For discussion
on 29 January 1999


Planning Department
New Subhead "Office Automation for Planning Department"

    Members are invited to approve a new commitment of $12,367,000 for providing office automation facilities to the Planning Department.


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


2. The Director of Planning (D of Plan), 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 Plan D with a commitment of $12,367,000.


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 Plan D has been using computer systems in technical, analytical and administrative applications, the existing mode of communication within the department mainly limits to paper correspondence and direct person-to-person contacts. The benefits of one-to-many and interactive mode of communication under an OA system are not available.

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

  1. a local area network (LAN) with 157 workstations and software for electronic mail communication, meeting scheduling, graphics presentation, word processing, spreadsheet and database management;

  2. access to the Government Communication Network (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.

Benefits 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 Plan D at different locations (including the Headquarters at the North Point Government Offices, and the offices at Tsuen Wan Government Offices, Metroplaza Tower, Sha Tin Government Offices and ChinaChem Golden Plaza);

  2. improve communication between Plan D 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, and Government Telephone Directory through GCAS;

  4. increase the operational efficiency of Plan D 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 Plan D 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% saving in staff costs arising from improved efficiency and productivity gain would amount to about $2,311,000 a year. In addition, there will be annual savings of about $23,000 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 works projects of the Public Works Programme, priority railway projects, and housing-related projects.


Non-recurrent cost

7. The estimated total non-recurrent cost of the OA system is $14,110,000, broken down as follows -

(a) Computer hardware, software, data communication
equipment and cabling
(b) Implementation services/contract staff 2,211
(c) Site preparation 2,999
(d) Consumables 103
(e) Training 450
(f) Contingency
(5% of items (a) to (e) above)
Sub-total 12,367
Other non-recurrent costs
(g) Plan D staff costs
(including on-costs)
(h) Information Technology Services Department (ITSD) staff costs
(including on-costs)
Sub-total 1,743

Total 14,110


We are seeking approval of a non-recurrent commitment of $12,367,000 for items (a) to (f).

8. As regards paragraph 7(a), the cost of $6,015,000 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 $2,211,000 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 $2,999,000 is for site preparation works required for setting up the network.

11. As regards paragraph 7(d), the cost of $103,000 is for acquisition of miscellaneous items including start-up consumables like tape cartridges.

12. As regards paragraph 7(e), the cost of $450,000 is for training of staff of Plan D in using the facilities and in administering the network on a day-to-day basis.

13. As regards paragraph 7(g), the cost of $428,000 represents the staff cost for 3.1 man-months of Town Planner (TP) and 3.1 man-months of Senior Survey Officer (SSO) for providing executive support during the implementation of the OA system. Plan D will absorb the staffing requirements by internal redeployment.

14. As regards paragraph 7(h), the cost of $1,315,000 represents the staff cost for 2.6 man-months of Senior Systems Manager, 5.2 man-months of Systems Manager (SM) and 7.8 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 provision has 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 $3,319,000 from 2000-01 onwards. The breakdown is as follows -

(a) System maintenance 890
(b) Data lines rental 45
(c) Consumables 130
(d) Staff cost
    (i) Plan D
    (ii) ITSD
Sub-total 2,254

Total 3,319


16. As regards paragraph 15(a), the cost of $890,000 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 $45,000 is for the payment of rental charges for data communication lines.

18. As regards paragraph 15(c), the cost of $130,000 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 $1,704,000 represents the staff cost for 7.8 man-months of TP and 19.2 man-months of SSO effort in Plan D to perform on-going system administration tasks and operational activities. Plan D will absorb the staffing requirements by internal redeployment.

20. As regards paragraph 15(d)(ii), the cost of $550,000 represents the staff cost for 2.6 man-months of SM and 5.2 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 -

ActivityTargetcompletion 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