 3 to FCR(95-96)101

Records Management Strategy Timing and Broad Objectives

Phase I - Foundation Phase (1½ years from December 1994 to May 1996)

To provide the basic infrastructure and lay a sound foundation for the implementation of the overall Strategy;

Phase II - Development Phase (2 years from June 1996 to May 1998)

To carry forward the momentum of Phase I and to explore application of technology in record management; to develop and implement new and improvement measures; and to introduce total system solutions on records management to departments; and

Phase III - Consolidation Phase (1½ years from June 1998 to November 1999)

To implement, consolidate and further develop new and improvement measures developed in the previous phases and to oversee performance measures to monitor the management of records in Government.

Enclosure 4 to FCR(95-96)101

Records Management Strategy Phase I Implementation Major Tasks and Progress (Position as at 30 November 1995)

Task Progress of Implementation [1]

(a) To develop departmental record creation, retention and disposal instructions

The first five chapters of the Records Management Handbook[2]

will be published for service-wide application by end 1995 and additional chapters on topical issue in 1996. A manual on “Disposal of general & administrative records” will be published in early 1996.

(b) To implement a service-wide bar-coding file management system (BCFMS) in 1 219 registries

Of the planned 1 219 registries for installing BCFMS, 835 installations have been completed, and the remaining 384 are being arranged.

(c) To implement 68 electronic filing systems and other record improvement systems

The first round of review has identified 38 potential applications and their installations are scheduled to complete by March 1996. Of these applications, 15 installations have been completed. The second round of review will commence in early 1996.

(d) To improve record storage handling and facilities in departments (about 2 200 top-up racks, 2 240 open racks, 1 010 mobile racks and 50 lateral filing racks)

About 1 555 top-up racks (TUR) and 700 standard open racks (SOR) has been installed in departments. Arrangements are in hand to deliver another 1 900 TURs and 700 SORs by April 1996. Requirements for mobile racks and lateral filing racks are being assessed.

(e) To improve the level of service of Records Management Office of the Government Records Service Division

The phased expansion programme of GRSD has provided 19 000 linear metres additional storage space for inactive records from departments followed by 22 000 linear metres in 1996 and 13 000 linear metres by mid 1997. 750 assistant departmental records managers are being trained from August to December 1995 and refresher courses will start in early 1996. Disposal schedules of “over-kept” records at Records Centres are being reviewed.

(f) To review the feasibility and effectiveness of establishing a microfilming bureau centre

The study on “The Feasibility and Cost-effectiveness of Establishing a Government Microfilming Service Centre” has been completed and the establishment of the GMSC is recommended for implementation in Phase II.

(g) To conduct and implement five pilot studies in selected departments

The studies for the first two departments (Buildings Department and Treasury) have been completed and that for the third department (Architectural Services Department) has commenced. The conduct of the remaining two departmental pilot studies is being planned.

[1]All figures excluded separately-funded departments

[2]The Handbook addresses the principles and practices for managing records from ‘cradle to grave’

Last Updated on 2 December 1998