THE authority to take disciplinary action against junior civil servants has been delegated to department heads under a plan to streamline human resource management in the Government. At present all disciplinary action - except that against police constables and low-ranking disciplinary officers - must be approved by the Civil Service Branch before being submitted to the Public Service Commission for advice. This action includes reprimands, severe reprimands, reductions in rank, fines, compulsory retirements and dismissals. Under the revised scheme, department heads have been given the authority to make recommendations on all action, except compulsory dismissal, directly to the Public Service Commission against staff at Master Pay Scale 14 ($12,940 a month) or below. The Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service, Michael Stone, said the exercise was part of a process to update regulations. He said cases usually took months to deal with, which was not in the best interest of the officers or the Government. ''One of the principles of natural justice is you get punished for your misdeeds as quickly as possible, rather than waiting for years and having the threats hanging over you all the time,'' Mr Stone said. ''Department heads will know the details of the cases much better and they should be in the best position to handle them because one of their functions is to ensure good discipline.'' The Civil Service Branch would still be responsible for cases in which compulsory dismissal was recommended, because it was a more severe punishment and therefore had to be handled carefully, he said. Mr Stone assured that the new scheme would not be open to abuse because there were well-established appeal channels. Anyone disagreeing with any form of disciplinary actions could appeal to the Secretary for Civil Service, the Chief Secretary, the Public Service Commission or even the Governor, he said. Apart from streamlining the procedures, department heads were also required to provide sufficient resources, including manpower and equipment, to hold the disciplinary hearing. The chairman of the Federation of Civil Service Unions, Michael Siu Yin-ying, said the scheme was an improvement because it would help to shorten the time required to deal with cases. But he warned that as department heads were given greater autonomy, they should be seen to exercise their authority fairly and carefully. Between April and September last year, a total of 39 civil servants were dismissed and disciplinary action was taken against 89 officers. For the financial year 1992/93, the Government dismissed 69 officers and took actions against 185 others.