For discussion
on 29 January 1999


Environmental Protection Department
New Subhead "Office Automation for Environmental Protection Department"

    Members are invited to approve a new commitment of $15,521,000 for providing office automation facilities to the Environmental Protection Department.


The absence of an Office Automation (OA) network system in the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) inhibits effective and efficient communication both within the department as well as with policy bureaux and other departments.


2. The Director of Environmental Protection (DEP), with the support of the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands and on the advice of the Director of Information Technology Services, proposes to install an OA system in EPD with a commitment of $15,521,000.


3. It is Government's policy to take full advantage of information technology to improve the efficiency, quality of service and cost-effectiveness of policy bureaux and departments. While EPD has installed a departmental network supporting OA functions to the directorate officers in 1991, the main OA facilities, such as connection to the Government Communication Network (GCN), are not yet available to the senior professionals in EPD who continue to rely on conventional modes of communication with other policy bureaux and departments.

4. To bring the communication mode up to the modern standard, DEP proposes to implement an OA system in EPD, comprising -

  1. a local area network (LAN) with 172 workstations and software for electronic mail communication, meeting scheduling, graphics presentation, word processing, spreadsheet and database management;

  2. access to the GCN through the LAN for electronic mail communication and information exchange/sharing with policy bureaux and other departments; and

  3. access to the Government Common Application System (GCAS) for sharing of data management and retrieval of commonly used information and documents.

The main users of the OA system include all senior professional and equivalent officers, personal secretaries and heads of functional units such as the General Registry, the Personnel Registry, the Accounts Section and the Supplies Section.

Benefit of the proposed OA system

5. The proposed system will bring about the following benefits -

  1. facilitate management and the decision-making process by turning data into useful information for analysis and reporting purposes through standard software packages and by sharing and exchanging such information efficiently among offices of EPD at different locations (including the Headquarters in the Southorn Centre in Wan Chai and the ten branch offices at various locations of the territory). The locations of the 11 EPD offices including the Headquarters are listed at the Enclosure;

  2. improve communication between EPD and policy bureaux and other departments through connection to GCN;

  3. enhance data management and retrieval of commonly used information and documents, such as Government Circulars and Regulations, Government Telephone Directory through GCAS;

  4. increase the operational efficiency of EPD by eliminating duplication of effort in updating data by individual users, reducing paper consumption and improving the turn-around time in document production and delivery; and

  5. enable speedy transmission of documents electronically thereby minimising efforts in delivering paper documents and facilitating collaborative working on common subject matters.

Cost and benefit analysis

6. Electronic data transfer has become the present-day mode of office communication. While it has generally been accepted that an OA system will improve office efficiency and productivity, it is often not possible to quantify precisely the productivity gain or savings arising directly from such a system. The normal cost and benefit analysis with an estimated pay-back period is therefore not entirely applicable in this case. However, this proposal to equip EPD with the necessary OA facilities will enable its staff to communicate more efficiently among themselves and with other policy bureaux and departments and result in benefits to the department's operations. A notional 1% savings in staff costs arising from improved efficiency and productivity gain would amount to about $2.6 million a year. In addition, there will be annual savings of about $34,000 in the consumption of paper in the department. Greater use of information technology will also help the department to attain productivity targets under the Enhanced Productivity Programme despite increases in workload arising from the implementation of new environmental initiatives.


Non-recurrent cost

7. The estimated total non-recurrent cost of the OA system is $17,818,000, broken down as follows -

(a) Computer hardware, software, data communication equipment and cabling 7,318
(b) Implementation services/contract staff 1,980
(c) Site preparation 4,893
(d) Consumables 268
(e) Training 323
(f) Contingency
(5% of items (a) to (e) above)
Sub-total 15,521
Other non-recurrent costs
(g) EPD staff costs
(including on-costs)
(h) Information Technology Services Department (ITSD) staff costs
(including on-costs)
Sub-total 2,297

Total 17,818


We are seeking approval of the non-recurrent commitment of $15,521,000 for items (a) to (f).

8. As regards paragraph 7(a), the cost of $7,318,000 is for the acquisition of computer hardware (including file servers, workstations and peripherals), software, data communication equipment and cabling work.

