Monday, August 30, 2004

General duties - career

A colleague had a good idea on the career prospect of general duties clerks and secretaries.

"There is the recent 'management-initiated' development proposed by GGO, i.e., the centrifugal absorption of clerks/secretaries to the EO grade. If I were a clerk/PS, I would have been contented.

If we look for an approach to determine appointments by merits, I think the natural course will be for all directorate posts to be recruited through open appointments; similarly, EO II posts be open to clerks or whatever general grade colleagues."

I fully agree with the idea. We should surely let clerks and secretaries advance to EOs. But only for those capable. The CRE is a fair test to identify the deserving ones.

We are venturing to the area where all promotion posts should also be filled by appointment and fair selection. It would incur more work for the HR managers, but it would be fair. I understand in the Hospital Authority, upward or lateral movements are determined by selection, i.e. people have to apply for senior posts or same posts in another hospital and to compete through selection interviews.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

General duties executive assistants

I understand that SFAA employs a lot of NCSC staff. I recruited some assistants three years ago who were previously working in SFAA as temporary staff vetting applications from students. Also, I met an EA seconded from SFAA to EMB in 2002. If departmental secretaries (i.e. all-purpose general multi-skill clerks and secretaries cum junior office managers) require a degree, that means junior managers (EOIIs) could be performing new-style clerical, secretarial and managerial duties. Nowadays, with the help of IT, many managers do their daily chores like drafting, typing, scheduling, electronic filing at their desktops. Email have replaced much paper correspondence.

We need to look at this new layer and consider our position in longitudinal integration. We can downward integrate with clerks and secretaries, or we can professionalize and upward integrate with policy making, leaving general support duties to be performed by a new generation of multi-skill executive assistants. One option is to hive off EOII and combine it with clerks and secretaries to form a new degree grade for general office management. They can have advancement opportunities to the EO grade, starting at EOI level, and with raised entry requirements, e.g. 4 years working experience.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

General duties - multi-skilling

This is the view of the private sector on the future of the secretaries and clerks. The terms are a bit different. Departmental secretaries are general clerks and manager secretaries are PSs. We are aware of the trend and have introduced multi-skilling for the clerical grades, but not as drastic as the private sector. There are still many manager secretaries.

The article mentioned the role of managers, that some of them are still computer-illiterate and must rely on PS, but these managers soon be displaced. However, I note that there is also a phonemenon in government that PS is a status symbol, irrespective there is work for them.

The proposed way-out for secretaries and clerks is self-improvement and thus advancement. The trend is that all office chore will be performed by executive assistants who are multi-skill clerks and secretaries and also junior managers. The entry requirements are degree plus language and communication ability and also computer knowledge. The pay is $8-9K. Sound familiar? They are actually EOs doing all kinds of general grade duties. Does this point to the merging of the EO/CO/PS grades? Or can we present it just as the abolishing of the CO and PS grades? I think this makes the issue of really professionalizing the EO grade more pressing.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Complaint Case on data privacy

Privacy Commissioner's Office - Complaint Case Notes

Complaint regarding data access request

The complainant was a former civil servant. He had served in a government department for more than 10 years and was then transferred to another department on a different post on probation terms for two years. However his performance during the probation period was considered unsatisfactory and his service was subsequently terminated. He made a data access request to the department seeking access to his personnel file held by the department. In complying with the request, the department provided over 400 pages of documents to the complainant with certain information edited out from the copies of the documents on grounds that the edited data were matters of departmental policy that should not amount to personal data of the complainant.

Section 20(2)(b) of the PD(P)O provides that a data user may, in complying with a data access request, edit out data of third party individuals from the requested data either by the omission of names or other identifying particulars. However, on closer examination of the documents provided to the complainant, it was ascertained that they were 'file minutes' relating to discussions regarding the complainant's eligibility for pension benefits. These discussions were specific matters of policy applicable to the complainant's case, i.e. termination of service. In these circumstances, the contents of the "file minutes" contained personal data of the complainant and should have been disclosed to the complainant in complying with his data access request.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

General Duties



周綺萍說﹕「若商業機構財政狀?緊張以致要縮減人手,必先縮減support staff(支援人員),才會考慮縮減frontline staff(前線人員)。而在support staff當中,秘書必會首當其衝成為縮減目標,因秘書予人的印象是上司的附屬,沒有明顯功能,很容易被取代。」


在一家資訊科技公司兼任董事及總經理的李潤權(Derek)指出,過往辦公室秘書大多分為兩大類,一類是部門秘書(departmental secretaries),負責協助某部門所有同事處理日常運作﹔另一類是經理秘書(manager secretaries),以「單對單」形式專責協助特定經理處理事務。「但如今經理秘書已寥寥無幾,剩下來的多數是部門秘書,一人協助多人工作。」