Analysis on the Effectiveness of Principal Officials Accountability System (POAS) and the Solutions to Increase its Accountability to the Public Introduction
In 2002, Mr. Tung Chee-hwa, the first Chief Executive (CE) of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) decided to implement the Principal Officials Accountability System (POAS) in order to raise the accountability of the civil service, achieve policy coherence and coordination within the government, and a better cooperation of high ranking civil servants with him. In the POAS, All Principal Officials become political appointees chosen by the CE and they are withdrawn from the civil service and employed on contract basis. Also, they are no longer maintaining political neutrality as they also hold the power for policy-making and responsible for the success and failure of their own policies. The POAS was further strengthened in 2007 by Mr. Donald Tsang, the second CE of HKSAR. Tsang decided to expand the Political Appointments System by inserting two layers of political appointees below the Secretaries (heads of bureaux), which are Undersecretaries and Political Assistants to Secretaries. The Undersecretaries have to assume a full range of political responsibilities to deal with politically sensitive issues in the Legislative Council while the Political Assistants to Secretaries are going to take up various aspects of political liaison work. Under this system, these political appointees report only to the Secretaries, but not the permanent secretaries. Failures of POAS in Application (2002-2011)
After the implementation of POAS, there are numerous cases on policy failure or personal scandals of Principal Officials between 2003-2011 (e.g. The "Lexusgate" scandal, Management of SARS and Legislation of Article 23 in 2003) , the related Political Officials were reluctant to step down shortly and “Collaborate Decision Making” was frequently used as a reason to protect them from public pressure (Handling...
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