9. As regards paragraph 7(b), the cost of $1,980,000 is for the hire of services for system development, customisation of the common applications, implementation of the electronic mail solution, detailed network design, integration of the OA system with the existing operational systems of the department, installation of equipment and software and comprehensive testing activities.

10. As regards paragraph 7(c), the cost of $4,893,000 is for site preparation works required for setting up the network.

11. As regards paragraph 7(d), the cost of $268,000 is for acquisition of miscellaneous items including start-up consumables like tape cartridges.

12. As regards paragraph 7(e), the cost of $323,000 is for training staff of EPD in using the facilities and in administering the network on a day-to-day basis.

13. As regards paragraph 7(g), the cost of $627,000 represents the staff cost of one man-month of Senior Environmental Protection Officer (SEPO), two man-months of Environmental Protection Officer (EPO), two man-months of Chief Environmental Protection Inspector (CEPI), two man-months of Senior Environmental Protection Inspector (SEPI) and two man-months of Environmental Protection Inspector (EPI) in EPD for providing executive support during the implementation of the OA system. EPD will absorb the staffing requirements by internal redeployment.

14. As regards paragraph 7(h), the cost of $1,670,000 represents the staff costs for three man-months of Senior Systems Manager, seven man-months of Systems Manager (SM) and ten man-months of Analyst/Programmer I (API) required by ITSD for providing technical support in project development and management, and overseeing the implementation of the OA system. Sufficient resources have been included in ITSD's 1999-2000 draft Estimates for this purpose.

Annually recurrent cost

15. The estimated annually recurrent cost of the proposal is $4,418,000 from 2000-01 onwards. The breakdown is as follows -

(a) System maintenance 872
(b) Data lines rental 61
(c) Consumables 234
Sub-total 1,167
(d) Staff cost
    (i) EPD
    (ii) ITSD
Sub-total 3,251
Total 4,418

16. As regards paragraph 15(a), the cost of $872,000 is for hardware and software maintenance, employment of contract staff and/or engagement of support services in providing on-going system maintenance and operation support.

17. As regards paragraph 15(b), the cost of $61,000 is for the payment of rental charges for data communication lines.

18. As regards paragraph 15(c), the cost of $234,000 is for the acquisition of consumables such as tape cartridges for system backup, after offsetting the savings in paper consumption.

19. As regards paragraph 15(d)(i), the cost of $2,558,000 represents three man-months of SEPO, six man-months of EPO, six man-months of CEPI, 11 man-months of SEPI and 22 man-months of EPI in EPD to perform on-going system administration tasks and operational activities. EPD will absorb the staffing requirements by internal redeployment.

20. As regards paragraph 15(d)(ii), the cost of $693,000 represents three man-months of SM and seven man-months of API effort in ITSD to provide on-going maintenance support and technical services.

Implementation plan

21. The proposed implementation timetable is as follows -

Activity Target
completion date
Detailed system design and procurement July 1999
Site preparation and cabling August 1999
Installation and testing of OA network December 1999
Installation and testing of GCAS February 2000
System operation March 2000


22. Since late 1993, the Government has started implementing OA network systems on a project-by-project basis to improve the productivity of government offices and the efficiency of communication among policy bureaux and departments. These office networks are linked to the GCN enabling them to exchange information electronically with one another. To date, all policy bureaux and many departments have been connected. As these systems have proved helpful in improving efficiency, they are being extended to other departments.


Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau
January 1999

Enclosure to FCR(98-99)67

Locations of the 11 Environmental Protection Department offices

(1) Southorn Centre (Headquarters), Wan Chai - 24th to 28th Floors

(2) Revenue Tower, Wan Chai - 33rd, 45th to 48th Floors

(3) 88, Victoria Road, Kennedy Town - 2nd to 5th Floors

(4) ChinaChem Exchange Square, Quarry Bay - 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th Floors

(5) World Trade Square, Kowloon Bay - 10th Floor

(6) Grand Central Plaza, Shatin - 11th Floor

(7) On Wo House, Tai Wo Estate, Tai Po - 2nd Floor

(8) Ho Fai Commercial Centre, Tsuen Wan - Upper Ground and 1st Floor

(9) ChinaChem Tsuen Wan Plaza, Tsuen Wan - 7th Floor

(10) Tsuen Wan Government Offices - 7th and 8th Floors

(11) Nan Fung Commercial Centre, Kowloon Bay - 5th Floor