on 21 April 1999
ITEM FOR ESTABLISHMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
OF FINANCE COMMITTEE
HEAD 162 - RATING AND VALUATION DEPARTMENT
Subhead 001 Salaries
The existing supernumerary post of Rating Adviser (RA) at D3 level in the Rating and Valuation Department (RVD) will lapse on 1 August 1999. The Commissioner of Rating and Valuation (CRV) requires the post for a further period of two years so that he can have adequate directorate support to cope with the need for sophisticated and advanced computerisation to meet service needs.
2. We propose to retain the supernumerary post of RA at D3 level for a period of two years with effect from 1 August 1999.
3. The RA advises CRV on modern techniques and methods pertaining to the mass appraisal of properties for rating and other taxation purposes such as stamp duty and estate duty, and oversees the development of new computerisation programmes in the RVD in general. These are very important tasks given the large number of different types of properties in Hong Kong and the need for frequent updating arising from the development of new properties and demolition of old ones, changes in property ownership, changes in the property and rental markets, etc.
|4. The RA has contributed substantially to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Department. He has planned and overseen the development of various sophisticated computer systems to modernise and replace the previously fragmented systems. For instance, he spearheaded the Department's Information Systems Strategy Plan (ISSP), which consists of 12 computer systems implemented between 1994-95 and 1998-99, and implemented the Government Rent Computer System in June 1997. A brief description of the essential functions served by these computer systems is at Enclosure 1.||Encl. 1 |
5. The Department's ISSP is expected to be fully implemented by the end of July 1999. However, the Department has been taking on additional responsibilities and work. In order to cope with the new service demands, there is an imminent need for the Department to review the ISSP, so that it can build on, enhance and integrate with the existing systems in a coordinated manner. CRV needs the continued support of a RA at D3 level to steer through the ISSP review and the enhancement of the computer systems. In addition, the RA is assisting him to ensure that the computer services are Year 2000 compliant and can continue to operate during office relocation in 1999-2000, to facilitate public access to RVD's property database, and to explore other ways to improve the Department's valuation services. The main tasks for the RA in the next two years are described in paragraphs 6 to 15 below.
Information Systems Strategy Review
6. Besides making necessary enhancements to the existing systems in the light of experience gained during the implementation of the ISSP, the RA has to develop the ISSP further to cater for new commitments as described below -
(a) Annual Revaluation
7. The Financial Secretary announced in November 1998 that with effect from 1999 onwards, General Revaluation would be undertaken on an annual basis. To implement the new policy without giving rise to significant resource implications on the part of the Administration, we need to make better use of computer assisted valuation. The RA will further upgrade and develop the Department's various computer systems so that annual revaluation can be carried out with the assistance of sophisticated computer systems.
(b) Tenants Purchase Scheme
8. In February 1998, the Housing Authority introduced the Tenants Purchase Scheme (TPS) to allow sitting tenants of certain public housing estates to purchase their rental public housing flats. Hitherto, such flats have been assessed to rates on a "per block" basis. As buyers under the TPS will be responsible for paying rates and Government rent for their purchased flats, the Department has to split the block assessments of those public housing estates earmarked for sale under the TPS into assessments for individual flats. RVD also has to provide rates and Government rent information to the Housing Department for the tenants' reference before they decide whether to buy their rental flats.
9. The basic functionality for split assessment of rates for public housing flats has been developed to enable the initial implementation of the TPS. However, the RA has to oversee further enhancements to the computer systems to ensure that they can cope with the increasing number of flats put under the scheme, the recent decision by the Housing Authority to allocate new flats on a rent or purchase basis, the expanding need for data exchange with Housing Department, and the complexity brought into the commissioning of the capital valuation systems due to restrictions on the sale of TPS properties.
(c) Government Rent
10. The RA has steered through the successful development of the Government Rent Computer System, which is for the collection of Government rent in accordance with the Government Rent (Assessment and Collection) Ordinance. He will further improve the functionality of the system, with a view to streamlining the processes so that the system can cope with the increasing number of new properties subject to Government rent. There are also other types of government rent which are now collected by the Treasury or various District Land Offices. There is a need to rationalize the billing of all types of government rent, particularly those payable upon renewal of leases under the Government Leases Ordinance (Cap. 40). The RA will help to spearhead the way forward in this area and develop computer systems to meet the needs of data retrieval requirements.
