The EOC releases Report on Review of Governance, Management Structure and Complaint Handling Process
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) released the report on a review of its governance, management structure and complaint handling process today (13 December 2019), laying out a series of recommendations geared towards enhancing the EOC’s governance and complaint handling work, optimising efficiency in discharging its statutory duties, and furthering its commitment to serving the public.
Between 2017 and 2019, the EOC conducted a process review to examine its governance and management structure, as well as complaint-handling process, for service improvement purposes in response to feedback from service users, stakeholders, legislators and members of the public.
The process review was conducted by a Review Panel consisted of three EOC Members, namely Mr Mohan DATWANI, Dr Maggie KOONG and Dr Trisha LEAHY (Dr Koong and Dr Leahy have retired from the EOC Board since May 2018 and May 2019 respectively). In parallel, Professor Anselmo REYES, a retired High Court Judge, also conducted an independent review concerning the EOC’s complaint-handling process on a pro bono basis upon the invitation of the EOC. To assist the Review Panel, Mr John LEUNG Chi-fai, a retired senior civil servant, was engaged by the EOC as the Chief Project Manager. His duties included carrying out the ground work, such as interviewing various EOC staff members concerned and examining all relevant records and documents, and reporting his findings to the Review Panel. The Review Panel eventually produced the final Process Review Report with the benefit of considering the work of Mr Leung and the report prepared by Professor Reyes. The Report has been endorsed by the EOC Board.
Mr Ricky CHU, Chairperson of the EOC, said, “I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank Professor Anselmo Reyes, Mr Mohan Datwani, Dr Maggie Koong, Dr Trisha Leahy, Mr John Leung, and all other former and serving EOC Members, including my predecessor Professor Alfred CHAN, as well as all the EOC staff members who have been involved, together with those stakeholders who had generously offered their views to the EOC, for their contributions to the success of this exercise. I firmly believe that, with all the invaluable recommendations provided in the Process Review Report, the EOC would be able to serve the citizens of Hong Kong as a whole even more effectively and efficiently in building up a just, pluralistic and inclusive society.”
“Having read through all the relevant reference materials and papers, I am pleased to report that the Process Review Report is a very high-quality product as a result of meticulous research and distinctive insight into the EOC work. I readily agree with the recommendations of the Process Review Report, including, in particular, that (a) the victim-centric approach is a prudent approach for the EOC to adopt in handling complaints; (b) the handling of complaints must be in a holistic manner insofar as collection of facts and evidence is concerned; and (c) the Chairperson is in the overall commanding role, to be ably assisted by EOC Board Members and the professional management team. The Process Review, though protracted in its course, has successfully achieved its purpose of resolving most challenges faced by the EOC. The Process Review Report also provides me with excellent insights and forms a solid foundation for me to consider the way forward in further revising the EOC management structure so as to ensure EOC’s continuous and sustainable improvement in tackling new challenges.” Mr Ricky CHU added.
A string of measures were put in place during the review to address concerns among stakeholders and the public regarding the EOC’s complaint handling process. These included: ensuring strict compliance with the Internal Operating Procedures Manual and speedy classification of cases by staff; abolishing the practice of reassigning a case from one officer to another when its status is changed from being an enquiry to a complaint, so that aggrieved persons would not feel distressed by repetitive requests for information; making more active use of statutory powers to facilitate investigations, such as instructing respondents and third parties to furnish information and documents; as well as establishing panels of advisors in selected fields and drawing on expert opinion to add insight and credibility to the investigation and conciliation process, as and when needed.
These initiatives embody the victim-centric approach recommended by the Review Panel, which seeks to recognise and pay special attention to the needs of victims at all stages of the complaint handling process, while managing their expectations and adhering to principles of fairness and impartiality to both parties in a complaint.
Mr Ricky CHU concluded, “The review has set in motion our pursuit for continuous service enhancement, anchored by a victim-centric philosophy. We will keep closely in touch with our stakeholders to make sure their voices are heard, as we strive for better governance and streamline our operations.”
Members of the public can read the Review Panel’s report on the EOC website at this link:
Equal Opportunities Commission
13 December 2019