At long last, the Government has admitted that comparability of salary levels in the public and private sectors is an issue. In a welcome move to address criticism that civil servants are overpaid, the Secretary for Civil Service yesterday announced the first steps to a review of the pay policy and system. As it plans the review, the administration may want to consider if the structure of the Government and the civil service, which was last overhauled in 1973, should also be reformed, because the issues are inter-related. The so-called McKinsey reform - after the consultancy which drew up the recommendations - saw the creation of policy bureaus. The idea was to group departments with related portfolios under one bureau so their policies could be harmonised and broad-ranged planning undertaken. Today, that logic still stands. But as the bureaucracy has expanded, with the number of policy bureaus growing from six to 16, it is debatable whether the set-up will continue to meet the demands of the future. Over the past three decades, the advent of computers and telecommunications has enhanced productivity tremendously, enabling organisations to adopt a leaner and flatter structure. But our government has escaped such downsizing and retained a steeply pyramidal structure. Whereas the trend is for tomorrow's workers to become multi-skilled, our civil service is still marked by a strict demarcation of duties, and members of different grades are not supposed to cross boundaries. The constitutional system and the political scene have also evolved. The next chief executive is set to implement a ministerial system by splitting the political and administrative roles of the policy secretaries. But how many 'ministers' there will be and how they should be paid remains unclear. In devising a new pay system for the civil service, these complex issues will need to be carefully thought through.