LegCo Panel on Public Service
Meeting on 18 December 1996
Secondment of Civil Servants to Public-funded Organisations


The purpose of this note is to brief Members on the Administration’s policy concerning the secondment of civil servants to public-funded organisations. It also sets out the current position of civil servants seconded to such organisations.

The Policy

2. The guiding principle governing the secondment of civil servants to outside organisations is that it should be in the public interest and it would enhance the quality of public administration in general. The secondments are normally arranged for one or more of the following purposes -

  1. to provide the outside organisations with experienced personnel or government expertise;

    [Examples: secondment to Airport Authority, and Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation]

  2. to establish an effective link with individual outside organisations with which the Government has a close working relationship;

    [Examples: secondment to the Secretariats of Pacific Economic Co-operation Council and Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation and to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office] and

  3. to fulfil Hong Kong's obligations as a member economy of international or regional bodies.

    [Examples: secondment to the Secretariats of PECC and APEC]

Secondment to the Airport Authority

3. One Administrative Officer Staff Grade B1 (D4) has been seconded to the Airport Authority (AA) as Director of Corporate Development since December 1993.

4. The secondment of an experienced Administrative Officer to the AA was introduced to facilitate close liaison and interface between Government departments and the Authority over the construction of the new airport. The officer, well versed in the Government machinery, also plays an important role in co-ordinating consultation with other bodies on the new airport project. The post is due to lapse on 30 June 1998.

5. In addition, one Chief Operations Officer (D1) of the Civil Aviation Department has been seconded to AA as Operations Manager. This is a temporary arrangement to provide AA with the expertise to undertake the preliminary planning and co-ordination for the overnight transfer from Kai Tak to Chek Lap Kok to ensure that there is a smooth transition. The secondment commenced in October 1996 and will end in April 1997 when the AA is expected to recruit its own staff.

Secondment to Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation (HKECIC)

6. One Administrative Officer Staff Grade B1(D4) has been seconded to the Corporation to fill the Commissioner's post since 1984. The present incumbent commenced her secondment in March 1994.

7. The secondment was introduced to bring about an exchange of knowledge and experience between the statutory Corporation and the Hong Kong Government with which it has close dealings. The secondment has proved to be beneficial to both sides and its continuation has been recommended by a consultancy study commissioned recently by the Secretary for Trade and Industry. Both the Corporation and the Administration agree that in the long term the preferred arrangement is to fill the Commissioner’s post by internal promotion. The Corporation has lost some senior managers and there is at present no suitable senior officer who is ready to take up the Commissioner’s post. The Corporation will continue to develop and groom senior officers with potential, to identify a suitable officer to assume the Commissioner’s duties.

Secondment to Secretariat of the Pacific Economic Co-operation Council (PECC)

8. An Administrative Officer Staff Grade B (D3) has been seconded to the PECC Secretariat in Singapore as its Director-General since January 1996.

9. It has been the practice of PECC to appoint representatives from its member countries to fill various posts for a term of three years. The Administration agreed to second a senior civil servant as PECC’s Director-General for the current term to demonstrate Hong Kong's commitment to and support for PECC and to enhance our influence and profile in this important regional forum. The secondment will expire on 31 December 1998.

Secondment to Secretariat of Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC)

10. An Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) has been seconded to the APEC Secretariat in Singapore as its Director (Finance) since March 1993 in response to APEC's request that its member countries should provide staffing support for the Secretariat. The secondee is responsible to the Secretariat's Executive Director for the overall administration of the Secretariat. The present incumbent commenced his secondment in November 1996.

11. Like the secondment to the PECC Secretariat, this secondment is a positive demonstration of Hong Kong's commitment to and support for APEC activities, and it also provides an important channel for Hong Kong to enhance its presence in this important regional forum.

Secondment to Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Office (FCO)

12. An Administrative Officer Staff Grade C has been seconded to the FCO since September 1982 under a scheme which provides for the secondment of officers from the Hong Kong Government to the U.K. Government and vice versa. The secondee from Hong Kong has been serving as Section Head of the FCO's Hong Kong Department, providing expert advice to the U.K. Government on various transitional matters in Hong Kong and serving as a ready point of contact between the Hong Kong Government and the U.K. Government. The secondment will end on 1 July 1997.

Secondment to the Society for the Aid and Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers (SARDA)

13. A Principal Executive Officer (D1) has been seconded to SARDA since May 1983 as its Executive Director.

14. The secondment was introduced to ensure effective management of the organisation which is receiving a total government subvention of $80 million per annum. It remains Government's long term aim that SARDA should recruit its own Executive Director. However, attempts over the years to recruit a suitable candidate have failed. The last two recruitment exercises conducted in 1993 and 1994 have not been successful. There is as yet no suitable officer from within the organisation who is ready to fill the post. SARDA did not launch any recruitment exercises in 1995 and 1996 because it wanted to retain the secondee to provide the necessary continuity and leadership for overseeing various proposals which are in their critical stage of implementation and development.

15. SARDA intends to conduct another recruitment exercise with a view to appointing its Executive Director in mid-1997.

Secondment to the Employees Retraining Board (ERB)

16. An Assistant Commissioner for Labour from the Labour Department has been seconded to the ERB as its Executive Director since July 1993.

17. The ERB offers retraining courses to help local employees to adjust to changes in the employment market through the acquisition of new skills. The secondment was introduced to provide the ERB with an Executive Director who is experienced in employment and labour matters and has close connections with employers’ and employees’ associations and training bodies. The secondment is expected to be discontinued by the end of 1997 when ERB would recruit its own Executive Director.

Period of Secondment

18. Civil servants selected for secondment to outside organisations will only be seconded for a specific period of time, usually from two to four years, as if they are taking up normal career postings in the civil service. Their supervising officers (or Chairman) are required to write appraisal reports on the officers in the normal way. The relevant grade managers also keep in regular touch with the officers. The officers therefore do not "suffer" in anyway from the secondment: indeed they are usually beneficial to the officer (and the Hong Kong Government) because they provide wider exposure to the officer who can then use that experience when he returns to the Government.


19. Mr. S.S. Dillon, Principal Assistant Secretary (Civil Service)4 is responsible for the subject matter. He may be contacted on telephone number 2810 3567.

Civil Service Branch
Division 4

Last Updated on 21 August 1998