Civil service bosses whose staff were revealed to be working fewer than five hours a day have been given three months to complete an investigation. Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fang On-sang gave the order after the Director of Audit criticised four departments for allowing outdoor staff to abuse the system. In a lengthy statement Mrs Chan acknowledged that people expected better use of their money in times of recession. And she said any officer found to have abused the system would be disciplined. The report by Director of Audit Dominic Chan Yin-tat on Wednesday showed scores of staff were working fewer than five hours a day or lying about the time they arrived at the office. He said the Water Supplies, Census and Statistics, Government Supplies and Regional Services departments were at fault. Checks on 85 water-meter readers on May 27 found that almost half arrived after their official start time of 8.15am. Seven had lied about it in the attendance book. Some census staff supposed to do face-to-face interviews had allegedly done so by phone or not at all. Mrs Chan said yesterday: 'As head of the civil service, I feel I must put these findings into perspective. 'The bulk of the findings pertain to the operational efficiency in four departments. The number of staff involved is a tiny percentage of the civil service as a whole. 'The report should not be taken to negate all the very good work which the vast majority of the civil service does every day to provide essential services to the public.' Mrs Chan said all departments with staff working out of the office had been told to review their systems and make changes quickly. The departments would report back in three months' time. 'We are determined to prevent abuses of our system and will take strict disciplinary action against any officer found to be abusing the system, to ensure that public resources are not wasted,' Mrs Chan said. Tung Chee-hwa, returning from the APEC conference yesterday, said officials were studying the recommendations and criticism made by the auditor. 'Those are of course four departments and there are altogether 180,000 civil servants. So on the whole I know the civil service has done very well,' he said. 'I want to assure you that our civil service, their attitude and their standards are always at the highest level.' Mrs Chan said the civil service was committed to Mr Tung's order to improve productivity by five per cent within the next three years. 'In particular, we recognise the importance of delivering improved value at this difficult time.' Last night, the Census and Statistics Department said it had complete confidence in the accuracy of its statistics.