discussion EC(96-97)53
on 16 January 1997


Subhead 001 Salaries

Members are invited to recommend to the Finance Committee the creation of the following permanent post reorganization of in the Office of tThe OmbudsmanCommissioner for Administrative complaints -

1 Assistant Ombudsman
(D2) ($102,900 - $109,250)


The Ombudsman has inadequate directorate support to cope with the increase in caseload following the extension of his powers and jurisdiction under the Commissioner for Administrative Complaints (Amendment) Ordinance 1994, now known as The Ombudsman Ordinance following legislative changes effective from 27 December 1996.


2. the Ombudsman’s OfficeOffice, We propose to create one permanent post of Assistant Ombudsman(D2)(D2) to head a new Investigation Division upon the re-organisation of the Office of The Ombudsman to strengthen its directorate structure.


3. On 9 June 1995, Members approved vide EC(95-96)13 the Finance Committee approved the creation of a new rank and one permanent post of Assistant Commissioner for Administrative Complaints (now retitled Assistant Ombudsman (formerly known as Complaints) among others to strengthen the staffing support in the Office of The Ombudsman. As the head of the Investigation Division, the Assistant Ombudsman is responsible for supervising, monitoring and the quality control of the work of three investigation teams. He has to scrutinise the draft investigation reports, ensure equity in their analysis and findings, consistency in the investigation approach, and reasonableness in their conclusion and relevance of recommendations. He also steers the conduct of investigation into complex cases, convene internal case conferences and external meetings with complainee organisations on the findings, recommendations and their implementation as necessary.

4. The Ombudsman's power was widened through legislative changes in 1994 to enable him to handle direct complaints lodged by the public against government departments/agencies for alleged maladministration and to launch investigation on his own volition and publish anonymised investigation reports at any time. His jurisdiction has also been extended to cover 14 as against six major statutory bodies in 1994-95. At the time we projected that there would be an eight-fold increase in the number of complaints and two-fold increase in the number of enquiries. The intention of creating the permanent post of Assistant Ombudsman in June 1995 was to cope with the anticipated increase in workload.

5. However, since the end of 1994-95, the increase in the number of complaints and enquiries has almost doubled the estimated increase in caseload made at the time of the creation of the Assistant Ombudsman post and far exceeded the workload originally projected upon extension of powers. The number of complaints and enquiries received in the reporting year 1995-96 (ending June 1996) has increased by 15 and five-fold respectively over the preceding two years period, as indicated below -





Actual workload in 1993-94 reporting year

Annual workload originally projected upon extension of powers

Revised projected annual workload made in March 1995

Actual workload in 1995-96 reporting year




1 570

2 784


1 054

1 050

3 549

6 493

6. Recently, monthly statistics of the Office of Tthe Ombudsman’s show that the increase in complaints is still on the rise. During the first quarter of the 1996-1997 reporting year, a total of 798 complaints were received, representing 28.7% of the 1995-1996 total. The increase has imposed enormous pressure on the Officembudsman,three existing staff ing. With caseload rapidly building up, the average conclusion time of an investigation has deteriorated from five months to nine months. Furthermore, the establishment of tthe Ombudsman’s Office has increased from 26 in 1993-94 to 81 in 1996-97 and the investigation/screening teams from four to seven. The span of control has now becomewas far too extensive for one Assistant Ombudsman to cope with effectively and realistically. Therefore, Tthe Ombudsman has therefore instituted as an interim measure a temporary re-organisation of his office to cope with the influx of complaints in the latter part of 1995 and to afford the necessary supervision of the expanded office in complaint management, development work of the ombudsman system and the operation of the supporting activities at the directorate level. Under this temporary re-organisation, he has deployed the temporary reorganization of the COMAC Office and redeployment of existing three directorate staff, i.e. the Deputy Ombudsman, the Assistant Ombudsman and the Principal Executive Officer such that each directorate staff directly heads a functional division, namely the Investigation Division, the Screening Division and the Administration Divisionmaximise the use of directorate resources as an expedient to tide over the difficult period of immense caseloads.screening/investigation teams has increased from four to seven.

7. The Ombudsman has reviewed the directorate structure of his Office. To cope with thhe surging workload, he is of the view that it is necessary to have long term measures in place to alleviate the inadequacy in management resources of the Office. He sees a compelling need to strengthen support at the directorate level and proposes the creation of an additional permanent post to share the workload of the existing Deputy Ombudsman and the Assistant Ombudsman. This calls for an officer of at least D2 level who is able, in addition to undertaking the duties of steering, supervising, and scrutinising the conduct of investigation and the reporting of findings, to establish rapport with the senior management of the complainee organizations, speak on his own authority, and make difficult and often on the spot decisions. We are therefore proposing the creation of an additional permanent post of Assistant Ombudsman. The Ombudsman further considers that the Office should be re-organized by amalgamating the Screening Division and Investigation Division to form two Investigations Divisions following the creation of his post. Each Investigation Division will comprise three investigation teams and be headed by an Assistant Ombudsman.

8. The Ombudsman aims that the creation of the proposed Assistant Ombudsman post and the organizational re-structuring will -

  1. strengthen the existing senior management structure which will comprise The Ombudsman (D8 equivalent), his deputy (D3), two Assistant Ombudsman (D2) and one Principal Executive Officer (D1). With the enhanced management resources at the directorate level and the streamlining of investigation procedures, he estimates that he will be in the position to enlarge the complaints handling capacity and cope with the acutal increase in the current caseload;
  2. allow the Deputy Ombudsman to concentrate on direct investigations and the investigations of hte more complex and serious complaints, and to oversee the administration and coordination of the work of the Office; and
  3. take out the preliminary investigation function from the Principal Executive Officer so that he could be fully devoted to carrying out the initial assessment of complaints in regard of The Ombudsman's jurisidiction, the formulation and review of operational and office policies and procedures, the publicity of The Ombudsman's functions including the planning and devlopment of public education, publication, outreaching and community involvement strategy and programmes, legislative matters and human resource management, and the liasion with overseas ombudsmen and kindred organizations essential to the development of the ombudsman redress system.

