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April 12th, 2016
Infrastructure • Technology

Building a digital government in Singapore

Singapore’s government had long been involved in providing digital services to its citizens but it was generally a one-way process. In its e-Government Masterplan 2011–2015 (eGov2015), the government sought to involve both citizens and public sector organisations in a collaborative process that benefited from advances in digital technology and the emerging principles of open data.

The initiative

Singapore’s e-Government Masterplan 2011–2015 (or ”eGov2015”) aimed to usher in a new era. The idea was to shift from a “government-to-you” approach to a “government-with-you” approach in its delivery of e-government services, a vision of a collaborative government, with high levels of co-creation and interaction between government, the people and the private sector.

The challenge

Since the early 1980s, the Singapore government has tapped into advances in information and communications technology (ICT) to transform public administration and service delivery. [1] It has benefited citizens and businesses in many ways, providing higher levels of convenience and cost-savings through greater productivity and effectiveness in service delivery. Its approach, though, was predominantly focused on delivering information to the public, with little interactive dialogue between government and citizens.

The public impact

Today, citizens and businesses in Singapore can access more than 1,600 online services and more than 300 mobile services provided by the government. [2]

Stakeholder engagement

The stakeholders of e-Governance are:

  • The Ministry of Finance (MoF) - the owner of eGov2015, which provides the funding for e-government programmes and projects.
  • The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore - the Government Chief Information Officer (CIO).
  • The Chief Information Officers (CIOs) of government agencies.

There is a strong engagement on the part of all stakeholders. While the MoF sets the policy, the IDA provides technical advice and recommendations, and planning and project management services to the MoF and government agencies in the implementation and management of e-government programmes. Agency CIOs who are responsible for agency-specific ICT infrastructure services within their own organisations.

However, there was a noticeable lack of external stakeholders to provide an alternative perspective to eGov 2015.

Political commitment

As stated above, eGov2015 is wholly owned and funded by the government, through the MoF, and its commitment has been evident throughout the life of the initiative.

Public confidence

The eGov2015 Masterplan was launched after the success of the previous e-government initiative (eGov2010). The results of the 2010 e-Government Customer Perception Survey indicate that the initiative was very popular with the general public:

  • "87% of the people are satisfied with the quality of government's e-services.
  • "93% of the people will recommend others to transact with the government through e-services.” [3]

Clarity of objectives

The objectives of eGov2015 were clearly stated: they addressed the central issue of encouraging collaboration between the government, citizens and the private section in order create value for Singapore.

Strength of evidence

The eGOV2015 Masterplan was launched after the success of eGov2010 and previous initiatives, on which it proposed to build. Its view was that its continuing digitisation efforts had made Singapore a pioneer in e-government development and innovation and provided sufficient evidence to support its 2011 initiative.

These previous initiatives spanned a period of over 30 years from the Civil Service Computerisation Programme in the 1980s to the e-Government Action Plan I and Action Plan II between 2000 and 2006 to the iGov2010 Masterplan from 2006 to 2010.

Since it was a continuation of digital government practices, a pilot programme was not considered to be necessary. The government identified three major trends that shaped the masterplan:

  • Global advances in ICT, particularly in mobile technologies.
  • A better educated and more informed populace. Therefore it has been rated good.
  • The trend towards open data and open government.

Management

The government CIO and assistant chief executive of IDA, Chan Cheow Hoe, was the champion of eGov2015 and provided experience of IT management and leading organisations through transformational change. [4]

Every government agency also has agency CIOs who are responsible for agency-specific ICT assist Ministry permanent secretaries and CEOs of statutory boards in order to:

  • Articulate the organisation's ICT vision in the exploitation of ICT.
  • Provide leadership in the planning and prioritisation of IT initiatives, in line with eGov2015.
  • Ensure management attention, manpower and monetary resources are directed to ICT initiatives.

Measurement

The outcomes of the programme are measured via a limited range of parameters - including the number of services accessible online (over 1,600) and the number of mobile services provided by the government (over 300) - and the approval ratings in customer satisfaction surveys.

However, there is no information on whether the measurement functions resulted in adaptations to eGov2015.

Alignment

All the stakeholder were aligned towards the same objectives, as outlined above in Stakeholder Engagement. For example, the creation of a nationwide Electronic Health Record (EHR) system was seen as an initiative in line with the government's eGov2015.

In addition, as all the initiatives are intended for the benefit of the public, the government launched various tools like the REACH and eCitizen portals. It also developed an open data platform (data.gov.sg) - an online portal which consolidates over 6,000 government datasets into a single online catalogue to help citizens locate government data and feed back their views on public policies to the relevant government agencies.

The Public Impact Fundamentals - A framework for successful policy

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