A committee intended to speed up disciplinary proceedings against civil servants is to be mainly staffed by officials redeployed from other departments. Although many civil service reform details are unresolved, officials appear cautiously optimistic the revamp of disciplinary proceedings will go ahead in the new financial year. Under the proposal, an independent secretariat comprising a team of dedicated officers with experience in handling disciplinary matters will be formed. A separate pool of adjudicating officers drawn from various ranks and grades will be set up to determine whether misconduct is established. Deputy Secretary for Civil Service Susan Mak Lok Suet-ling said she hoped the proposal would be implemented in April. 'But I'm keeping my fingers crossed,' she admitted. The management and staff representatives have met three times since a special working group was established. The Legislative Council Finance Committee will be asked to approve funding for the postings required early next year. Mrs Mak said the Government was aware of the fact lawmakers might be wary of approving new postings during the economic downturn. 'The secretariat will be mainly staffed by existing officials,' she said. But the ranks and the number of posts as well as the total spending estimates are being kept under wraps. Misconduct cases are currently handled by investigating officers or a committee appointed on a case-by-case basis. The mechanism has been criticised as cumbersome and time-consuming. Dismissal of inadequate performers can take two years. Mrs Mak said the new system would be more efficient and focused. The deadline to take action against civil servants absconding from duty would be shortened from 21 days to 14.