THE controversial civil servant vetting system is set for a shake-up sparked by public concern at the secrecy surrounding it. It is understood the work may eventually be taken away from law enforcement bodies in a ''demystifying'' campaign. Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service, Mike Stone, confirmed this week a full review was under way of all government vetting of civil servants. Mr Stone also said the Government's plan to shift the extended checking of top civil servants to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) had been put on hold before the committee reviewing the commission's powers had asked for more time to examine the issue. He refused to comment on the work carried out by the police's Special Branch but said: ''Certainly where there is no need for practices and procedures to remain secret, we want to do our best to open them up. ''It's quite reasonable to respond to public concerns,'' he said when asked what had sparked the U-turn. He said while the individual checks would remain confidential, the public could eventually be told ''how and why we do things''. ''I am concerned that the public appears to misunderstand quite why this is necessary and that somehow the Government checks everyone in Hong Kong. That is simply not the case.'' The work was due to shift from the Special Branch - now being wound down - to the ICAC on July 1, having been approved by the Legislative Council last November. The ICAC review committee has asked for more time on the issue and will give its thoughts on the original proposal at the end of the year, but it is understood the Government may put new proposals to it before then. Recent public submissions to the committee, headed by shipping magnate Dr Helmut Sohmen, have been against the move. Concern, fed by allegations from sacked ICAC deputy operations director Alex Tsui Ka-kit that the commission was carrying out illegal political investigations, had seen legislators start to question the move. It is understood the Special Branch has traditionally checked civil servants for links to the Communist Party, a factor no longer so relevant. The ICAC has said its role would involve ''integrity checking'', with its officers interviewing a top civil servant and his referees. The commission is strictly governed by the Prevention of Bribery and ICAC Ordinance, which would make any political work illegal and has repeatedly denied links to such checks. Mr Stone also confirmed the ICAC was initially going to co-ordinate the checks of more minor civil servants, essentially researching criminal records. But now it is understood the Government is considering the formation of a special team within the Civil Service Branch to organise the work, farming out files to the ICAC and police for criminal record checks when necessary. Currently, minor checks are handled by the police force's seven-man Criminal Records Office. ICAC operations director Jim Buckle said he was not aware of the review, but said the issue was one for the administration and the review committee.