Singapore appoints civil service innovation champion

By on 09/03/2017 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Teo Chee Hean, deputy prime minister, Singapore (Image courtesy Chad J. McNeeley)

Singapore’s government is to train 10,000 public servants to use data analytics, the deputy prime minister has announced, while education minister Ong Ye Kung will spearhead a drive for public service innovation.

Changes to the civil service have been developed as part of Singapore’s efforts to transform its economy. Delivered last month, the 2017 Budget focused on boosting infrastructure, innovation and productivity, while earlier in February the Committee on the Future Economy – led by the finance and trade ministers – unveiled a range of measures designed to increase GDP growth from 1.8% to 2-3% over the next decade.

Following these announcements, deputy prime minister Teo Chee Hean, who oversees the civil service, last week revealed four priorities for Singapore’s public service: integrating strategic planning and execution; driving innovation; building new capabilities; and developing public officers.

“As challenges become more cross-cutting, the government needs to be even more closely coordinated in policy formulation and policy execution, and to harness and manage our national resources more effectively,” he said in parliament at the Committee Of Supply debate 2017 on 2 March.

“This will help ensure that the public sector is ready to help implement the recommendations of the Committee on the Future Economy and take Singapore forward.”

On innovation, Teo said Ong has been appointed to champion public service innovation, and will initially focus on reviewing regulations to better support entrepreneurship and adopting procurement methods that support industry development.

He also commented on the need to harness technology to boost the economy and protect national security. “Currently, the responsibility for driving technology adoption in the public service is rather dispersed,” he said. “We are studying how we can better integrate our strategy and processes.”

On building capabilities, he said that the public service needs to strengthen its digital capabilities and engineering. The government will develop a core group of 250 professionals in GovTech and the Cyber Security Agency, who will support the public service and collaborate with Singapore’s universities and industries to adopt new technologies.

It will also train 10,000 public officers over the next four years in skills such as using data analytics and data science in policy formation and service delivery.

Teo also announced a raft of initiatives to improve the working terms and conditions of civil servants, including enhanced medical benefits, better re-employment schemes, a new integrated HR and payroll management system and more employment opportunities for disabled people.

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See also:

Singapore launches single platform for government e-services

Singapore PM urges civil servants to ‘understand political context’

UK and Singapore announce $5.1m joint research programme on cyber security

Australian agency wins award for ‘big data’ prospecting tool

Finland pushes ahead with basic income trial

Japanese government seeks industry partners for AI future

Australian charity regulator’s digital service wins 99% takeup


About Tamsin Rutter

Tamsin Rutter is a journalist based in Brussels, Belgium. She writes on a variety of topics, including public services, cities, local and central government and education. She was formerly the deputy editor of the Guardian's Public Leaders Network and Housing Network.

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