21 Mar 2017 00:18
SINGAPORE: Staff from digital and technology teams in several ministries will form a new office in charge of digital transformation in the public service on May 1, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Monday (Mar 20).
The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), to be formed under the Prime Minister’s Office, will comprise staff from the Ministry of Finance’s Digital Government Directorate, the Ministry of Communications and Information’s Government Technology Policy department and the Smart Nation Programme Office.
The Government Technology Agency (GovTech) will also be placed under the Prime Minister’s Office as the implementing agency of SNDGO.
Together, GovTech and SNDGO will form the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG).
The SNDGG’s responsibilities include driving digital transformation for the public service to strengthen the Government’s information and communications technology infrastructure and improve public service delivery.
The group will lead the development of a national digital identity framework to facilitate digital transactions as well as a national platform to support Government agencies’ use of Internet of Things applications, which link physical items such as cars, health devices and home appliances to the Internet.
It will work with other Government agencies, industries and the public to apply technologies to improve Singaporeans’ lives in areas such as urban mobility, the Prime Minister’s Office said. For example, the SNDGG will work with the Land Transport Authority on technologies to improve public transport, enhance urban logistics and reduce congestion.
It will also build on ongoing work by GovTech to enhance data sharing through the data.gov.sg portal and collaborate with the Monetary Authority of Singapore to promote e-payments.
NG CHEE KHERN TO BE PERMANENT SECRETARY OF SNDGG
Permanent Secretary of Defence Development in the Ministry of Defence Ng Chee Khern will concurrently lead the SNDGG as Permanent Secretary from May 1.
The SNDGG will be overseen by a ministerial committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim will be the deputy chairman. Other committee members include Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Higher Education and Skills Ong Ye Kung – who has been appointed to champion public service innovation – and Minister of State for Communications and Information and Education Janil Puthucheary, who will be the Minister-in-charge of GovTech.
Mr Ng will also retain his appointment as chairman of the GovTech Board, which will oversee GovTech’s operations and guide the agency’s efforts to support Smart Nation and digital government, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
RE-ORGANISATION WILL “TURBO-CHARGE” GOVERNMENT’S EFFORTS
Dr Balakrishnan said the reorganisation will put the Smart Nation’s master planning, policy and implementation together and “turbo-charge” the Government’s efforts towards this goal.
“This is not really a technical or technological issue per se. It requires a change in mindset, a change in relationships, the way we work together as a whole of Singapore,” he said.
For example, it requires a whole-of-Government effort to put together a common platform for e-payments, along with the cooperation of the whole private sector as well as banking and financial institutions, Dr Balakrishnan said.
Dr Puthucheary also said efforts to improve the way the Government is run will not work as well as desired without “excellent people”.
“A big part of what we want to do is to build a deep engineering talent in Singapore, bringing more people into engineering, into ICT engineering, cyber security engineering, data analysis, whether they’re here in Singapore or Singaporeans residing overseas.”
He added that there are many talented Singaporeans working in these fields overseas. “We’re hoping we can attract people back into Singapore to build that engineering team here.”