(d) Electronic Service Delivery
11. The Government is exploring the feasibility of introducing Electronic Service Delivery (ESD) so that our services can be made available more conveniently to the public and can better meet new demands in the information age. Under phase 1 of the ESD scheduled for implementation in September 2000, RVD will facilitate enquiries of account balances and process applications for change of payers' details in respect of Government rent and rates. RVD will also consider providing electronic links to Inland Revenue Department, Land Registry, solicitors in the private sector, etc. to enable these entities to access the Department's information and services. The RA will oversee the planning and implementation of this new initiative, and advise CRV on issues such as confidentiality, integrity, authentication of data transmitted via ESD, and whether such form of data transmission complies with the law.
(e) Chinese Processing and Monolingual Billing
12. To provide a better service to the public, the Department will adjust its computer systems so that they will be capable of processing data and information in Chinese and issuing demand notes in either Chinese or English. This will be a major task requiring the RA's close guidance in altering the design and functionality of the various systems.
Imminent tasks in 1999-2000 and the development of a back-up system
13. Proper maintenance of RVD's extensive property database is essential to the collection of government revenue and the formulation of policies. The RA will need to ensure that the specific computer requirements will be Year 2000 compliant and fully incorporated in the Department's new accommodation in Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices, that the computer services will continue uninterrupted during and after the Department moves into its new accommodation and are reliable for preparing the 1999-2000 General Revaluation.
14. In the light of increasing requests from other government departments and the community at large for access to RVD's property database, the Department has been exploring the feasibility of developing a back-up system so as to minimise security risk and degradation in system response time resulting from outside access to its computer systems. The idea is to have a "master" system and a "slave" system where read-only access will be allowed. We have now decided to develop the back-up system in 1999-2000. The timing is so chosen as a back-up system has the added advantage of ensuring the uninterrupted computer services during this critical period of office relocation and transition to the new millennium. The development of a back-up system is a major task. The RA has to plan and oversee its successful implementation within a short timeframe, ensuring that the security aspect of the computer systems will not be compromised.
Other improvement measures in property valuation
15. The RA is the key person to advise CRV on the use of cost-effective alternatives and modern technology to deliver RVD's valuation services. For instance, he has been tasked to evaluate and implement outsourcing opportunities and initiatives for carrying out valuation. He has also been actively exploring the development of a Geographic Information System (GIS) that can link the Department's database on building records, tenements, sales and rental information with the Land Information System of the Lands Department. This can help to achieve efficiency in locating buildings graphically, using address information, locating unassessed lots and serving other geographical mapping purposes. The GIS will also allow storage of building plans in a digital form, which will be particularly useful for the valuation of commercial properties when there is frequent repartitioning by occupants. In short, the RA will examine how to extend the use of computers further to give better support to the valuation of certain property groups such as commercial properties, and how to ensure consistency and fairness in the revaluation of different types of property.
Continued need for the RA post at D3 level
|16. In view of the above challenges and commitments in the next two years, we consider there is a need to extend the RA post at D3 level for two years until end-July 2001. The updated duty list of the RA post and the organisation chart of RVD are at Enclosures 2 and 3respectively.||Encls.2&3 |
17. After two years' time, with the successful implementation of the ISSP and the Information Systems Strategy Review, the development of a back-up system, and the smooth transition to the 21st century in a new office location, we envisage that the long term framework of the Department's computer systems should have been built on a very solid basis. The RA post will then revert to the normal ranking at D2 level.
18. The additional notional annual mid-point salary cost of the proposal is -
|Notional annual |
|No. of |
|Rating Adviser post (D3)||1,580,400||1
|Less||Rating Adviser post (D2)||1,443,000||1
19. The additional full annual average staff cost of the proposal, including salaries and staff on-costs, is $240,000. RVD will continue to meet the additional cost of the proposal through internal redeployment. The proposal has no other financial implications.
20. We first created the RA post in 1979 at D1 level on a supernumerary basis to provide specialist advice to CRV on modern methods of mass appraisal of
properties for rating and other taxation purposes, including computer-assisted techniques. We upgraded the post to D2 level in 1983 to reflect the increased responsibility of the post. Over the years, the role of the post has expanded to cover the computerisation work of the Department in general. The post was approved for permanent creation at D2 level in 1993. It was further upgraded vide EC(96-97)26 to D3 level on a supernumerary basis for a period of three years from 1 August 1996 to reflect the additional responsibilities arising from the collection of Government rent, the feasibility study on conducting annual revaluation, the implementation of the ISSP, the taking over of the rates billing function from the Treasury, and the supervision of both the Computer Division and the Rating and Capital Valuation Division. We undertook to review the upgrading arrangement by early 1999.