9. The Ombudsman would reconstitute and re-title the Adminstration Division to Administration and Development Division following the reorganization of the Office to reflect more truly its extensive planning and development work of the ombudsman redress system. He considers that the head of the re-constituted Administration and Development Division should continue to be pitched at the Principal Executive Officer level. This will be commensurate with the responsibilities charged on the head of the division, and in particular those in respect of the expanded community relation functions, the formulation of policies in the development of the ombudsman system, and the departmental administration.

10. The job description of the post of the Assistant Ombudsman and the revised duty list of the Principal Executive Officer are at Enclosores 1 and 2. Organization Charts showing the existing and proposed structure of the office are at Enclosures 3 and 4.


11. The additional notional annual salary cost of this proposal at mid-point is $1,273,200. The full annual average staff cost of the proposal, including salaries and on-costs, is $1,687,476. We have included sufficient provision in the draft 1997-98 Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal, and will approve supplementary provision, if required, for the creation of the post for the remainder of the financial year under delegated authority if Members approve the proposal.been included in the 1995-96 Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal. However, sufficient provision has been included in the 1997-98 Draft Estimates to cover the cost of this proposal. If Members approve this proposal, we will provide the supplementary provision required to create the post for the remainder of the financial year under delegated authority.

12. In addition, this proposal will necessitate the net addition of three permanent posts of Executive Officer I, and one permanent post of Personal Secretary I at a notional annual mid-point salary cost of $1,609,380 and a full annual average staff cost of $2,295,120. We have included sufficient provision in the draft 1997-98 Estimates to meet the cost of these additional posts.


13. On 27 December 1996, a number of legislative amendments to the Commissioner for Administrative Ordinance came into were effected.. They brought about, inter alia, the change of the English title of the Commissioner for Administrative Complaints to "tThe Ombudsman", a title which is widely used internationally and is consistent with the Chinese title in use. Other changes to enhance histhe Ombudsman’s operation and to extend his jurisdiction are as follows -

  1. the Ombudsman he is afforded greater flexibility in procedural matters so that he can deal with simple complaints in a more efficient manner; and
  2. he is empowered to investigate complaints of non-compliance with the Code on Access to Information (the Code) against departments/agencies not subject to his general jurisdiction, namely the Royal Hong Kong Police Force, the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force, the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption, the Secretaries of the Independent Police Complaints Council and of the Public Service Commssion.

14. The Government first Code was first introduced the Code in March 1995 by the Government as a pilot scheme and gradually extended it to all Government departments and agencies in the Government ttowards the end of 1996. The Ombudsman is the common independent review body on complaints against alleged breaches of the Code. The Ombudsman will absorb the additional workload arising from this by existing resources.


15. Having regard to the increase in workload in investigation of complaints, the Civil Service Branch considers that there is an operational need to create an additional Assistant Ombudsman post to head the new Investigation Division. The grading and ranking of the post are appropriate.


16. The Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service has advised that grading proposed for the post of Assistant Ombudsmanfor Administrative Complaints would be appropriate if the post were to be created.

Office of The Ombudsman
January 1997

Enclosure 1 to EC(96-97)53

Job Description of Assistant Ombudsman (Investigation)

Rank: Assistant Ombudsman (D2)

Main Duties and Responsibilities

  1. To be the Head of Investigations in the supervision, monitoring and quality control of all investigations and processing of complaints by alternative dispute resolution.
  2. To supervise, organise and co-ordinate the work of the three teams, including allocation of cases to them to ensure an even distribution of work.
  3. To determine/direct the method and line of investigation as the case is in progress.
  4. To keep under close monitoring investigations of a serious and/or sensitive nature.
  5. To assist in formulating operational policies and procedures of investigations, and reviewing and streamlining such procedures as necessary.
  6. To scrutinise investigation reports and hold preliminary discussion on the recommendations with the directorate of the complainee department/organisation where necessary.
  7. To authorise summoning of witnesses, administration of oath, entry on premises, and recommend hearings for The Ombudsman’s approval as necessary.


Enclosure 2 to EC(96-97)53

Job Description of Principal Executive Officer -- (Administration and Development)

Rank: Principal Executive Officer (D1)

Main Duties and Responsibilities

  1. To be the head of the Administration and Development Division in the supervision, organisation and co-ordination of the work of the Assessment Section, Community Relations Section, Administration Section and Translation Section.
  2. To conduct assessment of all incoming cases for jurisdiction and conclude outside jurisdiction cases.
  3. To assist in formulating operational policies and procedures of investigations and in streamlining such policies and procedures by keeping them under constant review.
  4. To assist in the development of the public relations strategy and oversee all matters relating to public relations, publicity, public education and information dissemination.
  5. To establish general administrative rules and procedures, oversee the use of information technology and implementation of the language policy in the office.
  6. To assist in the development of the Ombudsman redress system including the review of legislation and liaise with overseas ombudsman jurisdictions and kindred organisations and oversee the implementation of exchange programmes pertaining to the development of the office.
  7. To liaise with advisers of the engineering, legal and medical panels and Non-official Justices of Peace participating in the scheme to promote the work of The Ombudsman.
  8. To co-ordinate the preparation of statistical information on enquiries and complaint cases handled and make necessary evaluation.
  9. To handle public enquiries and conduct investigation of complaints as necessary.
  10. To contribute towards The Ombudsman’s annual report.

Last Updated on 12 August 1999