An evaluative study on the new performance appraisal system for inspectorate grade officer in the Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department
Mak Hoi Wan Walter
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Public Administration
University of Hong Kong June 2004
Over the years, performance management has been one of the most
important developments and researched topics in the sphere of public and private
management. It is an integral part of the comprehensive human resource
management and many academics in their res~arch studies have been attempting to give performance management a more specific definition under different dimensions.
In the context of human resource management, performance management can be
broadly defined as a means of getting better results from the organisation and
individuals by understanding and managing performance within an agreed framework
of planned goals, standards and attribute or competence requirements (Michael
Armstrong, 1995). It is also for establishing a shared understanding about what is to
be achieved in an organisation, how it is to be achieved, and an approach to managing
people which increases the probability of achieving job-related success (Franklin
Hartle, 1997). The ideal type of performance management should be targets-oriented,
able to motivate individual employee and respond creatively to the challenges ahead.
According to the Civil Service Bureau (CSB), the objective of
performance management in Hong Kong civil service is to "improve overall
productivity and effectiveness by maximising individual performance and potential"l.
In modernising the human resource management (HRM) in civil service, the HKSAR
I Civil Service Bureau. The "Performance Management Guide". (Hong Kong Government Printer 1999).
government is finding itself having to constantly implement strategic human resource
management policy to cater for the changing political pressures. Over the years,
civil service has been targeted for endless criticisms for being inefficient especially
during economic bad times. With the Chief Executive's initiative to implement the
'Principal Official Accountability System' on 2 July 20022 that aims to promote
better accountability in the delivery of government services, public demands are
becoming a rising challenge which compel civil service to operate in a more efficient
and accountable manner. Pressures on the government to enhance efficiency and
greater accountability reached its peaks when disappointing policy blunders recurred
one after the other under the Chief Executive's governance. To survive from the
growing trend for better accountability and improvement on government performance,
the HKSAR government in recent years has been endeavouring to enhance its
performance management system across the civil service3.
Far early in March 1999, the CSB initiated a performance
management review aiming to enhance efficiency of the civil service and to
strengthen the government's capability in meeting the increasing challenges of the community4, With the Chief Executive's proposal to promote a 'people~based
governance' in his 2004 Policy Address5, public aspirations over the performance of
civil service are expected to be much higher and demanding.
2 The "Chief Executive Policy Address 2001", HKSAR Government. (Hong Kong Government Printer 2001).
3 Civil Service Bureau. Civil Service Bureau Circular 10/2000.
4 Civil Service Bureau. Civil Service Reform consultation document "Civil Service into the 215t Century". (Hong Kong Government Printer 1999).
5 The "Chief Executive Policy Address 2004", HKSAR Government. (Hong Kong Government Printer 2004).
expenditure cuts for government departments coupled with the policy commitment of
the Chief Executive would definitely add pressure on Heads of Departments to
critically develop their specific human resources through implementing an effective
performance management system.
Conventionally, the Hong Kong civil service is characterised as a
highly bureaucratic structure modeled on the Max Weber's "Bureaucracy". Its
administration and operation are therefore infested with forest of rigid rules and
regulations. An effective performance management system is therefore necessary to
ensure that civil servants are able to raise its capacity in the delivery of public
services. Nowadays, given that promotion opportunity is becoming slim due to the
continued downsizing policy in the civil service6, senior managers in government
departments have been facing increasing challenges when dealing with the problem
of disincentive staff and their declining performance. This is one of the main reasons
explaining why the HKSAR government is keen on identifying an effective
performance management system for developing its human resources.
Assessment of employee performance requires a process of accurate
evaluation and reliable tool.
Over the years, annual performance appraisal on
individual civil servant is the conventional tool in the HKSAR government to
implement human resource development plan. Because of the civil service reform,
government departments are becoming more dependent upon performance appraisal
for making various sorts of personnel and managerial decisions. As succinctly
propounded by Gary P. Latham (1982), " Performance appraisals are crucial to the
6 Speech delivered by the Secretary for Civil Service at the Special Finance Committee Meeting on 29 March 2004. Website: http://www.info.gov.hk/csb.
effective .management of an organisation's human resources, and the proper
management of human resources is a critical variable affecting an organisation's
Inefficient performance of civil service has been a focus of criticism
for years by the local legislature and many oversight bodies who find it irresistible to
gain popularity by simply being critic against the bureaucrats. Therefore, the impetus
for changing the performance management system in civil service basically arises
from the increasing demands for an efficient public service and accountability of
public officials, the persistent adversity in global economic depression. as well as the
government's commitment to balancing the deficit budget by downsizing the civil
service7. As these external factors interact with each other, they become the
cumulative force contributing to the momentum for reforming the civil service
performance management system.
Having experienced pressure for improvement and in the wake of the
continued expenditure cut for government departments, the central administration
recognised the need to raise the capacity of civil service. As one of the four main
areas in the civil service reform initiatives, the CSB issued a comprehensive guidance
in 1999 that encourages Heads of Departments to improve their departments'
performance management system. The 'Performance Management Guide' published
by the CSB8 essentially forms the policy guidelines for reference by all Heads of
7 'Balanced budget deadline is delayed' headlined in the South China Morning Post dated 23 October 2003.
8 Civil Service Bureau. The "Performance Management Guide". (Hong Kong Government Printer 1999)
Departments to formulate an effective performance management system with due
regard to the particular circumstances in their departments.
To respond to the central administration's move to promote
awareness of performance management in the civil service, the Customs and Excise
Department has recently reformed its performance appraisal system for the
Inspectorate grade officer in 2003. In light of this reform, the objective of this
dissertation seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of this new performance appraisal
system for the Inspectorate grade officers with a view to ascertaining whether it can
help bringing a new concept of performance management to the Customs and Excise
1.2 New Performance Appraisal System for Inspectorate Ranks in C&ED
In line with the central government initiative to promote civil
service reform on staff performance management9, the Customs and Excise
Department (C&ED) IS one of the first departments committed to improving
productivity of its employees through the channel of performance management
reform. Amongst many other things, the reform has brought substantial change to the
performance appraisal system for the Inspectorate grade officerslO. Performance
appraisal as an integral part of the performance management cycle in the C&ED has
9 Civil Service Bureau. Memo from the Secretary for the Civil Service to all Bureau Secretaries and Heads of Departments on 'Civil Service Reform - Performance Management and Performance-Based Reward System' dated 26 April 2000.
10 'Inspectorate grade officer' in C&ED consists of Senior Inspector and Inspector. Schedule 1, Customs and Excise Service Ordinance, Cap.342. Laws of Hong Kong.
School:The University of Hong Kong
School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:hong kong china customs excise dept officials and employees administration rating of
Date of Publication:01/01/2004