CIVIL SERVICE BUREAU COMMENTS
21. Having regard to the justifications put forward, the Civil Service Bureau supports the proposed retention of the supernumerary post in RVD for two years and considers that the ranking and grading of the proposed post is appropriate having regard to the level of responsibilities and professional input required.
ADVICE OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON DIRECTORATE SALARIES AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE
22. As we propose to retain the post of RA on a supernumerary basis, we will report the arrangement, if approved, to the Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service in accordance with the agreed procedure.
Enclosure 1 to EC(1999-2000)4
Brief Description of Individual Systems
- Infrastructural Systems
- Property Master System
This system provides the basic information needed by other systems. It is used to answer public enquiries.
- Development Progress Monitoring System
This system keeps track of properties under construction. It is used to estimate the supply of new properties by district and class and to project the workload of Rating and Valuation Department.
- Rating Systems
- General Revaluation System
This system is used for the general revaluation of all rateable properties. The results are fed into other systems for the purpose of analysis and billing.
- Rates Valuation System
This system is used to update information between general revaluations by adding the details of new properties, the demolition of existing properties and structural alterations.
- Rates Impact System
This system forecasts rates revenue using different assumptions about rateable values and rate charges. It also assesses the impact of different values and rate charges on ratepayers.
- Billing Systems for Rates and Government Rent
This system calculates the chargeable rate and print demand notes in respect of both rates and Government rent. It also updates the particulars of payers.
- Rental Systems
- Rental Information System
The system maintains the particulars of rented properties based on different returns.
- Rental Valuation System
This system assesses the rental value of properties on request from government departments and other bodies.
- Rental Control Monitoring System
This system monitors changes in the rental market and helps in the formulation of rent control policy.
- Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance Application RegisterThis system provides information on all applications under the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance.
- Property Sales Systems
- Property Market Price Information SystemThis system maintains a comprehensive record of property sales for valuation and monitoring purposes.
- Capital Valuation System
This system assesses the capital value of a property. This information is needed mainly by the Inland Revenue Department in connection with Stamp Duty and Estate Duty.
Enclosure 2 to EC(1999-2000)4
Main Duties and Responsibilities of
the Proposed Rating Adviser Post (D3)
- Providing Advice on Computer Applications and Technology Development
Advise the Commissioner and assist him in the development and application of modern techniques and methods pertaining to the mass appraisal of property for rating, revaluation, revenue impact of revising rateable values, rental analysis and other purposes.
- Monitoring the Information Systems Strategy Review
Improve administrative procedures and computer assisted valuation to facilitate annual revaluation, support the Tenants Purchase Scheme and deal with the concomitant effects of database growth, facilitate data exchange with Housing Department for rates and rent billing and capital valuation aspect, improve functionality for the collection and assessment of Government rent, support the introduction of Electronic Service Delivery in respect to Rating and Valuation Department interface, and support development of a computer system for processing information in Chinese and monolingual billing.
- Monitoring the Billing and Collection System
Maintain and monitor the Billing and Collection System for Rates and Government Rent including interfaces with the Treasury and the banking system.
- Overseeing the Installation and Operation of a Back-up Computer System
Oversee the installation of a back-up system in the new Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices and ensure uninterrupted operations and customer interface during move of office and the transition to Year 2000; ensure that the back-up system meets the long-term objective of supporting increasing volume of public and internal access in a secure and responsive manner.
- Monitoring the Provision of Valuation and Property Information
Advise the Commissioner on the use of Geographic Information System and the supply of property related data to external users, and provide computer support for property market analysis, including the following: Government Property Market Monitoring; interface with data provided by real estate agents ; Property Review; Development Progress Monitoring Systems; Property Sale Price & Rental Indices, and other property information as required by the Commissioner.
- Staff Supervision and Training
Lead the Computer Division and the Rating and Capital Valuation Division; provide on-the-job training to staff on computer applications and computer assisted valuation techniques.
Page 2 of Enclosure 2 to EC(1999-2000)4